The Well: Lifelong Learning at Romemu

Instructor Bios

Alina Bloomgarden

Alina Bloomgarden has studied, practiced and taught astrology for more than 40 years while her career was in the arts, most notably as a jazz producer. She’s very excited to be bridging astrology with Jewish learning. This ancient philosophical practice aligns with the conviction that the human being, God and the universe are in some way a unity. Seeing the continual movement of the planets in the context of “In God’s time,” and the day and time of our birth in mathematical harmony with our life path, her intention is to share astrological tools as a way to deepen and enrich our self knowledge and spiritual journey.

Rabbi Josh Buchin

Rabbi Josh Buchin is the Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellow at Romemu. Rabbi Josh was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, CA. While in school he worked for three years as a Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Netivot Shalom, in Berkeley, CA and for two years as spiritual counselor at Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish addiction recovery center and spiritual community in Los Angeles. He is also the author of a children’s book, Tefilat HaDerech: The Traveler’s Prayer.

Rabbi Diane Cohler-Esses

Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Romemu. She was the first woman from the Syrian Jewish community to be ordained as a Rabbi, and graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1995, where she was awarded several fellowships and a prize for academic excellence. Since that time she has served as an educator, scholar-in-residence, and administrator for multiple organizations in the Jewish world.  In 2007 she was named one of fifty top rabbis by the Washington Post online. Besides leading education efforts at Romemu, Rabbi Dianne currently co-teaches the Arts Beit Midrash at the Skirball Institute with Tobi Kahn and courses at UJA Federation, and writes and speaks regularly on Torah, Jewish values, and family life, Jewish ethnicity, and Judaism and disabilities.

Dr. Yehudah B. Cohen

Dr. Yehudah B. Cohen  is the author of Tangled Up in Text: Tefillin and the Ancient World, a book about the origins and development of Tefillin. He completed a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford in 2007, and also has an MA in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Originally from London, Yehudah had a career as a commodities trader in New York prior to beginning doctoral research. He is currently a Research Associate at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.

Caren Fried

Caren Fried has been engaged in facilitating/participating in Rosh Hodesh groups for the last 20 years and has been a Mussar student and practitioner for the last 12 years with Alan Morinis’ Mussar Institute. She is a committed student of Torah and Kabbalah.  Caren is a Clinical Social Worker, community activist, and leader in the Jewish community.  She is a past chair of the Romemu Board, has served on the Executive Committee of the Romemu Board and currently serves on the Governance Task Force.

Dr. Marcia Falk

Dr. Marcia Falk is the author of several highly acclaimed books, including The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival; The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season; The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible; The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems of Zelda; With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman; and three books of her own poetry, This Year in Jerusalem; It Is July in Virginia; and My Son Likes Weather. Marcia is also a painter and life member of the Art Students League of New York.

Dr. Arthur Green

Dr. Arthur Green was the founding dean and is currently rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Hebrew College. He is Professor Emeritus at Brandeis University, where he occupied the distinguished Philip W. Lown Professorship of Jewish Thought. He is both a historian of Jewish religion and a theologian; his work seeks to form a bridge between these two distinct fields of endeavor.

Judith Hannan

Judith Hannan is the author of two books: her memoir Motherhood Exaggerated and The Write Prescription: Telling Your Story to Live With and Beyond Illness. She is a lecturer at Yale University and also teaches writing about personal experience to homeless mothers as well as patients, survivors, caregivers, and family members affected by physical or mental illness. She serves on a number of philanthropic boards and is a recipient of a 2015 Humanism-in-Medicine award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Rabbi David Ingber

Rabbi David Ingber is the founder and Senior Rabbi at Romemu. He was named by Newsweek as one of 2013’s top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States as well as by The Forward as one of the 50 most newsworthy and notable Jews in America.  Rabbi David promotes a renewed Jewish mysticism that integrates meditative mindfulness and physical awareness into mainstream, post-modern Judaism. A major 21st Century Jewish thinker and educator, his rich perspective, open heart and mind, and full-bodied approach to Jewish learning has brought him to speak throughout the United States and worldwide throughout Canada, Europe and Israel.Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Renewal Judaism, ordained Rabbi David in 2004.

Shelley Levine

Shelley Levine has more than 30 years experience helping people to age wisely and with dignity as a nurse, yoga therapist, and advocate for the elderly. She is certified by the American Viniyoga Institute (AVI) and teaches therapeutic yoga to veterans and others who suffer from trauma and chronic pain, using meditation and movement to help her clients call forth their innate resilience and inner strength. She also teaches yoga at Romemu and other Jewish venues throughout the tri-state area and in Israel, infusing her classes with teachings from the parsha and great rabbis to create an embodied Jewish experience.

Ruth Messinger

Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) from 1998 to July of 2016, is currently the organization’s inaugural Global Ambassador.  In this role, Ruth is continuing her crucial work of engaging rabbis and interfaith leaders to speak out on behalf of oppressed and persecuted communities worldwide. A tireless advocate and social change visionary, Ruth mobilizes rabbis and faith-based communities throughout the U.S. to promote human rights. Ruth has been honored for her leadership with awards from many national Jewish organizations and honorary degrees from five major American rabbinical seminaries. Ruth serves on the boards of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Hazon, Aegis Trust and Surprise Lake Camp.

Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer

Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer was ordained June 2014 by Hebrew College Rabbinical School.  She strives to build community through prayerful music, and music through prayerful community. During her rabbinic training she developed family programming for Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA, interned for a Masorti community in Tel Aviv, and directed leadership programs for the non-profit organization Encounter in Jerusalem. Rabbi Jessica has performed as a vocalist with Hankus Netsky, Frank London, and Yuval Ron, and studied and performed sacred Jewish music with rabbis and paytanim while living in Jerusalem.

Rhonna Rogol

Rhonna Rogol is a Montreal native and attributes her passion for languages and literature to the inspiration of her 7th grade teacher and beloved lifelong friend and mentor, the late Shlomo Jaacobi. An attorney by profession, Rhonna currently spends most of her time engaged in volunteer work. She loves teaching both teens and adults, but loves learning even more. She is an active Romemu member and currently serves as the Chair of Romemu’s Adult Education Committee as well as on the Membership and Chesed committees, and reads Torah regularly.  

Jeremy Rosenshine

Jeremy Rosenshine is orginally from Israel and lived there most of his life. His experience teaching goes back to his days training soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and later, teaching Hebrew school. Jeremy is an Israeli-trained attorney and has extensive experience as a Hebrew-English translator.

Dr. Ronnie Scharfman

Dr. Ronnie Scharfman has a Ph.D. in French Literature from Yale.  She was professor of postcolonial French literature at Purchase College, SUNY for 30 years. Her research and writing on the themes of identity and exile led her to explore comparative Jewish literature as well, creating courses that she fine-tuned over several years before retirement. Since then she has been an avid Jewish studies learner and recently became an adult Bat Mitzvah with the first cohort to go through the Aliyah training program at Romemu. She is a poet and midrashist, finding endless inspiration in Jewish narratives.

Chazzan Basya Schechter

Chazzan Basya Schechter was ordained January 2016 by ALEPH Cantorial School, and has been the recipient of numerous compositional and project grants from NY State Council of the Arts and the American Music Center.  She is also known for her group Pharaoh’s Daughter, a seven-piece neo-hasidic world music ensemble that creates music that travels effortlessly through continents, key signatures, and languages with a genre-bending sound.

Susan Schor

Susan Schor recently retired as Facilitating Leader and Chief Culture Officer of EILEEN FISHER, Inc. Formerly, she was Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Management at Pace University and University of Hartford as well as an organizational and leadership  consultant. With Shelley Levine and others, Susan completed certifications through the Institute of Jewish Spirituality in Wise Aging and teaching Jewish Mindfulness Meditation. Susan shares her life between NYC and Tenants Harbor, Maine, loving her life and communities in both.

Nili Weissman

Nili Weissman honors the deep inner life as a sacred path. With a degree in psychology, she has studied with shamans, rabbis, healers and medicine workers. She is a painter of the the soul’s journey and a student of Russian icon writing, a handspinner, and weaver. Currently she is developing a practice for helping people transform the metaphors of illness and life challenges into a landscape that can be seen as holy, whole, and deeply connected. Nili is honored to lead the Living Deeply community at Romemu for the eighth consecutive year, where the Torah of our lives is the voice that teaches and touches the heart.

Adult Education Committee

Co-Chairs: Rhonna Rogol, Eden Foster


Yoni Barnhard

Richard Chused

Maria Fisher

Arthur Fried

Sam Levine

Alexandra Paddock

Alyssa Marko

Jason Robinson

Ronnie Scharfman

Kim Schneiderman

Jory Bard Zimmerman

Academic Advisor:

Dr. David Kaufman

Board Liaison:

Allegra Kochman

Staff Member:

Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses