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A Celebration of our Graduates 2024/5784

Ceremonies: June 2, 2024 | 25 Iyar 5784

Hebrew College
1860 Washington Street
Newton, MA 02466

Directions & Parking Information

Commencement Ceremony

12-1 PM

Rabbinical Ordination

1:30-3:30 PM


3:30 PM

Graduates & Honorees

Rabbinical Ordination & Master of Jewish Studies
Michaela Brown
Emmanuel Cantor
Leah Carnow
Jacob Chatinover
Hindy Finman
Michael Fraade
Naftali Hirsch
Allen Lipson
Heather Renetzky
Jessica Spencer
Jacob Weiss
Eliana Willis

Rabbinical Ordination
Benjamin Einsidler

>> Make a donation in honor of the Class of 2024 or an individual ordainee

Master of Jewish Studies
Gordon Bennett

Master of Jewish Education
Allie Weiner

Certificate in Jewish Sacred Music
Lisa Schnapper

Certificate in Jewish Spiritual Education
Julie Bir
Kelly Klapper

Certificate in Jewish Educational Leadership
Natan Fandel
Ariana Hershon

Honorary Degrees

Sharon-KleinbaumRabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Since 1992, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum has served as Senior Rabbi for Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York City’s first LGBTQ synagogue and the largest LGBTQ synagogue in the world. She arrived at CBST during the worst of the AIDS crisis, providing desperately needed pastoral support and spiritual guidance. In three subsequent decades, she built CBST into a powerful and resilient spiritual community of resistance and love whose impact is felt throughout New York City, around the USA, in Israel, and worldwide.

Among her achievements during her years at CBST stand the congregation’s Friday night prayerbook (with Rabbi Ayelet Cohen), many congregational trips to Israel, to Eastern Europe, to Washington DC, and on civil rights tours of the American South. Rabbi Kleinbaum envisioned and created the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Internship Program, recognized as the finest such program for student rabbis and cantors. Her mentorship of the over 5040 program alumni, who serve in myriad capacities in North America, Europe, and Israel, may be the achievement of which she is most proud. Finally, not only has CBST grown into a congregation that weekly yearns to celebrate Shabbat together, she led the community across a fearsome sea of process to building its own holy space in midtown Manhattan which they have called home since 2016.

Rabbi Kleinbaum’s name has appeared multiple years on Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. She was appointed by President Joseph Biden to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Rabbi Kleinbaum has served on New York City’s Commission on Human Rights and has been a member of Mayor Eric Adam’s Faith-Based Advisory Council and serves on the Executive Committee of Governor Hochul’s Office of Faith and Non-Profit Development Services. Rabbi Kleinbaum is a co-founder and Board member of New York Jewish Agenda, has served on the Boards of GMHC, NIF, and is a member of the RRA and the CCAR. She is the former assistant Director of the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, and the Director of Congregational Relations of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum is married to Randi Weingarten and has two daughters, one son-in-law, two granddaughters, and many beloved nieces, nephews and their fabulous children.


CochavElkayamLevyDr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy
Dr. Cochav Elkayam Levy is the founder and chair of the Dvora Institute for Gender and Sustainability Studies, as well as the Civil Commission on Oct. 7th Crimes by Hamas against Women and Children. Notably, she served as the principal author of the National Report on Gender Mainstreaming in Times of Emergencies, a document adopted by the Israeli government in June 2022.

Recognized for her leadership, Dr. Elkayam-Levy was named one of the most promising young leaders under 40 in Israel by The Marker Magazine in 2022 (Ha’aretz). Her recent contributions include co-authoring an analysis of the implications of the government’s legal reform on the lives of women in Israel.

Currently holding the position of Sophie Davis Fellow on Gender, Conflict Resolution, and Peace at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Elkayam-Levy imparts knowledge in areas such as human rights law, international law, climate justice, and feminist theories at both Hebrew University and Reichman University. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Parker-J.-Palmer-Parker J. Palmer
Parker J. Palmer is a writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. He is founder and Senior Partner Emeritus of the Center for Courage & Renewal, which offers long-term retreat programs for people in the serving professions, including teachers, physicians, non-profit leaders, and clergy.

He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, thirteen honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press.

Palmer is the author of ten books—including several award-winning titles—that have sold over two million copies and been translated into twelve languages: Healing the Heart of Democracy, The Heart of Higher Education (with Arthur Zajonc), The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, Let Your Life Speak, The Active Life, To Know As We Are Known, The Company of Strangers, The Promise of Paradox, and On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old.

In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named Dr. Palmer one of the thirty “most influential senior leaders” in higher education and one of the ten key “agenda-setters” of the past decade.

Since 2002, the Accrediting Commission for Graduate Medical Education has given annual Parker J. Palmer “Courage to Teach” and “Courage to Lead” Awards to directors of exemplary medical residency programs.

In 2005, Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer, was published.

In 2010, Palmer was given the William Rainey Harper Award whose previous recipients include Margaret Mead, Elie Wiesel, Marshall McLuhan, and Paolo Freire.

In 2017, the Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C., gave Palmer its annual Contemplative Voices Award, “created to honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to contemplative understanding, living and leadership and whose witness helps others live from the divine wellspring of compassion, strength, and authentic vision.”

In 2021, the Freedom of Spirit Fund, a UK-based foundation, gave him their Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of work that promotes and protects spiritual freedom.

A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), Dr. Palmer and his wife, Sharon Palmer, live in Madison, Wisconsin.


Hillsen/Brownstein Award for Promotion of Hebrew Language and Literature

Rabbi David GedzelmanRabbi David Gedzelman, President & CEO of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life

Rabbi David Gedzelman is President & CEO of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, which is dedicated to revitalizing Jewish identity through educational and cultural initiatives as well as to advocating for and supporting Hebrew and Jewish literacy among the general population. David has been involved in the Foundation’s programs since 1995, when he was recruited to conceive, develop and lead Makor in New York City, a cutting-edge venue for New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s, providing innovative arts, cultural and educational programming.

Rabbi Gedzelman was the lead professional at the Foundation working on the conceptualization, design, and implementation of Hebrew language public charter schools, which the Foundation has played a founding role in supporting since 2007. Tthis project now encompasses a network of ten schools nationwide overseen by Hebrew Public: Charter Schools for Global Citizens, a grantee of the Foundation. David was a founding member of the World Zionist Organization’s Council on Hebrew Language and Culture in North America and helped to found Brandeis University’s Consortium for the Teaching of Hebrew Language and Culture. He also spearheaded Kayitz Kef, an initiative that brings Hebrew immersion programs to Jewish day and overnight camps across North America. David also helped to conceive a master’s degree in the teaching of Hebrew at Queen’s College in New York City.

Through his work at the Foundation, Rabbi Gedzelman has also supported and helped build a range of educational and programmatic platforms in areas including Jewish Early Childhood Education, post-Birthright programming, campus engagement, and OneTable: Shabbat Together, an innovative initiative to engage Jewish young adults in the possibility of making Friday night Shabbat dinner an enduring practice. In addition to ongoing grant oversight, he has most recently overseen the development and launch of the Rose Lubin Jewish Pride award.

Rabbi Gedzelman holds a B.A. from Hamilton College (1981), an M.A. from Duke University in Comparative Religion (1984), and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters and Rabbinical Ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1991). He currently serves on the Boards of The American Pardes Foundation, Friends of Hatikvah International Academy Charter School, One Table: Shabbat Together, and Yaffed. Rabbi Gedzelman lives in Harlem, New York City, with his wife Judith Turner and their three children, Nomi, Anina and Ziv.

Benjamin Shevach Award for Excellence in Jewish Educational Leadership

Joni BlindermanJoni Blinderman, Executive Director of the Covenant Foundation

Joni Blinderman has been the Executive Director of The Covenant Foundation since 2022. Prior to this, she served for 15 years as Associate Director. During her tenure at Covenant, she has worked to strengthen and increase the capacity of the Foundation to impact and grow the field of Jewish education by fostering connection and community, a collaborative approach to learning and teaching, and a culture of inclusivity and shared sense of belonging. In her work, Joni is particularly focused on family education and engagement, climate and climate anxiety in youth, the relationship between text and creativity, the arts, and the social-emotional health and wellbeing of educators. Through a variety of Foundation-led programs, including the development of learning cohorts for grantees, award recipients and others, Joni has strived to nurture and support practitioners in the field in an intentional way.

Joni’s training in Jewish education and communal leadership was forged through a set of seminal experiences, including her work at The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Museum of Jewish Heritage located in New York City. At the Davidson School she collaborated with the Dean and faculty to develop and implement strategies targeting student recruitment, admissions policies, marketing, and advertising, as well as the expansion of academic program concentrations, and new models for increasing students’ satisfaction and engagement. While at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Joni’s professional energies were devoted to educating children and families about modern Jewish history and the Holocaust. Joni began her tenure at the Museum by directing the groundbreaking Video History Project of Holocaust Survivors, Witnesses and Liberators. Segments of these interviews are displayed throughout the Museum’s galleries. While there, Joni also established the education department and became the Museum’s first Education Officer. In this role, she conceived of and implemented the yearlong Gallery Educators training program as well as a variety of education programs for public and Jewish Day School students.

Joni earned her B.A. at the University of Massachusetts and her M.A. in Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis University. Originally from the Boston area, Joni is a long-time resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, where she and her husband raised their three children and now enjoy their three grandchildren.

Contact Us

Please let us know if you have questions.

General Commencement: 
Contact Deb Ron
Executive Assistant, Senior Leadership Team, and Special Programs Manager

Rabbinic Ordination:
Contact Laurena Rosenberg
Ordination Program Administrator