Please extend a warm welcome and mazel tov to the newest EBJ Cohort! We appreciate the time and efforts of our selection committee, who had a very difficult task to complete. You can learn more about ALEPH's Earth-Based Judaism program here.
Aaron Rotenberg (he/him) serves as the spiritual Leader of Annex Shul in downtown Toronto and is a rabbinical student at ALEPH. He spends his summers as the Educational Manager of Heart to Heart, a society-building summer camp program for Jewish and Palestinian teens. Aaron has worked in a variety of Jewish settings, which included serving as Interim Director of Hillel at University of Toronto and teaching music at The Toronto Heschel School. He graduated from the List College Joint Program, with degrees in Bible, psychology, and creative writing from both Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Aaron completed an MFA in film production from York University. His short films have been screened at film festivals locally and internationally.
Asher Edes (he/she/they) works in the arts with the intention of liberating imaginations and healing relationships among people and land. As an artistic associate with Don’t You Feel It Too?, Asher coordinates Embodied Practice for Racial Healing, a program about mindful movement as activism. Based on Anishinaabe and Dakota land in Minnesota, Asher works for outdoor theaters that deepen relationships with natureculture, and facilitates anti-oppression work in performance company Mixed Precipitation. Asher is co-organizing climate justice action at a Reform congregation and helping start a disability-centered group with Jewish Farmer Network. They are an Adamah at Home alum who earned an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies at Hampshire College.
Bianca Gonzalez-Lesser, PhD (they/she) is a queer scholar, educator, and activist. They received their PhD in Sociology from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Bianca is currently an assistant professor of Sociology at Quinnipiac University. Their scholarly work focuses on race and racism, identity, culture, and media. Bianca’s work has been featured in many scholarly journals and books. In the Jewish world, they have served as a prayer leader and serve on the board of directors at a Reform congregation in Connecticut. Bianca is passionate about racial justice and queer activism. Originally from Puerto Rico, they currently reside in Connecticut with their wife, Emma, and 2-year-old twins, Liev and Noa.
Carey Averbook (she/they) comes from a long line of Ashkenazi Jews who came to this land while escaping pogroms in Eastern Europe. Carey wears many hats, including multimedia visual storyteller and artist, communications strategist, interdisciplinary designer, and Well-being Coach. She works on training and education development at Westfeldt Institute for Emotional Hygiene and on culture and community building in her multigenerational Queer Jewish community. The thread of her work is a mission to change the conscious and unconscious stories that we individually and collectively embody as we labor for cultural healing, liberation, and fierce love. She is passionate about creating visual multimedia stories that explore well-being and “the good life” by prompting questions and a felt sense of connection with nature, ritual, community, and cultural resilience and resistance.
Carey is currently going through a ceremonial rites of passage and adult initiation journey with Tree of Life in Northern California. They received their MA in New Media Photojournalism from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University and her BA in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. View some of her multimedia work at www.careyaverbook.net
Jake Ya’akov Raphael Sapon (he/him) is driven by a passion for Jewish Renewal and a deep curiosity for Jewish spiritual tradition. Graduating with a BA in Religious Studies from Brown University, Jake is a life-long student of trans-denominational religious practice, as well as a Torah School teacher at congregation Kol Tzedek in Philadelphia, PA. His professional background ranges from wilderness leadership education, to peacebuilding, to arts and movement mentorship. He cares deeply about envisioning a holistic future for Judaism and our planet rooted in the wisdom of interconnection. A musician and poet, Jake aspires to encounter the world through a lens of beauty, joy, and transformation.
Jon Gottsegen (he/him) lives in Denver, CO after having grown up back east and lived in Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City. Jon is certified as a Mashpia Ruchani (spiritual director) through Aleph. He is winding down a long career in information technologies, most recently serving as Chief Data Officer for the state of Colorado, to focus on bringing hashpa'ah (spiritual direction) work into nature and the wild. Jon has also participated in ALEPH’s Davennen’ Leadership Training Institute and is a certified Torah Trek guide through Rabbi Mike Comins’ Torah Trek program. He engages in several earth-based spiritual practices, and as with most people involved in ALEPH programs, he is interested in creating innovative and engaging ways for connecting with the Divine both in a Jewish framework and outside of Judaism. You can read more about Jon’s hashpa’ah work at www.jonspiritualdirectioncolo.com
Jonathan Zvi Berman Billig (he/they) has designed programs, trained teachers, and coordinated departments at The Bronx Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, and New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock. He holds a Masters of Science from Antioch University, New England, and B.A.s from The Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University. His spiritual journey includes participation in ALEPH's Kesher Fellowship and Romemu's Yeshiva program, a stint as a Teva educator and farmhand at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, and 10+ years of practice in the Plum Village tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. He also co-designed and led the “Synagogue In the Woods” program for Temple Beth Shalom, Mahopac and taught Hebrew school for a gaggle of synagogues.
Judith Gamboa, MA (she, they) is a mother, partner, community organizer, activist, poet, linguist, and healer of the body-mind. She spent most of her early life by the sea in South Florida before moving to the woods of North Carolina, where she now resides with her family. She is a member of the Durham-based havurah Sacred Monsters/Mifletzot Kadoshot as well as Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill, NC. Judith is an avid cook and craftivist and consciously emphasizes the earth-based, cyclical quality of these activities. Also, she has never met a book she wouldn't read.
Lorin Troderman (he/him/his) is a third year full-time Rabbinical Student at Hebrew College in Newton, MA and currently serves the Temple Beth El community of Portland Maine as a part-time Rabbinic intern. Lorin brings his passion for Judaism and the natural world along with a commitment to building healthy sustainable practices into our midst. After graduating Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts and a five years consciousness raising sojourn in Australia, he directed the Hillel at UC Santa Cruz, earned an MBA focusing on sustainability, developed Blue Lotus, a green business, and worked with YES! (Youth for Environmental Sanity) and SunRidge Farms. Post divorce, Lorin found himself living by the sea, where he reinitiated a daily davening practice and hunger for Jewish learning that led him to Hebrew College. Lorin lives with his partner Sussi Rowntree and Jasper, a 14 year old black lab/border collie, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Rebecca Schisler (she/her) is a meditation teacher, artist and rabbinical student. A devoted mindfulness practitioner, Rebecca has sat numerous intensive Jewish and Buddhist retreats in the US, India and Israel, and teaches on retreat with Or Ha Lev and Awakened Heart Project. She has taught meditation to children, teachers and parents in California schools with Mindful Life Project and is currently developing curriculum on mindfulness-based skills for social/emotional learning and constructive conflict at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. Rebecca is trained in womens' initiatory arts and has guided adolescents through nature-based rites-of-passage as a lead facilitator with Wilderness Torah. She offers mindfulness coaching and mentoring to individuals, youth & families, and organizations. Learn more at www.rebeccaschisler.com.
Rose Espinola (they/them) practices their faith through their social justice work. Rose is a social justice organizer and data scientist who has won more than a dozen campaigns including comprehensive sex education, unionization fights, prison divestment, and the defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They currently support organizations with training, data infrastructure, and digital strategy through their business Espinola Strategies. Rose is also founder of La Luchita Project, which leads trips to Cuba for community organizers, and the Movement Tech Help Desk, which provides on-call tech support to movement organizations while building a pipeline of progressive BIPOC technologists.
Rose is multiracial indigenous, Mexican, and Ashkenazi Jewish. Rose was raised Jewish, and came to social justice work through el Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) and Xicana spirituality. Rose has a home-, family-, ancestor-, and earth-based spiritual practice, and finds community in Jews of Color spaces. Rose is from South Florida and currently lives in the DC suburbs. In their free time, they enjoy hiking, making homemade herbal medicine, and watching reality TV.