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Welcome, Rabbi Mari Weekend Guests

Biographies of our Guests

Rabbi Jordana Chernow-Reader

Rabbi Jordana Chernow-Reader is the rabbi-educator at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, OH. She grew up in the Los Angeles area and was ordained in 2010 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She earned master’s degrees in Jewish education and Hebrew letters from HUC-JIR, a master’s in political science from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, in political and environmental studies.

Dr. William Cutter

Dr. William Cutter is Steinberg Emeritus Professor of Human Relations at HUC-JIR’s Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, where he held the Paul and Trudy Steinberg Chair in Human Relations, and was Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature and Education. He has taught at HUC-JIR since 1965, and has served in several administrative capacities throughout his academic career. In earlier stages of his career he founded three of the ongoing programs of the College-Institute: the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the MUSE program of the Skirball Museum, and the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health. He also was the founding director of the Louchheim School of Jewish Studies at USC.

Dr. Cutter has written nearly 200 articles on literary theory, Modern Hebrew Literature, Educational Theory, and health and healing as part of Jewish experience. He has published over 50 scholarly articles and essays, and over 200 popular articles on literature, health and healing, and Jewish education. He has edited or served on the editorial committee for more than 40 books for the prominent publisher Berhman House Books. His most recent publication is Midrash and Medicine, published by Jewish Lights (2010). He is also the editor of Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual and Practical Perspectives on Judaism and Health (2/07, Jewish Lights Publishing); the Festschrift: History and Literature, essays in honor of Arnold Band (Scholars Press); and The Mourner’s Handbook (Behrman House Books). He is academic chairman for the Association of Reform Zionists (ARZA).

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the most powerful force in North American Jewish life. The URJ leads the largest and most diverse Jewish movement in North America, reaching more than 1.5 million people through nearly 850 congregations, 15 overnight camps, the Reform teen youth Movement NFTY, and the Religious Action Center in Washington DC. For nearly 150 years, the URJ has been at the forefront in promoting an open, progressive Judaism.

The URJ’s programs and communities inspire more and more people—from children to seniors—to explore what it means to be Jewish, pursue justice around the world, and forge stronger ties to Israel.

A longtime and devoted creative change agent, Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as a visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York. Before that, during his tenure as the rabbi of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, he created the first homeless shelter in a New York City synagogue. 

He’s a tireless advocate for an Israel that is secure, Jewish, democratic, and pluralistic, with a vibrant Reform Jewish community. Rabbi Jacobs has studied for two decades at Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, where he is a senior rabbinic fellow.

Rabbi Jacobs is regularly featured in media outlets such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, Ha’aretz, The Forward, NPR, and CNN, among others.

Rabbi Ilana Mills

Rabbi Ilana Mills joined the Kalsman team after spending three summers in senior leadership roles at Kalsman.  She brings a passion for camp and learning everywhere she goes.  Rabbi Ilana is a true product of the Union for Reform Judaism, having worked at four of the URJ summer camps, worked for the Religious Action Center, served as a NFTY regional advisor and was on NFTY North American board a hundred years ago.  Rabbi Ilana served as a congregational rabbi in Paradise Valley, AZ after being ordained from HUC-JIR for four years.  At her congregation, she spear-headed creating a new high school program and innovative programming for the religious school.

Rabbi Ilana grew up in Sherman Oaks, CA, but moved East for college.  She received her B.A. in Religious Studies from Franklin and Marshall College.  She received her Masters in Hebrew Letters, Masters in Jewish Education from HUC-JIR.  Rabbi Ilana currently lives in Sacramento with her husband and three kids.  She loves to hike, ride bikes and cook. Nothing is sweeter to her than leading services in her hiking boots with over 200 campers and staff.

Cantor Ross Wolman

Originally from Lancaster, PA, Cantor Wolman grew up in Congregation Shaarai Shomayim’s youth choir and led religious school services beginning after his bar mitzvah. He studied Music Education at Temple University in Philadelphia and upon graduation, entered the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College to pursue ordination as a Cantor. He was fortunate to have spent two years of his cantorial studies in Israel, serving Kehillat Bavat Ayin in Rosh Ha’ayin as a student cantor. Cantor Wolman has been an active leader and organizer of the Riding4Reform cycling fundraiser, which benefits the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.
In May 2007, he was ordained as Cantor from Hebrew Union College and is a proud member of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC). Cantor Wolman has previously served Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, IL, and Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE) in Deerfield, IL.
Cantor Wolman has spent a summer in chaplaincy at Jeanes Hospital in Philadelphia, summers on staff at Kutz Camp, URJ Camp OSRUI, NFTY in Israel as well as six summers on faculty at OSRUI and four summers on faculty at URJ Camp Newman. He is past president of the Reform Cantors of Chicago and has proudly served the American Conference of Cantors and HUC’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Alumni Association.
Cantor Wolman has performed throughout North America, Israel, France, Russia, and Ukraine.

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