Is a communal Jewish educator in the Chicago area. She has taught in a variety of Jewish educational settings, including the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School for seven years, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicagoland Jewish High School, Chicago Jewish Day School and a variety of freelance workshops. Rebecca received a B.A. in Jewish Studies from Princeton University, a M.Ed. from DePaul University, and a M.A. from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago with a focus on Modern Jewish Thought and the philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig. Upon graduation from college, Rebecca spent a year doing community organizing on the west side of Chicago while also leading Jewish environmental backpacking trips, which combined her passion for social action and her love of Jewish teaching. She lives in Skokie with her husband and her three children.
Is the founder of Jane Shapiro Associates, a consulting practice working with Jewish organizations around vision, adult learning, curriculum and professional development. Formerly she was the Associate Director of the Florence Melton School,working with teachers across North America and Israel and assisting new communities in the development of Melton school sites. She has taught or consulted with organizations ranging from the American Jewish Committee, United Jewish Communities, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Her classes on Jewish Thought and Torah have been ongoing for about ten years. She received her doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 2016. She is a graduate of Princeton University and also studied Jewish History at Columbia University. She is a graduate of the Mandel Teachers Institute and Vision Projects. She is passionate about all aspects of Jewish teaching and learning. In 2004 she founded Kol Sasson, a partnership minyan in Skokie, Illinois and continues to serve as Gabbai.
Sam Feinsmith has been immersed in the world of Jewish contemplative living, learning, and teaching for over a decade. He seeks to transform the landscape of Jewish life in Chicago and beyond by teaching mindfulness in a Jewish framework to promote self-care and a deepening of wisdom and compassion. He has served as a consultant on a number of cutting-edge projects related to prayer, spirituality, and education and has conducted Jewish meditation workshops and retreats for young children, teens, and Jewish educators and community leaders. Sam currently directs the Center for Jewish Mindfulness at Orot, and the Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life pilot at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. He lives in Skokie with his wife Sarah-Bess and his daughter Elanit Shefa.
Is Director of Regional Programing for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (New York) and is a co-founder and director of the Center for Jewish Mindfulness in Chicago. Jordan was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2008, after which he served as rabbi at Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Glencoe, IL. Prior to pursuing his rabbinical studies, Jordan studied Conservation Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, spent several months at Zen centers in California and France, and studied Jewish text at the Conservative Yeshiva and Machon Pardes in Jerusalem. He lives in Deerfield, IL with his wife Yael and their three children.
is a business leader focused on innovation, marketing, strategy, and problem solving. A healthcare entrepreneur, David is the COO of TapCloud, a healthcare IT company using patient reported information to create a clinical early warning system. Previously, he led global innovation and ran numerous businesses at Kraft Foods – ranging from Philadelphia Cream Cheese to the iconic Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. David began his career at Procter & Gamble as a product development engineer working on “glamorous” products like Pepto Bismol and Metamucil. David is an avid traveler – visiting 100+ countries and all 7 continents. A creative cook and fair-weather runner, he’s managed to cook in many of those countries and take a jog in most. An active volunteer and life-long learner, David works with a variety of organizations, frequently serving as president or officer.
Kim Shwachman, is an active volunteer in the Chicago Jewish community as a member of the Board of Trustees of Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and currently Chairs the JUF Partnership Together Committee, which allocates resources in Israel to Kiryat Gat-Lachish and Shafir. Kim serves on numerous Federation committees, including the executive committee. She is the immediate past Chair of the Missions Committee and has led or participated in many Missions to Israel and other Jewish communities around the world. Kim is a member of the Board of Trustee of Jewish Federations of North America and a member of the Financial Resource Development Committee. She is a member of the JUF Women’s Board and the immediate past Vice President of Community Development. Kim is a trustee of the Jewish Women’s Foundation, and a member of the newly created Board of Directors of Orot, The Center for Jewish Learning. Kim is also an active member of her synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, and serves on the Ritual Committee and Endowment Campaign Committee. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Kim and her husband Perry live in Northbrook, and have three children, Blair, 23, Danielle, 21 and Tyler, 19.
Recognized in Illinois Super Lawyers for 2007 and 2012-2017 under the category Franchise/Dealership, Marc has been practicing law and advising clients since August, 1981. He specializes in franchise and trademark law and also practices corporate, leasing and copyright/entertainment law. Marc also serves as an expert witness and consultant in franchise law, and has authored and co-authored articles, and delivered lectures on many franchise topics. He divides his practice between litigation, transactional and disclosure work, and trademark prosecution, and is also active as a board member in other not-for-profit organizations, including serving as the Secretary for the Foundation at his synagogue. He received both his B.A. in Political Science and his Juris Doctor degree from Tulane University, and spent one semester in Jerusalem with Brandeis University's Jacob Hiatt Institute. Marc lives in Skokie with his wife.
is the Director of Springboard, a teen engagement initiative at The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. In this role she is responsible for working with community partners to create exciting new points of engagement for Jewish teens, while also strengthening the organizational infrastructure that supports teen programs and professionals. She began her career in the nonprofit sector, working in government affairs and public policy. Later she worked as a consultant focused on strategic planning and leadership development. She received her BA from Indiana University and her MBA from the University of Maryland.
is passionate about high quality Jewish education for adults because she has experienced its impact in her own life. Deborah is a graduate of the Florence Melton Adult Jewish education program. Deborah earned her B.A. from University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from the University of Michigan and works as an attorney for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the federal laws against employment discrimination. Deborah is mom to three girls, including one who is a member of Orot's inaugural class of high school students. Deborah, her husband Jim Rosenberg, and their family live in Evanston and are active members of the Jewish community there. Deborah also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Jewish Day School.
became the first female member of the Jewish clergy in the city of Chicago when she became Cantor at Temple Sholom in 1987. She has served on the national board of the American Conference of Cantors, participated in the first cantors’ cohort of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS), and is active in the Institute’s Hevraya studies. A lyric mezzo-soprano, Aviva earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Voice Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, as well as an Ordination, a Master of Sacred Music, and an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College , Jewish Institute of Religion. She is a certified teacher in Jewish Mindfulness with IJS.
is President of Paradigm Pursuits, an executive coaching and startup advisory firm that provides a unique blend of coaching and advising for both new and experienced leaders. Prior to this role Cindy was the Executive Vice President at DialogTech (formerly Ifbyphone); joining them as the 3rd employee to start up the sales, customer experience and HR teams. Prior to Ifbyphone Cindy spent the majority of her career in consulting including President of US Operations for Metamor Worldwide (IT Consulting Firm). She has held multiple lay leaderships positions including President of Chicagoland Jewish High School and The ARK, a Chicago based social service agency. Cindy has an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and her MBA from Northwestern. Cindy is an avid reader of fiction and business books and welcomes all reading recommendations. Her first and most memorable startup was her marriage to David, followed by the birth and raising of their children, Brian and Emily. In 2012 they had their first merger when their daughter-in-law Hannah joined their family.
is a partner in Ernst & Young’s Chicago office specializing in the technology sector. Lisa spent many years in the San Francisco Bay Area and relocated to Chicago in 2012. Originally from New Jersey, Lisa received a BA in Accounting from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania. She is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She has been an active community volunteer in Jewish and secular organizations including the Executive Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco and the audit committee of Jewish Federations of North America. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of 1871/Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.
Hear what Orot's students are saying.
I didn't know what to expect when I attended an Orot Yom Iyun. I had the opportunity to sit with a group of Jews from surrounding communities- we came from different backgrounds and had even more diverse views. The teachers of Orot somehow created an incredibly intimate and safe space to study complex texts, and help us, the learners, imbue the texts with deep personal meaning. Too often a spiritual experience comes at the expense of learning serious content. Not at Orot. I am deeply grateful for what they are offering.
I have been studying at Orot weekly since classes started this Fall, learning the wisdom of the Kedushat Levi with Rabbi Sam Feinsmith. I find the teaching intellectually stimulating, spiritually uplifting, and Jewishly enriching. Orot brings a much-needed opportunity to the Chicago area to study Jewish texts in depth, along with an opportunity to practice mindfulness in a Jewish context, and to reflect on our own spiritual development as we learn from wonderful teachers. I have been a student all my life, and my studies at Orot are among the best I have experienced. Orot is a gem in our community.
Orot has been truly inspiring. As someone who grew up unaffiliated, I traditionally haven't had much of a connection to or understanding of what it means to be Jewish. I wasn't someone who grew up going to a day school. I didn't go to Jewish summer camp. I didn't go to synagogue. I was Jewish by birth and that was about it. In retrospect, I think the two main reasons for my lack of "affiliation" were (1) a general lack of exposure and (2) an absolute lack of knowledge or understanding of the Jewish texts.
As I've grown up, i've gotten a lot more exposure, but still lacked the knowledge of the texts. Orot has been a God-send to me. It's really filled a void that I believe exists in the community: text-based study outside of the traditional confines of an affiliation (synagogue) or movement. The teachers are some of the brightest Jewish minds in the area and it's a privilege to have the opportunity to study with them.
Orot offers something unique and valuable to our community, adult Jewish learning in an egalitarian setting taught by top scholars who are star teachers, at convenient times and locations. I have loved attending classes on Jewish Meditation, holidays, Jewish texts, and art. It is like being part of a salon, without having to wait for an invitation.
Coincidentally as I was beginning to look for a mindfulness and meditation class I was introduced to Orot. What an "aha moment” it was when I realized I could study and practice mindfulness meditation through a Jewish lens. Before Orot I had never considered melding my Judaism with meditation. They were separate aspects of my life. I really like the ability to take something I am passionate about and use it to explore my Judaism and vice versa rather than keeping them separate.
As a mother of 3 young kids, it has been years since I committed to weekly Jewish learning. My parsha class with Rebecca at Orot has been instrumental in guiding me back to parsha of the week. It has not only given me new insights into Torah learning, but has connected the weekly parsha in the most personal way...to my life and challenged me to think and grow in new ways. I look forward to this class each week!