Be’chol Lashon Speakers Bureau

Our speakers bureau is comprised of dynamic presenters from the United States and around the world who address a wide range of topics of interest to congregations, organizations, and communities across the country and around the world.

The speakers include community leaders and pre-eminent scholars in history, philosophy, sociology, demography and other fields. They ceom from a range of racial, ethnic, and cultural Jewish backgrounds and are emissaries for diversity in the Jewish community.

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Beza Abebe

Beza Abebe was born in Yabello, a small town close to the border of Kenya, in Ethiopia. She grew up in Hawassa and received her LLB from Hawassa University. In 2009, at the age of 23, she moved to Israel and officially made aliyah in 2014. For the last 10 years, she worked in Jewish philanthropic organizations in Israel that strive for the integration, empowerment and equality of the Ethiopian Jewish community. She worked at Tebeka, advocating for the Ethiopian community, and The David Foundation, which works on leadership and education for Ethiopian Jews. Beza holds a masters in government and diplomacy from IDC Herzliya and a masters in law (LLM) from Tel Aviv University. Beza is currently a SJD doctoral student at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Rabbi Ruth Abusch Magder

Be'chol Lashon's Rabbi-in-Residence and Director of Education has been involved in Jewish education and leadership for over 30 years. A graduate of Barnard College, she received her doctorate from Yale University. Rabbi Ruth is the recipient of many grants and fellowships for her work on Jewish food and women's history. In 2006 she was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem, where she developed the pilot curriculum for the JCCA's adult learning Journeys initiative. A CLAL Rabbi Without Borders fellow, she is a frequent writer and teacher and has taught and published in Europe, Israel, and North and South America. She edits Jewish&, Be'chol Lashon's blog on, and loves spending time at Camp Be'chol Lashon. She currently resides in Atlanta.

Rivka Amado

Rivka Amado was born in Holon, Israel, and grew up in a Ladino-speaking home, where she learned traditional melodies from her grandmother. Rivka earned her PhD from the University of Toronto in 1990, held postdoctoral fellowships in medical ethics at the Hastings Center and Hebrew University, and has published widely in medical ethics and related fields. She has taught at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv Medical School, Stanford, Berkeley, and Princeton, and has received several awards for her scholarship and teaching.

Since coming to the Bay Area, Rivka has merged her scholarly and musical work both in the United States and Israel. She has dedicated much of her time to researching Sephardic culture and performing traditional Ladino music.

She has developed a program, A Journey Back to Spain, in which she recounts how the Jews of Spain have been able to maintain their identity for five hundred years, long after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula. Since developing this and other programs, Rivka has performed in Sephardic venues around the world.

In 2013, Rivka launched a new project, "Sephardic Flamenco Fusion," which combines Ladino songs with Flamenco rhythms and music.
Rivka earned her PhD from the University of Toronto in 1990, held post-doctoral fellowships in medical ethics at the Hastings Center and Hebrew University, and has published widely in medical ethics and related fields. She taught at Bar Ilan University for ten years, and also taught at Tel Aviv Medical School, Stanford, Berkeley, and Princeton, and has received several awards for her scholarship and teaching. Since coming to the Bay Area, Rivka has merged her scholarly and musical work both in the United States and Israel.

For years Rivka sang Ladino songs and played the piano informally, and sang in her synagogue choir in Jerusalem. Since moving to the Bay Area, she has dedicated much of her time to researching Sephardic culture and performing traditional Ladino music.

She has developed a program, A Journey Back to Spain, in which she recounts how the Jews of Spain have been able to maintain their identity for five hundred years, long after their expulsion, first from Spain and then from the entire Iberian Peninsula. In this program she mixes historical narrative, accounts of Sephardic culture, and popular Ladino songs. This program unites Rivka's two halves; her musical half and her scholarly half. Since developing this and other programs, Rivka has performed in Sephardic venues around the Bay Area, the New York Sephardic Festival, and in New Jersey, Florida, Israel, and Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia.

In March 2009 she released Hija Mia, an album of traditional Ladino songs, accompanied by an ensemble of talented musicians. She is planning a second album which will contain more traditional Ladino songs, as well as original compositions of her own in Ladino, Hebrew, and English.

In 2013, Rivka launched a new project, "Sephardic Flamenco Fusion," which combines Ladino songs with Flamenco rhythms and music. The new group of collaborators includes a flamenco guitarist, a dancer, and a percussionist, all of whom have lived in both Israel and Spain, and blended their interests into a true synthesis of Flamenco and Ladino music.

Sarah Aroeste

Inspired by her family's Sephardic roots in Greece and Macedonia, Sarah Aroeste has spent the last 10 years bringing her contemporary style of original and traditional Ladino music to audiences around the world.

American born and trained in classical opera at Westminster Choir College and Yale University, Sarah became drawn to her Sephardic musical past after spending a summer in 1997 studying and performing at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv. Since then, Aroeste has worked tirelessly to keep Ladino music alive for a new generation. Her style combines traditional Mediterranean Sephardic sounds with contemporary influences such as rock, funk jazz and blues. Her songs have brought new life and energy to the beautiful and mysterious sounds of Sephardic music.

In the last decade, Aroeste has amassed a large and loyal following across the US and abroad, and has been featured in both national and international press. She has performed in major music venues throughout the US and overseas. Currently, Aroeste is teaming up with renowned Israeli composer and producer Shai Bachar to stage the live, multi-media production of her latest album, Gracia, which is an original Ladino, feminist, rock homage to 15th century Sephardic heroine Dona Gracia Naci.

Alex Barnett

Alex Barnett's comedy is about family—specifically his family. As the White, Jewish husband of a Black woman (who converted to Judaism) and the father of a 2-year-old biracial son, he focuses his attention on the challenges of being a parent in a bad economy and the issues that confront interracial families, including the dynamics between members of the same family who are of different races.

Alex has been seen on the Katie Couric Show, been featured on Sirius/XM Radio's "Raw Dog Comedy," NBC's EVB Live, Bloomberg Law TV, ComedyTime TV, RT TV America and NYC–TV and in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and

In addition to being a comedian, Alex is a lawyer, and he is a co-founding member of Comedians at Law, a group of lawyers-turned-comics who tour nationally.

New Blog: My Interracial Marriage Isn't That Exotic

Rachel Beck

Rachel Beck is an author and international photographer. She was born in India and was adopted from an orphanage by a Jewish family. She has run a photography business for the last 8 years in the Midwest.

She is turning the tragic events in her life into positivity through her photography and writing. She wants to share how art has healed her in many ways. By sharing her story, she hopes she inspires others to pick themselves up after they have been through hard times. She holds a Bachelor of General Studies with Minors in Psychology and Gender Studies.

Suggested discussion topics: diversity awareness, her journey of returning to India and reconnecting with her heritage, women entrepreneurs.

Ruth Behar

Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba, and grew up in New York. She is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Among her honors, she is the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Ruth has worked as an ethnographer in Spain, Mexico, and Cuba, and is known for her humanistic approach to understanding identity, immigration, and the search for home in our global era. Her books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village;Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story; The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart; and An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba. She is co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her documentary, Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, has been shown in festivals around the world. As much a provocative scholar as a creative writer, Ruth is also known for her essays, poetry, and fiction. Her latest book is Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys.

Lior Ben-Hur

Lior Ben-Hur was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. For the last nine years his home base has been San Francisco, where he has been teaching music, Hebrew and Jewish identity classes in a variety of schools and congregations, emphasizing on the importance of music in education.

Lior has a San Francisco-based band, Sol Tevél, that integrates sounds, rhythms, and multilingual lyrics from around the globe in order to advocate building a strong, conscious and united community worldwide. In October 2012 Sol Tevél released their debut album, World Light, which aims to shed a new light and contemporary interpretation on old Jewish texts, ideals and mysticism. Lior’s new solo album, So I Wander, was released in February 2017.

Siona Benjamin

Siona Benjamin is an artist originally from Bombay, of Bene Israel Jewish descent. Siona’s work reflects her complex cultural background and the transition between the old and new worlds. She is inspired by traditional styles of painting, like Indian/Persian miniatures, Byzantine icons and Jewish illuminated manuscripts, but blends these ancient forms with pop cultural elements from our times to create a new vocabulary of her own. In her work she raises questions about what and where is “home”, while evoking issues such as identity, immigration, motherhood, and the role of art in social change. Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society, educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools, and been raised Jewish and now living in America, Siona has always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which she has lived. In this multicultural America, she feels a strong need to make art that will bring out similarities, not differences, contributing to the conversation about stereotyping and religious intolerance. She has her first MFA in painting and second MFA in Theater set design. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2010-11 for an art project titled: Faces: Weaving Indian Jewish Narratives.

Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl

Angela Warnick Buchdahl was invested as a cantor in 1999 and ordained as a rabbi in 2001 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York. She earned a BA in Religious Studies from Yale University in 1994. Born in Korea to a Jewish American father and a Korean Buddhist mother, Rabbi Buchdahl is the first Asian American to be ordained as a cantor or rabbi in North America. Prior to her appointment as cantor at Central Synagogue, Rabbi Buchdahl served as associate rabbi/cantor at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Rabbi Buchdahl has been nationally recognized for her innovations in leading services, and has served as faculty for the Wexner Heritage Foundation and for the Union for Reform Judaism Kallot programs. She has been actively involved in Just Congregations, the Reform Movement’s congregation-based community organizing effort. Rabbi Buchdahl has been featured in articles in Reform Judaism, Shema Journal of Jewish Ideas, Newsweek’s 2012 list of “America’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis” and the PBS documentary 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidrei. She serves on the Board of Auburn Theological Seminary and the Multiracial Jewish Network.

Rabbi Buchdahl and her husband Jacob Buchdahl have three children.

Rabbi Romiel Daniel

Romiel Daniel is a cantor, having studied Ashkenazi Cantorial music at Yeshiva University under Cantors Joseph Malovany, Sherwood Goffin and Bernard Beer. He has released one audio cassette and one CD to preserve and celebrate the Bene Israel liturgy and melodies of Yom Kippur, Selichoth and the Sabbath.

He was the president of the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India from 1986-1990. He conducted Jewish education classes and other religious festivals for the community in Ahmedabad. Mr. Daniel conducted the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the Village Temple in New York from 1995-2007 in the Bene Israel tradition for Indian Jews in America. He is the President of the Rego Park Jewish Center and the President of the Minyan Club.

Romiel is president of The Indian Jewish Congregation of USA. He has given lectures at many organizations and institutions, including the 92nd Y, New York Public Library, Lincoln Center, Barnes and Noble, Washington Jewish Film Festival week, and JCC In Manhattan. He has been written about in the New York Times, Daily News, Jewish Week, Jewish Press and several other newspapers.

Galeet Dardashti

As the first woman to continue her family's tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship, Galeet Dardashti pursues her passion for Jewish and Middle Eastern music as vocalist/composer and scholar. Galeet's grandfather, Yona Dardashti, was one of the most highly acclaimed singers of Persian classical music in Iran. Together with her family, Galeet performed Jewish music throughout the US and Canada for almost twenty years. Since then, she has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative Jewish and Middle Eastern musicians today. She received a Six Points Fellowship to pursue her multi-disciplinary 2010 nationally acclaimed release, The Naming, which interprets some of the compelling women of the Bible. Her most recent work, Monajat, commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Culture, is inspired by old and haunting recordings of the Jewish prayers of Selihot chanted by her grandfather. Dardashti is also the leader of the renowned all-female power-house Mizrahi ensemble, Divahn.

Having studied with her father, Hazzan Farid Dardashti, Galeet has significant cantorial experience and leads Mizrahi/Sephardi Shabbat services throughout the country. Dardashti also holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University at the Taub Center for Israel Studies. She offers residencies, lectures, and interactive workshops on her artistic and academic work throughout the US and abroad.

Reuben "Prodezra" Formey

Southern, Jewish Rap!? A Baal T'shuva, Prodezra Beats hails from Savannah, GA. An independent hip hop rapper/producer, he broke out big on the scene when he produced the track "Change" with Y-Love & DeScribe and G-dcast's biggest video for Rosh Hoshanah, "Shofar Callin." Prodezra started making beats as a hobby in early high school with just an old Casio board & computer. Being a member of school bands from a young age contributed to his knack for creating hard-hitting tracks early on. After going down the wrong road, Prodezra made some positive changes in his life, crediting Chabad & Breslov teachings. Now he's using his G-d given talent for good.
He lays hard-hitting lyrics over head-bobbing beats with southern flavor and is being heard by audiences across the globe. His unique place in Jewish music is gaining him appreciation in high places, and he was invited last Chanukah to perform before the Atlanta Hawks game at Philip Arena. Not only is his music jamming and inspirational, but he also has a positive personal message to share about his life and the spiritual changes he has made.

Rabbi Capers Funnye

Capers C. Funnye,  Jr. (pronounced fu-NAY) is the spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago. He studied with Levi Ben Levy, the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Israelites, a movement established in the early 20th century by Wentworth Matthew, a charismatic figure who arrived in Harlem at the end of World War I and founded a congregation in New York called the Commandment Keepers. In 1985, Funnye was ordained as a rabbi and in 2015, Rabbi Funnye was installed as Chief Rabbi of the Hebrew Israelites. Funnye, who has also gone through a Conservative conversion, straddles the mainstream Jewish world and the separate world of the Israelites.

Rabbi Funnye earned a BA in Jewish Studies and MS in Human Service Administration from Spertus Institute of Judaica, in Chicago, IL. Rabbi Funnye is a member of several boards in the community, including the Chicago Board of Rabbis, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, and The Chicago Theological Seminary. Rabbi Funnye has lectured and consulted at institutions throughout the United States, Europe and Africa.

Capers Funnye was born in South Carolina in 1952 and raised on the South Side of Chicago. His mother was the sister Michelle Obama’s grandfather, making them first cousins, once removed. Rabbi Funnye and his wife Mary have four children, and are the proud grandparents of seven grandsons and two granddaughters.

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Gina Gold

Gina Gold is a humorist, filmmaker and stage artist. She grew up in a New York neighborhood thinking "oy vey" was something all black people said. Inspired by comedians like Carol Burnett and Louis CK, Gina boldly pokes fun at her own idiosyncrasies as a Jewish African-American Bay Area native who is really from Queens. At the age of thirteen she attended The American Academy Of Dramatic Arts and later wrote her own one woman shows before venturing into filmmaking. She launched her own show on a New York cable access channel. Calling it "The Gina Gold Show," she filled the airtime with comedic, sometimes surreal, Saturday Night Live-style sketches and short films.

After telling a story called Hands Up on NPR's radio show Snap Judgment, Gina fell in love with storytelling and started her own series called TMI (Too Much Information), which she currently produces. TMI features a rotating cast of storytellers giving an unadulterated, often hardcore look at life. She has also toured in a show called You're Funny But You Don't Look Jewish, a touring stand up comedy show with some very funny African American, Indian, Italian American and Vietnamese Jewish comedians.

Jane Anna Gordon

Jane Gordon is Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. She is the author of Why They Couldn't Wait: A Critique of the Black-Jewish Conflict Over Community Control in Ocean-Hill Brownsville, 1967-1971 (Routledge, 2001), which was listed by The Gotham Gazette as one of the four best books recently published on Civil Rights, and co-editor of A Companion to African-American Studies (Blackwell's, 2006) and Not Only the Master's Tools (Paradigm Publishers, 2006). Gordon's current work focuses on problems of legitimacy in democratic societies: she is currently completing one book that aims to refashion Rousseau's concept of the general will through the resources offered by W.E.B. Du Bois's idea of double consciousness and another, with Lewis Gordon, that develops a social and political theory of disaster in the modern age. Gordon is particularly interested in how best to measure and count communities that have been designated religiously, about ways in which best to understand members of communities of color who are deliberately returning to Judaism, and in how to most accurately and effectively educate contemporary Jews and non-Jews about the creolized past and present of vibrant Jewish communities.

Lewis R. Gordon

Congratulations to Dr. Lewis R. Gordon on receiving the prestigious Nelson Mandela Visiting Professorship in the Department of Politics & International Relations at Rhodes University in South Africa!
Lewis R. Gordon is professor of philosophy, African American studies, and Judaic studies at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. He is an Afro-Jewish philosopher, political thinker, educator, and musician who grew up in the Bronx, New York, where he attended Evander Child's High School, played jazz in NY night clubs, and went to Lehman College under the Lehman Scholars Program (LSP) where he graduated with honors in political science and philosophy as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Gordon's research in philosophy is in Africana philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of human sciences.

As a public intellectual, Gordon has written for a variety of political forums, newspapers, and magazines, such as truthout, the Pambazuka News, and The Mail & Guardian, and has lectured across the globe, and founded and co-founded journals and organizations, including Radical Philosophy Review and the Caribbean Philosophical Association, of which he was the first president (2003 to 2008). He also participates in several international research groups such as Thinking Africa at Rhodes University in South Africa and The Center for Caribbean Thought in Mona, Jamaica.As a public intellectual, Gordon has written for a variety of political forums, newspapers, and magazines, such as truthout, the Pambazuka News, and The Mail & Guardian, and has lectured across the globe, and founded and co-founded journals and organizations, including Radical Philosophy Review and the Caribbean Philosophical Association, of which he was the first president. He also participates in several international research groups such as Thinking Africa at Rhodes University in South Africa and The Center for Caribbean Thought in Mona, Jamaica.

Gordon is married to the political theorist Jane Anna Gordon. His website is

Lewis Gordon is the offspring of two Jewish communities that converged in his mother. One was the Solomon family, who migrated to Jamaica in the 19th Century. The other was from Ireland under the name of Finikin, who also immigrated there during the same period.

He is the founder and co-director, with his wife Jane Gordon, of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University, a research institute dedicated to developing reliable sources of information on Afro-Jews and Jewish diversity. He is also a research affiliate of the Institute for Jewish Research and Community. Professor Gordon achieved his PhD in Philosophy with distinction from Yale University in 1993. He earned his BA, with multiple honors, through the Lehman Scholars Program at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, in 1984.

His co-edited A Companion to African-American Studies was chosen as the NetLibrary eBook of the Month for February 2007. His forthcoming books are An Introduction to Africana Philosophy, which will be published by Cambridge University Press, and, with Jane Anna Gordon, Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age, which will be published by Paradigm Publishers. He is the author of the foreword to Gary and Diane Tobin and Scott Rubin's In Every Tongue (2005), and he is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Afro–Jewish Question and co-editing an anthology on the study of Jewish diversity. Professor Gordon has received many accolades for his work and has lectured internationally.

Professor Carolivia Herron

Professor Carolivia Herron is an author and educator currently living in Washington, DC. She is the founder and president of EpicCenter Stories, a nonprofit creative writing and educational organization. Herron is best known as the author of the controversial children's book, Nappy Hair, which is associated with the crisis in diversity education in the United States. Carolivia's most recent book, Always An Olivia, relates the story, told to Carolivia by her 103-year-old great grandmother, of her Jewish ancestor, Sarah bat Asher, who was kidnapped from Italy by Barbary pirates in 1805.

Dr. Herron's other major publications include: Thereafter Johnnie (Random House, 1991), The Selected Writings of Angelina Weld Grimkz (Oxford, 1991), and Little Georgia and the Apples (EpicCenter Stories, 2006). Her work in progress, Asenath and Our Song of Songs, imagines the life of the Ancient African (Egyptian) woman who married Joseph, son of Israel.

Carolivia received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory and MA in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds two degrees in English Literature, an MA from Villanova University and a BA from Eastern University. She has been a visiting scholar in Judaic Studies and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University, Hebrew College (Newton, MA), the Harvard Divinity School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was also a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico, Zaire, and the Republic of Congo.

Vanessa Hidary

Native New Yorker Vanessa Hidary, AKA The Hebrew Mamita, grew up on Manhattan's culturally diverse Upper West Side, graduating from LaGuardia High School of the Arts and Hunter College. Her experiences as a Sephardic Jew with close friends from different ethnic and religious backgrounds inspired her to write "Culture Bandit," the nationally toured solo show that chronicles Vanessa's coming of age during the golden age of Hip-Hop and her dedication to fostering understanding and friendship between all people. "Culture Bandit" was originally produced by LAByrinth Theatre Company. It has since played as part of festivals around the United States, including The Roar Theatre Festival at Nuyorican Poets Café, Makor Arts Center, and the Comedy Central Stage in Los Angeles.

She has aired three times on “Russell Simmon's Presents Def Poetry Jam" on HBO, and is featured in the short film, “The Tribe,” which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival. She has conducted poetry and racism workshops with Bnai' Brith Youth organization and is the director/developer of "MONOLOGUES" - an evening of solo performances by 15 young adults exploring their Jewish identity, inspired by a 10-day trip through Israel, produced by Birthright Israel NEXT.

Vanessa received an M.F.A. in acting from Trinity Rep theatre Conservatory. She lives in Manhattan, where she is working on her first collection of poems and stories titled "The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega."

Ephraim Isaac

Ephraim Isaac is the director, Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, NJ, and a Fellow of Butler College, Princeton University and The Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation.

Born in Ethiopia where he got his early education, Dr. Isaac holds a BA degree in Philosophy, Chemistry, & Music (Concordia College); an M. Div. (Harvard Divinity School); a PhD in Near Eastern Languages (Harvard University); and D.H.L. (honorary, John Jay /CUNY). He was Professor at Harvard (1968 -1977). The first professor hired in Afro-American Studies at Harvard, he was voted the best teacher each year by the students and the Department.

In addition to Harvard (that endowed the Ephraim Isaac Prize in African Studies in 1998), Dr. Isaac has lectured at Hebrew U (Ancient Semitic Languages), Princeton U (Near Eastern Studies, Religion; V. Prof. (Religion & African American Studies 1995-01) & U of Pennsylvania (Religion, Semitic Languages), Howard U (Divinity School), Lehigh U (Religion), Bard College (Religion, History), and other institutions of higher learning.

His subjects range from those mentioned above to Biblical Hebrew, Rabbinic Literature, Ethiopian History, Concept and History of Slavery and Ancient African Civilizations. He has been a Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Studies. He has received many awards and honors including an honorary D. H. L. (John Jay College, CUNY), the 2002 Peacemaker Award of the Rabbi Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.

Dr. Isaac is author of numerous articles and books on (Late Second Temple) Jewish and (Ancient Ethiopic) Ge'ez literatures. Three of his recent works pertain to the oldest known manuscripts of The Book of Enoch (Doubleday, 1983) and An Ethiopic History of Joseph (Sheffield Press, 1990), and Proceedings of Second International Congress of Yemenite Jewish Studies (ISS & Univ. of Haifa, 1999). An expanded definitive version of his The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is in press (Africa World Press, 2001.) He is currently working on a new edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments of The Book of Enoch (Princeton Theological Seminary); A History of Religions in Africa; and Cultural History of Ethiopian Jews. He is on editorial boards of two international scholarly journals on Afroasiatic Languages and Second Temple Jewish Literature respectively.

Dr. Isaac has diverse accomplishments. He knows seventeen languages. He is the first translator of Handel's Messiah into Amharic, Ethiopian official language. He is widely known in Ethiopia as founder of the National Literacy Campaign that made millions literate in the late sixties. He is currently the international Chair of the Horn of Africa Board of Peace and Development Organization (Addis Ababa, Asmara) and the President of The Yemenite Jewish Federation of America. He is on the board of many charitable and educational organizations. Sought after nationally and internationally, he is widely acclaimed as a public lecturer on religion, literature, ancient history, peace and conflict resolution, and various other subjects listed above.

Dr. Isaac is also celebrating the birth of his first grandchild.

Natasha Kehimkar

Natasha comes from a family of Bene Israel Jews. Growing up in Toronto, she had an Ashkenazi Jewish day school and synagogue experience, along with a unique Indian Jewish homme and festival experience. She credits her parents and grandparents for instilling great pride in her heritage by sharing their personal stories and the remarkeable history of the Bene Israel community. Still, finding her place in the broader Jewish community was a journey. She and her husband were fortunate to find a warm and welcoming community in New Jersey, where she became active in synagogue life and a member of the Board of Trustees at her temple. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her family were captivated by the wonderful clergy and warm community at Peninsula Temple Beth El, where she recently joined the Board of Trustees.

Natasha has a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a Master's in Human Resources. She brings global HR, Talent, and Organization Effectiveness experience in both established and entrepreneurial companies and is the Founder of ZEST People and Talent Advisors. She helps her clients connect strategy and people to scale organizations, enable teams, and grow leaders.

Natasha's exploration of the evolving Jewish community continues as she blends her professional expertise and personal experiences to explore multiple facets that make up identity and the path to inclusion.

Manashe Khaimov

Manashe Khaimov is a fourth generation community organizer, informal Jewish educator, and a lifelong learner who brings his passion working with Jewish community. Manashe was born in a city along the Silk Road, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where his ancestors lived for over 2000 years, which makes Manashe’s Jewish identity simultaneously Bukharian, Sephardic, Mizrahi, and Russian speaking.

Manashe is an Adjunct Professor of Jewish Studies, with a specialty in the History and Culture of the Bukharian Jews at CUNY Queens College. He is a Founding Director of the Bukharian Jewish Union Inc, an organization for the young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s where he serves as Vice President of Community Relations. Manashe is a Founder of the only Bukharian online dictionary online platform. Manashe is a Founder of The Jewish Silk Road Tours ™ a walking tours in New York City for people who are interested in learning about the Jewish communities (Bukharian, Persian, etc.) that had lived along the Silk Road, for over 2000 years. Manashe is a Founding Director of MEROS: Center for Bukharian Jewish Research & Identity at Queens College. For the past two years, Manashe was a Chair of the Public Relations & Marketing Committee for Limmud FSU US and he served as a Chair of the Fundraising and Development Committee.

Currently, Manashe is a Director of Community Engagement and Development at Queens College Hillel where he focuses on community organizing and building meaningful relationships with students, community members, and individuals, with hopes to introduce Bukharian, Mizrahi and Sephardic communities to the work that Queens College Hillel does, as well as the work that Hillel International does around the world.

Manashe is a recipient of the New York Jewish Week “36 Under 36” Visionary Jewish Leader Award, TimesLedger Newspapers “Queens Impact Award” honoring the borough's unsung heroes, and he is an alumnus of the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship for International Jewish Leaders. Manashe received his BA from Baruch College, where he served as Hillel President and graduate from Hunter College Silverman School of Social Work, with a Master in Community Organizing Planning and Development.

Manashe believes that innovative and inclusive community organizations can change lives, and he values personal relationships above all.

Helen Kim

Helen Kim is entering her eleventh year at Whitman College where she teaches courses on race and ethnic relations, Asian Americans, and gender. She is also affiliated with the Race and Ethnic Studies major as well as General Studies. She is currently a professor of Encounters and has regularly taught Critical and Alternative Voices. Helen's current research focuses on intermarriage and family dynamics among Jewish Americans and Asian Americans. Her scholarship has been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Jewish Daily Forward, the New York Times and by NPR. Her book, JewAsian: Race, Religion and Identity for America's Newest Jews, was published in 2016 by the University of Nebraska Press. Helen moved to Walla Walla in 2005 after nine years of living in the Midwest with her husband, Noah Leavitt. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Helen now calls Walla Walla home.

Samson Koletkar

Samson Koletkar was born in Mumbai and raised Jewish. Growing up in the world's most crowded city, he spent most of his childhood years burning the midnight candles for earning a Masters in Computer Software, thereby fulfilling his parent's dreams. He then moved halfway across the world, to the technology headquarters and a hotbed for emerging comics—San Francisco.

As a first generation immigrant in America, Samson brings a refreshingly new approach to cerebral, witty, thought-provoking, clean humor with a global perspective. Driven by personal trials and tribulations, his subtle satire addresses religious and political hypocrisies, social issues, and day-to-day absurdities of human nature.

He won the 2010 Asian American Theater Company Comedy Competition, has performed at clubs, colleges and corporations in India, Canada and 12 states in the U.S., and has been featured on Asian Jewish Life, Indian Express, NBC, CBS and NPR.

Benjamin Kweskin

Benjamin Kweskin (MA, International Studies; MA, Political Science) specializes in the histories, cultures, and politics of the Middle East and has been researching and writing for over fifteen years.

He has presented his research in various venues and settings across the world and is published in Open Democracy, Jerusalem Post, Rudaw, Philos Project, Creative Loafing, and Atlantic Community among many others. He is passionate about including more knowledge about global Jewish communities historically and presently, particularly Mizrahi communities.

In 2013-2014, he lived in the Kurdistan Region (Iraq) in the Region's capital, Erbil as an educator, lecturer, journalist, and tour guide. He is the main Historical Researcher for the official Kurdistan Region Tour Guide (2015-2016), the most comprehensive tour guide about this Region to date. He speaks Hebrew, Arabic, and Kurdish at varying levels and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. His hobbies include learning how to play oud and cooking Middle Eastern cuisine.

Sandra Lawson

Sandra Lawson is a rabbi in training at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College a member of Be'chol Lashon's Speaker's Bureau. She realized that if she wanted to effect real change and bring more attention to the racial and ethnic diversity in the Jewish community, she needed to have the title “rabbi”. She has made a conscious decision to unite all of her identities—black, Jewish and queer—and uses her identities as a bridge builder. She believes Judaism is wonderful, and, as a self identified social media nerd, she uses technology to reach out to people in innovative ways. Check out her weekly Torah portion on Snapchat (SandraJLawson). Additional identities include: personal trainer, food activist, weightlifter, vegan, Army vet, Sci Fi geek, guitar and ukulele player... and mostly she wants to make the world a better place.

Shoshana Madmoni Gerber

Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber was born and raised in Israel to parents of Yemenite descent. She has a PhD in Communication from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a Master’s degree in Communication and Journalism from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has worked as a journalist in Israel for Yediot Aharonot, Shishi, Hadashot, and Hapatish newspapers and did some research work for the show Uvda on Channel Two. She also worked as a researcher and diversity trainer at Adva Center for Equality of Israeli Society.

Teaching Journalism and Media at Suffolk University, her research interests include the media’s role in shaping the sphere of public discourse, media criticism, media coverage of social and political conflicts, and representation of minorities in the media. Her book, Israeli Media and the Framing of Internal Conflict: The Yemenite Babies Affair, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009.


MaNishtana was born in 1982 into an African–American Orthodox Jewish family, which traces its African–American Jewish roots seven generations back. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Shoshana. As the blogger behind, he works to nurture unity and strengthen multifaceted identity within the Jew of Color community, and invites all to participate in this niche social media site's conversations. As the founder of, an online dating site for Jews of Color, MaNishtana helps Jews of Color find their zivug/beshert. A social activist more by chance than choice, his life's true passions include a constant quest for the best rum or scotch, 1940s films, and winning arguments through proliferous use of sarcasm.

MaNishtana newest book, the "not–autobiography" Thoughts from a Unicorn is a witty, straight-talking collection of memoirs, essays, and a few haikus that will take you on a journey of laughs, tears, self-reflection, learning, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Full of insight, reflections on personal experiences, fond memories, and honest regrets, this book will have you reaching for the tissue box sitting next to the pen and notepad you'll want to keep on hand just to remember more than a few points. As any reader of his blog,, knows, his sharp humor cuts straight to the core of a matter. You'll never be left guessing, but maybe wondering, at the end of each chapter.

Shahanna McKinney Baldon

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Shahanna McKinney Baldon is a former classroom teacher who has served in educational leadership roles in Jewish settings including synagogue Education Director and Jewish federation high school program director; and in public school settings as Advanced Academic Programs Director, Family and Community Engagement Director, and Chief Diversity Officer for large public school districts.

Shahanna's Jewish diversity education and advocacy work has taken many forms: she coordinated the Jewish Multiracial Network family retreat for several years, curated a 2001 museum exhibit on Black Jews, participated in the early years of the Bechol Lashon Think Tank, has taught college courses on Jewish diversity, and has worked with Jewish organizations on college campuses to build intergroup social justice coalitions. She was recently named to lead the work of establishing a future vision for the historic Alliance of Black Jews organization.

Shahanna holds a Bachelor's degree in Hebrew and Communications Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master's degree in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is also a proud graduate of Hillel Academy, Milwaukee Jewish Community High School, Hebrew University's Rothberg School for Overseas Students, and the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Shahanna lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her partner and two children.

Shahanna's Jewish diversity education and advocacy work has taken many forms: she coordinated the Jewish Multiracial Network family retreat for several years, curated a 2001 museum exhibit on Black Jews, participated in the early years of the Bechol Lashon Think Tank, has taught college courses on Jewish diversity, and has worked with Jewish organizations on college campuses to build intergroup social justice coalitions. She was recently named to lead the work of establishing a future vision for the historic Alliance of Black Jews organization.

Shahanna holds a Bachelor's degree in Hebrew and Communications Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master's degree in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is also a proud graduate of Hillel Academy, Milwaukee Jewish Community High School, Hebrew University's Rothberg School for Overseas Students, and the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Shahanna lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her partner and two children.

Rabbi Juan Mejía

Rabbi Juan Mejía was born in Bogotá, Colombia. After discovering the Jewish roots of his family, he embarked on a spiritual journey that lead him back to the religion and the people of his ancestors. He holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the National University of Colombia and a summa cum laude Master’s Degree in Jewish Civilization from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in NY. He plans to devote his life to the Torah education of both Jews and descendants of anusim wherever they may be. Currently he does this through his activities as the Southwestern coordinator of Bechol Lashon and through his website

He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife Rabbi Abby Jacobson and his daughter Gracia Hannah.

Avishai Mekonen

Yeganyahu Avishai Mekonen emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel in 1984 as part of Operation Moses, and has worked as a photographer and filmmaker on projects investigating issues of race and identity.

"400 Miles to Freedom", a documentary film executive-produced by Be'chol Lashon, is about Avishai's dangerous journey from Ethiopia to Israel to the United States. In 1984, the Beta Israel–a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains–began a secret and dangerous journey of escape. Co-director Avishai Mekonen, then 10 years old, was among them. In the film 400 Miles to Freedom, he breaks his 20-year silence about the kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan during his community's exodus out of Africa. This life-defining event launches an inquiry into identity, leading him to African, Asian and Latino Jews in Israel and the U.S.

Avishai's other work includes Seven Generations, a photography and video installation that offers a view into an ancient Ethiopian Jewish tradition that is grounded in the past but keeps an eye to the future. Also in collaboration with Be'chol Lashon, a section of Avishai Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb's documentary film project, "Judaism and Race," is part of "The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography" that originated at the Jewish Museum in New York, and has traveled to the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Rahel Musleah

Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad. Through her multimedia song, story and slide programs, she shares her rare and intimate knowledge of this ancient community's history, customs and melodies with audiences at synagogues, schools, libraries, women's groups and cultural events.

Ms. Musleah is an award-winning journalist with hundreds of published articles to her credit. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Family Circle, Publishers Weekly, Hadassah, Reform Judaism, Jewish Woman, Naamat Woman and numerous other Jewish journals.

Her latest book, Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah (Lerner/Kar-Ben, July 2004), introduces the Sephardic custom of blessing the Jewish new year with symbolic foods. Her haggadah, Why On This Night? A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration (Simon & Schuster), has been received with critical acclaim. She is the co-author, with Rabbi Michael Klayman, of Sharing Blessings: Children's Stories for Exploring the Spirit of the Jewish Holidays (Jewish Lights), and the author of Journey of a Lifetime: The Jewish Life Cycle Book (Behrman House).

Her writing, songs and recipes—compiled on her website,—have also been or will be included in several anthologies

She has received several grants for her work and was part of the New York Council for the Humanities' Speakers in the Humanities 2000-2002.

Ms. Musleah is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She sings with the Zamir Chorale and Shirah, the Jewish Community Chorus of the JCC on the Palisades, in Tenafly, NJ. She has received awards for her writing from numerous organizations including the American Jewish Press Association. Ms. Musleah hopes to pass down the legacy of the Indian Jewish community to her two daughters, Shira and Shoshana. She lives in Great Neck, NY.

Maria Ramos-Chertok

Maria Ramos-Chertok is an organizational development consultant for nonprofit organizations and a writer. She is the daughter of a Cuban Catholic father and a Russian-German Jewish mother who converted to Catholicism before Maria was born.

She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where she was the recipient of the Fordham Human Rights Award for the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of individual freedom and human dignity. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Maria was selected to participate in the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) Year 2001 Fellowship Program.

In the fall of 2003, Maria was chosen by Jewish Women International (JWI) as one of ten Women to Watch. The award honors Jewish women "who look beyond the expected to find new ways of being and doing".

In 2008, Maria joined the training team of Rockwood Leadership Institute, a national leadership development organization dedicated to training social justice activists in cutting edge, state of the art transformational leadership. She has also worked with Selah Leadership Program, the first leadership training designed specifically for Jewish leaders working across the social change field.

In 2012, Maria launched, an online anthology collecting stories from Latina Jews around the globe. Maria facilitates social identity storytelling workshops. In 2012, she piloted her workshops at the First LIMMUD – Bay Area Conference in February and, in the fall, at Bechol Lashon Family Camp.

Anthony Russell

Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell is a vocalist specializing in the music of Sidor Belarsky (1898-1975), one of the 20th century's most prolific performers of chazzanut, Chassidic nigunim and Yiddish song.

In his unique explorations of Jewish and African-American diaspora culture, Anthony’s performances are inspired simultaneously by the sounds of tradition and a continuity of historic hopes for a redemptive future. His ongoing award-winning project, Convergence, combines diverse strains of traditional Jewish and African-American music at spiritual, historical and textual crossroads.

Over the past three years, Anthony's work in Jewish music has brought him to the stages of the JCC in Manhattan and San Francisco, Symphony Space, the Ideacity Conference in Toronto, KlezKanada, the Montreal and Berkeley Jewish Music Festivals, the annual Winter Jewish Music Concert in Miami and the Ashkenaz Festival, a week-long celebration of the Jewish arts in Toronto.

Lindsey Newman

Lindsey Newman is the program manager at Be'chol Lashon. She received her B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. Previously to joining Be'chol Lashon Lindsey worked as a research assistant at a women's rights organization and as an early childhood educator at a small day school in New York City. In 2011 she spent 6 months living in Tel Aviv and working for Itaach Maaki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice.

Lindsey is biracial and adopted and grew up in an Ashkenazi Jewish family on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. While always a New Yorker at heart, Lindsey is excited to explore her new home in the Bay Area while advancing the cause for Jewish diversity at Be'chol Lashon.

Aaron Samuels

Aaron Samuels is a Pushcart-nominated poet, a TEDx speaker, and an acclaimed facilitator of critical identity discussions. Raised in Providence, Rhode Island, by a Jewish-American mother and an African-American father, Aaron discovered spoken word poetry at age 14 when his English teacher told him he was not allowed to break meter. After declining this advice, Aaron went on to become one of the premiere performance poets in the country, having performed throughout the United States alongside acclaimed musicians, poets, and speakers such as The Black Keys, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, Mos Def, Ledisi, Hill Harper, Rosario Dawson, Gene Dobbs Bradford, Key & Peele, and Amber Tamblyn, among others.

As a youth coach and educator, Aaron stresses the urgency for cultural dialogue, teaching writing workshops for middle schools, high schools, universities, and community organizations across the country.

Aaron is the author of two books of poetry: Mutually Assured Destruction, published on 3Ring Press, and Yarmulkes & Fitted Caps on Write Bloody Publishing. His poetry has been described as “both a personal reflection on the intersections of race and faith, and an unrelenting critique of U.S. Empire” as it dives into the confluences of race, religion, class, and gender in the modern world.

Lacey Schwartz

Lacey A. Schwartz is a film and television director/producer, who has worked with a variety of networks and production companies, including BETJ,, Drive Thru Pictures and The Leon Charney Report, on branded entertainment programs, scripted and reality television series, commercials, feature-length documentaries, narrative films, concert films, live performances, added value DVD content and EPKs.

Lacey is the co-director and, with Be’chol Lashon, co-producer of "Little White Lie”, a documentary which traces Lacey’s upbringing in a white Jewish family, discovery at age eighteen that her biological father is Black, personal exploration of her mixed-race identity, and connection to other Black Jews in America.

Originally from Woodstock, NY, Lacey graduated cum laude in 1998 from Georgetown University with a BA in Government and a minor in Studio Arts and received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2003, where she wrote, directed, edited and produced her first two films; Schvartze (2002), a short autobiographical film, and, Legally Black, Brown, Yellow and Red (2003), a feature-length documentary on minority experiences at Harvard Law School.

Previous to her career in television and film production, Lacey worked in corporate, civil rights and entertainment law at the American Civil Liberties Union, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison LLP, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and MTV Networks.

Joshua Silverstein

Joshua Silverstein is an award-winning actor, comedic writer, beatboxer and educator. He is an original member of Norman Lear's DECLARE YOURSELF ROADTRIP SHOW, a 3-year spoken-word/music performance tour encouraging the American people to register and vote. His two-person show, "So Fresh and So Clean," with actor/poet Joe Hernandez-Kolski, received rave reviews in its debut at the bang. Comedy Theatre in Los Angeles in 2008. It was additionally presented at the Comedy Central Stage and Ars Nova in New York City.

Beatboxing since the age of 5, Joshua has become the West Coast's most sought after beatboxer. His various collaborations with artists such as Slash from Guns and Roses and poetic icons Jerry Quickley and Ursula Rucker have earned him the title of "the hardest-working beatboxer in L.A.".

Joshua has gone on to provide and facilitate uncountable theater, improvisation and spoken word workshops and in-school residencies, all designed to create a safe and open space where youth indulge in the freedom of creative expression.

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, the leader of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, is the first black rabbi from sub-Saharan Africa to be ordained at an American rabbinic school. As a visionary community leader, he chose to attend a rabbinic seminary to better understand ancient and modern Judaism and bring the Ugandan community into mainstream Judaism. In 2003, Rabbi Sizomu was awarded a Be'chol Lashon Fellowship to attend the 5-year Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies program at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. In 2008, he was ordained and returned home to Uganda to lead his Jewish community and establish a yeshiva in Uganda to train Jews from ancient and emerging communities throughout Africa. "It is important that Africans and others know that they can choose Judaism as a spiritual path—and that we are open to them," Rabbi Sizomu says.

The Abayudaya, whose tribal name means "people of Judah," trace their Jewish origins to the turn of the 20th century. The Abayudaya began their journey to Judaism under the leadership of Semei Kakungulu, a great warrior who was to be a missionary for the British. Instead of converting the people of Mbale to Christianity, however, Kakungulu embraced the Hebrew Bible and began practicing Judaism with his followers in 1919. Rabbi Sizomu is the grandson of community elder "Rabbi" Samson, who succeeded Kakungulu as spiritual leader of the community in 1928. In 1971, Idi Amin Dada came to power in Uganda and banned Jewish practice. After Amin's oppressive reign ended in 1979, Rabbi Sizomu gathered what was left of the Abayudaya community while serving as youth leader of the Abayudaya from 1988 to 1998.

Today, Rabbi Sizomu, a charismatic leader and accomplished musician, continues to help his community remain healthy and strong, both physically and spiritually. The Abayudaya are a growing community of over 1,500 Jews living among their 10,000 Christian and Muslim neighbors in scattered villages in the rolling, green hills of Eastern Uganda. With the support of Be'chol Lashon, the Abayudaya are engaged in a comprehensive Health and Development Project that includes building a Health Center, preventing disease, and developing economy. Improved healthcare and community development provided by the Abayudaya Jews to their Christian and Muslim neighbors fosters good will and cooperation among the communities.

In 2016 Rabbi Sizomu ran for Ugandan Parliament for the second time and won an opposition seat representing the Bungokho North District. He is the first Rabbi to win a seat in Parliament in Uganda's history.

Rabbi Gershom Sizomu is Senior Rabbinic Associate at Be'chol Lashon. He is married to Tziporah and has four children.

Tema Smith

Tema Smith is the Manager of Community Outreach and Engagement for Congregation Darchei Noam, Toronto's only Reconstructionist Synagogue. She has formerly held the roles of Programming Chair at Limmud Toronto, Programming Coordinator of Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism, and Project Coordinator of the Canadian National Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research.

Tema holds a BA (Hon) in Cultural Studies and Philosophy from Trent University, and was a Master's student under the Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought at McMaster University. She has also studied as a visiting graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The proud daughter of an Ashkenazi Torontonian and a Bahamian New Yorker, Tema is committed to making the Jewish community more accessible to everyone, especially interfaith and interracial families.

Tema became affiliated with Be'chol Lashon in 2012 and is looking forward to securing a foothold for the organization in Canada.

Sarah Spencer

Sarah Spencer earned her Masters in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Her marriage and family therapy practice is focused on adolescent identity development and multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious blended families. She also works in schools as a diversity counselor. Ms Spencer has extensive experience as a Jewish educator. She directed Club 18 at JCCSF, a space for teens to explore and express their identities through a variety of social, educational and leadership activities, for five years. Ms. Spencer was raised in San Francisco in a large, blended multicultural family and is raising two “Jewmaican” children.

Isaama Stoll

Isaama Stoll is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. A native of the Washington D.C. area, she graduated from Carleton College with a Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies. During her time at Carleton she worked as a leader of both the campus' Jewish and African American communities. As part of her rabbinical training she has served as the student rabbi of B'nai Israel Synagogue in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Isaama is passionate about questions of Jewish diversity and the importance of diversity in the rabbinate. She has written curricula for teens on inclusive Judaism and race in Israel. Isaama leads services in a unique interactive style with an eye toward understanding the importance of diversity through the lens of Jewish text.

Diane Kaufman Tobin

Diane Kaufmann Tobin is the president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), an independent think tank providing original research and innovative initiatives. Founded by the late Dr. Gary A. Tobin, IJCR has strategic initiatives in three pivotal areas of Jewish life: religious prejudice, philanthropy, and demography. Ms Tobin is also the founder of Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), a community-building initiative of the Institute that seeks to grow and strengthen the Jewish community through a global understanding of the Jewish people. With representatives and partners across the United States, as well as in Latin America, Europe, and Africa, Be'chol Lashon advocates for pluralistic inclusive expressions of Judaism that are relevant to young people and others. Diane Tobin is the author of In Every Tongue: The Racial & Ethnic Diversity of the Jewish People, which was a 2006 Independent Publisher Book Award finalist, and co-author of Jewish Family Foundations..

Ms. Tobin attended the California Academy of the Arts, and prior to joining the Institute in 1991, was the president of a design firm for more than fifteen years, specializing in corporate and non-profit identity, marketing, conferences, and fundraising events. Ms. Tobin brought with her a unique sense of organizational focus and direction that has helped IJCR to become a leader in Jewish research. She has served as a community leader in a number of Jewish organizations, including president of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 1986—1989.

Diane Tobin has six children, Adam, 46; Amy, 42; Sarah, 40; Aryeh, 37; Mia, 34, and Jonah, 19.

Michael Twitty

Michael W. Twitty is a recognized culinary historian, community scholar, and living history interpreter, focusing on historic African American food and folk cultur. He is also a seasoned Jewish educator of over a decade with a specific interest in Jewish folk culture and its links to food.

He is the creator, writer, and editor of Afroculinaria, the first website and blog devoted to the preservation of historic African American foods and foodways. Afroculinaria follows Michael's own journey as African American Jew in creating his own culinary traditions.

Michael Twitty has conducted classes and workshops, written curricula and educational programs, and given lectures and performed cooking demonstrations for over 200 organizations. He is currently working on a book based on his Cooking Gene project, exploring the link between culinary history, family history and genetics.

Twitter: @Koshersoul / Instagram:@thecookinggene / Michael W. Twitty on Facebook

Check out Michael's piece in the Be'chol Lashon blog.

Rabbi Manny Viñas

Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel "Manny" Viñas was born and raised in the traditional Sephardic home of Cuban Jewish parents who came to Miami after the Cuban Revolution in 1960. As an Orthodox rabbi with a Masters in Social Work, Rabbi Viñas is the founder and director of El Centro de Estudios Judíos "Torat Emet”, a Spanish-language Jewish education and spirituality center for Latin-American Jews living in the New York area. Rabbi Viñas is an internationally recognized leader in the movement to educate and return the Anusim.

Julian Voloj

In 2003 Julian was awarded with the Second Prize at the Washington Post Annual Photography Contest. Julian’s photos appeared in various newspapers and magazines such as the New York Post, PresenTense Magazine, and the Brooklynite. In 2007, Julian was commissioned by the Forward for the book "A Living Lens", a book that Jonathan Safran Foer called "not only an amazing book, but an invaluable artifact and a work of art." His photographs were shown in various venues in the US and Europe.

His most recent project, Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker, was inspired by the real-life story of Benjy Melendez, a former gang leader who initiated a gang truce, fostered the development of hip-hop, and simultaneously discovered his Jewish roots. Julian lives in New York City.

Click HERE for more information on Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker.

Robin Washington

Robin Washington grew up in Chicago in a family of black and Jewish activists during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Participating in sit-ins and protests when he was three years old, he recalls those events fondly as "family outings."

A nationally award-winning journalist, Washington has appeared on National Public Radio, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, CNN and the BBC. He was most recently the top editor of Minnesota's Duluth News Tribune and was previously a columnist for the Boston Herald.

A 1987 Fellow in Science Broadcast Journalism at WGBH–TV Boston, his broadcast work includes "You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow!"—a national public television documentary that rewrote history books to tell the story of the first Freedom Ride in 1947—and the radio documentary "My Favorite Things at 50," an audio portrait of John Coltrane's recording of the jazz standard.

Washington's commentaries have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Baltimore Sun, San Jose Mercury News and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, among many other newspapers.

Marcella White Campbell

Marcella graduated from Stanford University with a BA in English. She holds a Master’s Degree in Literature from San Francisco State University, with particular focus on the memoirs of early 20th-century Jewish American women writers. Prior to working with Be'chol Lashon, Marcella was an editor, copywriter, social media and content manager, and marketing consultant with Silicon Valley startups in the parenting and education spaces.

Marcella is inspired by Be'chol Lashon's mission to offer global Jewish learning and resources to students around the world through the Passport to Peoplehood™ curriculum, contributing to curriculum development, marketing, media, and Be’chol Lashon’s Jewish& blog. A third-generation San Franciscan, Marcella lives in the City with her husband and children. They are entering their eighth year as a proud Camp Be’chol Lashon family.

Marcella looks forward to joining Be'chol Lashon's mission to offer global Jewish learning and resources to students around the world through the Passport to Peoplehood™ curriculum.

A third-generation San Franciscan, Marcella lives in the City with her husband Greg and children Maia and Noah. They are entering their 6th year as a Camp Be'chol Lashon family.

Frances Wilson

Frances Wilson of Hawaii is a convert to Judaism who has worked for many years in the field of early childhood and Montessori education. Wilson has participated in the Disney College program, the White House internship program, as well as the TALMA Teacher Fellowship Program in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel. In addition, she has used her platform as the winner of four beauty pageants to promote women's and children's causes.

Suggested topics:
1. Converts of Color
2. The Black-Jewish experience
3. Early childhood education
4. Self-esteem building with kids and teens
5. Young Jewish professionals