Annual Report 2012

The calendar year we’ve just finished, 2012, was a year of tikkun for ALEPH — repairing, healing, and transforming our organization so that we can meet the challenges of 2013 and beyond with full ruach v’koach — spirit and strength — for the opportunities ahead.

We have finished bringing all of our bookkeeping systems up to date, regained our nonprofit status, and achieved our budget goals. We are well on the way to our new website and database, and will be launching it in the coming months. We also transformed our Kol ALEPH quarterly newsletter into this online journal,, that is updated weekly. This Annual Report, for the first time, is integrated with Kol ALEPH in purely digital form.

Our fundraising met all of its goals, raising nearly $275,000 in contributions, roughly 23% of our 1.2 million dollar budget. Our highly successful Intimate Shabbaton with Reb Zalman in August,  raised over $26,000 for ALEPH and additional funds to support Reb Zalman and his legacy work. Our year-end fundraising drive for 2012 met and exceeded our $9600 challenge by over 200%, with a total of over $32,000 raised. Our membership not only matched, but more than doubled the leadership gifts! An additional $15,000 gift to help fund a new position, Director of Communications and Development, was also received, to kick off 2013.

Some pertinent financial facts and figures:

  • 2011 End of Year Campaign raised $11,000 on top of the Board’s $7,745 pledge
  • 2012 End of Year Campaign raised over $32.500, more than doubling the Board’s pledged of $9600 pledge
  • Total Contributed Revenue for FY2012: $275,295!

ALEPH General Operations and  Programs Fiscal Year 2012:

  • General and Program Revenues: $1,193,811
  • General and Program Expenses: $1,182,818
  • Surplus to be applied to 2013 programming: $10,993

2012 marked the return of ALEPH’s nonprofit status. As you may know, we, along with 250,000 other nonprofits, temporary lost our nonprofit status in 2011 due to a late filing of tax forms with the IRS. Thanks to the hard work of the ALEPH staff, our 501(c)3 status has been reinstated and all gifts to ALEPH continue to be tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.


ALEPH Programs and Projects

ALEPH Kallah


Planning for the 2013 ALEPH Kallah got well underway in 2012!  We have chosen a beautiful site with a retreat-like setting at Franklin Pierce University in beautiful Southern New Hampshire.  We will be at the foot of Mount Monadnock and on the shores of Pearly Pond where we can swim, kayak, sail and enjoy the sun, as well as study, pray together, celebrate community, and make music!!

In this idyllic setting, we will showcase new classes, offered by some of the best teachers ever!  ALEPH Kallah will again feature fabulous evening entertainment, amazing programs for children and teens (including our unique pre-bnai/b’not mitzvah program), talented healers in our Healing Center; first-class books and crafts in the Gift Shop, and expanded multigenerational  programs -supporting younger leaders, nurturing elders, and linking the generations.

Intimate Shabbaton with Reb Zalman

Reb zalman shabbaton
Front Row l-r:Jessica Zeller, Eve Ilsen, R’ Zalman, R’ Mark Novak, Jack Lief. Back Row l-r: Judith Lief, Susan Raskin Abrams, Binah Block, Joe Laur, Linda Greene, Jade Netanya Ullmann,Renee Brachfeld, David Rafsky, Jude Blitz. Not Shown: David Schwartz, David Friedman

In early August, an intimate and very blessed group of ALEPH supporters gathered at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colorado to spend Shabbat with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbinic Pastor Eve Ilsen, Rabbi Mark Novak, and storyteller Renee Brachfeld. The event was conceived to grow investment in ALEPH while gifting major supporters with a rare intimate weekend with the Rebbe. As one of those present put it, “The experience of Shabbat with Reb Zalman was like warm summer rain soaking in to  a field of green grass-  gentle and overflowing.” The feeling of joy, deep connection and community was palpable. Providence and Reb Zalman willing, the dream is to make this an annual event, not just for major investors in the work of Jewish Renewal, but also for emerging younger leaders in the movement, to have a panim el panim– face to face- experience with Reb Zalman.

Beit Midrash

In 2012, ALEPH Beit Midrash offered 6 distance-learning classes to rave reviews. Rabbi Daniel Siegel, ALEPH’s Director of Spiritual Resources, offered OHALAH members an opportunity to participate in a condensed, professional version of  “Issues in Integral Halachah,” usually offered to senior rabbinical students. Ten people took up the challenge as part of the Continuing Education program of ALEPH Beit Midrash. For 2013, ALEPH staff members are envisioning a major overhaul of the Beit Midrash, including new courses and a new ReSources web catalog with expanded offerings and outlets.

ALEPH Canada

ALEPH Canada continues to partner with ALEPH in the U.S. in the development of new spiritual resources. Rabbi Daniel Siegel, Rabbinic Director of ALEPH Canada, visited Beth Jacob Synagogue, our affiliated community in Regina, Saskatchewan, as part of the celebration of the ordination of their rabbi, Jeremy Parnes. In May, Reb Daniel spent Shabbat with Montreal’s new Jewish Renewal community, B’nai Or, whose spiritual leader is Rabbinic Pastor Sherril Gilbert, who, like Rabbi Parnes, is also a graduate of the ALEPH Ordination Program. ALEPH Canada also welcomes Noam Dolgin as its new administrative director.

Reb Daniel has launched a new website and blog ( Every two weeks, he shares his thoughts about specific prayers and texts, which can be downloaded and used by subscribers and visitors. So far, these have included a kaddish for individuals to recite when there is no minyan, the Sephardic version of the agriculture blessing in the daily amidah, and a triennial cycle for weekday Torah readings.

ALEPH Ordination Program

The ALEPH Ordination Program currently has an enrollment of 50 rabbinic students, 15 cantorial students, and 10 rabbinic pastor students.  Since 1996, over  100 musmachim (rabbis, hazzanut, and rabbinic pastors) have graduated from the program.

Cantor Yossi Weintraub joins 2012 Musmachim entering  Ordination Ceremony in Boulder Colorado, January 2012
Hazzan Yosi Weintraub joins 2012 Musmachim entering Ordination Ceremony in Boulder Colorado, January 2012

10 New Clergy Received Smicha

On January 8, 2012 / Tevet 13, 5772, near Boulder, Colorado on the Sunday preceding the annual OHALAH conference, ALEPH welcomed six new rabbis, three rabbinic pastors and one hazzan into the cadre of ordained Renewal leaders. The founder of our seminary and the  inspirational guide of Jewish Renewal, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, greeted the procession, led by the Dean and Director of the Ordination Program, Rabbi Marcia Prager; the Associate Dean and ALEPH Alliance’s  Director of Spiritual Resources, Rabbi Daniel Siegel; followed by the Director of the Rabbinic Pastor Program, R.P. Shulamit Fagan; the Director of the Cantorial Program, Hazzan Jack Kessler; and Rosh Hashpa’ah and Director of the Spiritual Direction Program, Rabbi Shohama Weiner. The procession of teachers was completed with the seven other members of the Va’ad, Rabbis Sami Barth, Leila Gal Berner, Elliot Ginsburg, Victor Gross, Laura Duhan Kaplan, Shaya Isenberg, and Steve Silvern. All stood to honor the beloved teachers who guide our growing seminary-without-walls, which now embraces students from the US, Canada, and as far away as the Netherlands, Israel, and Germany.

2012 Ordainees: Rabbi Efraim Eisen, Amherst, MA; Rabbi Mark Elber, Huntington, NY; Rabbi Ilan Glazer, North Bergen, NJ; Rabbinic Pastor Shayndel Kahn, Westford, MA; Rabbi Mark Novak, Washington, DC; Rabbi Jeremy Parnes, Regina, SK, Canada; Rabbinic Pastor Stephanie Tivona Reith, Port Townsend, WA; Rabbinic Pastor Naomi Tzril Saks, Oakland, CA; Rabbi Itzhak Vardy, Aspen, CO; Cantor Yosi Weintraub, Newton Center, MA

ALEPH Hashpa’ah Spiritual Direction Program

Image 1_2
Back row l-r: David Aladjem, R’ Shawn Zevit, David Markus, Evan Krame, Aura Ahuvia, R’ Ilan Glazer
Middle row l-r: Ora Simcha Hoffman, Nalini Indorf Kaplan, R’ Sue Morningstar, Lori Shaller, Nadyne Lee, R’ Leslie Schotz, Shira Michael, R’ Shohama Wiener
Front: R’ Nadya Gross. Not pictured: Rabbinic Pastor Stephanie Tivona Reith, R’ Dr. Sarah Cohen

In January of 2012 Cohort II completed their training, and 17 Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors as well as students in those programs, were ordained as Mashpi’im and Spiritual Directors. They will serve in congregations, community settings, and in private practice as spiritual guides to those seeking a more intimate relationship with the Sacred, and a  personally transformative relationship with Jewish prayer and practices.

Cohort III continued its second year of training, with intensive courses and supervised work with individuals and peer groups throughout the year. One of these students is also pursuing a fully accredited D.Min. degree from New York Theological Seminary as part of our partnership with them.

Recruitment for Cohort IV is  underway, with a new alignment of leadership. Rabbi Nadya Gross will serve as Director and Admissions, Rabbi Shawn Zevit will serve as Associate Director, and Rabbi Dr. Sarah Cohen as Head of Supervision, while Rabbi Shohama Wiener will remain as Founding Director, as well as Rosh Hashpa’ah of the ALEPH Ordination Programs.

All students in the Hashpa’ah PROGRAM as well as all ALEPH ordination students continue to work with an ALEPH Faculty Mashpia as [part of their ongoing learning and personal growth.

Ruach Ha’Aretz Retreat and Programs

ruach 2

Ruach Ha’Aretz welcomed an overflow crowd to its biennial Summer Signature Retreat in July 2012 while continuing to provide administrative support for Kol Zimra of C-DEEP, the ALEPH Sage-ing® Project, Smicha Week and Hashpa’ah of the ALEPH Ordinations Programs, its own Wisdom School and Embodying Spirit, En-Spiriting Body, and made plans to launch a new 2-year training program in EcoJudaism. 

Ruach Ha’Aretz returned to the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center in Reisterstown, MD, in July. The decision to bring the Summer Signature retreat back East a second time  paid off as registrations filled the retreat center to overflowing, and a nearby hotel was enlisted to offer additional overnight accommodations. A local rabbi in Baltimore, newly affiliated with OHALAH, offered generous financial support and networking to market the retreat to the local Jewish community. That support, the full buy-in of other Renewal leadership and communities in the East, an amazing faculty, and significant participation by Smicha students are credited with the success of the retreat.

The Ruach Kids program continued the tradition of amazing experiences for kids of all ages; returning program directors, Mia Cohen and Amitai Gross, raised the bar beyond all expectations and dreams.

Concurrent with the summer retreats, Ruach Ha’Aretz administered the start of Kol Zimra 5, in Albuquerque, NM, a Kol Zimra Alumni retreat in Santa Fe,  ongoing retreats for the Wisdom School third cohort in Colorado and Embodying Spirit, En~Spiriting Body in California.

Kol Zimra Chant Leaders Program

At Kallah 2011
Kol Zimra Director Rabbi Shefa Gold

In January Kol Zimra graduated a wonderful group of 22 chant leaders from all over the US and Canada. The graduates of Kol Zimra 4 have been empowered to bring this work to their communities, to their congregants and clients. They are deepening the practice of chant each in their own way through rabbinic, cantorial leadership, through chant groups, hospice work and spiritual direction.

July saw a new cohort. Kol Zimra 5 is a small but powerful  and dedicated group of leaders. With 13 people this cohort was able to bond immediately and intimately, staying connected through Spirit-buddy work and monthly phone-calls.

These calls are open to the Alumni of Kol Zimra and provide great opportunities to stay connected and further the work of chant by learning new practices and processes developed by Director Rabbi Shefa Gold.

A successful Alumni retreat was held in Santa Fe in July. Graduates from Kol Zimra 1, 2,3 and 4 came together to learn, celebrate and deepen their practice. Kol Ziima is preparing for the 2nd retreat of KZ5 which will take place in Albuquerque in January 2013, and actively recruiting a new group- Kol Zimra 6, which will begin in May in Mendham, NJ at a rural Episcopal Retreat Center. 14 people have already committed to KZ6 and the retreat is expected to fill. Along with Directors Rabbi Shefa Gold and Rachmiel O’Regan, Rabbi Phyllis Berman and rabbinic student Mia Cohen have signed on to both teach and manage the retreat.

We are proud to note that in March 2013, Jewish Lights will be releasing Rabbi Shefa’s new book, The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love.

The ALEPH Sage-ing® Mentorship Program

saging gradselders

The First certified Cohort of ALEPH Sage-ing® Mentorship Program graduated in October 2011 and were named Vatikim/Elders/Veterans by Reb Zalman:  Rabbi Ori Har DiGennaro, Rabbi Malka Drucker, Lois Felder, Annie Klein, Rabbi Richard Simon, Dr. Charlotte Sutker, Maggid Ellen Triebwasser.

All graduates are engaged in consciously continuing on their Sage-ing® journey in their communities.

Part One  “Wisdom of the Heart” was taught by Sage-ing® Co-directors, Rabbis Nadya and Victor Gross and Lynne Iser July 2-8 2012 at the Pearlstone Retreat and Conference Center in Maryland.   Rabbi Richard Simon and Annie Klein, two graduates from the First Cohort of our Mentorship Program, are slated to teach Part One at the ALEPH Kallah, July 1-7 2013 at Franklin Pierce University, Rindge, New Hampshire as “Becoming Sages as We Connect with the Divine Within and Around Us” .

Rabbis Victor and Nadya Gross will again teach Part Two, “Death as Home Coming: Life is the Answer” on end of life issues, in Tampa, FL, January 27-February 1, 2013.

Part Three, the certification part of the ALEPH Sage-ing® Mentorship Program, includes two retreats at the beginning and end of the program.  A Second Cohort for Part Three is scheduled to begin October 20-25 2013.  Both Part One and Two are required to apply for Part Three. Those studies will continue throughout the year, meeting four additional times via teleconference, meeting monthly in hevruta, and engaging in community projects. Three of the telecourse sessions, will be co-taught by Rabbi Shaya and Rabbi Victor Gross, focusing on Jewish and other sources for Sage-ing®.  An additional telecourse will focus on community issues, to be taught by Lynne Iser.

The Final five-day intensive for Graduation Week is scheduled for October 19-24, 2014.

Embodying Spirit, En~Spiriting Body Retreats


This past November, the second of four retreats of the Embodying Spirit, En~Spiriting Body embodied Jewish leadership training took place at the Bosch Bahái Center in the Santz Cruz mountains of central California. This retreat, Embodying Torah, built upon the deep and expansive work of the November, 2011, Embodying Prayer retreat.

Fourteen participants entered into the deep spaces of the Torah, addressing not only the “white fire” between the “black fire” of the words scribed upon parchment, but the dark and light, the open and closed spaces within both bodies and psyches. Focusing communal study and practice upon the parashat ha-shavua, Toldot, students entered deeply into multi-modal, experiential study, utilizing the tools of body awareness, authentic movement, dance and expressive arts therapy, and ecstatic dance to engage in whole brain/whole body learning. During the week students also engaged in daily movement davennen’, and each participant offered an inspiring creative presentation based on each one’s birth parashah.

Two further retreats (Embodying Kabbalah in May, 2013 and The Sacred Dance in November, 2013) will complete the first round of the program. Co-teachers have included Latifa Berry Kropf and Rabbi Ori Har. Simona Aronow, and Julie Leavitt will join the faculty in 2013.

Tikkun Olam Activities

COEJL Energy Covenant

Joe Laur signing

ALEPH’s Executive Director, Joe Laur, joined leaders of a diverse group of over 50 Jewish organizations in New York on February 6, 2012, to support the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign by signing the Jewish Environmental and Energy Imperative Declaration.

Lead by the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Living (COEJL), this campaign galvanizes the Jewish American community to stand together with one voice, take concrete action and make tangible change, as well as serve as a model for other communities. With this commitment to action, awareness of sustainable environmental responsibility will become part of the daily life of Jewish homes, communities and institutions. In a significant act of tikkun olam, the American Jewish community will significantly lower its emissions of greenhouse gases and help the nation work toward energy security.

ALEPH Gains Top Ranking from LGBT Rights Group

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released its first-ever index of inclusion within a faith-based community. The Jewish Organization Equality Index (JOEI) provides benchmarks for gauging, and resources for improving, LGBT inclusivity policies and practices of North American Jewish communal organizations. ALEPH received the top score of “inclusion,” meaning that we are taking significant steps to welcome LGBT individuals and families. The entire report is available at

Women Of The Wall

Women of the Wall Leader Anat Hoffman
Women of the Wall Leader Anat Hoffman being led away by police

OHALAH—the Association of Rabbis and Cantors for Jewish Renewal and the Rabbinic Pastor Association— and ALEPH issued a  Joint Letter of Support and Call to Action supporting Women of the Wall, whose key leadership was arrested for daring to wear tallit and recite the Sh’ma at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Stand on Gun Violence

ALEPH also worked with OHALAH to help craft a resolution on sensible gun controls, mental health care and stemming the culture of gun violence in the United States.

Organizational Outreach and Relationship Building

  • ALEPH Alliance worked to build partnerships and strong relationships with other Jewish Organizations, most noticeably:
  • Yesod Foundation agreed to provide fiscal sponsorship for grants and large donations for ALEPH while our nonprofit status was being restored, and Yesod continues to work with ALEPH to  ensure the financial support for Reb Zalman’s work and legacy.
  • ALEPH and the National Havurah Committee forged an agreement to cross promote Kallah and the NHC Summer Institute, both of which will be held at Franklin Pierce University within a month of each other in the summer of 2013. Members of each organization who wish to attend the other’s events can do so at a discount.
  • ALEPH is also working with Elat Chayyim at Isabella Freedman, partnering on a Shavuot program and a June retreat at Isabella Freedman and to cross promote Kallah and Elat Chayyim programs.



Rabbi Jeremy Parnes (Chair)

Ron Feldman (Treasurer)

David Rafsky  (Secretary)

Susan Raskin Abrams

Binah Barbara Block

Judith Dack

Rabbi David Ingber

Rabbi Lori Klein (Chair Emerita)

Evan Krame

David Evan Markus

Janice Rubin

Rabbi Jeffrey Schulman

Jade Netanya Ullmann

Rabbi Greg  Wolfe (OHALAH Liaison)

Projects and Directors

ALEPH Beit Midrash

Rabbi Daniel Siegel, Director

Rivkah Walton, Managing Director

ALEPH Kallah

Sally Plone, Coordinator

ALEPH Ordination Program

Rabbi Marcia Prager, Dean

Rabbinic Program, Rabbi Marcia Prager, Director

Cantorial Program,  Hazzan Jack Kessler, Director

Rabbinic Pastor Program,  Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit Fagan, Director

Spiritual Direction Program(Hashpa’ah),  Rabbi Dr. Shohama Wiener & Rabbi Nadya Gross, Directors

ALEPH Sage-ing Project

Rabbi Shaya Isenberg, Lynne Iser & Bahira Sugarman, Directors

C-DEEP: Center for Devotional Energy and Ecstatic Practice

Rabbi Shefa Gold & Rachmiel O’Regan, Directors

Institute for Contemporary Midrash: Resource and Referral Service

Rivkah Walton, Director

Ruach HaAretz

Rabbi Nadya Gross & Rabbi Victor Gross, Directors



Joe Laur, Executive Director

Rivkah Walton, Associate Director

David Brown, Operations Manager

Ming Shem Lu, Ordination Program and Donations

Naomi Hirsch, Bookkeeper

Rabbi Daniel Siegel, Director of Spiritual Resources

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbinic Chair

Affiliated Communities and Havurot Worldwide



Ruach Hamidbar-Spirit of the Desert (Scottsdale/Paradise Valley/Phoenix)


B’nai Horin/Children of Freedom (Los Angeles)

Chadesh Yameinu (Santa Cruz)

Chochmat HaLev (Berekeley)

The Elijah Minyan (San Diego)

Shir HaYam (San Diego)

Kehilla Community Synagogue (Piedmont)

Shir Hashirim Minyan (Berkeley)

Makom Ohr Shalom (West Hills)

Nevei Kodesh (Boulder)

Pardes Levavot (Boulder)


Congregation P’nai Or of Central Connecticut (West Hartford)


Temple Adath Or (Davie)

Or Ahavah (Lutz)


Makom Shalom (Chicago)


Am Kolel (Beallsville)

East Bank Havurah (Baltimore/Central Maryland)


B’nai Or Boston (Boston)


Congregation Shir Tikvah (Metropolitan Detroit)

Pardes Hannah (Ann Arbor, Michigan)


Congregation Neve Shalom (St. Louis)


Congregation Beth Shalom (Bozeman)


Havurah Or Ha Lev (Long Valley)


Congregation Nahalat Shalom (Albuquerque)


Romemu (New York City)


Temple Or Olam (Concord)

Yavneh: A Jewish Renewal Community (Raleigh)


Havurah Shir Hadash (Ashland)

P’nai Or of Portland (Portland)


P’nai Or (Philadelphia)


Havurah P’nai Yisrael (Charlottesville)


Congregation Eitz Or (Seattle)


Shaarei Shamayim (Madison)



Temple Emmanuel (Sydney)


Jewish Congregation of Brazil — Chavurah Al Sfat ha-Yam (Rio de Janeiro)


Or Shalom (Vancouver)

Beth Jacob Synagogue (Regina)


Ohel Hachidusch (Berlin)

Beth Avraham (Munich)


Nava Tehila (Jerusalem)


Jewish Community of Huanuco Beith Etz Chaim-Peru


Ruach Havurah (London)