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Robert Levine, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom since 1991, is an inspiring speaker, teacher, and counselor to congregants and community alike. A clear thinker with a terrific sense of humor, he is a sought-after speaker and media guest on national radio and television programs.
Especially active in communal affairs, he currently serves on The Clergy Advocacy Board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and on The Muslim Jewish Advisory Council. He is a member of the Commission of Religious Leaders of New York City, the American Jewish Committee as well as Synergy/UJA Federation. He is a past President of the New York Board of Rabbis, and has served as Vice-President and Chairman of its Interfaith Committee. He has chaired the Catholic/Jewish Dialogue with the Archdiocese of the City of New York, the publications committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Rabbi Levine is the author of three books. His latest book, What God Can Do For You Now: For Seekers Who Want to Believe (Sourcebooks, Inc. 2008), represents his personal faith journey and is for Jews, Christians and secularists who want to find a way back from skepticism and self-doubt about God. He asserts that with all our reservations, we can still have a real relationship with God that matters for our lives and for the world that needs action emerging from faith. Where Are You When I Need You? Befriending God When Life Hurts (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996) offers timeless stories and anecdotes for readers of all ages and faiths to strengthen and renew their relationship with God, even in the face of one’s gravest doubts. In There Is No Messiah and You’re It: The Stunning Transformation of Judaism’s Most Provocative Idea (Jewish Lights, 2003), Rabbi Levine urges us to recognize that the powerful messianic ideals we’re waiting to have delivered to us are already present in our own lives.
Rabbi Levine was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1977 and received his Doctor of Divinity Degree in March 2002. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Columbia College. In 1997 he received the Maria and Joel Finkle Prize as Rabbi of the Year, presented by the New York Board of Rabbis; in 2002 he was the recipient of the International Humanitarian Award by The World Union for Progressive Judaism, alongside Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel, the Westy Award from West Side Spirit in 2006 and the Champion of Choice Award from NARAL in 2010. In 2013 he received the All Stars Project Bridge Building Award for Leadership in Community Relations.
He is married to Gina Stahl Levine and together, they are the proud parents of Judah, Maya, Ezra and Katie.
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Phone Number: (646) 454-3022
Rabbi Benjamin Spratt was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May 2008, concentrating in Jewish Philosophy. In his years at seminary, he was the recipient of many awards and prizes in Talmud, philosophy, homiletics, and Bible. Born in Salt Lake City, UT, Rabbi Spratt spent his early years exploring his Jewish identity. His Jewish journey took him through the Conservative, Renewal, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist worlds of Judaism before finding a home within the Reform movement.
Rabbi Spratt graduated magna cum laude in 2001 from the Honors College of the University of Oregon as a member of Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies. He earned distinguished honors for his thesis on early Jewish mysticism. Rabbi Spratt has served as a religious school teacher for 15 years, a religious school director, a chaplain at Lenox Hill Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, and as the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Rodeph Sholom for four years.
Rabbi Spratt now serves as Senior Associate Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom and as the Rabbi-in-Residence of Rodeph Sholom School. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, Cantor Micah Morgovsky, and their two children Ayalah and Jonah.
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Phone Number: (646) 454-3025
Associate Rabbi Greg D. Weitzman grew up living in Stony Brook, Long Island. In 2005, Rabbi Weitzman graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in Archaeology. Rabbi Weitzman was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in May 2015. Following his graduation from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Greg worked at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and for three years at Central Synagogue as a full-time teacher and Youth Director.
Rabbi Weitzman has a lot of experience working in both formal and informal Jewish education. He spent fifteen summers at Eisner Camp as a camper, counselor, songleader, and Education Director. It was there that Rabbi Weitzman met his wife Ashley. Ashley and Rabbi Weitzman were married at Congregation Rodeph Sholom.
Rabbi Weitzman was co-director of NextDOR NYC, a 20s and 30s movement sponsored by Synagogue 3000 and congregations throughout the New York Area region. He has also been the band leader for Shabbat Unplugged, a young-professionals Shabbat on the Upper East Side.
Rabbi Weitzman lives in Manhattan with his wife Ashley, their daughter Eden, their son Jonathan, and their Golden Doodle, Chewbacca. In his spare time, he, Ashley and Eden love cheering on their beloved New York Rangers, traveling the world, eating good food, and taking advantage of whatever New York City has to offer.
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Phone Number: (646) 454-3028
Juliana Schnur Karol grew up in Scarsdale, NY. She attended New York University, earning her B.A. summa cum laude in Spanish Literature and Jewish History in 2008, and her M.A. in Jewish History in 2011. Prior to enrolling at Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Rabbi Karol worked in international relations at the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris, France. She then moved to Washington, D.C. where she served as legislative assistant and then projects coordinator at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She returned to New York City to serve as assistant to the president-elect of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and subsequently as coordinator of strategic initiatives. During her tenure at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Karol served for three years as rabbinical intern for Congregation Rodeph Sholom and as co-coordinator of the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen where she led a successful capital campaign to renovate the kitchen facilities. She earned prizes for Hebrew language and literature, community service, and academic achievement. Rabbi Karol is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, the Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship, and the American Jewish World Service Global Justice Fellowship. She is also a senior fellow of Humanity in Action, an educational organization that promotes active citizenship worldwide. Juli lives with her husband, Adam, and their son, Joshua, on the Upper East Side.
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Phone Number: (646) 454-3039
Cantor Rebecca Garfein, DM, mezzo-soprano, is the Senior Cantor of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, and is the first female Cantor ever to hold this position. Cantor Garfein has appeared in numerous recitals throughout the United States, Israel, and Europe.
In 1997, Cantor Garfein was invited to participate in the Jewish Cultural Festival in Berlin, Germany and was the first female Cantor to give a solo concert in the same city her grandfather of blessed memory fled. At the 1998 Berlin Jewish Cultural Festival, she became the first female Cantor to preside in a German synagogue, and released a CD of the live recording of the 1997 Berlin concert, “Sacred Chants of the Contemporary Synagogue.”
On November 10, 2005 at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York, Cantor Garfein presented the concert and historic CD debut of “Golden Chants in America…Commemorating 350 years of Jewish Music, 1654-2004,” Including music from the Spanish-Portuguese Jews, the synagogue and the Yiddish and Broadway theater, the CD is the first U.S. recording to feature Jewish music spanning 350 years of life in America.
Cantor Garfein is also a featured soloist on two recordings from the Sacred Music Press, Celebrating the Past and Present, honoring the 50th anniversary of the School of Sacred Music, 1999, and Kol Sasson Kol Simcha, a commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 2001.
A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Cantor Garfein has been a featured soloist with the Ra’a’na’na Orchestra and the Zamir Chorale at the Jerusalem Theater in Israel and in 2001 was a soloist at the 350th anniversary concert of the Curacao Jewish Community.
Cantor Garfein made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2005 with Mandy Patinkin in a benefit concert for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater. In 2003, Cantor Garfein made her debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in a concert celebrating the release of Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s book, “Musically Speaking.” She has been a participant in the opera program at DiCapo Opera in New York City and at the Aspen Music Festival. Last year, Cantor Garfein made her Town Hall Debut with Neil Sedaka and Jay Black in another benefit concert for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre. As a teenager, Cantor Garfein was a participant in the Young Artists’ vocal program at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts.
Cantor Garfein graduated cum laude from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music with a degree in vocal performance and opera. In 1993, she received her Master’s Degree in Sacred Music and Cantorial Ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).
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Phone Number: (646) 454-3039
Cantor Shayna De Lowe grew up in Springfield, MO, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in Music Education. She was invested from the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music in May of 2007 and began working at Rodeph Sholom in July 2007, where she is now the Associate Cantor.
During her time at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, Shayna took a strong interest in world Jewry and the music and culture of Jews around the world. Shayna spent two of her years of study at the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR, during which time she traveled to the Former Soviet Union to serve as student cantor to Jewish communities there. She first went to Russia where she lead Passover sedarim and then to Belarus where she sang during Yom Kippur and again during Purim.
As a result of her interest in world Jewry and her time spent in Israel, Shayna wrote her masters thesis about the music of the Ethiopian Jews. She spent time researching the Ethiopian Jewish community while living in Jerusalem and completed her thesis, “I am Black and Beautiful, O Daughters of Jerusalem: The Development of the Music of the Ethiopian Jews”, here in New York.
Shayna recently completed the Clergy Leadership Program with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, diving into the study of Hassidic text, song, meditation and yoga. This program has reinvigorated her search for different avenues to spiritual connection and has inspired her to offer these different paths to members of the CRS community.
Cantor De Lowe lives in Brooklyn with her wife, son and daughter.
Cantor Ephraim Biran was born in Tel Aviv in 1925 and studied voice in Israel and Italy. A frequent guest soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, appearing under the direction of such conductors as Dmitri Mitropolous, Alfred Wallenstein and Carlo Maria Giulini, Cantor Biran came to New York in 1962. He served as Cantor of Rodeph Sholom from 1963 until his retirement in 1994.
He was the baritone soloist in a Carnegie Hall performance of Ernest Bloch’s “Sacred Service” with the Collegiate Chorale in 1964, conducted by Abraham Kaplan. In the same year he sang the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “Abraham and Isaac” in Jerusalem, written for baritone and chamber orchestra and commissioned by the state of Israel. Cantor Biran was the Music Director for the Channel 13/WNET program “Hear Our Voices,” which was broadcast live from Rodeph Sholom in 1971.
Under his direction, the Rodeph Sholom Children’s Choir was created in 1974 and includes children from both the Rodeph Sholom School and Rodeph Sholom Religious School. In the course of his years at Rodeph Sholom he prepared close t0 1,000 children and 300 adults for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. He appeared frequently in concerts and on television, and was instrumental in furthering the cause of contemporary music for the synagogue through his active program of commissions and performances.
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Lyndsie joins the team at Congregation Rodeph Sholom bringing with her years of experience in the world of fundraising. Most recently, she worked at CCS, an international fundraising consulting firm that helps non-profit organizations in all sectors maximize their impact through philanthropy. At CCS, Lyndsie worked on an array of development projects with a number of organizations including Riverside Park Conservancy, The Nightingale-Bamford School, Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, and Sarasota Opera.
She has conducted development assessments, feasibility and campaign planning studies, served as campaign counsel for multi-million dollar fundraising efforts, and most recently, assumed the role of Interim Director of Development at The Gateway Schools. Prior to her time at CCS, Lyndsie was a member of the Planned Giving and Endowments team at UJA-Federation of NY. She attended the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU where she concentrated in Judaic Studies and Non-Profit Management.
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Scott comes to us from the URJ, where he was the Founding Director of Communications for Youth. He’s also worked with entrepreneurial organizations, and has most recently been Director of Marketing and Communications at Jewish Community Project Downtown. He is driven by both excellence and collegiality, and understands the role that programming plays in engagement initiatives. Scott grew up in Texas (and is still a huge Texas sports fan) and was both a camper and a counselor at URJ Greene Family Camp. He received his B.S. in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.
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Lisa Schiff is an experienced early childhood educator with a special expertise in programming for Jewish enrichment. She holds a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College and a second Masters Degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Lisa creates grownup and me classes, Shabbat and holiday experiences that provide opportunities for family togetherness and connect families with young children to Jewish life at Congregation Rodeph Sholom. Lisa has been with our congregation for 5 years and lives on the Upper West Side with her husband David and their children Shayna and Ari.
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