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  Society for Humanistic Judaism Leaders and Staff

Ask The Rabbi! An interactive experience. Ask your question about Humanistic Judaism and Rabbi Miriam Jerris will respond - just fill out the question form!


M. Bonnie Cousens, SHJ Executive Director

A member of the Humanistic Movement for more than 35 years, Bonnie Cousens 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 journal Humanistic Judaism, then as a conference planner and publications director for the Society and the International Institute, and 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.


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 rabbi of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. She serves as president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. Rabbi Jerris is the 2006 recipient of the Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rabbi Jerris  holds Masters Degrees in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan and in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology from the Center for Humanistic Studies, and a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies with a specialization in Pastoral Counseling from The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Rabbi Jerris serves on the faculty of the International Institute and serves as a mentor for the rabbinic students. She has officiated at intermarriage ceremonies and worked with intercultural families since 1985.


Andrea Friedlander, SHJ President

Andrea Friedlander, a past chair of Congrebation Kol Hadash, IL, has served on the Executive Committee of the Society for Humanistic Judaism since 2010, becoming president in 2012. She is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School.


Harriet Maza, SHJ Member Publications Consultant

Harriet Maza joined the SHJ staff in 2001. She now serves as editor of our member publications Humanorah and Leader Reader. After 17 years of teaching journalism, Ms. Maza came home to Humanistic Judaism. From the Birmingham Temple as teacher and principal for the 12 years prior to her public school stint, she has returned to active involvement with the Humanistic Movement.


Rabbi Binyamin Biber

Rabbi Binyamin Biber serves Machar, the Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism, a community that celebrates diversity and learning, and engages in progressive social action and service. 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 worked on low-income housing development and AIDS prevention as a community organizer and educator.

Rabbi Biber was ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Farmington Hills, Michigan, after completing a thesis on progressive activism by congregations. He received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan after doing field work as a rabbinic counselor. In addition to his pulpit with Machar, he also operates Rabbinic Community Services, to conduct public advocacy and education, social change organizing, groupwork, retreats, counseling, and Humanistic life-cycle ceremonies. 


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. He is Rabbi of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Highland Park, Illinois, and Dean of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in North America.


Rabbi Greg M. Epstein

Rabbi Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain of Harvard University, and is a member of the executive committee of the 38-member Harvard United Ministry interfaith corps of chaplains. In 2005 he received ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from the International Institute for Secular and Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Jerusalem and Michigan for five years. He holds a BA (Religion and Chinese) and an MA (Judaic Studies) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is currently completing a Masters of Theological Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. He will be contributing a chapter on the theological and philosophical roots of Humanism in the world’s major religious-cultural traditions, for an upcoming book on Humanism in business. He is also currently writing a book that will provide an introduction to Humanism with emphasis on his idea of Cultural Humanism: the idea that love for and active celebration of one's own cultural heritage and background can be combined with a Humanist philosophy wherein all people are to be treated with dignity, as equals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. He is an advisor to two student groups at Harvard College, the Secular Society and the Interfaith Council.

Fluent in Modern Hebrew, Epstein is especially delighted to work with secular Israeli young people and families living in the Boston area. He is available to provide wedding, funeral, baby-naming, and bar/bat mitzvah services. Most services will make heavy use of modern Israeli songs and poetry.

The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard was established in 1974 and is a permanent position at Harvard, endowed in 1995 by the late John L. Loeb '24 as part of a $100 million gift to the University. Epstein is proud to have recently succeeded Thomas Ferrick, currently Humanist Chaplain Emeritus of Harvard, in this role.


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 for Humanistic Rabbis and serves on the Executive Committee of the SHJ and the Editorial Board of the SHJ journal, Humanistic Judaism. He is chair of the 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 Peter Schweitzer

Rabbi Peter Schweitzer serves as a leader for The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in New York City and is past president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. He is the author of the The Liberated Haggadah and contributes the Humanistic perspective to Moment Magazine’s “Ask the Rabbi” column. He has developed extensive material for holiday celebrations and life cycle observances and has written, with Myrna Baron, a Program Guide for a Secular-Humanistic Bar/Bar Mitzvah.

For twenty-five years, Rabbi Schweitzer amassed one of the most significant collections of Jewish Americana, with more than 10,000 items and artifacts, which he recently donated to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

Rabbi Schweitzer was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1979 and has been associated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism since 1990 when he began to offer his services to The City Congregation as a volunteer. Rabbi Schweitzer described his personal and ideological development in “A Rabbi’s Journey to Humanistic Judaism,” published by Shma (and available on line at shma.com).

He is a member of the faculty of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism and is member of the editorial advisory board of Contemplate: The International Journal of Secular and Humanistic Jewish Thought, published by the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews.

In 2006 the congregation raised the funds, with the assistance of the Pivnick SHJ Development grant, to hire him as its rabbi, and he has since given up his position as a licensed clinical social worker with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services to devote his time and energy to the development of the congregation and the movement.  


Learn more about the Association of Humanistic Rabbis.
 

 
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