Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin
Chancellor & Founder
Internationally-renowned educator, speaker and author Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin’s outstanding contributions to Israel and to world Jewry have made him one of the leading voices of today’s Modern Orthodox Jewish world. Riskin is especially renowned for his bridge-building efforts between various segments of society and for the innovative educational and social action programs which he built to further this vision.
Rabbi Riskin earned his BA in Greek, Latin, and English Literature from Yeshiva University and his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He holds a Masters Degree in Jewish History, and in 1982 he was awarded his Ph.D. from New York University’s department of Near Eastern Languages and Literature.
Rabbi Riskin became a major spokesperson for Modern Orthodoxy early on in his career, as the founding rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York. During his tenure, the synagogue became renowned for its outreach, educational and social action programs, including his early activism on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Nonetheless, in 1983, at the peak of his professional career, Rabbi Riskin left New York to become the founding chief rabbi of the City of Efrat, a burgeoning settlement in Gush Etzion seven miles south of Jerusalem, which he – together with Moshe Moshkowitz – had been working to establish since 1976. Today, Efrat numbers close to 10,000 residents and is considered to be the diamond in the protective ring around Jerusalem.
Rabbi Riskin is the Chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone Colleges and Graduate Programs, a network of groundbreaking institutions serving over 3,000 students, which he founded in 1983. Ohr Torah Stone has been in the forefront of generating Jewish societal change, charting new educational, legal and social paths in the realms of women’s rights within Judaism, bridging gaps between observant and secular Jews, and promoting dialogue between Jews and members of the world’s other major religions.
In addition to being an extraordinary teacher and sought-after lecturer, Rabbi Riskin writes a weekly column which is syndicated in newspapers worldwide. He has also published scores of articles and monographs on Judaism and contemporary issues, as well as five books.
The Brooklyn-born Rabbi Riskin has been married to Vicky since 1963; they have four married children and fourteen grandchildren, all of whom live in Efrat.
A columnist for The Jerusalem Post Christian edition and radio personality for Frontpage Jerusalem, David Nekrutman currently serves as the Executive Director for The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation (CJCUC) in Efrat, Israel. In this capacity, Mr. Nekrutman is breaking new ground in leading the first ever Orthodox Jewish institution to dialogue with Christians on a religious and theological basis.
Prior to his work with CJCUC, Mr. Nekrutman served as the Director of Christian Affairs for the Consulate General of Israel in New York. He was instrumental in the successful launching of The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, The Israel Experience, The Christian Jerusalem Day Banquet, and The Watchman on the Wall program with Reverend Robert Stearns of Eagles Wings, resulting in millions of Christians praying & supporting Israel and the Jewish people.
Prior to his calling in the field of Jewish-Christian relations, Mr. Nekrutman’s professional career ranged from working for the City Council of New York as a Legislative Analyst to e-marketing for a major high tech company in Israel. He received a Bachelors of Arts in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Nekrutman resides in Netanya with his wife and three sons.
Rabbi Eugene Korn, PhD.
North American Director
Ordained by the Israeli Rabbinate and with a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University, Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn has dedicated his professional career in the area of Jewish-Christian relations and Jewish ethics & law. He served as the Executive Director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University, and was the Director of Interfaith Affairs for both the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress. His vocation within the field of Jewish ethics and law led him to serve as the Judaic Scholar at the JCC and Federation of MetroWest (NJ) and the Director of Leadership Education and Development at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem. He also has taught at Yeshiva and Columbia Universities.
Dr. Korn has co-edited two books on interfaith relations, The End of an Exile by James Parkes, and Two Faiths, One Covenant? He is the author of the new book, The Jewish Connection to Israel, the Promised Land—A Brief Introduction to Israel, published by Jewish Lights in 2008. Rabbi Korn has also published two monographs on Israel and Jewish-Christian relations, and is now writing a book on the significance of Tzelem Elokim (Image of God) in Jewish tradition. He has published scholarly articles on Jewish thought and ethics, democratic Israel and religious tradition, pluralism, religious extremism and Jewish values, Jewish-Christian relations, Jewish attitudes toward non?Jewish culture, and business ethics. His writings have appeared the Jewish Week, America, Chicago Sun-Times, Religion News Service, the Bergen Record, The NJ Jewish News and The Bergen Jewish Standard.
Dr. Korn is a popular teacher who lectures widely in universities, synagogues, Jewish organizations, and educational institutions across the United States, Israel and Canada. He currently resides with his wife and children in Bergenfield, NJ. His son and grandchildren reside in Israel.
Rabbi Dr. Angel Kreiman-Brill
Director of Latin-American Affairs
The former Chief Rabbi of Chile, Angel Kreiman-Brill, has joined the CJCUC staff as the Director of Latin American Affairs. Prior to his position with CJCUC, Rabbi Kreiman was a profesor of Jewish Theology and Comparative Theology in the University of Chile, Jesuit University of Buenos Aires and Catholic University of Concepción. He was awarded the Human Rights Award of the Chilean National Commission of Human Rights along with President Aylwin of Chile and Senator Edward Kennedy as well as the Rene Cassin Prize of International B’nai Brith for outstanding work in the field of human rights in 1989.
Rabbi Kreiman- Brill received a Bachelor of Law from National University in Buenos Aires and Doctor of Law from Free University of Colombia. He received his rabbinical ordination from the Seminario Rabinico Latino Americano & the Jerusalem Beth Din as well as a Doctorate in Divinity Honoris Causa by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Rabbi Kreiman speaks several languages including Spanish, English, Hebrew, German, Portuguese, and French.
His late wife Susy z.l., was killed in 1994 by the bombing of the Jewish Federation in Buenos Aires (AMIA), where she was working in social affairs; he has three daughters and five grandchildren.
Director of Operations
A native Israeli with a background in customer relations, Limor Riskin’s credo is to ensure guests go away from the Neve Efrat Hotel with a spiritual and inspirational experience. Prior to taking on this position, Mrs. Riskin was the Administrative Director for Yad L’Isha, a legal aid center that specializes in helping women whose husbands cannot be located or have been recalcitrant in giving them a Jewish divorce. She was also a consumer relations liaison for the Minister of Housing in Israel.
She received her Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Arts and Masters in World Literature and Italian from Hebrew University. For the last eleven years, Mrs. Riskin has resided in Efrat with her husband and three children Eden, Yael and Sahar.
Dr. Mike Cohen
CJCUC’s Traveling Scholar
Dr. Mike Cohen, a political and security strategist and veteran officer in Israel’s Elite Counter Terrorism Forces is the newly appointed and first ever Travelling Scholar for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. Dr. Cohen took leave of his position at Bar Ilan University’s Overseas Program in Israel when Rabbi Shlomo Riskin selected him to represent the CJCUC in North America. With over two decades experience in the development of relationships between Christians and Jews, Dr. Cohen “brings a unique perspective about what the restoration of Zion means in both biblical and modern day terms, both theologically and practically” remarked Rabbi Riskin.
Dr. Cohen is a former executive with the NBA, the American Sportscaster’s Association, the Orthodox Union and the Israel Ministry of Tourism. He served as executive director of Likud Herut North America and as its representative to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations under the government of Yitzchak Shamir. During Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Dr. Cohen was assigned as an IDF reserve officer to the National Emergency Response & Negotiation Team in Bethlehem tasked with handling the multifaceted and potentially explosive crisis surrounding the Church of the Nativity’s seizure by terrorists. In 2008, Mike received Israel’s prestigious “Reserve Shield” award from Israel’s Defense Minister, Chief of IDF’s General Staff and CO Reserve Staff on behalf of The Galilee Institute (http://www.gogalil.com/) which he founded.
Dr. Cohen is a graduate of Yeshiva University and the City University of New York and has traveled the world extensively, visiting and speaking with thousands of friends of Israel as well as a multitude of news outlets. He has been called on to consult by members of both houses of the United States Congress and the Israeli Knesset. He is the editor of Ordinary People Extraordinary Spirit ( Devorah Publishing 2004) and the recently released Zionism, Post Zionism: A Compendium of Opinions About the Jewish State by Dr. Joseph Mazur (Hebrew – Gefen 2011; English – Westbow Press 2012). Dr. Cohen is currently collaborating on a new book with the Rev. Dr. Billye Brim which will highlight the heroic stories of non-Jews whose crucial efforts helped build the State of Israel. Dr. Cohen is married, a father of two and currently living in New York.
Shani Taragin currently serves on the faculty of Ohr Torah Stone’s Midreshet Lindenbaum, a leader in Jewish women’s education. She completed a B.A. and M.A. in Tanach and Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Tanach while serving as Ram for Tanach in Midreshet Lindenbaum. She also teaches collegiates and adults at MaTaN, Migdal Oz, Sha’alvim for Women, Lander’s College, and the Womens’ Beit Midrash in Efrat and Ramat Shilo.
Shani is a graduate of Nishmat’s Keren Ariel Program for certification as a halachic (Jewish Law) advisor in issues of family purity law. She lectures and leads Tanach tours throughout Israel and serves on the local religious council dealing with issues of Jewish law and education. Shani and her husband Reuven live in Alon Shvut with their six children and serve as leaders in the Katamon community of Eretz Chemdah and the Beit Midrash Program in Camp Moshava.
Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple
For many years Rabbi Apple was an Australian national figure and a high-profile religious leader.
Added to his rabbinical ordination and academic qualifications in arts, law, history, religion and education, he holds honorary doctorates from two universities.
After serving as religious director of the Association of Jewish Youth in Britain, he ministered to London synagogues at Bayswater and Hampstead, and was chairman of the Jewish Marriage Council, president of the Union of Anglo-Jewish Preachers and a member of the Chief Rabbi’s Cabinet.
From 1972 to 2005 he was senior rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney. He was also religious consultant to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force, a member of the Sydney Beth Din, a university teacher, Master of Mandelbaum House at Sydney University, mentor of many synagogues and organizations, and active in inter-community work. He is patron and past president of the Australian Jewish Historical Society and life rabbinic governor and past president of the Australian and New Zealand orthodox rabbinate.
He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and holds other national and civic awards. He and his wife Marian have four adult children and a number of grandchildren. His weekly OzTorah – now in its 21st year – has a world-wide email circulation and he recently published a book of OzTorah selections called “Let’s Ask the Rabbi”. Other books include memoirs entitled “To Be Continued”.
Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair
Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair has served as Jewish Chaplain and campus rabbi at Cambridge University, where he also taught Jewish Philosophy in the Divinity School and engaged extensively in interfaith dialogue.
A former economic adviser to the UK government, he has a particular interest in Jewish approaches to economics and environment. Rabbi Sinclair is Senior Rabbincial Scholar for Hazon, the largest US Jewish environmental organization. He has been a consultant to the United Nations on religious approaches to the environment and was profiled in the New York Times Magazine for his work in this area.
Rabbi Sinclair holds a BA (First Class Honours) in Philososophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He has published a book, “Let’s Schmooze: Jewish Words Today,” (Continuum, 2007) teaches widely in the US and Israel and writes a weekly column in the UK Jewish Chronicle. In his day job, he works for a solar energy company.
Rabbi Chashi Freedman
Rabbi Chashi Freedman currently serves as the Director of the Yachad Program, empowering the general Israeli population to repossess and reclaim their Jewish heritage on their own terms. He is also the recipient of the Avi Chai Foundation Sabbatical Fellowship. Freedman’s fellowship studies ranged from Jewish thought, history and literature to spoken Arabic, and were conducted at leading institutions spanning Mir Yeshiva to Hebrew Union College; Oranim College to Ohr Sameach.
For Freedman, the sabbatical offered an opportunity to further expand upon his personal commitment to bridge-building between Jews of all denominations, which he pioneered during his four-year stint as Coordinator of the Framework for Contemporary Jewish Thought and Identity at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Freedman was also active in Haskama Leumit (National Reconciliation Group), serving as Co-Chairman of the Committee on Legal Autonomy of Sectors in Israeli Society from 1999-2001.
Freedman lectures to groups of all ages and backgrounds both in Israel and abroad. His articles have been printed in a variety of publications, including “Opening the Week (Potchim et Hashavua)”, a contemporary anthology of religious and social commentary by noted authors and public figures representing the wide spectrum of the Jewish community, from Haredi to secular.
Born in New York in 1961, Rabbi Freedman moved to Israel in 1981 and served as a paratrooper in the First Lebanon war. He received his B.A. in Studies of the Land of Israel and Talmud from Bar Ilan University, and his Masters of Arts in Jewish Education from Touro College. After receiving his rabbinical ordination from the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate, Freedman accepted a three-year pulpit position in Palm Springs, California, after which he returned to Israel, where he resides with his wife and their two children.