Leaders & Staff
Larry Lawrence, President
Larry Lawrence has been a member of Machar in Washington, D.C., for over 20 years. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Humanistic Judaism since 2010 and became its President in 2014. Larry says, “It’s rewarding to work with a network of Jewish communities connecting with each other and with Judaism in a rational and emotionally fulfilling way”.
M. Bonnie Cousens, SHJ Executive Director
A member of the Humanistic Movement for more than 35 years, Bonnie Cousens, a madrikha, has served as Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism since 1995. Upon joining the Birmingham Temple, she quickly lent her talents and expertise to the national movement. First, as editor of the Society’s journal Humanistic Judaism, then as a conference planner and publications director for the Society and the International Institute, then as assistant director of the Society, and now as executive director of the Society, she has helped to organize communities, created programs and celebrations, written and designed brochures and publications, recruited members, raised funds, led workshops, created public relations campaigns, and been involved in virtually every aspect of the growing Movement. Ms. Cousens is the 2009 recipient of the Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. Cousens is a member of the Board of Directors of the Secular Coalition for America.
Rabbi Miriam Jerris
Rabbi Miriam Jerris has been a member of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and committed to its philosophic principles since 1970. She is the Rabbi of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and provides philosophic, liturgical, ceremonial and organizational support for its affiliates and members. She is a former president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis, the rabbinic association for Humanistic rabbis. Rabbi Jerris is the 2006 recipient of the Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. Rabbi Jerris holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies with a specialization in Pastoral Counseling from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Masters’ Degrees in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan and in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology from the Michigan School of Professional Psychology. She was ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2001 and is the Associate Professor for Professional Development, serving as a mentor for its students. Rabbi Jerris specializes in serving multi-cultural families and couples and has officiated at intermarriage ceremonies since 1985.
Ruth Duskin Feldman, Humanistic Judaism, Creative Editor
A professional writer and lecturer, Ruth Duskin Feldman, a madrikha, has been Creative Editor of the Society’s journal Humanistic Judaism since 1983. A former public school teacher, she taught Sunday school for ten years and served as curriculum consultant and as a bar/bat mitzvah tutor for humanistic congregations in the Chicago suburbs. She is currently a member of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation.
Rabbi Jodi Kornfeld, who leads Beth Chaverim Humanistic Jewish Community in Deerfield, IL, is the 2015 HuJews Youth Conclave Coordinator. She was ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2009. Rabbi Jodi is committed to leading by ethical and moral example, listening to the voice of the community, and displaying compassion and sensitivity to the community’s needs. As an effective communicator, Rabbi Jodi has a wonderful capacity for instilling a deep knowledge of Judaism, making the knowledge relevant for the community, and fostering a sense of togetherness through communal learning and celebration. She was happy to be a rabbi in residence at HuJews Conclave 2013.
Rabbi Binyamin Biber
Rabbi Binyamin Biber is the founder of the Humanist Chaplaincy at American University, where he now serves. He is a past president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis, and for 12 years served as the rabbi at Machar, the Washington DC Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Born and raised in Iowa, he did undergraduate honors work at the University of Iowa in sociology and political science. Later moving to Seattle, he founded the Homestead Community Land Trust to preserve and develop low-income housing, and was a founding coordinator of BiNet USA. Rabbi Biber was ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Farmington Hills, Michigan. In his graduate studies at the University of Michigan he was a merit scholar and teaching assistant, and there received his master’s degree in social work, doing his field placement as a rabbinic counselor. In addition to his work at American University, Rabbi Biber launched the late summer of 2013 the Humanist Rainbow Community Chaplaincy of Greater Washington, DC to conduct Humanist community and social change organizing, public advocacy and education, plus life-cycle ceremonies and counseling.
Rabbi Adam Chalom
Rabbi Adam Chalom’s family background is a microcosm of the Jewish world. His mother come from an Ashkenazi East European Yiddish Socialist background and was born in the Midwest, while his father comes from the Brooklyn community of Syrian Sephardic Orthodox Jews. Somewhere in between they found their common ground in Humanistic Judaism, and Rabbi Chalom was raised as a Humanistic Jew at the Birmingham Temple. He holds a B.A. from Yale University in Judaic Studies and a Master’s Degree and Doctorate from the University of Michigan in Hebrew and Jewish Cultural Studies. As Dean for North America of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Rabbi Chalom provides Adult Education weekend seminars for SHJ Communities. Rabbi Chalom writes the blog “Shalom from Rabbi Chalom” He is the rabbi of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in north suburban Chicago. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Society’s journal, Humanistic Judaism.
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick is rabbi of the Birmingham Temple, the first congregation for Humanistic Judaism. He is the president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and serves on the Executive Committee of the SHJ and the Editorial Board of the Society’s journal, Humanistic Judaism. He is chair of the SHJ Communications Committee. He was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1989. After thirteen years at Hillel Jewish student centers in Illinois and Miami, he joined the staff of Miami’s Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, where he served as Assistant Executive Director until 2013. Rabbi Falick believes in the centrality of ceremony and ritual in human life, but he also believes that it must be de-coupled from the supernatural. He believes that the scientific method is the only way to understand ourselves and reality and that humans need to create non-theistic alternatives to theistic religions. Rabbi Falick’s blog “The Atheist Rabbi” expresses his perspective.