Consultation on Conscience 2017

Arlington VA

Apr 30 - May 3, 2017

Consultation on Conscience is the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s biennial social justice leadership conference. Held over three days in Washington, D.C., Consultation empowers the Reform Jewish Movement through leadership development; opportunities for network and community building; and active dialogue culminating in an afternoon of advocacy on Capitol Hill. It is open to Congregational Delegations as well as individuals looking to build relationships and deepen their engagement in the fight for progressive social change in North America.

In 2017, there will be a special focus on issues of racial justice, including conversations on how to better organize to combat voter suppression and the staggering problem of mass incarceration in America.

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Anat Hoffman

Executive Director, Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC)

Bio: Anat Hoffman became Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center in 2002. Previously, Ms. Hoffman served as a Jerusalem City Councilwoman for 14 years, carving out a niche for herself as an untiring warrior for justice and equality. She has dedicated her adult life to the Jewish principle of tikkun olam, which literally means repairing the world. It is this commitment to social action and justice that has formed her career. Anat was a founding member of Women of the Wall, and has served on the Boards of the Israel Women’s Network, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and many other Israeli organizations working for social change.

Ari Ne'eman

Co Founder, MySupport Inc.

Bio: Ari Ne’eman is the CEO of, an online platform that connects seniors and people with disabilities with support workers that share their values. From 2006 to 2016, he directed the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the leading national advocacy organization run by and for Autistic Americans. From 2010 to 2015, he was one of President Obama's appointees to the National Council on Disability. He is a member of Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington, DC.

Barbara Weinstein

Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bio: Barbara Weinstein is the RAC's Associate Director. She directs legislative policy and guides the RAC’s social justice work. Barbara is also Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, a joint body of the CCAR and URJ and its affiliates that seeks to apply the insights of Jewish tradition to domestic and foreign public policy. Before joining the RAC in 2002, Barbara worked in the U.S. House of Representatives. Barbara holds a M.A. in Political Management from The George Washington University and a B.A. in Political Science from McGill University.

Rosalie Boxt

Worship Director, Union for Reform Judaism

Bio: Cantor Rosalie Boxt is Cantor at Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Maryland.

Esther Lederman

Director, Communities of Practice, Union for Reform Judaism

Bio: Rabbi Esther L. Lederman serves as Director of Communities of Practice at the URJ. Prior to that role, she was the Associate Rabbi for six years at Temple Micah in Washington, DC. She was ordained in May 2008 from HUC-JIR in New York City. She received her B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from McGill University. Esther is very involved in the wider Jewish community, at both the national and local levels. She serves on the advisory council of Avodah in Washington and serves on the national board of Ameinu and T'ruah.

Governor Jack Markell

Governor, State of Delaware

Bio: Governor Jack Markell served as Delaware’s governor from 2009-2017.  During his tenure, Delaware experienced the best job growth in the region and the best improvement in high school graduation rates in the country.  Gov. Markell also focused on running state government efficiently and effectively, keeping the state’s AAA bond rating while reforming Delaware’s health and pension systems to make them more sustainable over time. Beginning his career in the private sector, Gov. Markell helped lead the wireless technology revolution as the 13th employee at Nextel, where he served as senior vice president for corporate development. His other business experience includes a senior management position at Comcast Corporation, work as a consultant with McKinsey and Company and as a banker at First Chicago Corporation.

Graham Roth

Communications Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bio: Graham Roth is the Communications Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Graham leads communications strategy for the RAC, including message development, media relations and digital communications. Before joining the RAC, Graham spent over thirteen years as a campaign operative, political consultant and public affairs professional, working for think tanks, advocacy groups, businesses, nonprofits, and local, state and federal candidates. Graham lives in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, Anna, and their son. He grew up in New York City and graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing.

Jacob Kraus

Eisendrath Legislative Assistant, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bio: Jacob is a Senior Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He works on racial justice issues at the RAC, advocating for criminal justice reform and voting rights and engaging congregations throughout our movement in racial justice work. Jacob is from Cincinnati, OH, where he is a member of Rockdale Temple. He graduated from Macalester College in 2015.

Lucy Dinner

Rabbi, Temple Beth Or

Bio: Rabbi Lucy Dinner serves as senior rabbi of Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is Chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis' Committee on Peace, Justice, & Civil Rights; and a Vice Chair of the Reform Movement's Commission on Social Action. Rabbi Dinner works with the leadership of North Carolina’s Moral Monday Movement and speaks at state and national rallies for justice. She is on the international board of Rise Against Hunger and the board of the Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee.

Marla Feldman

Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism

Bio: Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), is a Reform rabbi, lawyer, and certified fundraiser. Previously, Feldman directed the URJ Development Department, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, and the URJ Social Action Department. Rabbi Feldman has authored several Reform Movement action manuals and her articles and Op Eds have appeared in many publications and newspapers. Rabbi Feldman has represented the Reform Movement in numerous coalitions, including the Conference of Presidents, Save Darfur Coalition, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief. In her spare time she writes modern midrash.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg

President Pro Tempore, California State Senate

Bio: Mayor Darrell Steinberg is one of Sacramento’s most accomplished public servants, serving the Sacramento community for over 20 years. Darrell began his political career as Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Sacramento, before being elected to the City Council in 1992. He later ran for State Assembly and then State Senate, becoming the first Jewish President of the Senate in over 150 years. Throughout his public service, Darrell has always practiced the politics of Tikkun Olam. During his tenure in the legislature, Darrell championed economic development, civil rights, immigration reform, career pathways for underserved youth, building sustainable communities and major investments in healthcare and education. He authored the Mental Health Services Act, the first of its kind in the nation that generates $2 billion dollars a year for people in need. Darrell was sworn in as Mayor of Sacramento on December 13, 2016.

Megan Black

National Clergy Organizer, PICO National Network

Bio: Megan Black is the National Clergy Organizer with PICO National Network, a multi-faith, multi-racial network of community organizations who bring grassroots leaders and congregations into public life. Megan holds a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School and has seven years' experience in community organizing, faith-based justice leadership, and interfaith engagement. She has worked to grow interfaith literacy in Chicago, combat predatory lending in Missouri, and in Nashville has worked to expand opportunities for the formerly incarcerated and mitigate the effects of gentrification on communities of color. As National Clergy organizer, she helps lead PICO’s clergy training and formation initiatives, develops and sustains religious partnerships, and integrates clergy/religious leadership and theological framing into PICO’s national campaigns. Megan is based in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is an over-active member of Christ the King Catholic Parish, a devoted Big Sister to her Little Brother of three years, and an outdoor-enthusiast in the making.

Michael Waldman

President, Brennan Center for Justice

Bio: Michael Waldman is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on improving the systems of democracy and justice. Mr. Waldman was Director of Speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995-99, responsible for writing/editing nearly two thousand speeches. He was special assistant to the president for policy coordination from 1993-95. He has been a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an attorney in private practice.  Michael Waldman is the author of The Fight to Vote, The Second Amendment: A Biography, My Fellow Americans, and POTUS Speaks, among others. He appears frequently on television and radio to discuss public policy, the presidency and the law. Michael Waldman is a graduate of Columbia College (B.A., 1982) and New York University School of Law (J.D., 1987), where he was a member of the Law Review.

Neil Hirsch

Rabbi, Hevreh of Southern Berkshire

Bio: Neil P.G. Hirsch is a rabbi at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He has been involved in several social justice initiatives in his work in the Berkshires and is a member of the Commission on Social Action. He is married to Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, a former RAC legislative assistant, and they are parents to 2 month old Lior.

Rick Jacobs

President, Union for Reform Judaism

Bio: Rabbi Rick Jacobs is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the most powerful force in North American Jewish life. The URJ leads the largest and most diverse Jewish movement in North America, with almost 900 congregations reaching nearly 1.5 million people. For nearly 150 years, the URJ has been at the forefront in promoting an open, progressive Judaism. A longtime and devoted creative change agent, Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as a dynamic, visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York. During his tenure, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of lifelong learners, and strengthened the synagogue's commitment to vibrancy and inclusion. Under Rabbi Jacobs' leadership, WRT completed a new "green" sanctuary, one of only a handful of Jewish houses of worship in the nation to carry this designation.

Sharon Mars

Rabbi, Temple Israel, Columbus, OH

Bio: Rabbi Sharon Mars is Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio, and is the first female head rabbi in the synagogue’s 170 year history. She received her rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1998, and has called Los Angeles, New York City, Jerusalem, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Columbus home. Rabbi Mars has served as a rabbi on college campuses, in hospice, prisons, summer camps, elder care facilities, and mental health venues as well as synagogues. Her commitment to community-building and social justice was sparked by her parents (a public defender for minors and a public school teacher). Rabbi Mars’ passion is helping others find their authentic moral and spiritual voices so that they can grow awareness, action, and advocacy, and continue to complete the work of creation in a fragmented world.  She loves college basketball and her family.

David Saperstein

Director Emeritus, RAC

Bio: Rabbi David Saperstein served as the Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for 40 years. He was selected by Newsweek magazine in 2009 as the most influential rabbi in the country and described in a Washington Post profile as the "quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill.” He is the Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom under President Barack Obama and currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy to the Union for Reform Judaism and as Director Emeritus of the RAC.

Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell

Temple Concord, Binghamton, NY

Bio: Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell is in her ninth year serving Temple Concord in Binghamton, New York, having served other congregations in PA, VA, CA and worked for Jewish Federations and JCCs in Jewish family education, Jewish education, Holocaust education/awareness, and community relations. She is a current Brickner Fellow with the RAC, involved with the Community of Practice on Constructive Conflict, and the chair of the Children of Abraham of the Southern Tier Planning Group, has served on the Board of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College and works locally to build coalitions and foster understanding and joint endeavors.

Rabbi Chuck Briskin

Temple Beth El, San Pedro, CA

Bio: Rabbi Chuck Briskin has served Temple Beth El of San Pedro since 2005. In this capacity he has worked to make issues of social justice a larger focal point of the congregation. He currently serves as a rabbinic representative to the Joint Commission on Social Action, and in this capacity was part of the group from the CCAR who helped craft the landmark 2015 URJ resolution on Transgender Rights and Protections. He is also active with Reform CA and over the years he has brought dozens of teens to participate in the L'taken Social Justice Seminars.

Deborah Lopez

Temple Adat Elohim

Bio: Political experience: CA State Senate candidate staffer, campaign manager for school district parcel tax, delegate to the CA Democratic Party, founding member of Vaccinate California. Activism: Manager of winter homeless shelter for 13 years, president of parent clubs at elementary, middle and high school levels, Commission on Social Action member, other various board positions. Additional employment with JD Power and Associates and Reuters America. Education: Bachelor of arts in mathematics and economics from Northwestern University. Fun facts: Married, three kids, fluent in Spanish, avid hiker and geocacher, German soccer fan, can recite pi to 50 digits.

Isabel P. (Liz) Dunst

Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

Bio: Isabel (“Liz”) Dunst is the Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Liz serves on the Union for Reform Judaism’s Board of Trustees, having also served as a Vice-Chair and a member of its Oversight Committee. A long-term member of Temple Sinai, DC, Liz is currently an officer of the congregation and has served as its President. She is also a member of Temple Beth Abraham in Hagerstown, MD and of Yozma in Modiin, Israel. Liz has long been involved in the establishment and support of social justice organizations, including the National Partnership for Women and Families, and currently serves on the Board of Bend the Arc and on the Advisory Council of JOIN for Justice, and Tzedek, DC. Liz spent her professional career as a lawyer, in the government and as a partner at HoganLovells where she practices in the health care area. She is currently Of Counsel to HoganLovells.

Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe

Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church, VA

Bio: Rabbi Saxe was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, he joined the clergy team at Temple Rodef Shalom in 2007. Rabbi Saxe works closely with the Social Action and Youth Committees of the Temple. An important part of his social justice work is centered on building interfaith relationships with other congregations and acting with them on local issues. He is active in the Greater Washington Muslim Jewish Forum and has served on the Strategy Team for VOICE, an interfaith social justice group in Northern Virginia.

Rabbi Jessica Kirschner

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bio: Rabbi Jessica Oleon Kirschner is the California Director of Congregations and Leadership for the RAC. She supports synagogues in their organizing, justice, and leadership development work, and co-leads the state-wide legislative work of Reform CA. Jessica was ordained as a rabbi in 2007 from HUC-JIR and was Associate Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Washington DC for seven years, where she led the congregation’s efforts in community organizing. She has served on the boards of both Jews United for Justice and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Rabbi Joel Simonds

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bio: Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds is the West Coast Legislative Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Rabbis Simonds also serves as Rabbi of the Synagogue for the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, CA. For the past six years he has served as the Associate Rabbi at University Synagogue in Los Angeles. Rabbi Simonds is a member of the Commission on Social Action; the Central Conference of American Rabbis Justice, Peace and Civil Liberties Committee; and a national board member of Repair the World. He is a founding member of the Israel Policy Forum’s Rabbinic Network and a founding member and leader of Reform California. He is married to attorney Ariella Thal Simonds, and they are the proud parents of daughter Noa and son Zev.

Rabbi Larry Bach

Judea Reform Congregation, Durham, NC

Bio: Larry Bach serves as the Rabbi of Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, North Carolina. In addition to facilitating the pastoral and liturgical life of his community, he pursues social justice through Durham CAN, a congregation-based community organization, and explores spirituality through Chasidic text, meditation, and embodied practice as an alumnus of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's Rabbinical Leadership Program. He has found that outwardly-directed social justice work and the inwardly-directed spiritual practice complement and support each other, and he is interested in exploring the intersection of the two. Larry is married to Alanna; they are the parents of three children.

Lee Winkelman

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Bio: Lee has been the California Organizing Director for the RAC for two years. He grew up in the Reform movement in Pontiac, MI. He worked as a community organizer with low income communities in Boston, MA and as a funder of community organizing. Lee has led social justice organizing efforts in two congregations as a lay leader, and he has provided coaching to many progressive Jewish organizations. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Wendey and his thirteen-year-old son Henry.

Mona Alfi

Cong. B'nai Israel

Bio: Rabbi Mona Alfi is the spiritual leader for Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento. Concurrent to her time at B’nai Israel she has served as the Chaplain for the California State Assembly and the California State Senate. She is on the Commission on Social Action as a representative of the CCAR and is on the leadership team for Reform California. Rabbi Alfi received recognition for her work on behalf of Marriage Equality from the Sacramento Stonewall Democratic Club with their “4 Freedoms: Freedom of Worship Award” and for her work in social justice she received T’ruah’s “Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award.”

Andrea Goldstein

Congregation Shaare Emeth

Bio: Rabbi Andrea Goldstein was ordained from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 1998. She has served the members of Congregation Shaare Emeth, the largest Reform synagogue in St. Louis, for the past 19 years. Rabbi Goldstein currently serves on the boards of the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council, the Jewish Fund for Human Needs, Missouri Jobs with Justice, Nishma, and is on the leadership team of Rabbis Organizing Rabbis. She has made the call for justice, peace, and equality a focal point of her rabbinate. Rabbi Goldstein is married to Brett Goldstein and is the mother of Macey, Eli, and Lila.

Corey Jacobson

Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33)

Bio: Corey Jacobson is the Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), focusing on national security, cybersecurity and privacy issues. In addition to leading the legislative team, he manages the Congressman’s work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Corey previously served as the foreign affairs advisor to Congressman Henry Waxman (CA-33) and led the Congressional Jewish Members Delegation. Prior to his time on Capitol Hill, he helped launch a national security-focused political group and a bipartisan strategic communications firm. He holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University.

David Leopold

David Wolfe Leopold & Associates Co., LPA.

Bio: Immigration Attorney David Leopold is the founder and principal of David Wolfe Leopold & Associates. His diverse immigration, visa and citizenship practice focuses on complex removal cases, including trials, appeals, and federal court litigation. Mr. Leopold is the past president and past general counsel of the Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the premier bar association of immigration lawyers and professors in the U.S. He has served as AILA’s liaison to the Department of Homeland Security’s key enforcement bureaus and co-founded the American Immigration Council’s Litigation Institute, a hands-on continuing legal education program focused on federal immigration litigation.

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