ALEPH Ordination Program Appoints New Deans

The ALEPH Ordination Program (AOP), through its Dean Rabbi Marcia Prager, is pleased to announce the appointments of Rabbi Shulmit Thiede, Ph.D., and Rabbi Steven Silvern, Ph.D., to the positions of Dean of Faculty and Associate Dean, respectively. These appointments are effective February 1, 2018.

As Associate Dean, Rabbi Silvern will supervise the operation of AOP and engage with Rabbi Prager in developing innovations in clerical studies. According to Rabbi Prager, “Rabbi Steven is a long-time member of the VAAD [AOP’s core faculty and directors of studies]. It is an honor to recognize the caliber of his contributions to AOP, and I look forward to our work together in advancing Reb Zalman’s vision for the training of Jewish Renewal clergy and in furthering the mission of AOP.”

As Dean of Faculty, Rabbi Thiede will support faculty to develop effective teaching strategies and pedagogical approaches to meet our students’ needs, in alignment with the spiritually and intellectually rich Renewal culture of AOP. According to Rabbi Prager, “Rabbi Shulamit brings a strong background in academic life, university teaching, and rabbinic leadership. She is a dynamic, award-winning instructor, a skilled administrator, and our students and faculty will benefit from her advancement to this role within AOP.”

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Rabbi Shulamit Thiede, Ph.D., teaches Tanakh, Judaism, Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the history of European anti-Semitism in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC-Charlotte and, most recently, in the ALEPH Ordination Program. Rabbi Thiede has served as the faculty advisor for UNCC’s Hillel group and the Interfaith Alliance.  She supervised the Judaic Studies minor at UNCC and will be serving as the director of UNCC’s graduate studies program in Religious Studies. Rabbi Thiede was ordained by ALEPH in 2011 as a rabbi and in 2012 as a mashpi’ah ruchanit. She founded Temple Or Olam, the first Jewish Renewal congregation in North Carolina and is the co-founder of the Cabarrus Clergy Coalition. Rabbi Thiede has written and published in a wide variety of settings. Her current research project focuses on ritual items created by the women of Ashkenaz. She blogs at

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Rabbi Steven Silvern, Ph.D., formerly Dean of Administration/Rosh Tachlis of AOP, is Professor Emeritus of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. He specializes in developing Jewish educational programs for children and adults. His focus is on meaningful educational experiences obtained through the interweaving of Constructivist philosophy with Jewish Renewal methodology. He received a Ph.D. in child development from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and rabbinic ordination from the ALEPH Ordination Program. He served as Professor of Education at Auburn University and at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also served as Program Director for the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut. He is the recipient of awards for professional and public service at the local, national and international level. He served as rabbi of Beth Shalom: The Jewish Community of East Alabama in Auburn. He also served on the Board of Directors and as Chair of the Board of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.