Who We Are

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Rabbi Dr. Leila Gal Berner

President

Rabbi Leila Gal Berner received her B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem  She Berner received her M.A. and  Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles in medieval Spanish Jewish History. Dr. Berner was ordained  at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1989) and received a second rabbinical ordination from Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement, in 2009. She founded Ezra Uganda Assistance in 2016 with the goal of supporting the Abayudaya Jewish community of Namutumba, Uganda, and currently serves as Ezra Uganda’s President. Rabbi Leila lives in Frederick, Maryland with her wife, Franna Ruddel and is the happy savta  (grandmother) of Olivia, Aliya and Lucy.

(301) 898-2683

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Rabbi Avraham Bachman

Board Member

Rabbi Avraham is the spiritual leader of Ruach Hamidbar, a Jewish Renewal community in Scottsdale, Arizona. Avraham was born in Rochester, NY. He received his degree in Special Education and Psychology at Syracuse University in 1974 and J.D. from Gonzaga University in 1977. He also attended extracurricular classes at the Eastman School of Music. In his youth, he attended a Conservative synagogue with Orthodox services. He served as president of USY while in High School. Rabbi Avraham is involved in interfaith activities, including serving as chair of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, chair of the annual interfaith event at the Mormon Tabernacle, and current chair of the North American Interfaith Network. Avraham is a partner of the law firm Fetzer Simonsen Booth and Jenkins, while also being a professional musician with his talented wife Andalin, recording engineer, and producer. Andalin and Avraham have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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Rabbi Yafa CHase

Board Member

Rabbinic Pastor Ruth Delfiner

Board Member

Ruth Delfiner was born in Vienna, Austria and came to the U.S as a schoolgirl. As an adult, she has worked in a number of professions, most recently as a hospital chaplain in Boston. In pursuing ordination to better serve her patient population, she met Reb Leila and fellow student Shadrach Mugoya. Since then she has been very interested in the Jewish community of Namutumba, and how cooperation between their community and ours can strengthen both.

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Rabbinc Pastor Cantor Lisa Levine

Board Member

Cantor Rabbinic Pastor Lisa Levine RYT500 is a Cantor, composer, chaplain, yoga teacher and builder of bridges between faith communities. Her calling to serve the Jewish community began as a NFTY song leader and led to her Ordination through HUC-JIR-DFSSM and Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal.  Lisa’s healing music, liturgy, prose and poetry is widely published and shared around the world.  "Sound of Your Soul” is her pandemic Yoga recording and back tracks weekly Yoga Shalom at Home zoom practices.  Her book “Heart of Light: Poems of Longing, Loss and Life” is available on Amazon along with her acclaimed book Yoga Shalom and Yoga Shalom Leaders Guide. She serves as Artist-In-Residence at Temple Shaari Emeth in Malapan, NJ and serves as JSSA Chaplain in Montgomery County, MD. 

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Laura Mandeles

Board Member

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Samantha Rose Mandeles

Board Member

Sam earned her M.A., cum laude, in Counterterrorism and Homeland Security from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel in 2016, and her B.A. in Bio-Archaeology and Middle Eastern Studies from Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 2010. She has spent nearly three years living in Israel, and is a long-time advocate for African Jewry. Sam’s writing has been published in numerous media outlets, including Newsweek, JNS, and the Algemeiner; and she has spoken to audiences all over the country on issues such as campus anti-Semitism, Middle Eastern history, media bias and misinformation, and Jewish activism. In her spare time, Sam is a painter and photographer; she has achieved 2nd degree black belt in tae-kwon-do and currently trains as an amateur powerlifter. She lives in the Midwest with her fiance and cat.

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Hazzan Randall Miller

Board Member

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Hazzan Baruch Morris

Board Member

Baruch Morris received his cantorial smicha from the Aleph Ordination Program. He served as Hazzan and spiritual leader at P’nai Or of Portland for more than 20 years, officiating weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, ‎and other life cycle events in addition to leading services for High Holy Days, additional chagim ‎‎(holidays) and musical shabbatons for congregations up and down the West Coast, in Hawaii, ‎and Florida.‎ Baruch has been leading religious services since his high school youth group days. His love of ‎music and Judaism led him to become a cantorial soloist and lay service leader with several ‎congregations before formally embarking on a path to cantorial ordination.‎ He was ordained as Hazzan by ALEPH Jewish Renewal in 2019. Baruch is a professionally trained vocalist, has been a conductor and occasional arranger for ‎several choirs, and plays both the guitar and upright bass. Baruch is married to Cassandra Sagan, ‎a professional maggidah (Jewish story-teller), artist, writer, and educator. Between them they ‎have five children and six grandchildren.‎