This June 2016, the Silicon Valley Beit Midrash is privileged to offer an amazing set of local an international teachers for it’s summer learning program.
Rabba Yaffa Epstein serves as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. She received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. Yaffa has been a teacher of Talmud, Jewish law, and Liturgy at Pardes for over a decade, and has taught Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshivat Maharat, The Drisha Institute, The Wexner Heritage Institute, Kayam Farm Kollel, Young Judaea, Limmud UK, the Dorot Fellowship and for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Rabbi David Levin-Kruss teaches Talmud and Halacha at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Education where he is in charge of special programs. He directed the Pardes summer program for eight years and was also director of a winter program at the AJU in Los Angeles. David Levin-Kruss earned his rabbinic ordination from the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary. David hails from South Africa, and sees himself as a bridge between Jewish heritage and those seeking to connect or reconnect to that tradition. In his spare time he directs “My Open Book Life Coaching” which uses general and Jewish texts as well as life coaching techniques to achieve personal breakthroughs.
Professor Charlotte E. Fonrobert, is an associate professor of religious studies at Stanford University, specializing in Judaism’s talmudic literature and culture. Her publications include her book, Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender (2000), which won the Salo Baron Wittmayer Prize for a best first book in Jewish studies and also was a finalist in the National Jewish Book Award in Jewish Scholarship. She also co-edited The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (2007), together with Martin Jaffee (University of Washington). Currently, she is working on a manuscript entitled Replacing the Nation: Judaism, Diaspora and the Neighborhood.
Michael Hattin is a master teacher of Tanakh at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and serves as the Director of the Beit Midrash for the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. He studied for semicha at Yeshivat Har Etzion and holds a professional degree in architecture from the University of Toronto. Michael is the author of Passages: Text and Transformation in the Parasha, published by Urim Publications in 2012 and the Joshua: The Challenge of the Promised Land, published by Koren Publishers in March 2013. He has served as scholar-in-residence in many communities in North America and Europe.
Rabbi David Booth is the Founder and Rosh Yeshiva/Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Beit Midrash and the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. He was educated at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He frequently teaches on the intersection of Talmud, law, ethics, and spirituality. His teaching and learning interests include Jewish philosophy, with particular focus on the works of Heschel and Levinas, as well as Hasidut and the Sfat Emet. Inspiring others to develop tools to uncover meaning in Rabbinic and Jewish philosophical texts is his great passion.
Shani Gross is the Program Director of the Silicon Valley Beit Midrash and a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Maharat. Shani is a graduate of Stern College at Yeshiva University, where she earned a dual degree in Jewish Studies and Marketing. She has studied at a number of Jewish institutions including Migdal Oz, the Drisha Institute of Jewish Education, Mechon Hadar and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. Shani is passionate about studying and teaching classic Jewish texts and fostering communities around that pursuit. She particularly loves learning and teaching topics relating to Tanakh and Midrash.
Jake Marmer is a poet, performer, & educator. Currently a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, he teaches at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. He frequently contributes to Chicago Tribune, Jewish Daily Forward, and Tablet magazine, and is a cofounder of North America’s first Jewish Poetry retreat at KlezKanada Festival. His first record, Hermeneutic Stomp (Blue Thread Music, 2013) brought together diverse poetic traditions, jazz, klezmer, new and ancient improvisation techniques. It was hailed as a “soulful narrative” (The Jewish Week), an “experience of mystic pleasures … freshly contemporary” (Shofar), and a “thought provoking debut” (All About Jazz). His poetry collection, Jazz Talmud, was published by Sheep Meadow Press in 2012.
Tova Birnbaum is the Head of Jewish-Israeli Cultural Content at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto and the facilitator of the ICC Gvanim Program. She is also the Director of the Ameinu Voices Fellowship. Tova was one of the founders of the BINA Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv, where she had led the Aviv Post Army Program. She had recently served as the Central Shlicha, Director of the North America Region of the World Zionist Organization and founded, with the Ameinu organization, the Voices Fellowship for Liberal Zionist Discourse. She is a teacher of Talmudic Rabbinic Literature, a Judaic studies lecturer and a Theater Midrash workshop facilitator. She is also a Secular Jewish Lifecycle Ceremonies officiant. Tova is an actress and a Jewish performance artist. She holds a BA in Psychology and Jewish Philosophy and an MA in Theater