old student

Pam Allyn is a first-year rabbinical student at AJR. She is Executive Director of LitLife, a literacy development organization devoted to cultivating the reading and writing lives of children. LitLife supports teacher leadership, teacher education, and parent workshops. Pam is well known in this field as a motivational speaker and teacher of teachers.

She is also the Founding Director of Books for Boys, a program created at the oldest and largest institution of its kind in the country. Books for Boys aims to provide all the boys who live there with beautiful books and plenty of opportunities to read and develop their own reading lives.

Pam lives with her husband and two daughters in Hastings on Hudson, New York.

Rabbinical Student Tamar Earnest, M.D., made her first religious ‘pilgrimage’ in 1947,
when as a 7-year-old child she moved with her parents to Palestine from her native San Francisco. She and her
parents remained to witness the birth of the State of Israel before returning to the United States in 1949. Before
enrolling in The Academy, Tamar pursued a distinguished career as a general and vascular surgeon and then as a
trauma surgeon in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Even then, Tamar was a pioneer. She founded the Northwest
Ambulance Corps in Philadelphia in 1964 and the Medical Women of Lehigh Valley in 1978.

In 1996, after a two-year ‘spiritual journey,’ Tamar realized that she wanted to embark on a full-time course in Jewish Studies. Tamar chose AJR because the philosophy of the school is closest to her own multi-dimensional approach to Judaism. Indeed, she is a member of three different synagogues (Reconstructionist, Orthodox and Conservative) in Allentown. ‘For me,’ says Tamar, ‘The Academy is not only a place of learning sacred texts and the practical aspects of becoming a rabbi, it is also a loving community that has supported me and nourished my soul.’

The slogan for the Bears for Bergenfield project is ‘I care, I’m there!’ It has always been rabbinical student Claire Ginsburg Goldstein’s personal slogan, too. Early in 2003, Claire initiated Pins for Peace and Bears from Bergenfield, a campaign to care for victims of terror in Israel.

Bears from Bergenfield started as a family project, explains Claire. Sharon Evans, the founder of Adopt a Family in Israel, runs an organization to care for Israeli families who have become victims of terror. These families receive financial and emotional support by caring families and synagogues around the world.

Claire had just missed hearing Sharon speak about her daughter Monique’s chance meeting with a terrorist that fateful day on February 1, 2001, at the Ashkelon bus stop. A hijacked bus plowed into the bus stop, killing eight of Monique’s friends, but Monique had the good fortune to move toward her friend’s car just at that moment. Still, she was thrown several meters by the impact, her leg was almost severed, and a third of her face would have to be reconstructed. She was given a one percent chance to survive.

‘When I met Monique at JFK Airport on December 26, 2002,’ says Claire, ‘she was walking with a cane. She had undergone several operations on her leg, probably close to 30. My daughter, Shira, handed over a Build a Bear teddy bear to Monique to brighten up her day.

My son, Sam, had suggested that we recycle our bears at home and purchase new ones for the suffering Israeli families, and Sharon Evans left the airport that day with the first duffel bag full of teddy bears to distribute to the children who were victims of terror.’

‘All I could think of was that I had just handed over about 30 teddy bears; how could I get more to the injured children in Israel? There had to be a way to do this. Almost a year later ‘ and closing in on over 6,500 teddy bears and stuffed animals collected ‘ I have found a way. With the donations, more teddy bears and duffel bags have been purchased. Several b’nai mitzvah children are taking on the Bears from Bergenfield project as their mitzvah projects. Many youngsters are using the teddy bears as centerpieces for their luncheon tables and then contributing the bears as a donation to our cause. We found a manufacturer who has sold us several hundred bears below cost. These plush, cuddly bears are 11″, honey or white colored, with a bow tied around their neck. What keeps us going are the thank-you notes and the pictures that are sent back to show the children’s appreciation.’

Singing has always been at the center of Dorothy Goldberg’s life. After starting out with lessons in clarinet and bassoon, she began singing lessons at the age of 11 to expand her experience in choral and music theater productions. Growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey, Dorothy spent most of her free time singing, including attending the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division.

As an adult, however, she chose an academic path, earning a degree in History and French Literature at Bryn Mawr College and an M.A. in Journalism and Public Affairs from The American University, where she cut her teeth on the stimulating world of journalism in Washington, DC.

A summer romance led her to England, where she met and married her British husband, David Ross Russell. During six years in England, she served as the public relations officer for the Jewish Welfare Board in London and wrote freelance articles for Britain’s Jewish Chronicle. She also took a year off (while pregnant with her first child, Rebecca) to earn a postgraduate degree in Performance and Communications Skills (Voice Major) at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Dorothy and her family returned to the U.S. in 1989 and eventually settled in Wallingford, Connecticut, where her second child, Adam, was born. It was here that Dorothy began learning to lead services at a local Reform synagogue and studied to become a bat mitzvah at the age of 38. That experience became an epiphany, and she realized that being a cantor was where all of her life’s paths seem to lead. She acquired biblical Hebrew skills at the Yale Divinity School and began studying at the Academy for Jewish Religion in the fall of 2000. Today, Dorothy is the Student Cantor at Temple Beth Tikvah, Reform congregation in Madison, Connecticut, and also sings with a professional swing trio, ‘Moxie’ (pictured above), in concerts around New England. She looks forward to her projected ordination date of 2005.

Yaron Matlow is a retired Naval Officer. He grew up in San Jose, California, and joined the Navy in 1979. In 1982 he was commissioned as an officer. During his Naval career, he made six deployments on various types of ships and saw a very large part of this world. While on a shore tour in Norfolk, Virginia, Yaron saw that there was something missing in his life ‘ a spiritual component. He started exploring Judaism, and came to be a member of a small Conservative congregation in Virginia Beach, VA. One of the notable things about this congregation, besides it ‘heimische’ feel, was how dedicated their teenagers were to Judaism. Yaron realized that he missed a Jewish connection in the first 35 years of his life. He needed to be engaged and part of the Jewish community.

After retiring from the Navy, Yaron started in the Master of Arts in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies programs at Gratz College in Philadelphia. As part of the program, he spent two summers studying in Israel, and after the second summer, Yaron realized that the proper place to learn was Rabbinical School. Yaron started at AJR in the fall of 2003, where he is taking classes and is also pursuing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education.

Yaron is married to the former Susan Campbell of Makakilo, Hawaii. They have two grown children. Susan, also a Jewish community professional, works at the Early Childhood Program at their synagogue in Philadelphia.

Daniel Price spent several years living in Israel in the 1970s, attending high school and
university there. After graduating from college in the U.S., where he majored in music and
communications, he became a television producer/ director. He was blessed to have a
wonderful 20-year television career that included such jobs as Supervising Producer for SNS/Major
League Baseball Productions and directing ‘Biography’ on A&E.

At the beginning of the year 2000 he decided it was time to fulfill an ambition that had been growing within him for some time. He started studying for the Rabbinate. For the past three years Danny has been the Student Rabbi at Temple Shalom, a 500+ family Reform synagogue in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Rabbinical student Greg Schindler is at a loss to describe the twists and turns in life that led him to the Academy for Jewish Religion: ‘Three years ago, I would never have suspected that rabbinical school was in my path.’ A graduate of Harvard Law School, Greg was working as an attorney at a major New York law firm over a decade ago and was ‘somewhat disconnected from Judaism’ when he purchased a siddur and chumash and struggled to reconnect to Judaism as an adult. He continued to learn and became more involved in synagogue life in his home in Westport, Connecticut, where he is active in a ‘traditional’ synagogue that is unaffiliated with any movement. He has written and produced several humorous plays about the Jewish holidays as a means to make Judaism more accessible, including Star (of David) Wars, Jonah-gan’s Island, and Moshe Powers.

At AJR he has found a place to learn with kindred souls in a supportive, spiritual environment. ‘The Academy is helping me gain access to the treasure house of wisdom that our people have accumulated over thousands of years.’ Today, Greg combines his studies with raising a family and three days a week of legal work. He says:

It’s a struggle sometimes, but I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity. Judaism teaches that we must listen to that small, silent voice that impels us to do more than we ever imagined ourselves capable. I often think about the famous story about Reb Zusya, who told his students, ‘When I stand before the Throne of Justice, the Holy One will not ask me, ‘Zusya, why were you not Moses, or Abraham?’ He will ask me, ‘Zusya, why were you not Zusya?”

Rabbinical student Ted Tsuruoka: ‘I didn’t actually convert until I was 22, but in my heart I was a Jew at 18.’ Ted is an Asian American whose grandparents were interned during World War II. He was raised as a Methodist on the Upper West Side of Manhattan but while growing up saw Judaism practiced as a way of life in the homes of many of his close friends. Although his parents were at first opposed to his decision to convert, thinking it was a passing adventure, Ted’s mother said that ‘as long as God is at the center of it all, it’s OK.’

Before coming to AJR, Ted’s career path included working as a program officer for a not-for-profit organization and guiding the family business. The Tsuruokas became meaningfully involved in synagogue life. Eventually, Ted became president of Temple Emanu-El of Lynbrook, Long Island. Shortly after his presidency, Ted decided to pursue rabbinical studies full-time at AJR. ‘AJR is in an ideal position to train rabbis and cantors for the next generation, because it is concerned with Judaism within the broad framework of Klal Yisrael and can therefore concentrate on making Judaism accessible and meaningful to all who seek it to help guide their lives.’

Anthony P. Yeni is a business leader, a community activist, a political advisor to state and local candidates, and has excelled in Jewish community leadership by his various board appointments.

Born in 1955 on Long Island, New York, Anthony attended the New York Military Academy and then Boston University where he received his undergraduate degree in accounting and finance. After college, he married Hallie Freedman and relocated to Philadelphia. He began his career as an accountant in 1979 with one of the nation’s largest firms’Laventhol & Horwath. As a partner in the firm, he was responsible for marketing and for the firm’s development of its practice with Israel. In 1992, he embarked upon a new business venture of raising equity for Israeli growth companies.

Anthony Yeni’s experiences in business, and as a community leader in Philadelphia, led to his participation in the Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellowship program. This three-year educational program of extensive leadership and Jewish scholarship prompted him to continue his formal Jewish studies.

In the fall of 1999, he began his studies at Gratz College and applied to rabbinical school. Shortly after this, he discovered that he was in need of a liver transplant. On February 8, 2000, he received one. Anthony has focused his graduate school coursework on Jewish medical ethics, specifically related to organ donor awareness education. Simultaneously, as a member of the Gift of Life Clergy Committee, he worked with the Gift of Life organization, participating in two national events: the Transplant Olympics in Florida in June 2000 and National Donor Sabbath ‘ a weekend for clergy of all faiths to raise awareness in their congregations about the need for organ donors.

Anthony was selected as a member of The Five Points of Life Ride ‘ Team 2002, a cross-country cycling event to raise awareness of the need for lifesaving donors. During this seven-week journey, he educated individuals and groups about the need to donate whole blood, cord blood, and aphaeresis. The team also informed and encouraged the public to become registered organ and tissue donors to help save lives. In addition to gaining attention for the cause, literally ‘on the road’ for 2,875 miles, Mr. Yeni shared the message of this mission at synagogues, marrow donor/blood drives, press conferences, and even sporting events ‘ from intimate small group gatherings to a stadium of over 85,000 attendees.

After having completed two units in Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Anthony Yeni has earned the title of Adjunct Clergy. He now serves as a member of the staff of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in the capacity of Jewish Chaplain, counseling pre- and post-transplant patients, as well as other urgent care patients, families and staff members in need of pastoral care.