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Clergy and Staff

Yosie Levine

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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 pursuing a doctoral degree in Early Modern Jewish History at Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School. During his sabbatical, he will be a visiting research fellow at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is writing an intellectual biography of Hakham Zevi Ashkenazi: An inveterate opponent of Sabbateanism, an independent and creative jurist, and a prominent rabbinic leader in the early modern period.

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.

Many of Rabbi Levine's sermons are available online.


Dovid Zirkind
Associate Rabbi
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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.


Noach Goldstein 
Assistant Rabbi 

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.


Chaim David Berson
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Cantor Chaim Dovid Berson, born and raised in Jerusalem, is the Chief Cantor of the prestigious Manhattan Jewish Center.  

Cantor Berson received his education at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Subsequently, he graduated from the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute, receiving an unparalleled quality of training in Chazzanut, voice skills, and the Mesorah of our Tefilah, under the personal tutelage of the world-renowned Cantor Naftali Hershtik and composer Raymond Goldstein.

His mellifluous, lyrical tenor voice, his deep knowledge in music and Tefilah as well his personal charisma, make Cantor Berson unique in his craft and much sought after as a Chazzan and singer.
Cantor Berson is currently spearheading the OU Nussach Ha’Tefilah Initiative whose goal is to work with communities and Ba’alei Tefilah to disseminate knowledge and awareness of the guidelines of our Mesorah in Nussach HaTefilah.

An internationally acclaimed Chazzan and Hassidic music singer, Cantor Berson has performed at music festivals throughout North America, Israel, and Europe. Cantor Berson has led several missions to Poland, teaching and inspiring visitors of all ages to connect to their Jewish roots and learn about the life and destruction of European Jewry. He was invited to the United Nations General Assembly, where he recited a memorial prayer for the victims of the Holocaust,  has performed on Central Park's Summer Stage in a concert celebrating Israel, as well as at the Krakow Jewish Festival, and was a featured singer with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
Cantor Berson has served as Associate Cantor at the Shaar HaShamayim Synagogue in Montreal and the Ohel Leah Synagogue in Hong Kong, and is constantly in demand to lead services in prestigious synagogues worldwide, including the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem.
Often accompanied by his own guitar playing and demonstrating a broad repertoire of music, he is a favorite artist at popular Jewish music concerts, weddings, and events.

As a versatile singer of contemporary Jewish music, Chaim Dovid is currently working on completing his debut album, featuring original songs. 


Ora Weinbach 
Community Educator


Ora Weinbach teaches Limmudei Qodesh and serves as the 9th Grade Dean at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School. Before assuming the role of Community Educator at the Jewish Center, Ora was the Community Educator at the Young Israel of Scarsdale for three years. She earned her degree in Jewish Education from Yeshiva University as a member of the first graduating cohort of the Legacy Heritage Fellowship Program and has been honored to teach Jewish learners of every age. She completed a certification in Sexuality Education and teaches human sexuality both to teens and parents; she also consults with Jewish Day Schools on sexuality education curriculum development and execution.


Eliezer Buechler

William Fischman Rabbinic Intern


Elie Buechler is a third year rabbinical student at Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and a doctoral student at its Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies studying Medieval Jewish History. He is an AIPAC Leffell Fellow, Straus Semikha Fellow, and a Limmud NY-Hartman Fellow. He graduated from Brandeis University majoring in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies with a minor in Art History, where he also served for two years as the intern for the OU-JLIC on campus. He spent one year learning at Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem. Elie, and his wife, Tamar, are delighted to be a part of The Jewish Center.


Aaron Strum
Executive Director
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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. 


Sarah Cromwell

Youth Director


Sarah Cromwell has been active in synagogue youth departments for the past ten years. This past year, she served as a group leader at The Jewish Center. Sarah is a graduate of Muhlenberg College where she majored in psychology and double minored in public health and Jewish studies.  After college, she worked at the Jewish Child Care Agency as a sociotherapist, working with youth in foster care with psychiatric diagnoses.  She is currently enrolled in an MSW/PhD program in social work at Yeshiva University, Wurzweiler School of Social Work.  Her interest is in child welfare and family therapy.  As part of her graduate field work, Sarah spent last year working at Yachad leading relationship social skills groups, doing individual counseling, organizing and chaperoning programs, and performing assessments.  In the coming year, in addition to her new position at The Jewish Center, she will be working at the  Jewish Board of Family and Children Services.


Batsheva Leibtag
Clergy Assistant/Program Director
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Batsheva Leibtag 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  currently resides on the West Side of Manhattan.


Saba Lawrence
Administrative Assistant
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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.


Polina Berdich
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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.


Shiffy Friedman
Yoetzet Halacha
[C] (646) 598-1080


Shiffy Friedman graduated from Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center’s U.S. Yoatzot Halacha Fellows Program in 2015. She has been counseling women in the area of women's health and halacha, both through her role as Yoetzet Halacha in Westchester County and through teaching brides and couples before marriage. Shiffy has taught at SAR Academy and currently teaches at Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School. She received her B.A. in Judaic studies from Stern College and a dual M.A. in Education and Jewish studies from New York University. Prior to that, she spent a year studying in Israel at the Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women in Migdal Oz. She and her husband, Rabbi Noam Friedman, live with their two children, Avital and Adir, in Morningside Heights, where they serve as the OU-JLIC couple at Columbia/Barnard Hillel. They look forward to getting to know members of the broader Manhattan community.

Mon, May 20 2019 15 Iyyar 5779