Meet the 2021 Jewish Women Scholars' Writing Fellows

The shelves of the Beit Midrash are overwhelmingly dominated by books and articles written by men — enter the inaugural cohort of the Jewish Women Scholars' Writing Fellowship, a new initiative presented in partnership between Sefaria and Maharat and funded in part by the Maimonides Fund. The fellowship aims to elevate Jewish women's scholarship by building a cohort of scholars, and providing the skills, support, and resources necessary to produce new content.

An independent selection committee of seasoned Jewish women scholars reviewed 75 applications and ultimately selected these 14 impressive leaders. Fellows will benefit from specific training and individualized writing coaching, and will present their 3,000-word pieces at a virtual convening in June.

Fellows are displayed alphabetically by last name from left to right, starting from the upper left corner.

Maxine Berman

Maxine Berman is a rabbinics educator from New York City. She holds Masters' degrees in Talmud and Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, a B.A. in Jewish Studies and English Literature from The University of Chicago, and has studied at Hadar, Drisha, and in the Pardes Year and Experiential Education programs. She was previously a Junior Faculty member at Schechter Manhattan and is currently a TA at JTS. Maxine finds life's meaning and joy in Judaism's perpetual exploration of our traditions, and shares that joy with others by teaching and co-learning texts. She is excited to refine her writing with her fellow cohort members and expand her teaching to the public sphere by publishing with the Fellowship.

Rabba Dina Brawer

Rabba Dina Brawer lectures, writes, and broadcasts to wide and diverse audiences. Her areas of interest include social change, the nexus between religion and gender, values within the halakhic system, and hasidut. Her writing has appeared in Jewish publications and newspapers as well as mainstream dailies such as The Telegraph (UK) and the Sydney Herald (AU). She holds a BA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from the University of London, an MA in Education and Psychology from the Institute of Education, London, and Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat. She lectures in Talmud at Tufts University and serves as Director of Recruitment and Admissions at Maharat.

Rabbi Atara Cohen

Rabbi Atara Cohen is passionate about Torah which speaks to our social, intellectual, and emotional realities. She received semikha from Yeshivat Maharat in June 2020 and currently teaches Torah She’beal Peh at The Heschel Middle School. She has studied Torah in a variety of settings, including Nishmat, Hadar, Drisha and has a BA in religion at Princeton University. During rabbinical school, Atara focused on human rights and social change through various fellowships. She served as a rabbinic intern at the Columbia-Barnard Hillel and as a Cooperberg-Rittmaster Pastoral and Educational Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Atara lives in Manhattan, where she runs, knits, and experiments with Persian cooking.

Ranana Dine

Ranana Dine is a doctoral student in religious ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She is a research assistant at the University of Chicago’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and the managing editor of Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Culture. Prior to moving to Chicago, she spent two years at the University of Cambridge where she studied for MPhils in theology and medical humanities. Her scholarship, teaching, and writing focuses on topics ranging from Jewish medical ethics, the relationship of Judaism and the visual arts, and comparative Jewish-Christian thought. Her writing has been published in both popular and academic outlets, including the Lehrhaus, the Hadar Institute, Mosaic, the British Medical Journal: Medical Humanities, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. In Chicago she founded and helps run the Trad Egal Shteibel, a monthly halakhic egalitarian house minyan in Lakeview/Lincoln Park, and the Lakeview Beit Midrash, a local learning community.

Rabbanit Goldie Guy

Rabbanit Goldie Guy serves as the Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Rabbanit Guy has been a Talmud and Judaics educator at Yeshivat Maharat, the Columbia/ Barnard Hillel, SAR High School in Riverdale, NY,Yeshivat Hadar, and in the middle school at Carmel Academy, in Greenwich CT. She was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in 2017, completed the two-year Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) at Yeshiva University where she had the opportunity to be a chaplain intern at North Shore University Hospital, and holds a BA in Religion from Barnard College. Rabbanit Guy has also studied at the SKA Beit Midrash in Migdal Oz, and at the Drisha Institute in New York, where she also served as an educator in the collegiate summer beit midrash program. Rabbanit Guy is passionate about the study and teaching of Talmud to Jews of all backgrounds and stages of life, and how rabbinic texts can speak to all the nuances and experiences of our modern lives.

Margo Hughes-Robinson

Margo Hughes-Robinson is a senior rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she is also pursuing an MA in Midrash and serves as the Program Coordinator for the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue. A New Yorker by birth, Margo grew up in communities all over the United States before attending Clark University, where she graduated with degrees in Theatre and in Jewish Studies. She is also a proud alumna of the Conservative Yeshiva Lishma Fellowship and the Hartman Rabbinic Student Seminar, and is a former Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in NYC. Margo’s work has been published online and in print, most recently in Alma, PRTCLS, and Jewschool.

Dr. Tammy Jacobowitz

Dr. Tammy Jacobowitz is the chair of the Bible department at the SAR High School, and is the founding director of Makom B'Siach at SAR, an immersive adult education program for parents. She has taught Bible for the Wexner Heritage program, and she is also an adjunct faculty member of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, where she teaches the Pedagogy of Tanakh. She is a graduate of the Drisha Institute's Scholars Circle, and completed her PhD in Midrash at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 as a Wexner Graduate fellow. Dr. Jacobowitz is currently at work on a parsha book, geared towards parents reading to young children. She lives in Teaneck, NJ with her husband, Prof. Ronnie Perelis, and their four children.

Zoe Fertik

Zoe Fertik is Associate Director of Jewish Content at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, California. Her position is in partnership with BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change. Zoe previously lived in Tel Aviv, where she founded a beit midrash program for secular Torah study in English at BINA's Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv. Zoe is a proud alumna of many amazing Jewish programs that have shaped her along the way, including, EIE, Kivunim, Yeshivat Hadar, Pardes, The Wexner Graduate Fellowship, and ROI. She has a BA in Religion from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Zoe currently lives in Palo Alto with her husband and their sons.

Rabbi Sari Laufer

Rabbi Sari Laufer is the Director of Congregational Engagement at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles. A cum laude graduate of Northwestern University (Go ‘Cats!) Rabbi Laufer was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles in May 2006. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Rabbi Laufer spent 11 years as the assistant and associate rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City before coming to Stephen Wise Temple. Rabbi Laufer is a teacher of those young and young-at-heart, bringing her passion for rabbinic texts, social justice, and Judaism’s wisdom and relevance in the 21st century into the lives of those with whom she is privileged to learn and to share. Rabbi Laufer is a born-and-bred New Yorker who now lives “in the Valley” with her husband and two children.

Rabbanit Leah Sarna

Rabbanit Leah Sarna is the Associate Director of Education and Director of High School Programs at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She previously served as Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, a leading urban Orthodox congregation. She was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in 2018, holds a BA from Yale University in Philosophy & Psychology, and also trained at the SKA Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, Drisha and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership. Rabbanit Sarna’s published works have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Lehrhaus and MyJewishLearning. She has lectured in Orthodox synagogues and Jewish communal settings around the world and loves spreading her warm, energetic love for Torah and Mitzvot with Jews in all stages of life. She lives in Bala Cynwyd, PA with her husband, Dr. Ethan Schwartz, and their son, Cyrus.

Nomi Schneck

Nomi Schneck’s work explores art as a commentary on biblical stories and themes. As a PhD candidate in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, Nomi’s dissertation questions how the appearance of biblical art in Late Antiquity fits within broader patterns of visual storytelling and myth-making. During her ten years teaching English literature and Tanakh at Jewish day schools, Nomi developed a creative arts workshop and journal as well as a summer seminar, Visualizing Jewish Texts, combining museum visits with beit midrash study. Nomi also spent time conducting research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and contributed to the Agents of Faith exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery. Her work has been funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies. Nomi currently lives in Teaneck, NJ with her husband, Noam, and children Maayan, Brielle, Amalia, and Shachar.

Rabbanit Chamutal Shoval

Rabbanit Chamutal Shoval is the Rosh Beit Midrash of the Women’s Beit Midrash in Efrat, and serves on the faculty of Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem. She is in her final year of the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL) at Midreshet Lindenbaum. Chamutal holds an MA in New Media and Communication, as well as a BA in Humanities and Psychology from the Hebrew University. Chamutal has been published in the Drisha Journal of Bar Ilan University, as well as in Techumim. She serves as a poseket halakha for her students and community.

Rabbanit Aliza Sperling

Aliza Sperling teaches Talmud at the Maharat- Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Beit Midrash Program. She is also the director of HerTorah, an innovative women’s Torah study and community program in Washington DC. Aliza is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and serves as a Wexner faculty member. She received semicha from Yeshivat Maharat and a JD from NYU Law School.

Rabbi Avi Strausberg

Rabbi Avi Strausberg is the Director of National Learning Initiatives at Hadar, and is based in Washington, DC. She received her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College in Boston and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She also holds a Masters in Jewish Education. For her thesis, she created a collaged theatre piece entitled “The Sota Ritual Revisited” which brought ancient texts from the Mishna and Talmud in conversations with modern writings on gender, sexuality and power. Energized by engaging creatively with Jewish text, she has written several theatre pieces inspired by the Torah and maintains a Daf Yomi haiku blog in which she writes daily Talmudic haikus. Avi is most grateful for her wife, Chana, and two children, Ori and Niv.