Rabbinic Enrichment

Sichat Rabbanim, Conversation Among Rabbis, is a unique learning and professional development initiative for rabbis, promoting vital ongoing dialogue between classical Jewish texts and modern life. More information about the Sichat Rabbanim program can be found here.

Sichat Rabbanim programs are built upon the proposition that rabbis better serve themselves and their communities when they bring timeless Jewish sources into conversations with a timely concern that is both personal and communal. Through a variety of programs, Sichat Rabbanim Learning Partners, B’nei Sicha, are able to explore a personally selected theme for the purpose of broad enrichment as well as for focused program development. Sichat Rabbanim has provided mentorship and enrichment opportunities for rabbis since 2010. Read testimonials from B’nei Sicha here.

Sichat Rabbanim Learning Partners

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann (2015) catalyzed the founding in 2011Lizzi Heydemann2 of Mishkan Chicago, IL, where she currently serves as rabbi. She graduated with Honors in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Stanford University, and was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles in 2010. Lizzi was as the first Revson Rabbinic Fellow at IKAR in Los Angeles, an experience from which she drew in creating Mishkan Chicago. She has worked with the Jewish Farm School, American Jewish World Service, Hazon, and Avodah, all organizations doing transformational work in the realms of environmental sustainability, local and global human rights.

Lizzi is interested in exploring talmudic and midrashic stories as central elements in creating Jewish experiences that integrate the spirit, body and mind and that meld music and harmony with intellectual rigor. Her Sichat Rabbanim learning focuses on stories concerned with “Torah, Avodah (Ritual Service), and Gemilut Hasadim (Acts of Loving Loyalty)”–according to one ancient teacher, the three pillars on which the world stands.

Rabbi Nick Renner (2014) is the Assistant Rabbi at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, CA. A native of Chapel Hill, NC, he received his MA along with the title of Rabbi from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. He was aNick Renner_small2recipient of the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Scholarship at RRC. During his time in rabbinical school, he worked at the Mekom Torah high school program, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, University of Delaware Hillel, Hillel’s Schusterman International Center, and Congregation Shirat Ha Yam. He has served on the Alumni Advisory Board of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel after participating as a Bronfman Fellow in 2002. He earned his BA in International Comparative Studies from Duke University, where he also played guitar and bass in a range of musical groups including the university’s jazz program. He hopes to bring his love of music to his rabbinic work.

Nick wants to pursue the theme of Doorways, Thresholds, and Transitional Spaces with Sichat Rabbanim. His interest in this idea grew from his experiences of concluding rabbinical school, moving across the country, and entering his first pulpit in Pacific Palisades, CA. This exploration of liminal space began as a High Holiday sermon inquiry with the help of Rabbi Sager. He was able to see the intersection of his personal enrichment and the ways in which this theme might enrich his rabbinate. He hopes to shape the way in which he negotiates transitional spaces during life-cycle functions within his role as rabbi.

Rabbi Noam Raucher (2014) joined the staff at Temple Israel, Charlotte, NC, as the Associate Rabbi and Temple Israel Religious School Education Director in July 2011. He hails from Hamden, CT, whereNoam Raucher Headshot he was born and raised. Growing up in a home full of Jewish educators, Noam fell in love with Judaism through family practice and celebrations. He is one of four children, all of whom have excelled in their respective fields. He attended and graduated Hofstra University with honors in philosophy and Judaic studies, and high honors in psychology. Before becoming a rabbi, Noam worked at the Yale Psychiatric Hospital offering guidance and counsel to various individuals. From 2005-2011 Noam attended the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. While there he also received a Masters degree in Education.During his study with Rabbi Sager in Sichat Rabbanim, Noam will be pursuing the “Spirituality of Management” in Jewish terms. He strives as a rabbi to guide a synagogue staff of professionals and volunteers in ways that bring together the best practices of business and the deepest aspects of Jewish spirit.  He hopes to explore how to use the messages of holiday seasons, religious language, and Torah into guideposts and frameworks for reflective professionals and volunteers who can become infused with spirit while moving towards their goals.

Rabbi Philip “Flip” Rice (2013) was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Miami, Flip RiceFlorida. A graduate of the University of Virginia (1992) with a major in History, Flip holds a Masters in Western Religious Thought and Spirituality from Florida State University (1996). He received his Masters in Hebrew Letters in 1999, and was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2001. As a student, Flip served congregations in Southern and Central California, on the upper west side of Manhattan, and in Brooklyn, New York. He then assumed position of Assistant and then Associate Rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, Washington. Today he shares the pulpit at Congregation Micah in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife, Rabbi Laurie Rice. He enjoys practicing yoga, sailing, swimming, and spending time with his family. He is passionate about several aspects of his rabbinate, including innovative worship, and teaching how ancient texts can still speak to us today.  He believes that worship does not happen automatically and that some people feel very distant from the Jewish prayer experience, even with the new and improved (siddurim) prayerbooks of today. He hopes that by working with Rabbi Sager, he can make worship matter!  By studying midrashim to give greater context to the structure of the service, he plans to create a collection of piyuttim/iyunnim (some with music from Music City local resources) to fill in the gaps and white spaces of the service.  

Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum (2013) was born in Winnipeg, Canada and grew up in Adam Rosenbaum4Denver, Colorado. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. He was ordained as a conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2005, where he also earned a Master of Arts degree in Bible and Semitic Languages. While at JTS he served as a Student Rabbi at Degel Israel Synagogue in Watertown, NY, and as Rabbinic Intern at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, NJ. Upon ordination, he served as Temple Beth Shalom’s assistant rabbi for four years.  Rabbi Rosenbaum is now the spiritual leader of Synagogue Emanu-El in Charleston, South Carolina. This year, he is the writer Torah Sparks for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. His current interest is to seek ways to add meaning to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience. He would like to write a book geared toward Bar/Bat Mitzvah students that brings the Haftarah (reading from the books of the Prophets) to life. With the help and guidance of Rabbi Sager, he hopes to accumulate the knowledge and the ability to translate that knowledge so that B’nai Mitzvah can achieve a deeper understanding on their special day.

Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner (2013) was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Old Beth Jacowitz Chottiner2Bridge, New Jersey.  A graduate of Rutgers College (at Rutgers University) with a major in Psychology and a minor in Judaic Studies, Beth earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and a Masters of Arts in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  She was ordained from HUC-JIR in 2007. As a student, Beth served congregation Ahavath Sholom in Bluefield, W.Va. and Temple Shalom in Wheeling, West Virginia.  Upon ordination, Beth began working full-time at Temple Shalom in Wheeling, the congregation she still serves today.

Beth has been on a spiritual journey for over 20 years.  She continues to explore man’s relationship with God in general, and her relationship with God, in particular.  Through the years, Beth has had a number of spiritual mentors who have helped her grapple with an unseen, yet ever-present God. With Rabbi Sager, Beth is exploring faith as presented in both ancient and modern Jewish texts.  This is adding another vehicle by which she can draw closer to God.

Dr. Charles Brown (2013) has been the spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel of Gastonia, North Carolina, since 2001.  He is also in full time private practice Charlie Brownas a psychotherapist. He has previously worked in community mental health, in prisons, and as a psychology professor at University of Alabama, Birmingham.  He received a BA in Literature from Yale, an MA in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Duke University.  

Charlie’s study project with Sicha is “The Reflective Soul of the Teacher.” He is interested in learning from tradition what qualities good teachers have, what qualities they need to cultivate, and how they can become attuned to the needs and desires of their students. He and Rabbi Sager will also look at the similarities and differences between being a teacher and a shaliakh tzibur (or prayer leader). He hopes this will enrich his abilities both to pray and to lead a congregation in prayer. 

Rabbi Daniel Greyber (2012) became the rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Durham, Greyber2North Carolina, in 2011 after spending the previous academic year as a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute. He holds a Masters in Speech and Communications Studies from Northwestern University and was ordained in 2002 at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University. Before arriving in Durham, he completed an eight-year tenure as the executive director of Camp Ramah in California. He was a gold medalist and Captain of the U.S. Swimming Team at the 1993 World Maccabiah Games. He has been named Rabbi for the US team at the World Maccabiah Games to be held in Israel in the summer of 2013. Read more about Daniel Greyber and his love of davening and prayer stories here…

Rabbi Daniel Greyber’s learning partnership is sponsored by the E.J. (Mutt) and Sarah Evans Family Foundation.

Rabbi Lucy Dinner (2012) graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a degree in Public Policy Analysis, and she received her Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.  She has served Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, North Carolina, as Senior Rabbi since 1993. Whether in teaching adults or youth, preaching, celebrating Shabbat and holidays, or participating in community action, Rabbi Dinner’s love of Judaism permeates her service. Jewish education is at the heart of Rabbi Dinner’s vision for bringing Judaism to life in her work as a rabbi. She was named “Woman of Achievement” by the Woman’s Club of Raleigh in 2010. Read more about Lucy and her interest in the Divine Presence here…

Rabbi Julie Kozlow (2011) received her rabbinic ordination from The Academy for Jewish Religion California in 2007. She received a Masters of Rabbinic Studies from both the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2004 and the Academy For Jewish religion in 2007.  Julie serves a 140 family Conservative Synagogue in Greenville, SC. Her commitment to her service as a rabbi is grounded in the belief that the wisdom of the Jewish heritage lies in the ability to reach across the miles of time while remaining utterly, urgently and vibrantly relevant.  Read more about Julie’s deep love of learning and her reflections about Sichat Rabbanim…

Rabbi David Weiner (2011) was ordained and earned an M.A. in Midrash at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2006. He currently serves as Rabbi for Congregation Knesset Israel in Pittsfield, MA, a Conservative synagogue in the Berkshires. He is interested in studying the tension between “Follow your heart” and “Do what is right” as it continually raises questions of motivation, service of the other vs. service of the self, and the impact of the individual on the world. He appreciates the focused learning of Sichat Rabbanim so that he can deepen his understanding of what this tension produces in the world of the ancient rabbis and how their conversations inform our own.  He hopes to draw into the conversation both parents and teachers as motivated adult learners who influence the next generation.

Rabbi Y. Kliel Rose (2010) was born in Jerusalem to a rabbinical family and grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. Kliel earned a BA in Judaic studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia and then studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary. During his student years, Kliel served a number of congregations in New York and one community in London, England, under the auspices of Masorati Olami.  He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2005, also earning there a Masters of Hebrew Letters.  He served as the Rabbi of West End Synagogue in Nashville, TN. Read more about Kliel, his thoughts about his Sicha study, and his innovative ideas regarding Social Justice within his community…

Zvi Altman (2010) serves as lay rabbi and cantor of the Mountain Synagogue in rural western North Carolina.  Located in Franklin, in Macon County, the synagogue has been meeting for 30 years. Originally a seasonal synagogue, the congregation now meets year round.  Read more about Zvi here…

In Zvi’s own words:  As the main religious leader of Mountain Synagogue, and often the public face of the Jewish community in Western NC, I have felt quite alone, not realizing just how starved I was for Jewish conversation. Key to it all, of course, is the special soul and genius of Rabbi Steve Sager. The Sichat Rabbanim Learning Partnership has allowed me to pursue an issue of deep interest to me personally and also, as the leader of this small Jewish community, the issue of the vitality of prayer. Read more about Zvi Altman’s reflections on Sichat Rabbanim and gaining a deeper experience of prayer…

Click here for Sichat Rabbanim program details.