Jewish Community Unbound:

How creative, enthusiastic and determined young Jews are re-shaping the Jewish community, here and worldwide, and what the paradigm shift in Jewish community building, development, and organization means for the Jewish future.

With this event, The Jewish Forum presents an opportunity to meet a representative group of these visionaries and dynamic leaders.

When: Sunday, March 7, 2010, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm

Where: Congregation Beth Ahm
5075 West Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, MI 48322

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, MECHON HADAR
Rabbi Ethan Tucker,
Joshua Lichtman,
Cheryl Cook,
Jon Koller and Leor Barak,
Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue

Admission and Reservations:
$10 per person; $5 for students.
Payment may be made at the door, but please reserve in advance,
by e-mail to,
or by calling 248-354-6415, x2.

10:00 - 10:30 am Check-in, coffee
10:30 - 11:25 am Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Elie Kaunfer on Mechon Hadar and Empowered Judaism
11:25 - 11:35 am Short break
11:35 - 12:30 pm Panel, including presentations by Joshua Lichtman, Cheryl Cook, Jon Koller & Leor Barak, and audience Q&A.


Mechon Hadar is an institute that empowers young Jews who build vibrant Jewish communities through two initiatives: Yeshivat Hadar, the first full-time egalitarian yeshiva in North America, and The Minyan Project, resource, networking and consulting for more than 50 independent minyanim nationwide.

The founders of Mechon Hadar have spent years teaching and building Jewish community, and have served as founders and leaders of Kehilat Hadar, an independent, egalitarian community committed to spirited traditional prayer, study and social action.

Representatives: Rabbis Elie Kaunfer and Ethan Tucker
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is co-founder, rosh yeshiva and executive director of Mechon Hadar and on the Talmud faculty at Yeshivat Hadar. A graduate of Harvard College, he was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also completed an MA and is pursuing a doctorate in liturgy. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Elie is a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and in 2009 Newsweek named him one of the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow.  Rabbi Kaunfer will discuss his new book, in which he addresses the phenomenon that is a theme of this event: Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights, 2010).
Rabbi Ethan Tucker
is co-founder and rosh yeshiva at Mechon Hadar and chair in Jewish Law. Ethan was a faculty member at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, where he taught Talmud and Halakhah in the Scholars Circle. Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he was a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and a winner of the first Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship.

AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps (National)

AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps engages young people in direct work on the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. Participants in our service Corps program live out and deepen their commitments to social change and Jewish life through a year of full-time work at anti-poverty organizations in Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC.  This work partners Corps members with service providers and residents in low income communities and equips our Corps members and alumni to emerge as lifelong agents for social change, whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values. After participants complete this intensive one-year program, AVODAH's partnership with American Jewish World Service provides a broad platform for long-term leadership in social change and Jewish life.

Representative: Joshua Lichtman
Josh Lichtman grew up in the Detroit area where he was active in BBYO. He is now the New Orleans Program Director of AVODAH. Josh has worked for a number of Jewish organizations including Hillel at Florida State University and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. He studied law at New York University School of Law but got more pleasure from studying farming at ADAMAH: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship.

ADAMAH: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship (National)

ADAMAH: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship is a three month leadership training program for Jewish young adults — ages 20–29 —that integrates organic farming, sustainable living, Jewish learning, teaching, and contemplative spiritual practice. Fellows spend much of their time learning and practicing sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry on the four-acre ADAMAH farm and in small gardens throughout the retreat center. Fellows also participate in leadership training, community living, ecological and Jewish seminars with visiting faculty, and more.

Representative: Joshua Lichtman (see above)

HAZON (National)

Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.

We affect change in three ways: through the direct human impact of our programs; by supporting the American Jewish environmental movement and the Israeli environmental movement; through thought-leadership (writing, speaking, teaching, campaigning).

The following values underpin our programs:

bulletA strong commitment to inclusive community;
bulletA strong commitment to volunteer involvement and leadership development;
bulletBeing Jewishly serious and deeply engaged with the world around us;
bulletwe believe in reaching people where they are and not where we might like them to be.

In the medium-term, our goal is to transform Jewish life over the next six years, so that by September 2015 – at the end of the next shmita (sabbatical) year in the Jewish tradition,  - we are clearly and demonstrably weaving commitments to sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life in this country and around the world.

Hazon's Annual Food Conference: "Where contemporary food conversations meet ancient Jewish traditions." Hazon produces an annual meeting of farmers, culinary experts, global citizens, business, community and Jewish leaders to focus on contemporary food issues and exchange ideas on improving health and sustainability in communities throughout the world. The 2009 conference took place in December, with over 600 participants.

Representative: Cheryl Cook
Cheryl Cook is the Chief Operating Officer at Hazon. She joined Hazon in 2006 after being actively involved as a participant since 2002. She has worked in the Jewish community for 18 years, including JESNA, New Israel Fund, Makor, Hillel and the 92nd Street Y. She originally hails from Detroit, and credits the amazing influences of Camp Tavor, Hillel Day School, Bob Aronson, Alan Yost and her family in giving her an early grounding in Jewish life and passion for creating a vibrant Jewish community. Cheryl earned a M.A. from Jewish Theological Seminary, a M.S. from Columbia University, and a B.A. from University of Wisconsin. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband Devin Cohen and her amazing son, Isaac.


A group of passionate and dedicated young people have set out on a mission: to fulfill the synagogue's long standing objective of providing an accessible and open space of worship and celebration, while also rediscovering Jewish life in the city of Detroit, re-shaping and re-energizing the face of Judaism in the city, and reconnecting with the surrounding population by paying attention to local needs through social action programming.

IADS offers Shabbat morning services, followed by lunch, as well as holiday celebrations, observances, concerts, talks, movies, and more.

Representatives: Jon Koller and Leor Barak
Jon Koller is a community organizer and developer in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. Since moving to the city in early 2009, he has been active in the last remaining Jewish house of worship in Detroit, the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. A product of the Lansing suburbs and Habonim Dror summer camps, Jon attended the University of Michigan where he studied civil engineering. His current projects focus on the US Social Forum, the intersection of transportation and built space and the reintegration of the metro Jewish community with the city of Detroit.

Leor Barak is the Board Secretary of IADS. He has over four years of legal, public interest and community experience, most of which has involved communities in the City of Detroit. After some experience working in the corporate legal environment and in private practice, Leor litigated as a practicing student attorney and served as a Board Member at the Free Legal Aid Clinic, Inc., which provides legal services to low income individuals. In addition, Leor has experience with the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office as well as the Wayne County Corporation Counsel. Leor began as the Community Legal Resources Pro Bono Program Manager in March of 2007. He received a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2002 and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School in 2006. Leor is also currently working towards a Masters in Business Administration from Kettering University.




Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2013 The Jewish Forum Inc.
Last modified: 03/01/13