Kavod v’Nichum Board of Directors and Gamliel Institute Staff
Yakir Englander, Gamliel Institute Dean
Yakir Englander, PhD, is the national director of Gvanim leadership programs at the IAC. In addition, he teaches at AJR and lives in an intentional community in Brooklyn, NY. Yakir grew up in a Hasidic community in Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces in a special unit responsible for identifying bodies of the victims. A graduate of the Hebrew University and the Shalom Hartman Institute, Yakir earned his PhD in modern Jewish philosophy, with a focus on gender issues. Englander was a Fulbright scholar and a visiting Scholar at Harvard Divinity School and before at Northwestern University in Chicago He served as the Director of Kids4Peace in Israel and Palestine from 2007, and in 2012 became Vice President of Kids4Peace International, a grassroots interfaith youth movement dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope among Jewish and Arab families in the Jerusalem region and in multi-cultural Kids4Peace chapters in North America.
Rabbi Stuart Kelman, Gamliel Founding Dean Emeritus
Rabbi Stuart is the Founding Dean Emeritus of the Gamliel Institute, is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and taught at the Hebrew Union College. He has extensive experience in all parts of the Jewish community, from working at Jewish camps to helping develop CAJE. As founding rabbi of a Netivot Shalom, he was involved in the creation of the synagogue’s Chevrah Kadisha. His PhD is in the Sociology of Education and he has published five Chevrah Kadisha-related books, including the just-published, Nichum Aveilim, on how to be a comforter to a mourner, and Chesed Shel Emet, delving into an extensive analysis of the taharah liturgy. Rabbi Kelman’s work as Dean of the Gamliel Institute includes recruitment and consultation with students, overseeing course development and teaching, and overseeing administration.
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Rabbi Richard Address, Past Gamliel Dean
Rabbi Richard is the Founder and Director of jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.
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Rabbi Joe Blair, Gamliel Dean of Administration, Gamliel Senior Faculty, Board Member
Rabbi Joe is the Dean of Administration and a faculty member for the Gamliel Institute, and on the staff of Kavod v’Nichum, as well as serving on the Board. Rabbi Joe attended the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and was ordained and earned a Master of Hebrew Letters degree. Following graduation, Joe entered into the academic world with Hillel at Duke University, and then moved to the Hillel at the University of Virginia. After a few years, he became a full-time pulpit rabbi, serving two small congregations in the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He remained with those congregations for 15 years before taking his current pulpit in Charleston WV. He holds a B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences at UVA, a M.C.S. from the Graduate School of Engineering at UVA, and a J.D. from Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William & Mary College (and was admitted to the Bar in Virginia and the Fourth Circuit). He was honored to be involved as the source indexer for the Stanford University publication of the Pritzker Edition of The Zohar, with translation and commentary by Daniel Matt. Joe was selected to be a Star Peer Rabbi, and has served as adjunct faculty member at multiple colleges and universities. He is a principal in the Jewish Values Online project (www.jewishvaluesonline.org), and previously served as coordinator and respondent for the online Ask A Rabbi service. He and Rena Boroditsky (also a KVN Board and Gamliel Faculty member) authored a module for the Chai Mitzvah program on Jewish Studies in Dying and Death.
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Dan Fendel, Gamliel Dean of Students, Gamliel Senior Faculty
Dan is the men’s chair and co-founder of the Chevrah Kadisha in his own congregation, Temple Sinai (Reform; Oakland), and has been a member of the Chevrah Kadisha of Beth Jacob Congregation (Orthodox; Oakland) for nearly 20 years. He was in the first cohort of the Gamliel Institute, and is now Dean of Students for Gamliel. He is co-author, with Rabbi Stuart Kelman, of Chesed Shel Emet: The Truest Act of Kindness — Exploring the Meaning of Taharah (Expanded Third Edition), and Nichum Aveilim: A Guide for the Comforter. He also did volunteer grief support work for the Shanti Project and Namaste in the San Francisco area for 20 years and is now a Spiritual Care Volunteer at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland.
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Susan Barnes, Gamliel Faculty
Susan is the roshah and a founding member of her synagogue’s Chevrah Kadisha. She is a graduate of the Gamliel Institute, and has taught about Jewish practices around death and dying through the Gamliel Institute and at Limmud Bay Area, Kavod’s annual Chevrah Kadisha conference, the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, synagogues, and Vacaville State Prison.
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Jean Berman, Board President
Jean is an Interfaith Minister ordained by the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, her ministry anchored in Judaism. She has her Chevrah Kadisha Certificate from the Gamliel Institute and is the board President of Kavod v’Nichum. Initially trained as part of the Fort Collins, Colorado Chevrah Kadisha, Jean is an active member of the Portland, ME Chevrah Kadisha. She currently coordinates volunteers for a young hospice in parts of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Jean leads Jewish elders and unaffiliated Jews in ceremony, is learning Zimbabwean marimba, plays with the Peaks Island, Maine Ukulele Ensemble, and has buttons on her backpack.
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Rena Boroditsky, Gamliel Senior Faculty, Board Vice President
Rena is the Executive Director of Chesed Shel Emes, the community non-profit Chevrah Kadisha in Winnipeg, Canada. Since 1996, she has been both a student and a teacher of Jewish thought and practice at the end of life, and a member of her ladies Chevrah Kadisha. Rena has presented at Limmud events in the US and Canada, and has experience training new and existing Chevrah Kadisha groups. In 2018, Rena completed a Certificate in Jewish Leadership at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, IL. Rena is a Gamliel graduate and current faculty member and serves as a vice-president of the Kavod v’Nichum Board of Directors. Most recently, she co-authored and taught a 13-week course on Chevrah Kadisha for Aleph Rabbinic students with Rabbi Joe Blair. Rena is a proud recipient of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s Larry Hurtig Jewish Communal Professional Award.
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Holly Blue Hawkins, Gamliel Faculty
Holly Blue Hawkins is a Natural Deathcare advocate, speaker, author, musician and poet, Roshah of The Santa Cruz Community Chevrah Kadisha (California), faculty member with Gamliel Institute and member of the Green Burial Council Speakers Bureau. Holly Blue provides training in a wide variety of end-of-life subjects in both Jewish and secular settings.
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Rick Light, Gamliel Senior Faculty, Board Vice President
Rick has been teaching spiritual development in various ways for more than 35 years and has been studying and practicing meditation for more than 45 years. He also teaches backpacking, rock climbing, and other outdoor skills. He is a leader in the community of those who prepare Jewish deceased for burial, has published four books related to death (of the seven he has published), including the award-winning 2016 publication, Jewish Rites of Death, Stories of Beauty and Transformation. For 18 years Rick was the leader of a local Chevrah Kadisha he started in 1996. He is a vice-president of the Board of Directors of Kavod v’Nichum, a graduate and senior instructor of the Gamliel Institute, and has taught Taste of Gamliel sessions. He continues to teach and raise awareness about Jewish death and burial practices at the local, state, and national levels. For more on Rick and his books, visit richardalight.com.
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Charlie Rosenblum, Board Treasurer
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Edna Stewart, Gamliel Senior Faculty
Edna is a Registered Nurse with 46 years of experience working in settings such as intensive care, pediatric oncology, nursing management and education, and senior housing and wellness. She has been an educator for over 30 years both professionally and as a volunteer. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in Public Health Administration, with a focus on program and policy development. Much of her current volunteer work, in addition to regular Chevrah Kadisha activities, centers on education about Jewish practices around death and burial. A member of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA, she is the former chair of the adult education committee and current co-chair of the Chevrah Kadisha. Edna holds popular “Death Cafes” and led the development of a Bay Area-wide program called “Walking in the Valley of the Shadow,” a series of classes for community education on Jewish end-of-life practices, with the entire series presented in a variety of locations.
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Kerry Swartz, Past Board President
Kerry is the Past President of Kavod v’Nichum. He holds an MA in social sciences from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA from Concordia College and University, Montreal. As a professional photographer for over 25 years, his images have appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, Time, Sunset, Better Homes and Gardens, Architectural Digest, plus other national and regional publications. He has recently completed a five-year documentary of Vancouver’s alternative housing choices, with a gallery show and book planned for spring, 2020. Kerry has been an active member of the Congregation Schara Tzedeck Community Chevrah Kadisha for over a decade.
Vickie Weitzenhofer, Board Treasurer
Vickie Weitzenhofer has been an active member of Temple Beth-El (Conservative, Richmond VA) for 44 years. She rejuvenated their Chevrah Kadisha and has been the women’s leader almost twenty years. She is a founding member of the Temple Beth El (Unaffiliated, Williamsburg VA) Chevrah Kadisha, and helped to establish their cemetery. Vickie continues to teach and lead their women’s chevrah as well. She was a member of the Gamliel Institute’s first graduating class. At age 35, she celebrated a Reform Adult Confirmation, followed by a Conservative Bat Mitzvah at age 45. At age 50, after having attended Penn State and Holy Family, she earned her BA from VCU in Philosophy and Judaic Studies. Vickie is an Enrolled Agent and past board member of VA Society of Enrolled Agents. She has never missed a KvN Conference.
David Zinner, Executive Director, Gamliel Senior Faculty
David is the founder and Executive Director of Kavod v’Nichum, which works to restore to Jewish death and bereavement practice, the traditions and values of kavod hamet and nichum avelim, and the founder and Executive Director and co-founder of the Gamliel Institute, a center for leadership training and advocacy of traditional Jewish practice in the continuum of care at the end of life. As Vice-President of the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington, David participates in developing citywide contracts with funeral homes and is a member of the Cemetery Committee. David is also the Chevrah Kadisha Chair at the Columbia Jewish Congregation, consumer representative on the Maryland State Advisory Council on Cemetery Operations, and the former Executive Director of Tifereth Israel Congregation, a conservative synagogue in Washington, DC. David teaches workshops on Jewish traditions and practices that relate to death and dying both in his own synagogue, as well as all over the United States.