Mechon Hader
What Our Students Say... What Our Students Say...

“Seeing the faculty members here as people who literally dedicate their lives to making changes and opening up spaces for a religious life and community is extremely empowering and makes me want to be a part of it.”


“I want to be a co-creator of my religious experience rather than a passive consumer and help create spaces in which other like-minded people can do the same.”


“Your passion and energy for Torah/Tfillah/Jewish life is like nothing I have experienced before.  I have never before seen people bring such heart into a Beit Midrash, as you do every single day.  You have all been incredible role models and teachers for me.  I have no doubt that this is 'the real deal.'”


“I want people to know that they can seriously commit to Jewish life and modern values.”


“Participating at Hadar has helped me realize the potential for fluidity and vibrancy in any community.”

Faculty Bios Faculty Bios

David Goshen

David Goshen is a faculty member at Mechon Hadar.  A graduate of the Har Etzion and Mir Yeshivot, he has studied Philosophy and Religion at the Hebrew University. He taught at the ‘Havruta’ Beit Midrash program at Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.

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Amit Gvaryahu

Amit Gvaryahu is a faculty member of Yeshivat Hadar, the Drisha Insitute and Yeshivat Talpiot in Jerusalem. He is an alum of Yeshivat Hadar, Yeshivat Har Etzion and the Hebrew University, from which he graduated with a degree in Talmud and Classics. He is also Graduate student at the Hebrew University, where he taught Talmud for three years. He is married to Yedidah Koren.

Rabbi Shai HeldRabbi Shai Held

Rabbi Shai Held is Co-Founder, Dean and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar. Before that, he served for six years as Scholar-in-Residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and Halakha at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also served as Director of Education at Harvard Hillel. A renowned lecturer and educator, Shai is a 2011 recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education. He has taught for institutions such as Drisha, Me'ah, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and the Rabbinic Training Institute, and currently serves on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage program. Shai has a PhD in religion from Harvard; his main academic interests are in modern Jewish and Christian thought and in the history of Zionism. His book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence was published by Indiana University Press in the fall of 2013, and can be found on Amazon.

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Avital HochsteinAvital Hochstein

Avital Campbell Hochstein is rosh yeshiva at Mechon Hadar and teaches Talmud at Yeshivat Hadar. She is the former rosh kollel at the Pardes Institute. A research fellow at Mechon Shalom Hartman, she has taught Talmud for several years at both institutions and was rosh beit midrash at the new Hartman High School for Girls. She is the co-author of The Place of Women in Midrash (Yedioth Ahronoth 2008). Avital is also a founder of Kehilat Shirah Hadashah in Jerusalem.

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Rabbi James Jacobson-MaiselsRabbi James Jacobson-Maisels

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels is a faculty member at Mechon Hadar and teaches Kabbalah and an elective on spritual practices at Yeshivat Hadar. He teaches Jewish thought and mysticism at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. James holds a BA in Philosophy and Judaic Studies from Brown University and an M.St. in Modern Jewish Studies from Balliol College the University of Oxford. He studied at the Conservative Yeshivah, the Hartman Institute of Jewish Studies, and in the Advanced Learning Seminar at Pardes and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes in Jerusalem. He is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Chicago in Jewish Studies specializing in Jewish mysticism. He has taught in a variety of settings in America and Israel on Judaism and Jewish Mysticism. He hopes to integrate his study and practice and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.

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Rabbi Elie KaunferRabbi Elie Kaunfer

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is co-founder and executive director of Mechon Hadar. A graduate of Harvard College, he was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also completed an MA and a doctorate in liturgy. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Elie is a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and in 2009 Newsweek named him one of  the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow, and is the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights, 2010).

Click here to learn more about Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities.

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Yedidah Koren

Yedidah Koren is a faculty member of Yeshivat Hadar and the Drisha institute in New York. She is currently pursuing an MA in Talmud at Tel Aviv University, and is a fellow of the Advanced Talmudic Institute at Matan Jerusalem. Yedidah is a graduate of the departments of Talmud and Classics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has also studied at Drisha, Migdal Oz and Midreshet Lindenbaum, and was a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar, Summer 2010. She also is a member of the steering committe of Yehivat Talpiot in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Aviva Richman

Rabbi Aviva Richman is a faculty member at Yeshivat Hadar. She has taught at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and she is a past Rosh Kollel of the Bet Midrash at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. She has also enjoyed teaching community-wide sessions for the Hadar Bet Midrash and at the National Havurah Institute. She studied in the Pardes Kollel and the Drisha Scholars' Circle and is was ordained by a private teacher. Particular interests include Halakhah, gender and sexuality in Judaism and niggunim. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Rabbinics at NYU.

Email Rabbi Aviva Richman

Jason RubensteinRabbi Jason Rubenstein

Rabbi Jason Rubenstein is Dean of Students at Yeshivat Hadar, where he also teaches Talmud and Jewish thought. Jason was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in May of 2011, and also holds an MA in Talmud from JTS and a BA in Social Studies from Harvard College. An alumnus of the kollel of Yeshivat Ma'ale Gilboa, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows program at JTS, and the Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Law and Legal Theory of the Cardozo Center for Jewish Law, Jason has also led multiple programs for the Nesiya Institute.

Rabbi Ben SkydellRabbi Ben Skydell

Rabbi Ben Skydell is a faculty member at Mechon Hadar and teaches Hasidut.  He also teaches Talmud and Chumash and is the Director of Religious Guidance at North Shoren Hebrew Academy. He has ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

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Dr. Devora SteinmetzDr. Devora Steinmetz

Dr. Devora Steinmetz is a senior faculty member at Yeshivat Hadar where she teaches Talmud and Midrash. She is the author of From Father to Son: Kinship, Conflict, and Continuity in Genesis and Punishment and Freedom: The Rabbinic Construction of Criminal Law. She has taught rabbinic literature at Drisha and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She was a visiting scholar at the Hebrew University’s Hevruta Program and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Steinmetz is the founder of Beit Rabban, an innovative day school that is profiled in Daniel Pekarsky's Vision at Work: The Theory and Practice of Beit Rabban. She serves as an educational leadership consultant to the Mandel Foundation.

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Rabbi Ethan TuckerRabbi Ethan Tucker

Rabbi Ethan Tucker is co-founder and rosh yeshiva at Mechon Hadar and chair in Jewish Law. Ethan was a faculty member at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, where he taught Talmud and Halakhah in the Scholars' Circle. Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he was a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and a winner of the first Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. He was named one of America’s Top 50 Rabbis by Newsweek in 2011 and 2012.

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Miriam-Simma Walfish

Miriam-Simma Walfish is the director of Mechon Hadar's Summer High School Program and coordinator of afternoon learning during the year. She is a graduate of the Pardes Educators Program, where she studied in the Pardes Kollel and through which she received an MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew University. She also studied at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and at Midreshet Ein haNatziv. She has taught Tanakh and Talmud at the Heschel High School in New York City, at the Northwoods Kollel and Beit Midrash of Ramah Wisconsin, andat  the National Havurah Institute.

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Joey Weisenberg

Joey Weisenberg is a faculty member at Yeshivat Hadar in charge of all music education. He is a mandolinist, guitarist, singer, and percussionist based in New York City, who has performed and recorded in a wide variety of musical styles. Joey works as the Music Director at Brooklyn's oldest synagogue, the Kane Street Synagogue, and visits shuls and communities around the world as a musician-in-residence, in which he teaches his popular 'Spontaneous Jewish Choir" workshops. He is the author of Building Singing Communities, published by Mechon Hadar. His CD's "Joey's Nigunim Volumes I and II" are available at, and his instructional videos "Table Top Rhythms for Jewish Singing" can be found online. For more information, please visit

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Dena Weiss

Dena Weiss is rosh beit midrash at Yeshivat Hadar. She earned a BA in Religious Studies from New York University and an MA in Theology from Harvard Divinity School. She has studied and taught in a variety of Jewish educational settings including Drisha, Midreshet Lindenbaum, and Pardes. For many years, she served as the editor in chief of the Mima'amakim journal of Jewish religious art.

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Devorah Zlochower

Devorah Zlochower teaches Talmud at Yeshivat Hadar and has taught Talmud at Yeshivat Maharat. She served as Rosh Beit Midrash, Director of Full-time Programs and Talmud and halakha instructor at Drisha Institute for over a decade. More recently, Devorah was Rosh Beit Midrash and Talmud instructor at SAR High School in Riverdale. Devorah serves on the advisory boards of JOFA, Sh'ma and AJWS and on the parent board of Aaron Academy, a private special education school in Manhattan. She has written and lectured on topics relating to halakha, Talmud Torah, and women's religious leadership. Devorah's advocacy work has focused on religious feminism as well as on disabilities. Devorah has an MA in political science from Columbia University and was a member of Drisha Institute's first cohort of graduates from the Scholars' Circle. She lives in Riverdale with her husband, Rabbi Dov Linzer, and their two teenage sons.

Email Devorah Zlochower

Faculty Faculty
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