Clergy and Staff
Clergy and Staff
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Rabbi Yosie Levine joined The Jewish Center's rabbinic team in 2004. He earned a BA in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia College and remains an active alumnus. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Rabbi Levine received rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and was the winner of RIETS' writing prize. He holds an MPA in Public Policy from NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School and is currently completing his coursework toward a doctoral degree in Early Modern Jewish History at Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School. Rabbi Levine served as Rabbinic Intern, Assistant Rabbi and Associate Rabbi at The Jewish Center where he received practical rabbinic training and mentoring from Rabbi Ari Berman. Before joining the Center, he served as the educational director of the Lauder Foundation's Beit Midrash in Berlin, Germany and as the visiting scholar of Congregation Knesseth Israel in Birmingham, Alabama. Rabbi Levine has taken a leadership role on the issue of day school affordability and serves as the chair of Manhattan Day School's Political Advocacy Committee. He is co-chair of the Manhattan Eruv and is active in numerous communal organizations including AIPAC and the Beth Din of America and serves on the Board of UJA-Federation of New York. Rabbi Levine's wife, Rachel, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan. They are the proud parents of Akiva, Yehoshua, Ari and Judy.
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Rabbi Dovid Zirkind, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, joined The Jewish Center clergy in July 2012. After two years of study at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in Israel, Dovid continued his education at Yeshiva University. There he received his undergraduate degree in Psychology, graduating from the Yeshiva Program with honors. Upon graduation, Rabbi Zirkind attended the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, studying in the Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel. In 2010, Rabbi Zirkind joined the Yeshiva University Torah MiTzion Beit Midrash of Toronto, where he studied full time in the Beit Midrash and served as Rabbinic Assistant at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation. In that role, Rabbi Zirkind taught classes throughout the Greater Toronto Area, crafted programs and curricula for adults, college students and children alike and trained under a number of the communities leading Rabbis.
In his role as Assistant Rabbi of The Jewish Center, Rabbi Zirkind services the full gamut of our membership. He is the director of our Adult Education program, Jewish Center University, leads our daily minyanim and heads our Young Leadership Minyan and programming. Internally, Rabbi Zirkind teaches a number of ongoing classes and shiurim, including Talmud, Contemporary Ethics and Jewish Law. He believes that passionate Torah Study should be text based, highly engaging and grapple with the major issues of our time. In the broader community, Rabbi Zirkind increasingly represents our shul as well. He is teacher at Manhattan Day School and a frequent lecturer in local institutions including; the JCC, West Side Sefardic Synagogue, Congregation Rodeph Shalom, the RIETS Rabbinic Training Seminar and others. In addition, as a UJA Federation Grant Recipient, Rabbi Zirkind currently leads the inaugural cohort of The Jewish Center Social Action Fellowship (JCSAF). Together with his wife, Ariella, the Zirkind’s lead sought after personalized marriage workshops, which include Chattan & Kallah classes and ongoing Taharat HaMishpacha and fertility counseling for young families.
To read some of Rabbi Zirkind’s recent sermons and shiurim click here.
Rabbi Zirkind is married to Ariella Zirkind, a Chicago native and graduate of Stern College for Women. Ariella recently received her Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College in Manhattan. She is a certified Kallah Teacher through the National Council of Young Israel and plays an active role in the West Side Community Mikvah and Chevra Kaddisha. The Zirkind’s are the proud parents of three young daughters, Amira, Gali and Kayla.
Chaim David Berson
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Chaim David Berson was born and raised in Jerusalem to American parents who made aliya from the U.S. Chaim David received a Yeshiva education while attending the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute, where he developed his cantorial and voice skills under the tutelage of Cantor Naftali Herstik.
Noach Goldstein is a fellow in the Bella and Harry Wexner Kollel Elyon at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is also completing an M.A. in Medieval Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University, and delivering a weekly Talmud shiur to the undergraduate community at the Columbia University Hillel.
Noach spent two years studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel prior to completing his B.A. in History and English at Yeshiva University’s Schottenstein Honors Program while studying with Rabbi Michael Rosensweig. He subsequently joined the Semicha Honors Program at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Beit Yitzchak Torah journal. Noach and his wife, Alexis, are thrilled to be part of the Jewish Center community.
William Fischman Rabbinic Intern
Avi Feder is a 4th year Rabbinical Student in the Semikha program at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He learned at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim in AnchorIsrael for 2 years before graduating from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business with a degree in Business Management & Marketing. Avi is excited to be joining the Jewish Center community; a community he served in his former capacity as the Director of Manhattan NCSY. Living in Washington Heights, he makes regular use of the pedestrian paths on the nearby the George Washington Bridge, whose running lanes have become his personal running track.
Dr. Erica Brown
Dr. Erica Brown is an educator and author who consults for the Jewish Agency and other Jewish non-profits. She previously served as the scholar-in-residence for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she directed the Jewish Leadership Institute. She also held that position at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Erica was a Jerusalem Fellow, is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation, an Avi Chai Fellow, winner of the Ted Farber Professional Excellence Award, and is the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award for her work in education and the 2012 Bernie Reisman Award (Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Brandeis University). Erica has degrees from Yeshiva University, University of London, Harvard University and Baltimore Hebrew University. She lectures and writes widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership and lives with her husband and four children in Silver Spring, Maryland.
She writes a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week and has blogged for JTA, Psychology Today and Newsweek/Washington Post’s “On Faith” and tweets on one page of Talmud study a day at DrEricaBrown. She also writes Weekly Jewish Wisdom. Erica is the author of 10 books. Access her articles and the books she has written at ericabrown.com.
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Aaron Strum joined The Jewish Center in September 2008. He holds a B.S. Degree in Management from Touro College. Aaron came to The Jewish Center with over 12 years of experience as an Executive Director, having served in that capacity at Congregation B'nai Torah in Indianapolis and the Jewish Community Center of Paramus in Paramus, NJ. Aaron was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island.
Jenn & Gaby Minsky
Gaby is a born and bred Londoner and moved to the UWS two years ago. He is a real estate broker by profession and enjoys the opportunity this provides to see different neighborhoods of New York. He has experience as a youth leader that stems from his past involvement with Bnei Akiva in the UK. Gaby has also led Shabbat afternoon groups for pre-school age boys. He enjoys playing and watching tennis and soccer.
Jennifer, originally from New Jersey, has been living on the west side for 5 years. She has taught first, second, and third grades in a public school and currently teaches Basic Skills to children needing extra support in reading and math in grades K-3. She has camp counseling experience, has led a variety of Shabbat groups such as Bnos on Shabbat afternoons and recently started a children's program at MJE's beginner service. Jenn loves spending time with her new puppy, cooking, working out and hosting events.
Gaby & Jenn met in 2012 and were married in 2013. They are excited to join The Jewish Center family, contribute their new and exciting ideas and look forward to getting to know The JC families.
Batsheva ‘Leibtag’ Ritholtz was born in Dallas, TX and was raised in both St. Louis, MO and Long Island, NY. After completing high school, she attended Tiferet, a gap-year Seminary program in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. Batsheva received a BA in Psychology from Queens College and has since then engaged in a number of professional experiences including teaching dance classes at Fitwize 4 Kids and managing Central Perk, a popular café located in Cedarhurst, NY. Batsheva was married to Jeffrey Ritholtz in December, 2011 and currently resides on the West Side of Manhattan.
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Born and raised in Pakistan, Saba comes to The JC with years of experience as Administrative Assistant at Manhattan Pentecostal Church. She received her Bachelors Degree in Arts and Education and taught junior high school for many years before coming to New York. Saba volunteers as a Sunday school teacher at her church.
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Polina Berdich has been working as the Controller of The Jewish Center since August of 2005. Polina received her master’s degree from Odessa University and her bachelor’s degree from Touro College in New York. Born in Ukraine, Polina immigrated to America a long time ago with 15 years of experience in accounting. In New York City, she has worked as the Controller of Congregation Habonim for over five years and as a Full Charge Bookkeeper for Calleo Development Co. prior to that. She and her family currently reside in Brooklyn.
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Ilana Gadish serves as the Yoetzet Halacha for a number of synagogues in Manhattan, and is a graduate of Nishmat's U.S. Yoatzot Halacha Fellows program. Ilana also teaches Talmud and Tanakh at the Ramaz Upper School. She previously served as an intern on the clergy of Lincoln Square Synagogue, and before that as a congregational intern at United Orthodox Synagogues in Houston, Texas. Ilana received her M.A. in Biblical and Talmudic Interpretation at the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) at Stern College for Women, where she also received her B.A. with a major in Judaic Studies and a minor in Biology. She spent a year studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, as well as two summers at the Drisha Institute. Ilana currently lives on the Upper West Side with her husband Moshe Peters. Ilana can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at (646) 598-1080 with any questions.