Positive Judaism Summit

JOIN US MARCH 14, 2019



“From Survive to Thrive: A New Approach for Jewish living in the 21st Century”

Hosted at Penn Hillel, Philadelphia, PA

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8:45 Arrive, Coffee and Check-in
9:00  Welcome, “From Survive to Thrive”, Rabbi Darren Levine, D.Min
9:30  Keynote Address, “Resilience: The Key To Thriving” Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D, President, RJ
10:15 Open Shmooze and Networking Salon
10:45 Electives in Positive Psychology and Thriving
11:45 Session I Workshops*
1:00 Lunch with (optional) round-table discussions*
1:45 Session II Workshops*
3:00 Research Presentation: “Jewish Wellbeing Study” David Yaden, Center for Positive Psychology, UPenn
4:00 Mindfulness: Presentation and Practice
4:00 University Students and Faculty Gathering
5:45 Cocktail Reception and Israeli buffet
6:30 Farewell

*specific workshop offerings will be announced on February 1st



Welcome, “From Survive to Thrive”, Rabbi Darren Levine, D.Min, Founding Rabbi, Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue, NY

For good reason, the Jewish community has been too singularly focused on the narrative of survival. Yet in the 21st century, for Judaism to be impactful and relevant, we need an expanded vision. Positive Judaism is one approach that naturally shifts the conversation “From Survive to Thrive.”


Keynote Address, “Resilience: The Key To Thriving” Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D, President, Reconstructing Judaism and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

The virtue of resilience is one of the most important qualities that have inspired Jews and Judaism to thrive and overcome challenges large and small, in the lives of individuals, families, and entire communities.


Learning Electives in Positive Psychology and Thriving

Study with graduates of the Masters in Positive Psychology MAPP program at UPenn along with Master Jewish Educators to understand the intersection of the Science of Wellbeing and Jewish living. The offerings will include PERMA, VIA Table of Strengths, Gratitude, Optimism, Resilience, and the Science of Positivity – all essential to thriving in the world today.


Research Presentation: “Jewish Wellbeing Study” David Yaden, Center for Positive Psychology, UPenn

David Bryce Yaden will present the initial findings of the first study of Wellbeing in Jewish Practice. The research was conducted in the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2018 to better understand the Jewish practices that develop wellbeing and how observing different ritual practices may raise wellbeing and happiness.


University Students and Faculty Gathering, 4:00 – 5:45 PM

The University Community from Penn, Drexel, and Temple (students, faculty, and administration) and beyond are invited to attend a special gathering beginning at 4:00 PM to explore what it means to “Thrive on Campus in Today’s Climate.” This program will be led by religious leaders and intellectuals and is FREE and open to the public.



Click to register for the summit online


Tali Kurt-Galai, Organizational Consultant, NYC


Tali specializes in working with individuals and teams to develop leadership capacity and manage organizational change in a variety of industries. She holds an M.S degree in Organizational Change Management from The New School, an M.A degree in Clinical Psychology from Tel-Aviv University and an Executive Coaching certificate from City University of NY, Zicklin School of Business.



Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, Temple B’nai Jeshrun, NJ

Matthew is the Senior Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. He is the author of The Gift of Grief: Finding Peace, Transformation and Renewed Life after Great Sorrow” (Random House). A strong advocate of social justice, Rabbi Gewirtz is a founding executive committee member of the Newark Coalition for Hope and Peace.


Anna Marx, Chief Strategy Officer, Jewish Learning Ventures

In addition to her work at Jewish Learning Venture, Anna also serves as the Project Director of Shinui: The Network for Innovation in Part-Time Jewish Education.  Anna holds an MPA in Nonprofit Management and an MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from NYU and a BA in Political Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA.


Michele Levin, Organizational Consultant, Gestalt Works

Michele graduated from Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics.  She earned her Master of Science in Organization Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University. She has a certificate in Facilitating Strategic Planning and is an organization development consultant specializing in non-profit, for-profit and faith-based organizations.


Rabbi Darren Levine, D. Min, Founding Rabbi, Tamid NYC

Darren is the Founding Rabbi of Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue in Lower Manhattan. He holds Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Psychology from the Post-Graduate Center in New York and HUC-JIR. in 2016 he launched Positive-Judaism.org to host the growing community of those interested in the intersection of religion and positive psychology.


Lisa Litman, Director, “PJ Goes to School,” Harold Grinspoon Foundation

Lisa has a BA/BS from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.Ed. from Gratz College. She melds progressive pedagogy with musical and artistic skills to inspire educators to rethink their approach to Jewish education. Lisa works with professionals across North America to bring PJ Library books and Jewish values alive through reading and interpretive play.


Rabbi Avi Orlow, VP, Foundation for Jewish Camp

Rabbi Avi Orlow is an educator with a love of irreverent, relevant, and revealing Torah. He has held numerous positions as a camp educator and a Hillel Rabbi and spent an unforgettable stint running youth programming in Minsk, Belarus. Avi has a BA in religious studies from Columbia University and was ordained in the charter class of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the open Orthodox rabbinical school.


Chesney Polis, Creator of “Chesney and Friends

Chesney is the Young Family Coordinator at Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue and is a graduate of Vassar College. She is the creator of “Chesney and Friends” and is an youth educator who uses her musical and theatrical talents to bring joy to Jewish Education. Chesney is also a female vocalist and a member of Neshimat Tamid: The Eternal Soul Band.


Michelle Shapiro-Abraham, Director Innovation and Learning, URJ Youth

Michelle works with with URJ Camps and NFTY and collaborates with the larger field to imagine new approaches to Jewish engagement. She holds a Masters Degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Rhea Hirsch School of Education and is a proud recipient of the 2015 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.


Dr. Bill Robinson, Dean, JTS William Davidson Graduate School

Dr. Bill Robinson is the Dean and Professor at The Jewish Theological Seminary William Davidson Graduate School. He received an interdisciplinary PhD in Social Theory from Rutgers University and served for seven years chief strategy officer at the Jewish Education Project. He has also served as director of education and research at the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life.


Evie Rotstein, ED.D., Director, School of Education, HUC NY

Evie Levy Rotstein is the director of the New York School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, having previously been the director of the Leadership Institute for Congregational Educators since the beginning of the project in 2004.. She holds an M.A. in Foreign Language education and a Doctorate in Jewish education from The Jewish Theological Seminary.


Aaron Selkow, Executive Director, URJ Camp Harlam

Aaron Selkow is a nonprofit leader, devoted camp and youth advocate, educator, and coach. His extensive work as a Jewish communal professional and executive has afforded him the opportunity to learn from ground breakers, to partner and consult with top organizations, and to mentor exceptional talent.


Rabbi Ira Stone, Founder, Center for Contemporary Mussar Institute

Rabbi Ira F. Stone received his education at Queens College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained a Rabbi in 1979.  He is the author of Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud (JPS, 1998), Seeking the Path of Life: Theological Meditations on the Nature of God, Life, Love, and Death (Jewish Lights, 1993), and Sketches for a Book of Psalms (Xlibris, 2000).


Rabbi Mike Uram, Executive Director and Campus Rabbi,  Penn Hillel

Rabbi Mike Uram was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary and is the author of the book, Next Generation Judaism:  How College Students and Hillel Can Help Reinvent Jewish Organizations, which won a National Jewish Book Award in 2016.



Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructing Judaism 

The first woman Rabbi to head a Jewish seminary and congregational union, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., became President of Reconstructing Judaism in 2014. She is a prolific author, beloved teacher, communal visionary, and In 2016, Rabbi Waxman was named to the annual “Forward 50” list of most influential Jews.


David Yaden, Center for Positive Psychology, UPenn

David Bryce Yaden is a Research Fellow and PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania who works in both The Positive Psychology Center and The Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. His research focus is on the spiritual, self-transcendent, and other positively transformative experiences. He is the editor of “Being Called” and is writing a book called “The Varieties of Spiritual Experiences: A 21st Century Update” for Oxford University Press.


For mental health professionals, pastors, and others who require CE credits for licensure, attending specific workshops between 9 AM and 3 PM can qualify for CE credits through the Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College. Additional fees (nominal) apply. Please contact us for more information:(chesney@tamidnyc.org).




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MARCH 19, 2020

MARCH 18, 2021

MARCH 17, 2022



“Personal Happiness, Individual Thriving, and Communal Wellbeing:

A New Jewish Vision.”

May 23, 2018, 92nd St. Y

Read the summit coverage at e-jewishphilanthropy.com

David Bryfman, PhD. Chief Innovation Officer, Jewish Education Project

David is the leading voice for Thriving in Jewish educational settings. David completed his Ph.D. Education and Jewish Studies at NYU focusing and is a graduate of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program.David was the primary author of the 2016 research report titled Generation Now: Understanding and Engaging Jewish Teens Today. Read his thought piece: If You’re Happy and You Know it: The True Purpose of Jewish Education


Cantor Adina Frydman, Executive Director, Synergy: UJA Federation of New York

Adina is the Executive Director of SYNERGY at the UJA-Federation of New York. For 100 years, UJA-Federation has been a central force for communal planning and philanthropy in the New York Jewish community. Through UJA-Federation, close to 50,000 donors pool their resources to help people in need, inspire a passion for Jewish life and learning.


Dr. Jeffrey Kress, PhD, Professor of Jewish Education at The Davidson School, Jewish Theological Seminary

Jeffrey is a faculty member in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. His work focuses on social, emotional, and spiritual elements of Jewish education. Dr. Kress is a certified facilitator of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Benchmarks 360 and has conducted assessments for educational leaders in programs such as the Day School Leadership Training Institute.


Rabbi Darren Levine, D. Min, Founding Rabbi, Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue

Darren is the Founding Rabbi of Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue in Lower Manhattan. He holds Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Psychology from the Post-Graduate Center in New York and HUC-JIR. in 2016 he launched Positive-Judaism.org to host the growing community of those interested in the intersection of religion and positive psychology.


Rabbi Michael Mellen, President of Iron and Sage, INC.

Michael is an expert in Executive Leadership and Coaching and is a sought after speaker, trainer, facilitator and consultant. Ordained as a rabbi in 1998, he has served as Director of NFTY, as a congregational rabbi and educator at Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, Virginia, and as a consultant, educator and advisor with a company he founded, Jewish Youth Works.


Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, Executive Director, Sinai and Synapses.

Geoffrey is the Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds.  His work has been supported by the John Templeton FoundationEmanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation. Read his thought piece, Why Time Isn’t Money.


Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, Director, Rabbis Without Boarders, CLAL

Rebecca is the Director of Rabbis Without Borders at CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. She directs two rabbinic fellowship programs and coaches individual rabbis in attaining their career goals. She was the founding director of the MetroWest Jewish Healing and Healing Center and she holds a masters degree and ordination from JTS.


Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, MAPP, PCC, ERYT. CEO & Founder, The Flourishing Center

Emiliya is the CEO and founder of The Flourishing Center that is dedicated to increasing the flourishing of individuals, organizations and communities world wide. She is the creator of the Certification in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program offered in 11 cities across the U.S., Canada and online worldwide which has trained over 700 practitioners to date.

Thank you to our 2018 Summit Presenters