Leaders of Virtual Programs

About the Program

In these times of physical distancing, it's hard to feel connected to our innermost selves. Many of us are doing the best that we can just to stay afloat, that we haven't had the chance to touch base with our souls. 

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal's virtual programming includes our Tikshoret Program and Renewing Our Collective Soul: A Virtual Program For Our Times, which was created in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Teachers and leaders from all over the globe have hosted sessions on meditation, embodied movement, spiritual direction, and so much more––gently guiding us to spaces where we can connect with our deepest selves. 

Most programs are pay-what-you-wish. Donations will directly support the work of ALEPH and Jewish Renewal programming, and we are thankful for any amount you can donate. If you're unable to make a donation at this time, that's okay too. We welcome you. 

New offerings will continue to be added, so be sure to check our main page often.

Our Program Leaders

We invite you to get to know our program leaders!

Rabbi and Mashpiah (Spiritual Director) Aura Ahuvia (she/her) has served as spiritual leader for Reform and Multi-denominational congregations, after having founded the Reconstructionist Havurah in Ann Arbor in 1993 with husband Aaron. She was ordained by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2014. As a rabbi, she is interested in how mind-body medicine integrates with Jewish learning and practice. She teaches online, and has completed the advanced training program with The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. She has two grown sons, and lives with her husband and dog in Ann Arbor, MI.

Reb Simona Aronow BC-DTR, CMA, NCC, BCTMB (she/her) is a Dance/Movement Therapist, student of Kabbalah, and educator for over 40 years. She was empowered by Rabbi Zalman z"l, as Reverend and Sacred Minister, Sacred Movement and Spiritual Embodiment Guide, Morat Torah, Ritualist and Life Cycle Officiate. Reb Simona has taught this material privately and at retreat centers, including Isabella Freedman, the National Havurah Institute, Gesher Jewish Center, ALEPH's Tikshoret program and Kallah. In addition, she was on faculty for Aleph's Embodying Spirit, En-Spiriting Body Program, directed by Rabbi Diane Elliot, and the Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies Certification Program. As director and faculty for "Embodying the Great Mystery", a 2-year embodied Kabbalistic learning program, she joins her passion for traditional Jewish learning and love of movement to help others find personal meaning. Her love for movement and somatic healing is inspiring.

Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW (she/her) is Professor of Ritual and Human Development at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, where she trains rabbinical, cantorial and chaplaincy students. A Spiritual Director, Psychotherapist, Meditation Teacher, and Author, she specialized in grief, healing and spirituality and assists institutions in creating communities grounded in compassion. Rabbi Brener was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Jewish Religion in 2008. Her writing appears in many anthologies on Jewish spirituality and healing and she has been frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. Her acclaimed book, Mourning & Mitzvah: Walking the Mourners' Path through Grief to Healing, is in its expanded third edition. A founder of one of California’s first shelters for victims of Domestic Violence, she has worked as a Hospice Chaplain and co-founded the Morei Derekh Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program. She has served on the ALEPH Board since January, 2018.

Rabbi Diane Elliot (she/her) is a spiritual teacher, ritual leader, dancer, writer, somatic therapist, and spiritual director based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She inspires her students to become clearer channels for Presence through awareness and movement practices, chant, and nuanced interpretations of Jewish sacred text. From 2011-2018 Diane directed ALEPH’s Embodying Spirit, En-spiriting Body training in embodied Judaism, and she continues to teach embodied approaches to Judaism nationally. Rabbi Diane currently serves as a member of the stewardship team of Taproot, a multi-generational community of Jewish artists, activists, and changemakers, and on the faculty of Moving On Center, a somatic training program. She is the author of three volumes of poetry, most recently The Voice is Movement (Hakodesh Press, 2020). To learn more about her work, visit www.whollypresent.org

Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife (she/her or they/them) sprinkles sparkles, disrupts expectations, and offers blessings wherever she goes. As Executive Director of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, she delights in supporting organizational growth and serving as part of the faculty. She also pours love and intention into her work as founder and leader of Kesher Pittsburgh, Program Director of the ALEPH Kesher Fellowship, and more broadly as a shlichat tzibbur, life spiral ceremony/ritual creatrix, liturgist, songstress, teacher and public speaker. Her work in these realms is informed by her lived experience as a queer Jewish Woman of Colour and the quandries she encounters as a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School. Keshira received Kohenet smicha in 2017 and earned her BS 2000 and MS 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University. Dual-citizens of the USA and Australia and avid travelers, these days, she and her beloved are leaning into stillness and sheltering-in-peace at home in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Sister Eleanor Francis (she/her) is an Episcopal priest and nun. Her mother was a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who rarely if ever talked about her Holocaust experience. As a second generation Holocaust survivor ("2-G"), Sr. Eleanor has spent much time learning about her Jewish roots. She currently attends the Zoom Or Ha Lev Sabbath services led by Rabbi Debra Smith. 

Rabbi Dayle Friedman, MSW, MA, BCC, (she/her) is a spiritual guide, social innovator, chaplain, and scholar who has dedicated her career to bringing meaning and radiance to aging. She has trained rabbis and chaplains, accompanied frail elders, taught and guided individuals embarking upon their “third chapters.” Her recent publications include Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife, and Jewish End-of-Life Care in a Virtual Age: Our Traditions Reimagined, which she edited with Simcha Paull Raphael and David Levin, of (forthcoming, 2020, Albion-Andalus Publishing). Her Philadelphia-based, national practice, Growing Older, http://www.growingolder.net, offers spiritual direction, spiritual care, and consulting on caregiving, dementia, and end-of-life care.

Rabbi Shefa Gold (she/her) received her ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and is the director of C-DEEP. Shefa has produced ten albums, and is the author of 4 books. Her new project -SOULIFT, is a weeklong immersion in spiritual practice designed to lift us into the Soul perspective. You can reach her through the website (www.RabbiShefaGold.com)

Rabbi Edwin S. Harris, Ph.D. (he/him) is psychologist with over 40 years of experience in private practice. He has taught Pastoral Counseling in the ALEPH Ordination Program and at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. He was a rabbi at Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, and he is the Founding Rabbi and Spiritual Leader of the Playa Vista Jewish Community.  

Rabbinic Pastor/Cantor Lisa Levine (she/her) is producing all of our Virtual Concert Series programs. She builds bridges between faith communities as a nationally renowned composer, author, poet & worship artist. Lisa earned her B.A. in Music from the UCI and went on to study at Hebrew Union College-JIR DFSSM in New York and was Ordained Hazzan with a Masters in Sacred Music. Her newest project “Jospel Jam” is a journey through her Jewish Gospel compositions. Ordained as Rabbinic Pastor through ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, she serves as A-I-R at Temple Rodef Torah in Marlboro, NJ, and chaplain in MC MD. She is co-President of the Rabbinic Pastors Association.

SooJi Min-Maranda (she/her) believes in the power of personal stories. Whether providing direct services, advocating for policy change, or fundraising for nonprofit organizations, Ms. Min-Maranda begins with personal narratives that illustrate the need for programs, policies, and resources that raise the voices of those underserved and underrepresented in mainstream society. A seasoned nonprofit executive with 15 years of experience, Min-Maranda brings a for-profit mindset to the nonprofit arena. She advocates for strategic partnerships and efficient, effective resource allocation. 

Previously, Min-Maranda was the executive director of Temple Beth Emeth, a 600+ member reform Jewish synagogue in Ann Arbor, MI; the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health and parenting; and Korean American Community Services, a comprehensive social service agency in Chicago. The Asian Health Coalition of Illinois presented her with its Outstanding Community Health Advocate Award in 2008. 

She currently is in Cohort 3 of Leading Edge’s CEO Onboarding Program for high-level organizational leaders in the American Jewish community. Min-Maranda served on Governor Quinn’s Illinois Human Services Commission from 2010-2012 and is a member of the Selah Leadership Program's National Executive Cohort 9. She was a 2010 Chicago Community Trust Fellow and a 2010 Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Awardee. She is a 2007 Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Delegate and a 2006 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. A graduate of Barnard College, Min-Maranda holds master’s degrees from Northwestern University and The University of Chicago.

Mikey Pauker (pronounced pow-ker) (he/him) is a Jewish Rock artist from Fairfax, California. Pauker has been described as one of "The 10 Stars Of The New Jewish Music" via TIME Magazine. He has released multiple albums including Sim Shalom, Mikey Pauker & The JoyMachine, Extraordinary Love, The Sages EP & ASCENSION . His “Sim Shalom,” Hinei Mah Tov (Eeoohh),” and “Shalom Alecheim” were all featured in the Transcontinental Ruach compilations. Many of his melodies have gained global popularity within all of the major Jewish youth group and summer camp movements. 

Growing up in Orange County, Mikey’s early experiences at underground shows exposed him to the intense, primal energy of live music, as well as the strong community bonds that form in an authentic and close-knit scene. Inspired by teachers who blend yoga and mystical practices he went to study in Jerusalem, soaking up the hidden teachings of his ancestral lineage. These spiritual dimensions guided his artistic development as he explored ecstatic music festivals and mystical religious traditions. 

Pauker has shared the stage with artists including: Matisyahu, Rebelution, Stephen Marley, Dovavon Frankenreiter, Ayla Nereo, Chronixx, The Polish Ambassador, Trevor Hall, Mike Love and others. Notable performance highlights include Red Rocks, Hullaween, Cali World Fest, Electric Forest, Beloved, Bhakti Fest, Envision Music Festival, ARISE and more! 

His “RISE Vulnerable Rally” music video swept the world touching the hearts of over 1 million souls. In 2020 Pauker released his new single “We Are Safe” produced by Jim Kaufman (AWOLNATION, Finish Ticket, Anti Flag) on Ineffable Records home to artists including: Stick Figure, Through the Roots, Tropidelic, Mike Love among others. He performed the song and was a guest on the Aubrey Marcus podcast, a motivational destination for conversations with the brightest minds in athletics, business, science, relationships and spirituality with over 35 million downloads on iTunes. 

For the past 8 years Mikey has served as music faculty at the National Songleader Boot Camp Conference teaching classes on Jewish embodied practice, music business strategy, and artist development. Mikey has served as Music Director for the center of Earth Based Judaism: Wilderness Torah. He is currently the music director of Or Shalom in San Francisco. Stay Connected at: www.mikeypauker.com 

Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael (she/her) is an “unorthodox” visionary rabbi. She has served four congregations, and is currently the spiritual leader for Darkaynu, an independent congregation in the Philadelphia area. She is a singer/songwriter/liturgist (with 6 CDs to her name), and the author of two children’s books: Angels for Dreamtime and New Moon. She does tallit painting and Shechinah Oracle readings, and teaches about spirituality and the Jewish mysteries. In her spare time Reb Rayzel offers musical Shabbat services and concerts and leads Jewish spiritual travel adventures. For more information on all her many projects, see her website: www.shechinah.com

Rachael R. Resch (she/her) is an artist, scientist and mystic, devoted to the sacred body for healing, play and prayer. A Nia Black Belt, physical therapist and ecumenical embodied prayer leader, she has studied with teachers in mythopoetics, somatics, energetics and the arts - including Robert Bly, Joseph Campbell, Coleman Barks, Martín Prechtel, Aryeh Hirschfield (z”tl), Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (zt”l), Arthur Waskow and David Zaslow. She is author of the forthcoming book, Holy Body, Holy Ground: Re-Creating the Body of the World in an Era of Climate Chaos, and owns Synergy Physical Therapy & Movement Arts. She lives in Ashland, Oregon, with her husband, Richard Seidman, author of A New Oracle of Kabbalah: Mystical Teachings of the Hebrew Letters.

Rabbi Jeff Roth, D. Div. (he/him) is the founder and Director of The Awakened Heart Project for Contemplative Judaism. He was the co-founder of Elat Chayyim, the Jewish Retreat Center, where he served as Executive Director and Spiritual Director for 13 years, as well as past director of P’nai Or, the precursor to ALEPH. Currently on the faculty of Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Program, he is an experienced meditation teacher and the facilitator of over 200 Jewish meditation retreats. He is the author of, Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life and Me Myself and God from Jewish Lights Publishing.

Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder (she/her) wears two kippot in her roles as the rabbi of The Shul of New York, an inclusive non-denominational synagogue in the East Village, in addition to being the Rosh Hashpa'ah, the head of Spiritual Direction for the ALEPH Ordination Program. As a spiritual leader and artist, she designs transformative learning and ritual opportunities to provide seekers with joyful and creative approaches to Judaism. She received rabbinic ordination in the ALEPH Ordination Program. An alumna of CLAL’s trans-denominational Rabbis Without Borders and a graduate of the IJS Clergy Leadership Program, Rabbi Eva also has certifications as a spiritual director, Jewish Mindfulness Meditation, Wise Eldering and JewishYoga and the Gamliel Institute. She treasures walking the spiritual path with her directees and students. Amongst the many activities that Rabbi Eva enjoys, she loves expressing herself through art, exploring the wonders of nature, traveling, cooking, singing and hosting friends and loving her family! 

Reb Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks (he/him) is a Jewish spiritual teacher and musician. He has been teaching on Kabbalah and the practice of Presence (meditation, mindfulness) since 2006. He received s’miha (ordination) as Minister of Sacred Music (Reb Yosef Briah Zohar, Menatzeiakh, Ba’al Tefilah) from Reb Zalman z”l (2012), Spiritual Teacher and Awakener of Souls (Morei Rukhani uM’oreir N’shamot) from Shaykh Ibrahim Baba Farajaje (may his secret be sanctified) and Rabbi SaraLeya Schley (2012), certification to teach Jewish meditation (Moreh L’hitbodedut) from Dr. Avram Davis (2004). He is the author of Integral Jewish Meditation – Three Portals of Presence for Spiritual Awakening, and founded the online Kabbalah meditation community, Torah of Awakening, in 2016. Learn more at: TorahOfAwakening.com

Dr. Shabiha Sheikh (she/her) is a first-generation Muslim woman from Edison, NJ. She graduated from Rutgers University with a PharmD and works as a pharmacist in a veterans’ nursing home. She is the co-leader of the Morris County Chapter of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom with Rabbi Debra Smith.

Rabbi Debra Smith (Reb Deb) (she/her) is the founding Rabbi of Or Ha Lev Jewish Renewal Congregation in Succasunna, NJ. She is also a clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist. She is co-leader, with Ms. Shabiha Sheikh, of the Morris County Chapter of the national organization, Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom. Rabbi Debra is the Rabbi in Residence at the Drew Theological School. She is a frequent speaker in mosques and churches on the topic of multi-faith issues. She received rabbinic ordination from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and a Masters in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia.