Rabbis-in-Residence

The Jay Phillips Center's rabbis-in-residence program promotes the study of Judaism, with special emphasis on the relationship of Judaism to Christianity and other religions.  Along with presenting public lectures, the rabbis involved in this program serve as guest professors in classes and teach in other venues at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University and the University of Saint Thomas.


Rabbi Rachel Timoner
In residency April 28-29, 2014

Rabbi Rachel Timoner is associate rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where her focus is on social justice, spiritual life, and lifelong learning, and she is the author of Breath of Life: God as Spirit in Judaism, published by Paraclete Press.  She was born and grew up in Miami, Florida, earned a B.A. degree from Yale University, and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and received numerous awards, including one for excellence in biblical studies and another for scholarly writing.  Before entering rabbinical school, she worked for thirteen years with social justice non-profit organizations, was named by the San Francisco Examiner and KQED (PBS) as an "Unsung Hero," was a Next Generation Leadership Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation, and received the Do Something National BRICK Award for Community Leadership.


Rabbi Mordechai Levin
In residency November 18-19, 2013

Rabbi Mordechai Levin is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Munster, Indiana. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires and in 2010 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. Previously he served as senior rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, Nebraska, and Congregation Lamroth Hakol in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he is a past president and a founder of the Latin American region of the Rabbinical Assembly. Rabbi Levin is actively involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue and gives lectures to church, college, and high school groups. He has contributed as a consultant on interreligious affairs for the major Argentinean organization that represents all Jewish organizations and he was part of the delegation during the Latin American Jewish/Catholic Consultation co-sponsored by the Latin American Council of Bishops and the Latin American Jewish Congress. Among the boards on which he has served is the Omaha Mayor's Clergy Advisory Board.


Rabbi David Wirtschafter
In residency throughout the fall 2011, fall 2012, and spring 2013 semesters

Rabbi David Wirtschafter has served congregations in California, New Hampshire, and New York, and is currently rabbi of the Ames Jewish Congregation in Iowa. Raised in Minneapolis, he graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in English literature and from Hebrew Union College in New York with an M.A. degree in Hebrew literature. Actively involved in interfaith dialogue, social justice, and community service, he is a playful storyteller and a serious scholar who has given presentations on a wide variety of topics. Much of Rabbi Wirtschafter's current research focuses on troubling biblical texts and contemporary critiques of religion and on intelligent responses to both from within Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities.


Rabbi Amy Eilberg
In residency February 4-15, 2013

In 1985 Rabbi Amy Eilberg became the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the Conservative Movement.  Soon after that she found her vocation in the work of healing. A co-founder of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, where she directed the Jewish Hospice Care Program, and a founding co-director of the Yedidya Center for Jewish Spiritual Direction, she is nationally known as a leader of the Jewish healing movement and in the field of Jewish spiritual direction.  From 2007 to 2011 Rabbi Amy Eilberg served as coordinator of the Jay Phillips Center's Interfaith Conversations Project, fostering interfaith learning and friendship among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Twin Cities area.  Currently she is the center's interfaith conversations special consultant, works with the Jewish Council on Public Affairs on its Civility Campaign, and serves on the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.  She is also deeply engaged in the work of peace and reconciliation, particularly in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, lecturing and writing on this topic as well as on the art of compassionate listening, healing, and spiritual direction.  Rabbi Eilberg is at work on a book titled From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Reflections on Everyday Peacemaking.


Rabbi Sharon Stiefel
In residency throughout the spring 2012 semester

Rabbi Sharon Stiefel is rabbi and spiritual counselor of Sholom Hospice for Sholom Community Alliance. She holds a B.A. in sociology from Pomona College, an M.S.W. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Pennsylvania, where she was ordained. Rabbi Stiefel has spent most of her career serving Jewish students on college and university campuses (Grinnell College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Minnesota). She was the project leader and contributor to the National Hillel LGBTQ Resource Guide for college students and in 2005 she received the University of Minnesota's Breaking the Silence Award for confronting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification. Most recently she served as the interim rabbi of Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis and as director of Jewish education at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center, where her course on spiritual autobiography was recognized with the national Jewish Community Association Exemplary Award.


Rabbi Sharon Brous
In residency March 12-13, 2012

Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founding rabbi of IKAR, a Jewish spiritual community in Los Angeles whose mission is to promote the integration of soulful prayer, serious learning, and social justice. A graduate of Columbia University with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in human rights and conflict resolution, she was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where she received several awards in Talmud and homiletics. She has been named to The Jewish Daily Forward's list of the 50 most influential American Jews and to Newsweek's list of America's leading rabbis. Rabbi Brous is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post's "On Faith" and she has been a guest on Krista Tippet's National Public Radio program "Speaking of Faith." She serves on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights, on the rabbinic advisory board of American Jewish World Service, on the regional council of Progressive Jewish Alliance, and as a member of the Task Force to Advance Multireligious Collaboration on Global Poverty.


Rabbi Melissa Weintraub
In residency October 31-November 3, 2011

Rabbi Melissa Weintraub is co-founder and executive director emerita of Encounter, an organization dedicated to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to healing rifts within the Jewish community that have formed in the wake of that conflict. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in political theory and women's studies and from Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, which she represents as a rabbinic fellow in Jewish congregations throughout the United States. An inspiring speaker and the author of influential articles on torture and peacemaking, she is currently writing a book exploring Jewish religious responses to terror. For her work with Encounter, Rabbi Weintraub has won the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize, which honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change.


Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay
In residency April 11-14, 2011

Stephanie Ruskay is the national education director at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Prior to receiving rabbinic ordination and a M.A. in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (2008), she was trained as an organizer by Jewish Funds for Justice and the Industrial Areas Foundation and served as program director for Face to Face/Faith to Faith, a multi-faith youth leadership and conflict resolution program for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim youth from the Middle East, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and the United States run under the auspices of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York. She also served as the associate director of education at American Jewish World Service and as a volunteer in Bulgaria for the Jewish Service Corps of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. She is a 1996 graduate of the Joint Program of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, with B.A. degrees in Talmud from JTS and European history from Columbia.


Rabbi Jill Jacobs
In residency February 7-10, 2011

Jill Jacobs is the director of Ma'aseh: The Center for Jewish Social Justice Education and the author of There Shall be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition (Jewish Lights, 2009). A leading expert on Judaism and social justice, she writes and speaks frequently on issues such as poverty, labor relations, housing and homelessness, criminal justice, and environmental sustainability. She has taught at synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, and schools throughout the United States and has published articles in more than two dozen books, journals, and magazines. Rabbi Jacobs has been named to The Jewish Daily Forward's list of 50 influential American Jews (2006 and 2008), to The Jewish Week's first list of "36 under 36" (2008), and to Newsweek's list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America (2009 and 2010). She has served as rabbi-in-residence of Jewish Funds for Justice and as director of outreach and education for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. She earned a B.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University (1997), a M.S. in urban affairs from Hunter College (2003), and a M.A. in Talmud/Rabbinics and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (2003).


Rabbi Jonathan K. Crane
In residency November 15-18, 2010

Jonathan K. Crane is scholar of bioethics and Jewish thought at Emory University's Center for Ethics.  He holds a B.A. (summa cum laude) from Wheaton College in Massachusetts (1995), a M.A. in international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame (1997), a M.Phil. in Gandhian thought from Gujarat Vidyapith in India (1998), a M.A. in Hebrew literature and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College in New York (2003), and a Ph.D. in religion from the University of Toronto (2009). He has served Jewish communities in China, India, and North America and he has presented at conferences and taught around the world about Judaism, interfaith relations, Gandhian philosophy, and a variety of ethical issues. He serves on the board of the Society for Jewish Ethics and his most recent publication is "Open-Source Covenant" in Jewish Theology in Our Timeedited by Elliot J. Cosgrove (Jewish Lights, 2010).


Rabbi Will Berkovitz
In residency October 18-21, 2010

Will Berkovitz is vice president of partnerships and rabbi in residence at a national Jewish service organization called Repair the World. He has served as executive director of Hillel (the official Jewish student organization) at Washington University in St. Louis where he founded an inner-city literacy camp and created several other award-winning initiatives, the University of Oregon where he developed international conferences, and the University of Washington where he made service learning integral to Hillel. Before studying to become a rabbi at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, he worked as a journalist in Seattle where he edited and wrote for local, regional, and national magazines focusing on cultural arts and wilderness travel. A native of St. Louis Park and a 1991 graduate of the University of St. Thomas, he has lived in England and Israel and has led service trips around the world.