Weaving together the strands of Judaism.
Dr. Ora Horn Prouser, Executive Vice-President and Academic Dean
PhD, BA, Bible, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; BA, Columbia University. Undergraduate and graduate studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Author of Esau’s Blessing: How The Bible Embraces Those With Special Needs and many articles about making the Bible speak to central existential concerns, specifically regarding ethical dilemmas and individual growth. Dr. Horn Prouser served as adjunct faculty at The Jewish Theological Seminary for twenty years and has consulted on the development of Bible curriculum through the Matok Torah Curriculum Development Project and the Day School Hebrew Bible Curriculum Project creating Standards and Benchmarks for the Teaching of TaNaKH in Jewish Day Schools. She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards and has taught and spoken widely in formal and informal educational settings, synagogues, adult education programs and camps.
Rabbi Jeffrey Hoffman, Rabbi-in-Residence and Director of Institutional Assessment
DHL in Liturgy, Rabbi, MA, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; BA, The State University of New York at Albany. Undergraduate and graduate studies at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Talmudic studies at Yeshivat HaMivtar, Jerusalem. Rabbi Hoffman is the author of Karov L’Chol Korav, For All Who Call: A Manual For Enhancing the Teaching of Prayer; and editor of Siddur Tisha B’Av for The Rabbinical Assembly. He is also the author of many articles and reviews. At AJR, Rabbi Hoffman directs the Accreditation project, supervises tefillot at AJR, oversees rabbinical students’ Senior Projects and meets with students on academic and professional issues. As a member of the AJR faculty, he teaches courses in Liturgy, Rabbinics and Professional Skills. He served for three years as assistant rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Vancouver, British Columbia and for twenty years as rabbi of Congregation Sons of Israel in Nyack, New York.
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Director of Spiritual Education
Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and holds a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut. She received a BA at Brandeis University. At AJR, she teaches midrash, mysticism, and contemporary spirituality, creates community ritual and opportunities for spiritual reflection, and is creating the school’s spiritual direction program. Rabbi Hammer is the author of three books: Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (2001), The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Season (2006), the Omer Calendar of Biblical Women (2012) and The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (2015). Rabbi Hammer is the co-founder of the Kohenet Institute, a program in Jewish women’s spiritual leadership. Her academic work, essays, midrashim and poems have been published in many journals and newspapers.
Cantor Lisa Klinger-Kantor, Dean of Admissions
Hazzan, Academy for Jewish Religion; MA, Performance of Voice, New York University, Phi Beta Kappa; Voice, BA, Mannes College of Music. Cantor Lisa Klinger-Kantor served as cantor at Temple Shaarei Shalom in Bellmore, New York for fourteen years. She teaches nusah at AJR and has an extensive voice practice, teaching the art of singing and davenning to cantors and rabbis. In 2001, Lisa received the P’nei Torah award from AJR in recognition of her devotion in her teaching. Recently Lisa has sung as a soloist at Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Hall and in numerous synagogues in the tri-state area. Prior to becoming a cantor, Lisa performed opera, lieder, and oratorio in prominent concert halls throughout the United States and as a soloist at the Tanglewood Music Festival.
Rabbi Michael Pitkowsky, Rabbinics Curriculum Coordinator
PhD in Talmud, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Rabbi, MA, The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies; B.A., The State University of New York at Binghamton. Rabbi Pitkowsky blogs at http://menachemmendel.net/blog and is the author of the article, “‘Dear Rabbi, I Am a Woman Who…’: Women Asking Rabbis Questions, from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein to the Internet.” Rabbi Pitkowsky oversees the Rabbinics Curriculum, helps to coordinate AJR’s academic journal, G’vanim, and is working to help AJR increase its presence in social media. As a member of the AJR faculty, he teaches courses in Talmud and Codes. He served for two years as the rabbi of Kehillat Shevet Achim in Jerusalem, Israel. Rabbi Pitkowsky also teaches at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and has taught at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Cantor Michael Kasper, Director of Placement, Recruitment and Cantorial Studies
Hazzan, Academy for Jewish Religion; M.A. in Jewish Studies, Gratz College; B.S. in Dance Education, George Washington University; M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work, NYU; Psychoanalytic Certification from the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training. Currently, Hazzan at Congregation Sons of Israel, Nyack, NY as well as private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Michael taught in Hunter College’s Post Master’s Program in Clinical Social Work for ten years. Past winner of a National Society of Arts and Letters Choreographer’s Competition. Director and choreographer of the Michael Kasper Dance Company for more than ten years. Author of the paper, “The Language of Love” which is published in the book, Controversies On Countertransference. At AJR, Hazzan Kasper is responsible for the Academy’s recruitment efforts and coordinating the Cantorial Studies Program.
Suli A. Fassler, Director of Administration
BA, Purchase College, State University of New York; New York Restaurant School, Certificate in Culinary Arts and Hotel/Restaurant Management; Candidate, Gratz College Jewish Non-Profit Management Program. Suli has spent most of her career working in Jewish communal service as an administrator and as program director for UJA/Federation where she instituted many ongoing community-wide programs in collaboration with local clergy, professionals & volunteers. Most recently, Suli served as administrator of a congregation and educational outreach center, where she was responsible for the business office and all of its related activity.
Gavi Davidson, Administrative Coordinator
BA in Psychology, Hampshire College. Gavi’s career began with teaching and performing flying trapeze. She joined the Academy for Jewish Religion administration after working with StoryCorps where she managed partnerships for their High School education program.
Ellie Shemtov, Librarian
Rabbi, Academy for Jewish Religion; AMLS in Library Science, BA in music, The University of Michigan. Currently, rabbi at Congregation Kol Am in Freehold, NJ. Rabbi Shemtov is the founder of Beit Yosef, a faith-based recovery community, blending Jewish values and spirituality to help those who are battling the disease of addiction. An early Jewish presence on the Internet, Ellie created and designed the website, Ellie’s Torah Trope Tutor. A tool for teaching others how to chant Torah, Haftorah, and the Megillot, Ellie’s web page has been a presence on the Internet since 1996. While there are many other web sites that teach the art of cantillation, Ellie’s Torah Trope Tutor was the first of its kind. Before moving to New York to attend AJR, Rabbi Shemtov worked for many years as a film librarian/archivist at a variety of institutions in the Washington, DC area, including the University of Maryland at College Park and the National Archives and Records Administration. Her most recent position before moving to New York was as Head of Film Cataloging at the Library of Congress.
Marie Moussignac, Administrative Assistant
AOS in Computer Programming and System Designs, Globe Institute of Technology. Marie joined the Academy for Jewish Religion with many years of administrative and office experience. Most recently, Marie worked at the Bronx Preparatory Charter School where she was responsible for supporting 100 faculty and staff members, serving 700 students.