Receive weekly insights from the Chief Rabbi
Office of the Chief Rabbi

The Neshama Festival – Biographies

Share this article:

Abi Kurzer earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from UCL after studying in Michlalah in Israel.  Abi & her husband Ben moved to New York where she completed her Master’s degree in clinical social work at Wurzeiler School of Social Work. Abi worked for two years as a counselor at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in Brooklyn, New York. Abi trained in Taharat HaMishpacha with the OU and Young Israel. The Kurzers are now assistant Rabbinic couple at Edgware United. She is a participant on the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme alongside her job as social worker and counsellor for Norwood

Avigayil Fabian has been teaching and performing dance and singing since she was a young girl. She studied her dance degree at Michlelet Orot Israel, a college whose religious ethos enables women to pursue dance in a way not usually possible. She is currently running her own classes teaching dance and personal fitness in London whilst performing internationally for women-only audiences with The Fabian Sisters – classical and contemporary singers.

Chava Erlanger-Rosenzweig grew up in Israel before moving and marrying. She settled in Manchester where she started presenting her artwork and attended Manchester Metropolitan to study art and design. Her art is very much an exploration of Jewish identity and tradition. She spent time researching the effects of trauma on Holocaust survivors’ families and she puts this to practical use by practicing art therapy with people suffering from trauma. Chava has exhibited her work at several prominent locations and continues to produce art alongside her community work in art therapy.

Emma Taylor is the Community Rebbetzen at Western Marble Arch Synagogue in Central London where she teaches and organises a range of events for women and young families. She has an undergraduate degree from Kings College London in History and a master’s degree in Education and Special Education from Touro College in New York. Emma also teaches history at Beth Jacob Grammar School in Hendon and is a participant in the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme.

Esther Wachsman was born in a DP camp in Germany in 1947 to parents who had survived the Holocaust. When she was three, her family moved to America and she lived there until she moved to Israel in 1969. She attended the Hebrew University where she studied for a Master’s in History, with a particular focus on the Holocaust. She and her husband had seven children, including Nachson, the son who was captured and killed by Hamas. Esther is an inspiring figure who retains a deep love for her homeland and religion despite this and is convinced of the need to spread her message of enduring faith and belief in God and the Jewish people.

Ilana Epstein is one half of the Rabbinic Team at Cockfosters and N Southgate Synagogue where, together with Rabbi Daniel Epstein, she has been in post since June 2014. Ilana is the head of project development at the Living & Learning department at the United Synagogue, where she is part of a team that regularly develops Jewish content, both on-line and in print for US communities. Ilana writes and presents extensively on behalf of the US.

Joanne Greenaway is a graduate of Cambridge University and a lawyer working in the London Beth Din focusing on difficult divorce cases, helping people to navigate them and devising new strategies to deal with cases of Get refusal.  She also manages child protection and safeguarding issues within the United Synagogue.  Prior to this she worked for 12 years in the City (at Herbert Smith Freehills) specialising in international arbitration. Outside work she enjoys learning and teaches regularly in various Jewish settings and is a participant on the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme. She is a graduate of the Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership Programme and the Gamechangers programme for senior Jewish community leaders and a Trustee of Kisharon. Jo was listed last year by the Jewish News and the JLC in the “40 under 40”.

Jacqueline Feldman is the Rebbetzen of Bushey United Synagogue and also works in Tiferes High School for Girls as a SENCO supporting any students with learning difficulties or extra needs. She attended Hasmonean High School in London, Bnos Chava Seminary in Jerusalem and received a BSc in Neuroscience from Kings College London. She is a graduate of the Susi Bradfield Programme and is now a participant on the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan programme. Jacqueline is passionate about working with children with special needs and education,combining her love for Medical Science and Judaism. She plays the harp and loves arts and crafts.

Katie Green After receiving an honors diploma from the London School of Journalism in 1994 Katie wrote creative non-fiction and op-eds for numerous publi-cations and internet sites. In 2003 she graduated from the Ma’aleh film school of Jerusalem as a scriptwriter, director and film editor, and both her graduate films “Prague” and “16” were shown on Israel’s Channel 2. In 2013 she graduated with honors from the Shaindy Rudoff Masters degree Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan university. Today Katie is head of the festivals department at the Maaleh film school and works as an editor and translator, and specializing in subtitling films.

Lauren Levin is a graduate of the sixth class of Nishmat’s Yoatzot Halachah Program and was appointed as Britain’s first ever Yoetzet Halachah (female advisor in Jewish Law) at Finchley United Synagogue by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. She is Dean of London’s Midrasha and together with her husband Rabbi Eli Levin, they work as the Associate Rabbinic Couple of South Hampstead Synagogue

Lea Taragin-Zeller is currently a chaplain of Cambridge and East Anglia Universities. She is a doctoral student at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a researcher at the Woolf Institute and the Reproductive Sociology Research Group at University of Cambridge. Her main research interests lie at the intersection between gender, text, body and religion. Lea’s Ph.D. dissertation explores the nexus of reproduction and religion in contemporary Israel. Before coming to Cambridge, Lea also taught at Mechinat Ha’emek and Midreshet Ein Hanatsiv in Israel.

Leanne Binstock is the Associate Rebbetzen of Hendon United Synagogue. Born and raised in South Africa, she went to Beis Yaakov High School in Johannesburg, Bnos Chava and Moreshet Seminaries in Israel, and has a BCom in Industrial Psychology from the University of South Africa. She worked in Jewish Education in South Africa and then moved to London take up a position in Jewish outreach at the JLE. She moved to Jerusalem and was the ‘Em Bayit’ at Be’er Miriam Seminary and studied in the ladies programme of the Jerusalem Kollel while her husband obtained Semicha there. Leanne is now a participant on the Ma’ayan programme.

Lisa Levene is the Rebbetzin of Belmont United Synagogue, a certified MEP teacher and has been trained in Taharat Hamishpacha under the auspices of Rebbetzin Tehilla Abramov. Lisa is a current participant on the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme. Lisa’s background is in Human Resources, business development and consulting across both profit and non-for-profit sectors. She is a graduate of the Ner L’Elef training programme and also the Bradfield programme run by LSJS. Possessing a Masters degree and knowledge base routed in business psychology, Lisa utilises this knowledge for the benefit of Anglo Jewry.

Ma’aleh School of Film and Television, based in Jerusalem, trains scriptwriters, directors and producers. It is the only film school in the world devoted to exploring the intersection of Judaism and modern life through films which focus on, amongst other things, women in religious communities as well as issues affecting relationships between Orthodox and secular communities. The film school screen their productions at a variety of events around the world where the films are a catalyst for discussing deep issues of Jewish and Israeli identity.

Nafshah is London’s most unique and sought after Jewish women’s band. NAFSHAH play soulful, heartfelt music. NAFSHAH – translated as “her soul” – aim to bring joy to their audience and create unity amongst women of all backgrounds. The band brings together the talents of 6 diverse musicians who share a passion for music and performing.

  • Eloise Sinclair is a classically trained pianist, full-time contemporary music student at ICMP and part-time piano teacher. In addition, she is the musical director of up and coming theatrical group Dreamrole Productions and has managed to squeeze NAFSHAH into her busy schedule! Eloise plays the keyboard and orchestrates the musical structure of the band.
  • Hadassa Kessler was born in Australia and is an energetic social worker who has been the band’s guitarist and vocalist for over 8 years. Whether performing street theatre in Israel or singing backup for a Russian soprano, her passion for music and sense of fun carries her through life
  •  Jo Jacobson has the attention span of an artist and splits her time between teaching Jewish Studies, painting murals, writing children’s books and eating sandwiches. She has performed with various incarnations of this band for 4 years – contributing backing vocals, percussion and frequent distracted interruptions!
  • Judith Rose, behind the drums, Judith sets the pace of NAFSHAH – the most recent band to benefit from an amazing twenty-plus years of drumming experience. Aside from this role as a rhythm-maestro, Judith has recently started working as a part-time sound engineer and has contributed to a variety of musical and theatrical projects.
  • Shira Klajman is a graduate of the music department of  Michlala in Jerusalem, and has taught, performed and conducted in various recorder ensembles for 25 years. She currently teaches music and movement in primary schools. Shira’s intuitive recorder solos on the soprano and alto recorders add layers of beauty to NAFSHAH’s music.

Nechama Atlas is Rebbetzen of the Cheadle Yeshurun Hebrew Congregation in Manchester, a trained Child Counsellor and Tanach teacher (MA) She is also counselor for marital life from the Yahel Institute in Israel. She worked as an Educational Counsellor in Israeli primary and high schools and was Rebbetzen at the Port Elizabeth Hebrew Congregation in South Africa and at the Birmingham Central Synagogue. Nechama, born and raised in Israel, is married and a mother of five, she is now taking part in the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan programme.

Nicky Goldman is the Executive Director of Lead, the leadership development division of the Jewish Leadership Council. Nicky has worked in the Jewish community for over 30 years in leadership and community development, family education, HR and youth and student work for the Association of Jewish 6th Formers, London Student Chaplaincy Board, Hendon Synagogue, the United Synagogue and UJIA amongst other organisations. Nicky has an MA in Jewish Communal Service from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University, has a PGCE in Religious Education and is a graduate of the Susie Bradfield Women Educational Leaders’ Programme.

Raisel Freedman is a graduate of Michlalah College Jerusalem and the Susie Bradfield Course at the London School of Jewish Studies, she holds a Masters degree in European Jewish History from Queen Mary University of London. She currently works as Executive Assistant to the Director of PaJeS, and handles a portfolio of wide ranging Special Projects. Always active in communal and educational endeavours, Raisel teaches Jewish studies to sixth formers and Bat Mitzvah students and handles the education portfolio on the Alei Tzion Board of Management. She is now a participant on the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme.

Shoshana Landau Brought up in Australia, Shoshana’s involvement in community education started early, teaching for the NSW Board of Jewish Education. In London, Shoshana has worked as Youth Director for Northwood US, then as part of the youth Rabbinic team for Kehillat Netzach Yisrael in Edgware and most recently in the Rabbinic team at Kingston, Surbiton & District. Shoshana runs regular educational & social programmes, has created and implemented a curriculum for the local Cheder, delivers shiurim and lunch & learn groups, and speaks regularly for local colleges, universities & high schools and is now a participant on the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan

Dr Tovah Lichtenstein has a B.A from Harvard University and an M.S.S.W from Columbia University.  She earned a Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University ,where she was a senior lecturer in the School of Social  Work until her retirement. Her field of expertise is child welfare. She has given in-service training on the subject and has served on national committees concerned with child welfare and was the Chair of the National Advisory Committee to the Ministers of Social Welfare and Justice on International Adoption. She has lived in Israel since 1971 when she made Aliya with her husband, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein ,of blessed memory, and their family.  Rabbi Lichtenstein was the Co-Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat  Har Etzion. She has lectured in Israel and the United States on a  wide range of topics, both in child welfare and Torah learning.

Yael Leibowitz is a graduate of Stern College and has her Master’s degree in Judaic Studies from Columbia University. Prior to making Aliyah, Yael taught Tanakh at the Upper School of Ramaz, and then went on to join the Judaic Studies faculty at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women.  She has taught at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and served as Resident Scholar at the Jewish Centre of Manhattan. She is currently teaching at various branches of the Matan Institute throughout Israel as she continues her studies at Bar Ilan.