Rabbinic Ordination - 1999

The Eight New Rabbis

















Raised in Malibu, California, Michelle Robinson received her bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her love for Jewish texts, which she discovered during college, led her to the Ziegler School. She says that she came here to pursue serious study in that discipline and develop the skills to "teach others to open up the texts of our tradition." As part of her studies, Michelle spent three years in Israel. Following ordination, she plans to move to Boston, where she hopes to work as a pulpit rabbi.


Barbara Speyer points to her maternal grandmother, whose father was a rabbi, as her source of inspiration. But she says her passion for Judaism emanates from both sides of her family. "On one side," she explains, "they were Lithuanian intellectuals. On the other, they were Russian Chassidim. They were like the Hatfields and the McCoys." Born and raised in Boston, Barbara graduated from Hebrew College with a degree in Jewish Education and received a master's degree in Hebrew Literature. After 14 years as a religious school teacher in Boston, Barbara moved with her husband and four children to Austin, Texas, where she earned an MBA. In 1990, the family moved to California, where Barbara has realized her dream of entering the rabbinate.


Since Elon Sunshine's early years at a Jewish day school in Phoenix, people told him to become a rabbi. Then, after years of teaching, working in the Jewish community and studying in Israel, he says, "I took a serious look at my future, and realized they were right. My path was leading directly to the rabbinate. I never looked back or second-guessed myself." Elon received his undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's degree in Education from the University of Judaism. His dream is to run a Jewish day school and inspire others by sharing his passion for the Jewish tradition.


"I consider myself transdenominational," says Sara Zacharia. "My Jewish development has been an organic experience." Raised in an Orthodox family in Brooklyn, New York, she earned undergraduate degrees in Judaic Studies and Speech and Hearing as well as a master's degree in Audiology, from Brooklyn College. Fifteen years ago, Sara moved to San Diego, where she established religious and educational programs for a developing synagogue, created a women's studies group and taught adult education in mysticism and Talmud. In 1991, she moved to Los Angeles, where she became the education director at a Conservative synagogue-a professional experience that prompted her to enter the rabbinate. After graduation, Sara plans to move back home to the East Coast, where she intends to take a position as the rabbi of a Jewish day school.


Born in Northern California, Mark Fasman developed a love of music that led him to complete a Doctor of Music in Brass Pedagogy at Indiana University. From there, Mark and his wife Alice moved to Fargo, North Dakota, and served as music professors at nearby Moorhead State University in Minnesota for 17 years. Mark's passion for Jewish study, a love of the Jewish community, and a search for spiritual connection to God and the Jews of the past and future brought him to the Ziegler School. Following ordination, Marks seeks a pulpit in the Midwest or on the West Coast. Merging his musical and academic training with his spiritual quest, Mark is writing a source book on the history of the Shofar.


"Rabbinical school has been the single most humbling experience of my life," says Adam Frank. Born and raised in Atlanta, Adam attended Emory University, where he was the captain of the varsity basketball team and received a bachelor's degree in political science. After graduation, he stayed in Atlanta to work in his family's business. Adam subsequently studied Education at the University of Judaism. He credits his parents for instill­ing in him a fierce love and sense of responsibility for Israel and the Jewish people. He plans to work in adult Jewish education, where he hopes to strengthen Jewish life and community.


Neal Loevinger was born in Vienna, Austria but grew up in Rockville, Maryland. According to Neal, "my grand­father was the greatest example of Jewish identity and a true mensch in my life." Neal studied at the Conservative movement's Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, as well as at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for three years. He graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and received a master's degree in Environmental Studies at York University in Ontario. He now works as a Torah teacher and spiritual counselor at Gateways Belt Tshuvah, a residential program for Jews in recovery from alcoholism, drugs and other addictions. As an ordained rabbi, Neal intends to work in adult Jewish education and hopes to incorporate his interests in environmental studies into his rabbinical career.


Anat Moskowitz was born in Rechovot, Israel. Her ordination brings to five the number of rabbis in her extended family. Prior to rabbinical school, Anat was a day school teacher; lived in Germany; and served as a foreign language tour guide at Disneyland, where she spoke German, Spanish and Hebrew. She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology from California State University at Long Beach. During her studies at the Ziegler School, she worked with Los Angeles Jewish AIDS Services and at Gateways Belt Tshuvah. As for her plans, Anat says, "I want to work in a pulpit/education position and eventually enter hospital and hospice chaplaincy work."