Weaving together the strands of Judaism.

AJR Administration & Staff


Dr. Ora Horn Prouser
, CEO and Academic Dean
PhD, BA, Bible, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; BA, Columbia University. Undergraduate and graduate  studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Author of Esau’s Blessing: How The Bible Embraces Those With Special Needs and many articles about making the Bible speak to central existential concerns, specifically regarding ethical dilemmas and individual growth. Dr. Horn Prouser served as adjunct faculty at The Jewish Theological Seminary for twenty years and has consulted on the development of Bible curriculum through the Matok Torah Curriculum Development Project and the Day School Hebrew Bible Curriculum Project creating Standards and Benchmarks for the Teaching of TaNaKH in Jewish Day Schools. She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards and has taught and spoken widely in formal and informal educational settings, synagogues, adult education programs and camps. Professor, Full-Time

Kasper

Cantor Michael Kasper, Dean of Cantorial Studies and Director of Student Life and Placement
Hazzan, Academy for Jewish Religion; M.A. in Jewish Studies, Gratz College; B.S. in Dance Education, George Washington University; M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work, NYU; Psychoanalytic Certification from the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training. Private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Until recently, Hazzan at Congregation Sons of Israel, Nyack, NY. Michael taught in Hunter College’s Post Master’s Program in Clinical Social Work for ten years. Past winner of a National Society of Arts and Letters Choreographer’s Competition. Director and choreographer of the Michael Kasper Dance Company for more than ten years. Author of the paper, “The Language of Love” which is published in the book, Controversies On Countertransference. At AJR, Hazzan Kasper is responsible for the Academy’s recruitment efforts and coordinating the Cantorial Studies Program. Senior Lecturer, Full-Time

Rabbi Matthew Goldstone, Assistant Academic Dean
PhD, New York University; MA, The Jewish Theological Seminary; BA, Brandeis University. Talmudic studies at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah. Private rabbinic ordination from several well-known rabbis in Israel. Author of The Dangerous Duty of Rebuke: Leviticus 19:17 in Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation, co-author of Binding Fragments of Tractate Temurah and the Problem of Lishana Aḥarina, and author of articles on rabbinic literature as well as articles on the Gospels in light of early Jewish literature. He has served as adjunct faculty at The Jewish Theological Seminary, The University of Pennsylvania, and Hunter College. He has been the recipient of a number of fellowships and has received several awards for his scholarship and teaching. At AJR he serves as a full-time member of the faculty, teaching courses in Talmud and Jewish law, as well as the Assistant Academic Dean. Professor, Full-Time

HammerRabbi Jill Hammer, Director of Spiritual Education
Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and holds a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut. She received a BA at Brandeis University. At AJR, she teaches midrash, mysticism, and contemporary spirituality, creates community ritual and opportunities for spiritual reflection, and is creating the school’s spiritual direction program. Rabbi Hammer is the author of three books: Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (2001), The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Season (2006), the Omer Calendar of Biblical Women (2012) and The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (2015). Rabbi Hammer is the co-founder of the Kohenet Institute, a program in Jewish women’s spiritual leadership. Her academic work, essays, midrashim and poems have been published in many journals and newspapers. Professor, Full-Time

Cantor Lisa Klinger-Kantor, Dean of Admissions
Hazzan, Academy for Jewish Religion; MA, Performance of Voice, New York University, Phi Beta Kappa; Voice, BA, Mannes College of Music. Cantor Lisa Klinger-Kantor served as cantor at Temple Shaarei Shalom in Bellmore, New York, for fourteen years. She teaches nusah at AJR and has an extensive voice practice, teaching the art of singing and davenning to cantors and rabbis. In 2001, Lisa received the P’nei Torah award from AJR in recognition of her devotion in her teaching. Lisa has sung as a soloist at Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Hall and in numerous synagogues in the tri-state area. Prior to becoming a cantor, Lisa performed opera, lieder, and oratorio in prominent concert halls throughout the United States and as a soloist at the Tanglewood Music Festival. She has been a cantor at Temple Emanu-El of Long Beach for eight years. Senior Lecturer, Full-Time

Rabbi Rob Scheinberg, Interim Rabbi-in-Residence
PhD in Liturgy, MA in Jewish Studies, and Rabbi, Jewish Theological Seminary; Rabbi Scheinberg has served as rabbi at the United Synagogue of Hoboken, New Jersey since 1997. His dissertation research focuses on Seligmann Baer’s Seder Avodat Yisrael; he served on the Editorial Board of Mahzor Lev Shalem and the Editorial Advisory Committee of Siddur Lev Shalem. He has published numerous articles and columns in the New Jersey Jewish State, New Jersey Jewish Standard, and New Jersey Jewish News, and he is the recipient of several prizes from the Jewish Theological Seminary. At AJR he currently serves as Interim Rabbi-in-Residence and frequently teaches courses in Jewish liturgy.

Dr. C. Tova Markenson, Assistant Professor
PhD, Theatre and Drama, Northwestern University; B.A., Literature, Carleton College. Dr. Tova Markenson is an Assistant Professor at the Academy for Jewish Religion where she teaches courses on sacred arts and modern Jewish history. Her contributions to Jewish studies and theatre studies have been recognized by research institutions such as the Association for Jewish Studies, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Latin American Jewish Studies Association, the American Academy for Jewish Research, and the American Society for Theatre Research. Her writing on feminist approaches to Jewish theatre history appears in the peer-reviewed publications Modern Drama (2020) and Women on the Yiddish Stage (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Present to Past Shame: A Cultural History of Buenos Aires Yiddish Theatre (1880-1940). Dr. Markenson is also a devoted mindfulness practitioner and teaches Jewish mindfulness meditation nationally.

Suli A. Fassler, Senior Director of Administration
B.A., Purchase College, State University of New York; NATA Institute (National Association of Temple Administrators); New York Restaurant School, Culinary Arts and Hotel/Restaurant Management. Suli’s professional experience is in Jewish communal service and private industry with a focus in administration and operations management. For the past 4½ years, Suli worked as the executive director of a synagogue in Westchester, New York. Having previously been part of the AJR administration, Suli returns as our Senior Director of Administration and will oversee office administration and operations. Suli is delighted to join our team, and looks forward to having an integral role in the Academy’s administration, continued growth, and service to our students and AJR community.

Rabbi David Cavill, Director of Financial Aid and Operations
M.Div. David has a professional background in non-profit finance, operations, management, and fundraising. Prior to joining the AJR staff he was the Controller of the NYC Audubon Society. Cavill was ordained as a rabbi at AJR in 2017. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s undergraduate joint program with Columbia University, and attended Yale Divinity School where he earned the degree of Master of Divinity. He is the Treasurer at the Forest Hills Jewish Center where he is a member and teaches in the religious school at the Reform Temple of Forest Hills. In 2014 Cavill completed a certificate in mixology from the Columbia School of Bartending.

Linda Ripps, Registrar and Bursar
BA, Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin; MLS, Rutgers University; MA, Hebrew Culture and Education, New York University.  Linda comes to the Academy for Jewish Religion with many years of experience in both non-profit administration and Jewish education. Prior to joining AJR, Linda designed and implemented programmatic initiatives and systems at several communal institutions, including The American Friends of the Ghetto Fighters Museum, United Synagogue Youth (USY), Behrman House Publishing, and PJ Library.

James Wham, Media Coordinator
M.A. in Film and Media Studies, Columbia University; B.A. Hons. in Film and Screen Studies, Monash University; B.A. in both English Literature and Film, Television, and Media Studies, The University of Auckland. James traveled to New York from his home country of New Zealand in order to pursue his passion for cinema. James joins AJR with a dedication to new media and its pedagogical applications, as well as a genuine love for higher learning.

Shemtov

Ellie Shemtov, Librarian
Rabbi, Academy for Jewish Religion; AMLS in Library Science, BA in music, The University of Michigan.  Currently, rabbi at Congregation Kol Am in Freehold, NJ.  Rabbi Shemtov is the founder of Beit Yosef, a faith-based recovery community, blending Jewish values and spirituality to help those who are battling the disease of addiction.  An early Jewish presence on the Internet, Ellie created and designed the website, Ellie’s Torah Trope Tutor.  A tool for teaching others how to chant Torah, Haftorah, and the Megillot, Ellie’s web page has been a presence on the Internet since 1996.  While there are many other web sites that teach the art of cantillation, Ellie’s Torah Trope Tutor was the first of its kind.   Before moving to New York to attend AJR, Rabbi Shemtov worked for many years as a film librarian/archivist at a variety of institutions in the Washington, DC area, including the University of Maryland at College Park and the National Archives and Records Administration.  Her most recent position before moving to New York was as Head of Film Cataloging at the Library of Congress.

Ansel Lurio, Administrative Assistant
M.A., History Museum Studies, SUNY Oneonta; B.A., American Studies, Columbia University. Ansel Lurio has a background in administration and programming at museums and other non-profits. Prior to coming to AJR, Ansel was Program Coordinator at Pace University’s Global Asia Institute. Active in the disability community, he has worked and consulted on accessibility for a number of cultural organizations and is currently ADA Chair at Westchester Disabled on the Move. He is also a talented copy editor, focusing on academic titles in the humanities. Ansel is a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, where he oversees their library.