A proud fourth generation Texan (even though he mostly grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich.), Ben Freed was heavily involved Jewishly from a young age through day schools, summer camps and Young Judaea. He studied journalism at the University of Texas where he was also active in Hillel, Texans for Israel, the Texas Latin Dance Club, and The Daily Texan Sports section (as a writer, not athlete). Combining his love of storytelling, online pop culture and Judaism, Ben also founded and maintains www.themorejewknow.com—a growing website that aims to make Jewish holidays, texts and traditions available to a broad audience.
After working as a journalist, yoga teacher, bar mitzvah DJ, and Uber driver, Ben decided two years ago to head to New York to start rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. As a journalist, his passions were asking questions, telling stories and helping people better understand the world around them—so he didn't have to make too much of an adjustment when he decided to head down the path to the rabbinate. He is starting his third year of school this fall after spending the past year living and learning in Israel.
Ben is thrilled to be part of the Slifka Fellowship for Conservative Jewish life on campus and will visit campus four times this fall. Admittedly, Ben does not like coffee, but he's very excited to meet with students Thursday evenings through Sunday mornings over cups of tea, hot chocolate or other beverages to schmooze, learn and grow together. Please reach out with an email to set up a time to meet or just say hello!
Cantor Abbe Lyons is pleased to serve as Interim Executive Director for this semester and is on campus on Mondays and Fridays. She grew up on Long Island but fell in love with upstate NY in her teens, and graduated from Ithaca College with a major in voice performance in 1987. She is adjunct faculty at ALEPH Ordination Programs where she received cantorial smicha in 2010. After serving as Interim Executive Director of HIllel at Ithaca College last year, she has continued there part time as Jewish chaplain and business manager. She lives in Ithaca with her wife, son, mother-in-law and 2 cats. Fun fact: Abbe was certified as an auto mechanic in brakes and front end for 2 years in the early '80s.
Bar grew up in Ramle, a small town in the center of Israel. She recently graduated from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, where she majored in Middle Eastern studies and Israel studies. Bar enjoys listening to music, watching films, playing guitar and traveling! Bar will be working closely with Bearcats for Israel on Israel programming and can't wait to meet many more students over a warm cup of coffee!
In partnership with the Orthodox Union's Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC), we welcome Tali Weiss to round out our OU-JLIC team and be a source of learning opportunities for women.
Tali grew up in Los Angeles and attended Yeshiva University High School before heading to study in Israel at Michelet Orot, a pre-college program that involves advanced Jewish studies alongside Israeli students. It was halfway through this experience that Tali decided to make Aliyah and began her studies at Shaare Zedek Nursing School to become a certified registered nurse, continuing on to University of Haifa where she earned her Bachelor’s in Nursing Sciences. For the past 10 years Tali has been working at Shaare Zedek Hospital, where she completed advanced training to become a neonatal intensive care nurse specialist. She also teaches in the Tel Hashomer Hospital Nursing School, and lectures public health clinicians on issues related to patient experience. Simultaneous to her nursing work, Tali has received training as a Jewish educator, spending 3 years at Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo in Jerusalem, doing coursework on the weekly portion, women of the bible and seminars in High Holiday preparations, and completed a year-long training course for bride teachers at the prestigious Puah Institute. Tali also received training through the Misrachi Olami Shalhevet Program, which empowers aspiring educators to become effective leaders within Diaspora Jewish communities, doing coursework in Jewish law, philosophy, Israel advocacy and pedagogic methodologies. In her spare time, Tali enjoys playing and watching basketball, drinking coffee, cooking, hanging out with family and friends, and listening to music. Tali will be joined by her husband Gershon and their three boys, Yehuda, Asaf, and Matan Ori.
With such a wonderful team in place, we look forward to attracting new students to Hillel at Binghamton and deepening our engagement with our current students and student leaders through a wide spectrum of program and opportunities. We can’t wait for the semester to begin!
Rabbi Marley is a native Philadelphian, having graduated in 2010 from the Dual Degree Program at Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary’s List College of Jewish Studies with degrees in Anthropology and Jewish Philosophy, respectively. It was at Barnard College that she discovered a love of Hillel life that continues until this day. Post college, she spent two years working with interfaith families at the Jewish Outreach Institute, volunteering for Limmud NY, and serving on the steering committee of the independent minyan Kol Zimrah. She then returned home to Philadelphia to attend the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In her time there, she worked in congregations, hospitals, and colleges, learned a lot of Talmud, and had the privilege of teaching students from ages two to ninety nine. Most recently, she completed two years as the Rabbinic Intern at Temple University Hillel. In her spare time Rabbi Marley enjoys visiting museums, reading science-fiction, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and singing musical theater songs at the top of her lungs.
When Naomi Zaslow was growing up in Miami, Florida, she dreamt of one day moving so far north that she would get to spend most of the year wearing the ultimate accessory: scarves. Thankfully, her dreams have come true. Naomi is a first-year Rabbinical Student at JTS, and is thrilled to be part of the Slifka Fellowship for conservative Jewish life on campus. She will visit campus five times this year, and will be available to meet with students Thursday evenings through Sunday mornings. Naomi is excited to nosh, kvetch, shmooze, and explore Jewish texts on social justice and civil responsibility. Naomi grew up Orthodox, and found Conservative Judaism while studying at Pardes in Jerusalem - and it has changed her life! As a proud graduate of the Pardes/Hebrew College Jewish Educator’s program and holding a BFA in Visual Art from the University of Michigan, Naomi has spent the last ten years traveling around, learning from everyone, and teaching Talmud and sequential art. She spends a lot of time coordinating her scarf and kippa combos, and lives with her partner in Washington Heights. She is always looking to add new hevrutas (learning partners) to her life, so if you have something you want to learn please send Naomi an email!