Who We Are

High Holiday Service Leaders

Rabbi Judith Hauptman, Service Leader, Manhattan
Josh Gorfinkle, Cantorial Soloist, Manhattan
Rabbi Pamela Barmash, Service Leader, Brooklyn
Rabbi Hannah Greenstein, Service Leader, Queens

Pesach Leaders

Rabbi Judith Hauptman, Leader, Prince George Ballroom Passover Seders
Josh Gorfinkle, Cantorial Soloist, Prince George Ballroom Passover Seders
Rabbi Moishe Steigmann, Leader, Brooklyn Seder

Support Staff

Anita Belle, Event Coordinator

Rabbi Judith Hauptman

High Holiday Service Leader

Rabbi Judith HauptmanRabbi Judith Hauptman grew up in Brooklyn, NY, attended a Conservative synagogue, became Orthodox in her teen years at the Yeshivah of Flatbush, but returned to Conservative Judaism in college. She is the first woman ever to receive a PhD in Talmud. Since 1974, she has been teaching Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary and training future rabbis. Today she serves as the E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture. In 2003, she followed in her students’ footsteps and was herself ordained as a rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She currently serves as volunteer rabbi for the Jewish residents of a Catholic nursing home in Lower Manhattan. She lived in Israel for four years. Rabbi Hauptman visited the FSU in 1970 for a week and returned to the FSU in 2010, spending the month of May in Moscow while teaching Talmud at the Russian State University for the Humanities.

Rabbi Judith Hauptman has also been a pioneer in the area of equality of opportunity for women in Jewish life. She was a member of Ezrat Nashim, the group of women that issued in 1972 the first feminist critique of Judaism. Since then she has lectured widely on the subject and written many articles. Her most influential one is entitled, “Women and Prayer: An Attempt to Dispel Some Fallacies,” (JUDAISM, Winter 1993). In it she argues that women have always had an obligation to pray and for that reason can count in the quorum (the minyan) and even lead it in prayer. Her book, Rereading the Rabbis, A Woman’s Voice, has been called one of the founding works of the new Jewish feminism. In this volume she shows that the rabbis of the Talmud, some 1500 years ago, modified many legal institutions, such as marriage, to improve women’s legal and social status. As a result, by the end of the Talmudic period, women were no longer viewed as chattel but as second class citizens(!), a considerable accomplishment. Her other two books trace the evolution of the text of the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Gemara. In March 2014, Rabbi Hauptman taught a Talmud class at the Knesset library in Israel.

Rabbi Hauptman has also written for The Jewish Week and other publications. A recent article talks about the challenges facing the Conservative movement.  To read Rabbi Hauptman’s article on her experiences teaching Talmud in Moscow in 2010 click here.

You can also read her comments on the Bible portion Va’ethanan at http://jewess.canonist.com/?p=503.

Josh Gorfinkle

Cantorial Soloist & Torah Reader (2007 – present)

Josh GorfinkleA graduate of Brown University, the Ramaz Upper School and the Westchester Day School, Josh Gorfinkle has been serving as Ohel Ayalah’s main cantor since 2007. In his spare time, he loves to play and watch tennis. He attends the US Open every year and even made a pilgrimage to Wimbledon several years ago. He loves the results he gets from working out. Occasionally, he spends a day at the racetrack. He has been to Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga and Gulfstream Park. Josh has been leading services frequently, since even before he became a bar mitzvah in 1984. For the past two High Holy Days, he has led services at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. In prior years, he led High Holiday services at Brown University, Queensboro Hill Jewish Center, Westchester Jewish Center, Cong. Anshe Sholom, and the United Hebrew Geriatric Center in New Rochelle. He also is an avid reader, especially of biographies. The next book on his reading agenda is about Nixon and Kissinger. He worked as a library clerk for three years at the Jewish Theological Seminary, essentially serving as the library’s receptionist while working at the circulation and reserve desk. He also worked at the Ramaz Upper School Library for two years.

Rabbi Pamela Barmash

Service Leader, Brooklyn (2016)

Pamela Barmash

Rabbi Pamela Barmash grew up in Queens, went to the Bronx High School of Science, thinking that she would become a scientist, but along the way, she fell in love with Jewish prayer and study. She is dedicated to teaching and spreading the joy she feels in Jewish living and learning. She served as a congregational rabbi in Norwood, Massachusetts, for eight years, and she is a professor of Hebrew Bible at Washington University in St. Louis. She served as director of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies there, and she advises a Muslim-Jewish student dialogue group. She taught at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem for many summers. In her free time, she travels and does nature hikes (and has been to all seven continents), is a fan of classical music and tries to play the cello.

She received her B.A. from Yale, rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard. She is a member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and of the Joint Beit Din of the Conservative Movement, and she is co-chair of the new Disabilities Inclusion Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly. In her rabbinic writing, she wants to inspire more Jews to observe more mitzvot, and she is the author of teshuvot (rabbinic papers) on the eating of veal, the deaf who use sign language, and women and mitzvot. In her academic scholarship, she addresses issues of law and justice in her book Homicide in the Biblical World.  She shows how Jews have transformed the story of the Exodus and the celebration of Passover to meet changing needs and concerns in Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations.

Rabbi Hannah Greenstein

Service Leader, Queens (2016)

Levy Summer seriesRabbi Hannah Greenstein currently serves as the Vice President of Outreach, Israel and Overseas for the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. Prior to re-entering organizational work, Rabbi Hannah served in two congregations, the Jewish Community Project in Tribeca and Congregation Beth Israel in southern Maryland. Rabbi Hannah’s professional work focuses on outreach and out-of-the box Judaism. She has worked at the JCC of Manhattan, the 92nd Street Y, the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and at the Jewish Outreach Institute, an organization which advocates for a big tent approach to Judaism. Rabbi Hannah holds a BA in Jewish Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Education from the William Davidson Graduate School of Education and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
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