Faculty and Staff

Rabbi Avi Weiss, Founder

Rabbi Avi Weiss, Founder, is the Senior Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a Modern and Open Orthodox congregation of 850 families and is the founder and President of Yeshivah Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.  In 2007, Rabbi Weiss was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America, describing him as “Orthodox’s leading activist and leader of the Modern Orthodox community.”  Rabbi Weiss has authored numerous books, articles and editorials published in journals and newspapers around the world.

Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Dean

Rabba Sara HurwitzDean of Yeshivat Maharat, is part of the rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Following graduation from Barnard College, Columbia University, she entered and subsequently graduated from Drisha’s three-year Scholars Circle Program. After another five years of study under the auspices of Rabbi Avi Weiss, she was ordained by Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber.  Rabba Hurwitz helped create JOFA’s Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project and has lectured at many venues including JOFA, Drisha, the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, JCCs, Lights in Action, CAJE, CLAL, and various synagogues. She was named as one of the Jewish Weeks “36 Under 36,” a “top pick” in the Forward50 most influential Jewish leaders, Newsweeks 50 most influential rabbis, and is a Bikkurim fellow.

Sara can be contacted at: sara@yeshivatmaharat.org

Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox, Rosh Yeshiva

Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maharat, was the first graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.  Upon graduation he served as the Rabbi of Kehilat Kesher: The Community Synagogue of Tenafly and Englewood for seven years.  In Rabbi Fox’s tenure at Kesher, the community grew three-fold from thirty families to nearly one hundred.  During that time Rabbi Fox also taught at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as well as the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Bergen County.  He also served on the board of the Synagogue Leadership Initiative of the UJA of NNJ.  Rabbi Fox is also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.  He has also been a member of the faculty of the Drisha Institute, the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Westchester County as well as Yeshivat Hadar.

Rabbi Fox can be contacted at: rebjeff@yeshivatmaharat.org

For audio shiurim, check his blog Through the Lens of Torah and Halakhah

Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, Director of Recruitment

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg is a PhD candidate at New York University and an alumnus of the Wexner Fellow and Davidson Scholarship graduate program.  Sharon has served as the co-director and Orthodox advisor of the Orthodox Union Seif Jewish Learning on Campus Initiative at Harvard Hillel and as a chaplain at Harvard University. During the summers of 2007 and 2008, Sharon was the Rosh Moshava (Head of Camp) at Camp Stone in Pennsylvania. She spent the 2008-2009 academic year studying Talmud and halakha at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She received her Masters in Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University and received a B.A. in Sociology and Jewish History from Yeshiva University.

Sharon can be contacted at sharon@yeshivatmaharat.org

Dr. Esther Altmann, Director of Pastoral Education

Dr. Esther Altmann, Director of Pastoral Counseling at Yeshivat Maharat, is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in psychotherapy with adolescents, young adults and couples. Formerly on the teaching faculty of new York University, Adelphi University and YCT Rabbinical School, she has also been a supervising psychologist at several New York City hospitals. She has served as an eating disorders consultant at several Jewish Institutions and helped develop the treatment program at the Renfrew Center for Orthodox patients. Dr. Altmann writes and lectures in schools and communities on mental health topics.

Dr. Altmann can be contacted at esther@yeshivatmaharat.org

Erin Leib Smokler, Director of Spiritual Development and Internship Coordinator

Erin Leib Smokler teaches in the integrated Pastoral training program at Yeshivat Maharat. She is a Claims Conference Advanced Shoah Studies Fellow at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and an instructor of Jewish Philosophy at the Drisha Institute. Erin holds an MA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Harvard University. Her writing regularly appears in JOFA’s Shema Bekolah, and has also been featured in The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, The Jerusalem Report, and The New York Jewish Week. 

Erin can be contacted at erinleib@yeshivatmaharat.org

Yael Keller, Director of Operations

Yael Keller, Director of Operations, earned a Masters in Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and a Masters in Jewish Professional Leadership at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University.  Upon graduation, she was the Director of Programming at Uri L’Tzedek, the Orthodox Social Justice movement.  In graduate school she was an intern at the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel, where she worked on the grant writing team, advocating for Jews at risk throughout the world and a site educator at Impact Boston, where she facilitated a teen experience focused on social action, community service and advocacy. Before graduate school, Yael spent three years in Washington, DC, working at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and Hillel’s Schusterman International Center.  She also spent a semester in Israel studying at the Pardes Institute of Judaic Studies before attending the Hornstein Program. Yael earned her B.A. in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.  She was active in her campus Hillel, serving as a student leader and board member.

Yael can be reached at yaelkeller@yeshivatmaharat.org

Avital Engelberg, Talmud

AvitalAvital Engelberg was a fellow of the Halakha program at Midreshet Lindenbaum. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Talmud at Bar Ilan University, and Holds a B.A. in Theatre from Tel Aviv University as well as a diploma in Group Facilitation. Avital has taught and facilitated groups at various Jewish educational institutions in Israel, including the Hartman Girls High school, Beit Midrash Alma, Midreshet Ein Prat, and Israel’s Bronfman Youth Fellowship Program.