Seekers Teaching Team

The Seekers faculty is made up of Romemu staff and clergy. The team works together to meet the goals of the curriculum and to prepare the students for B Mitzvah at Romemu.  

Rabbi Shoshana Leis

Director of Youth and Family Education

Rabbi Shoshana directs the Seekers program and also teaches Parsha Play (grades 3-5) as well as our B Mitzvah students. Rabbi Shoshana recently served for seven years as co-rabbi (with her husband, Rabbi Ben Newman) at Har Shalom Center for Jewish Living in Ft. Collins, CO.  A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Dartmouth College, she also studied at St. Petersburg University, the Conservative Yeshiva, and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Studies. She served as Rabbi and Educational Director at Congregation Tehillah in New York City, where she developed “Shira Hadasha,” an intergenerational initiative for which she received the Legacy Heritage Innovator Award.

Rabbi David Ingber

Founder

Rabbi David works with our B Mitzvah students on writing their Kavanot (Dvar Torah) and leads B Mitzvah family lunch and learns. With his extensive experience of so many wisdom traditions, Rabbi David brings a unique depth and breadth of understanding to his rabbinic work. He is deeply committed to comparative religious studies and to integrating into Judaism practices which consistently prove effective in opening a connection with the Divine.

Read more about Rabbi David….

Hazzan Basya Schechter

Hazzan

Hazzan Basya teaches our B Mitzvah students and also leads our Seekers band. She 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 neohasidic world music ensemble that travels effortlessly through continents, key signatures, and languages with a genre-bending sound.

Dianne Cohler-Esses

Associate Rabbi & Director of Life Long Learning

Rabbi Dianne provides oversight and designs curriculum for Seekers. She was the first woman from the Syrian Jewish community to be ordained as a Rabbi. She 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, including CLAL, the Bronfman Youth Fellowship, The Curriculum Initiative and UJA Federation. In 2007 she was named one of fifty top rabbis by the Washington Post online. Besides leading education efforts at Romemu she currently co-teaches the Arts Beit Midrash at the Skirball Institute with Tobi Kahn, teaches courses at UJA Federation a nd writes and speaks regularly on Torah, Jewish values and family life, Jewish ethnicity and Judaism and disabilities. Rabbi Dianne and her journalist husband Larry live on the upper west side of Manhattan and have three children.

Rabbi Mira Rivera

Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellow

Board Certified Chaplain

Rabbi Mira Rivera received ordination at The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2015 with an M.A. in Jewish Studies and a Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education.

While providing ministry as a board-eligible chaplain at Mt. Sinai Hospital and DOROT, she came to Romemu for spiritual community. With Romemu member Dr. Renee Hill, she co-founded Harlem Havruta, “a brave space for Jews of Color, allies and co-conspirators” at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. She serves as a chaplain in their Client Choice Pantry Program every Monday afternoon. Rabbi Rivera is an alumnae of Bend the Arc’s Selah Cohort 15 for Jews of Color, a member of the first cohort of the Jewish Women of Color Resilience Circle with Yavilah McCoy and Auburn Seminary, and a co-chair of the rabbinical council of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ).  She has taught adults through “Exploring Judaism,” a Rabbinical Assembly program of Jewish learning and experience. 

Batya Okunov

Batya was raised in a family of 12 children in Crown Heights, and has an extensive background in education including Jewish camping and supplementary Hebrew school.  Her mission in working with children is way beyond content. It’s about infusing their subconscious with positive affirmations so that by the time they are adults they have the tools to work with themselves in the best way possible. A Seeker herself, Batya feels Romemu provides an elevated environment which shows children that when they seek truth, they will find truth.  She feels that her morals and perspective are aligned with Romemu’s.

Kayla Pollak

I’m from Thousand Oaks, California  which is a little outside of Los Angeles. I’m in New York studying at the Joint Program between the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University. At JTS I am planning on studying Modern Jewish Studies and at Columbia I am studying Human Rights.

Since coming to New York, I have learned so much at school and from other people, and my connection to Judaism has grown immensely. I feel very lucky to live and study here. At school, I am involved in a couple volunteering opportunities at the local soup kitchen and elementary schools as well as progressive activism through the Hillel.

Some of my favorite things are the ocean, Mexican food, and my two younger brothers. I also love camping, visiting new places, and meeting new people.

I am so excited to be a teacher at such a warm, welcoming, and passionate place as Romemu. I’m excited to bring my love for Jewish relationships and and experiences into Seekers.

Heather Shore

Heather is a second year Rabbinical Student at HUC- JIR. Prior to beginning her studies at HUC-JIR in New York, Heather was living in Israel, working for Hillel International and participating in a 2 year Yoga Teacher Training certification in Jewish Mindfulness. Pairing yoga with her undergraduate art studies, Heather is passionate about exploring Jewish education from creative and often tactile modes. She is looking forward to continuing this exploration both in and outside of the classroom in the years to come as an HUC-JIR student and as part of the Romemu community. In her free time, Heather enjoys snuggling with her dog, Chewie, and spending time exploring what still feels like a very new life in NYC

Becca Trabin

Becca hails from the great city of Philadelphia, where she got her start teaching after-school theater and art classes in 2012. She moved to New York three years ago, working as a lead preschool teacher for two of those years before leaving to become a Teaching Artist at Story Pirates. She is now a Teaching Artist, Associate Producer and Performer at Story Pirates, an organization that turns kids’ stories into live musical comedy shows. Becca also teaches Hebrew School and Jewish Studies to kids at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism and Congregation Beth Elohim. She loves coffee, people, and sticking it to The Man.