ABOUT US > WHO WE ARE
Rabbi Reuben Zellman is a graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and has been a transgender activist since 1999. He has written many articles and educational materials about gender, sexuality, and Judaism, and has taught at congregations, conferences and universities around the U.S. Reuben currently serves as the assistant rabbi and music director at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA.
Maggid Jhos Singer has served the Coastside Jewish Community as its head teacher and service leader since January 2000. He received smicha from Rabbi Gershon Winkler in 2002 as a Maggid – literally "one who tells." The title of Maggid was used in the early Chassidic movement to describe a person of learning who was skilled in storytelling, preaching, counseling, teaching and singing.
Jhos holds a degree in music from UCLA, and spent many years working in a variety of occupations: oceanographic researcher, scuba diver, music teacher, fire fighter, symphonic percussionist, and barrista. His deep and inspirational teaching draws from this wildly diverse background. As a spiritual teacher and guide, Jhos is playful, creative and challenging. As a service leader, his enthusiasm, energy, and reverent irreverence serve to inspire and uplift our community. In addition to working with Coastside Jewish Community, Jhos has served on the faculty of Chochmat haLev and other Bay Area Jewish institutions, and is an independent Jewish educator, lifecycle facilitator, and spiritual counselor.
Jhos is available for pastoral counseling as well as ritual facilitation around gender transitions and LGBTIQ events such as baby namings, commitment ceremonies and weddings, conversions, etc. For more information about Jhos and his work, visit his website.
Max K. Strassfeld is a genderqueer activist, working towards a dissertation on transgender and intersex categories in the Talmud at Stanford University. Ze has taught classes on queer Talmud and gender diversity in Judaism, sex positivity, and sexual communication (when he was a sex educator at Good Vibrations), and workshops on the intersection of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Ze enjoys book binding and letterpress printing (as well as crafts of all kinds), and cooking ridiculous amounts of food. Max is available to talk about hir adventures in academia with trans people considering similar career paths. Hir email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco providing spiritual care to those struggling with illness, grieving or dying. Elliot was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Los Angles in 2006. He trained in chaplaincy at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, specializing in mental health at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, in 2007. Before moving to San Francisco he served congregations in his hometown Toronto, Canada, as well as West Hollywood, CA and Lubbock, TX.
In 2010 Elliot was one of two guest editors of a special issue of Zeek: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Culture called "The Spirituality of Healing." His articles are published in numerous magazines; as well as anthologized widely including in the recent books "Torah Queeries" (NYU Press 2009), "The Passionate Torah" (NYU press 2009); "Balancing on the Mechitza" (North Atlantic Books 2010) and "Righteous Indignation" (Jewish Lights 2008). Rabbi Kukla has lectured on spirituality and mental illness, end of life issues in Judaism, and Jewish perspectives on gender diversity across the US and Canada. His prayers and rituals for new life cycles have received national attention. Elliot also serves as a visiting faculty member in pastoral care at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA.
Joy Ladin - In September 2008, Joy Ladin made headlines when she returned to Orthodox Yeshiva University as a woman after receiving tenure as a man. Since then, Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English, has spoken and published widely on Judaism and gender identity issues. She is the author of a memoir of gender transition, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, and six books of poetry, including The Definition of Joy, Coming to Life, Transmigration and Psalms. Ladin serves on the Board of Keshet, and on the Advisory Board of the Human Rights Campaign's Jewish Organizational Equality Index.
Ari Lev Fornari currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College. Ari Lev is a former Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah(CBST) in New York City. Before moving to Boston, Ari Lev completed the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Program with the Catalyst Project, which continues to ground his involvement in grassroots social justice movements and anti-racist organizing. He strives to weave his spiritual practices with his political work with a commitment to our collective liberation. In his spare time, he loves riding a bike, cooking for a crowd, a good swimming hole and crafting.
Micah Bazant is an artist and graphic designer in Berkeley, California. He is currently working on an art project called Miklat Miklat about scapegoating and cities of refuge, which includes a zine created with Lewis Wallace. In 2000, he published the trans jew zine Timtum, and in 2004 he co-edited the Love and Justice in Times of War haggadah. In summer 2006, he had the honor of travelling to Palestine with Birthright Unplugged, and continues to support anti-zionism and anti-racism at home and abroad. He also loves growing food, swimming in lakes, and undermining the gender binary through glittery accessories. You can find more of his art and design at micahbazant.com.