Shirat Devorah Faculty
Yehudis Leah (Jody) Feld – Educational Director and Mashgiach Ruchani
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Yehudis Leah (Jody) Feld has been gathering sparks in the Bay Area of California for almost three decades. She and her late husband, Rabbi Chanan Feld (z”l) created a vibrant Jewish home in Berkeley, California. Their lives, and the lives of their children were immeasurably enriched by the thousands of guests who joined their family over the years for Shabbos and Yom Tov. Together with her husband, and another couple, she co-founded Beit Midrash Ohr HaChaim, an independent Torah learning center, now in its 11th year. Rebbetzin Feld is a passionate teacher of Torah, Chassidic thought, and Yahadut, and has served as Judaic Studies Director at Oakland Hebrew Day School, Hebrew School Principal at Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, and has taught at numerous schools, synagogues, and Jewish institutions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. A long-time Kallah teacher, she has taught numerous brides, introducing them to the mitzvah of Taharat HaMishpacha, and has served as an attendant at the Berkeley Mikvah, as well as on the Chevra Kadisha. She is also a writer, and has been very involved in the arts, serving as Interim Director of J.A.C.O.B. (Jewish Arts Community of the Bay) and as Guest Curator at the Judah Magnes Museum. Her articles and poems have been published in several popular Jewish journals. She holds a College Scholar degree from Cornell University in Comparative Literature and Anthropology. Currently she is working on a translation of Slonimer chassidus on the parsha of the week, a series of Jewish children’s stories, and a book of poems. She is excited to move to Eretz Yisrael, and to become a part of the Shirat Devorah Community.
Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, Dean
Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz has been an innovative Jewish educator in Israel for over two decades. He began as a Program Director at Gesher. After three years as an Educational Officer in the IDF, he received his ordination from the Israeli Rabbinate, from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Chaim Brovender. He then built a successful business in Experiential Education and Corporate Training, and helped found Yeshivat Derech Etz Chaim. Rav Aaron spent six years as the Rabbi of Kol Rina, the famous Miklat (Bomb Shelter) minyan, bringing a special blend of celebratory joy and profound insight to thousands every year.
It is Rav Aaron’s belief that Torah must be both transcendent and grounded that led him to found Sulam Yaakov, a leadership training Beit Midrash which has ordained over twenty rabbis to date. This unique institution, which gives special attention to the individual’s spiritual process and inner world, expects students to work to support themselves and their families while learning. In 2010, Rav Aaron launched Shirat Devorah a beginners program for women. These programs are designed for the whole person – they are intellectually and spiritually challenging; promoting an integrated growth process through which the student is empowered to chart his/her own path in Jewish life. 2011 saw the launch of Threshold, an accelerator for Jewish Educational Entrepreneurship. All programs are operated by HaOhel Institutions, the Jerusalem branch of Yad Yaakov, promoting “Open-Tent Judaism” in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Leah Weil – Madricha and Yoga Instructor
Leia grew up on her parent’s farm in California’s Central Valley, where she first began dancing as a form of spiritual expression. This love of movement led her to pursue an early career in dance, involving intensive study with professional ballet companies and ultimately yielding her acceptance into NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. While earning her BFA in Dance and BA in Journalism, Leia began practicing yoga at both Tisch and Yoga to the People. Leia came into G-d consciousness while in college and has been impassioned with the wisdom of her heritage ever since, realizing “Jew” is inseparable from “G-d”. Leia has been living in Israel since 2008, having made Aliyah in 2009. Leia is currently receiving her Flow Yoga certification and studying GAGA movement language with Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Yosef Leibowitz
Rabbi Leibowitz received his ordination from Yeshiva University and his PhD from the University of California in Berkeley. He served as community Rabbi for many years both in the United States and Kfar Saba Israel. He is the Founder of the Yad Yaakov Fund for Jewish Education.
Menucha Chwat grew up in Flatbush and came on Aliya in 1981. She and her family are among the founding members of Carmei Tzur. For the past three decades she has been teaching adult Jewish women on all levels, from preconversion programs, to advanced text classes for women with extensive Jewish knowledge. Menucha’s other passion is for women’s issues. She is a trained madrichat habayit hayehudi (Jewish ritual family law advisor) certified by Machon Puah, and a Lamaze trained childbirth teacher. She has taught parenting classes in various frameworks and loves empowering women by giving them knowledge.
Tziporah Levine was born in Toronto and moved to Israel after university. She received a B.A. in Judaic Studies with a concentration in Tanach from Yeshiva University. After making aliya, she studied for two years in the Matan Graduate Program in Bible Exegesis and received an MA in Bible. Tziporah has taught in Torah institutions throughout Jerusalem, most notably Tal Torah and Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY). Tziporah lives with her husband and children in Jerusalem.
Rav Michael Feuer
Rav Michael Feuer was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He has a B.A. in Environmental Geology from Colorado College and an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis. He learned Torah in a number of Jerusalem area institutions, including Yeshivat HaMivtar, the Mir Yeshiva and Sulam Yaakov. He received his semicha from Rav Don Channan and the Israeli Rabbinate. Rav Mike has been active in Jewish education, formal and informal, for many years. Since making aliyah in 2001, he has been Program Director of the Torat Chaim post-high school yeshiva in addition to teaching history, Jewish thought and Bible in several Jerusalem yeshivot and midrashot. Currently, he is continuing his Rabbinic studies and Torah learning for its own sake at Sulam Yaakov Community Beit Midrash in Nachlaot. Rav Mike’s teaching style is a mix of desire for rigorous analysis and a passionate love of the poetry found in learning. He approaches learning and teaching as a process of mutual self development. He is especially passionate about the Early Prophets and the philosophy of the Rambam and the Maharal of Prague. He currently lives in Maaleh Adummim with his wife and four children.
Rabbi Yehoshua Kahan
Rav Yehoshua Kahan was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended U.C.L.A., where he received a degree in Physics. He held rabbinical positions in Knoxville, Tennessee and Los Angeles, and continued his Torah learning as a kollel member at the Yeshiva of Los Angeles and the National Torah Center in Tzfat, where he studied for semichah.
Rav Yehoshua has been active in Jewish education in various settings for twenty-five years, having taught children, teenagers and adults in a variety of settings, both formal and informal. Since making aliyah in 1990, Rav Yehoshua has served as Educational Director for the highly regarded Jewish identity program, Livnot U’Lehibanot and, subsequently, as Maggid Shiur (Lecturer) at Ohr Zarua, a post-high school program in Tzfat, and the Bat Ayin Yeshiva, where he taught Gemara, Halachah, Chumash and Midrash for ten years.
Presently, he has joined the staff of Sulam Yaakov Community Beit Midrash in Nachlaot, Jerusalem, a semichah-granting institution, under whose auspices he serves as director of Ashrei, a unique Torah beginner’s program scheduled to launch in August (Elul), 2010.
Rav Yehoshua has taught Torah in shuls, batei midrash and private gatherings across the U.S. and Canada. He weaves together a close reading of texts, insights drawn from his background in science, philosophy and literature and deep personal reflection, and brings an energy and an openness to his teaching that is always well received.
His special passions in Torah learning and teaching are: beginning Gemara, in-depth Chumash, Midrash and Aggadah and the thought of Rav Kook. Rav Yehoshua lives in Bat Ayin with his wife, Shoshana, and their five children.
Hadas Melmed is a native of Israel. Her family moved to L.A. at age 11 and she was there until completing her B.A. in Psychology at UCLA. She moved back to Israel in 2000 and has been engaged in Torah study ever since. Hadas holds an M.Ed. in Tanach from Matan and Haifa University. A warm and engaging educator of adults and teens, she mostly focuses on the Jewish woman’s life cycle and enjoys studying and teaching Jewish Thought, Prayer, Tanach and Chassidut. Hadas is also studying to be pre-marital (kalla) teacher. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband their two children and loves music and cooking.
Miriam Leibowitz made Aliyah from California in 1979. Miriam lives in Nachlaot with her husband, Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz, and their five children. She has a Graphic Arts and Torah degree from Emunah College and has been painting and teaching arts ever since. Miriam facilitates groups and parenting workshops around Jerusalem. She dedicates herself to personal growth and development. She is most passionate about her children and life in general.
Chaya Kaplan-Lester is a long-time Jewish educator, psychotherapist and writer. In addition to her extensive doctoral work in Jewish Studies at Oxford University in England, she holds an Ivy League BA Jewish Studies, and an MA in Clinical Psychology. Chaya has taught and inspired thousands of women through her unique classes and writings. Her approach is an innovative synthesis of her background as a psychotherapist, artist and teacher. Chaya’s writings and teachings focus on the transformation of the individual and the enhancement of the spirit.
Chaya lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Hillel, and their three children.
Rebbetzin Rivka Segal
Rebbetzin Rivka Segal has a B.A. from Towson University and a M.Ed. from Georgia State University. In the U.S., she taught elementary through high school at top Jewish Day schools. She was the director of the Women’s Institute of Torah, an institute for adult education in Baltimore. She made Aliyah in 2005 with her husband, Rabbi Yigal Segal and her five children. She teaches at various seminaries in Jerusalem and is most passionate about Tehillim (Psalms) and Tanach (Bible) studies. The Segals moved to Nachlaot in 2008, passionate about reaching out to the young people here. They have a fun Shabbat table, where they host lots of students in the area. Rebbetzin Segal has quickly made herself an integral part of the Nachlaot community. Her Shabbat Parsha class is beloved by dozens of women of all ages backgrounds.
Rebbetzin Emuna Witt-HaLevi
Was a student of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for more than 20 years. She is presently facilitating Torah
Healing workshops based on the teachings of the Hassidic mystics the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe
Nachman of Breslov, the Rebbe of Slonima, the Sfas Emes, Reb Shlomo, and many