About Mechon Hadar


Advisory Board Advisory Board

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, a Conservative rabbi, is currently finishing a two year sabbatical based in Israel. Previously, she was Vice President and Acting Director of the Wexner Heritage Foundation in New York. Ordained in 1993 at the Jewish Theological Seminary, she has also studied at Bryn Mawr College where she graduated magna cum laude and New York University where she was a MacCracken Fellow. Professionally, she has served as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Anshe Emet in Chicago; Scholar-in-Residence at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, NY; and Associate Scholar-in-Residence at Brandeis-Bardin in California. Rabbi Boyd Gelfand has also served on the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and the JTS Task Force on Jewish Religious Leadership. She is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer at such places as: Leo Baeck College in London, UJC Young Leadership Conferences, Leadership 2000, Lion of Judah International Conference, Limmud, and the ACG Young Leaders Conference in Germany. Her work has been published in various books and periodicals and she serves on the advisory board of Sh'ma Magazine.

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson


Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson is President-Elect of The Wexner Foundation. She will assume the role of President on October 1, 2011. Since 2006 she served as Vice-President, Leadership Programs and was responsible for the programs, policies, and strategic planning for this major component of the Foundation's activities.

Rabbi Abrahamson has been closely involved with The Wexner Foundation for many years. For close to a decade she served as a member of the fellowship's faculty and served on the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Committee. She was the Director of the Graduate Fellowship Program prior to assuming her current role.

Rabbi Abrahamson was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with high distinction, with a BS degree in secondary education. She spent the early years of her career creating curriculum for Religious Schools and Informal Jewish Educational settings, particularly Jewish camping. Rabbi Abrahamson received her Masters of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, (HUC-JIR) Los Angeles, in 1983 and was ordained at HUC-JIR, New York, in 1985. She has been invited to return as Alumna-in-Residence at both campuses. She was the assistant, associate and interim rabbi at Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo, CA for several years. With her husband, Rabbi Martin (Misha) Zinkow, she served as co-senior rabbi at Mount Zion Temple, one of fifteen Reform and Conservative congregations participating as a pilot site for Synagogue 2000, a program in synagogue transformation. She has played a key leadership role in the Women's Rabbinic Network, co-chairing two of its conventions and now serves as the WRN's Conference Consultant. In addition she was selected to participate in "The Conversation", 2008, a dialogue between 65 American Jews who are leaders in their respective fields to talk about the future of Jewish life in this country and what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Rabbi Abrahamson travelled to Muchucuxcah, Mexica where she served as Scholar-in-Residence for the 2009 Rabbinic School Delegation [RSD] for the American Jewish World Service. She has taught and lectured widely on issues surrounding work/life balance challenges and leadership styles for Jewish professionals.

She has been published in magazines and journals including Moment, Shma and the CCAR Journal. Rabbi Abrahamson received the Bernard Reisman Award as the outstanding member of the professional Jewish community. In 2010, she was named one of the 50 most influential women rabbis in North America.

Rabbi Abrahamson has served on the CCAR's Executive Board, Contracts Committee, and Ethics Committee. A member of the Clinical Faculty of HUC-JIR, she also served on its Board of Governors. Her husband, Rabbi Misha Zinkow serves as senior rabbi at Temple Israel in Columbus where Rabbi Abrahamson offers frequent classes. They are the parents of four young adults ranging in age from 18 - 25 years of age.


Dr. Eliezer Diamond

Dr. Eliezer Diamond is Judah A. Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Dr. Diamond teaches courses in rabbinic literature in addition to introductory, intermediate and advanced Talmud study. He was ordained at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and received his doctorate in Talmud from JTS.

Dr. Diamond is the author of many popular and scholarly articles, including a chapter on the rabbinic period in The Schocken Guide to Jewish Books and articles in The Reader's Guide to Judaism. He recently completed a book titled Holy Men and Hunger Artists: Fasting and Asceticism in Rabbinic Culture, published in 2003 by Oxford University Press. The book provides a thorough reassessment of the role that asceticism plays in rabbinic Judaism, suggesting that asceticism is more pervasive than is generally thought. Dr. Diamond is currently editing a commentary on Yerushalmi Pesahim written by the late Professor Louis Ginzberg. Dr. Diamond has taught in a variety of settings, including Stern College, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the 92nd Street Y and several Ramah camps.

Dr. David B. Starr

Dr. David B. Starr is Charles R. Bronfman Visiting Associate Professor in Jewish Communal Innovation at Brandeis University.  Previously, Dr. Starr was Assistant Professor of Jewish History at Hebrew College and was the founding dean of Me'ah, a two-year intensive adult Jewish learning program. Since 1994, Me'ah has grown dramatically to more than 30 classes across the United States, with over 1,800 graduates. Dr. Starr holds rabbinic ordination from Jewish Theological Seminary, and received his PhD in history and Jewish studies from Columbia University. He served as adjunct lecturer at Brandeis University, and as rabbinic advisor at Harvard Radcliffe Hillel. Dr. Starr is currently writing a biography of Solomon Schechter, as well as a personal and analytical study of adult Jewish learning based upon his experience of founding/running the Me'ah program.

Dr. Bernard Steinberg

Dr. Bernard Steinberg is Vice President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, representing the Hartman Institute on the West Coast.  Formerly President and Director of Harvard Hillel, Bernie has also taught at the Harvard Kennedy School and numerous North American colleges. A recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award, Bernie is a bridge builder whose life-work is devoted to dialogic interaction between diverse groups of people and between the academy and the community at large.  His educational career focuses on making the classical sources of Judaism accessible and relevant, on leadership education, and on the exploration of Jewish identity in Israel. He recived a B.A. in literature from Wesleyan University, an M.A. in contemporary Jewish thought from Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His doctorate explores the relationship between the philosophy of Maimonides and modern Jewish thought.

Dr. Steinberg lived in Jerusalem for thirteen years during which time he directed the Wesleyan University Israel Program, was a founding member and served for many years on the faculty of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, taught at the Hebrew University, and was a founding Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Within the Jewish community, he has served on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage Foundation since 1986, as Education Director for the Nesyia Institute, founded the Department of Judaica at the JCC of Cleveland, taught for the Curriculum Initiative of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation and for the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. Dr. Steinberg has lectured on a wide-range of Jewish topics throughout the United States, Israel, and the former Soviet Union. One of the leading Jewish educators and teachers of Judaism in this country, he received the Benjamin J. Shevach Award for Distinguished Leadership in Jewish Education, the most prestigious award confered by the Boston Hebrew College.

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