Noa Kushner, Founding Rabbi
Kushner received her B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University and was ordained by Hebrew Union College, New York. She then served as the Hillel Rabbi for Sarah Lawrence College and Stanford University. After founding The Kitchen, Kushner was profiled in San Francisco Magazine's "Who Runs SF" Power Issue and was featured in the final Newsweek / Daily Beast 2013: Rabbis to Watch list. Kushner is on faculty for Wexner Heritage and speaks nationally. Noa is married to Rabbi Michael Lezak and is the mother of three daughters: Zella, Bluma and Minna.
Rabbi Jonathan Bubis, JEN Rabbinic Fellow
A graduate of the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University, Rabbi Jonathan Bubis is a Jewish educator and performing artist with a passion for music, theater, and Jewish text. After graduating from Indiana University, Rabbi Bubis taught in Jewish institutions around LA. He spent three summers heading up the drama department at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin - and seven summers total on drama staff - where he directed Broadway musicals in Hebrew and created original pieces of Jewish theater. He has also worked as a Storahtelling Maven! Most recently, Rabbi Bubis served as the assistant rabbi of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, California. He and his wife Becca are thrilled to be a part of The Kitchen.
Yoav Schlesinger, Executive Director
A 5th generation Californian, Yoav attended Stanford University, where he received his B.A. in Jewish studies and Political Science. Since then, he has worked as a professional fundraiser, executive, and consultant for a range of nonprofit organizations. Yoav most recently served as the Executive Director of Reboot--a national network of cultural creatives, gathered to grapple with questions of Jewish identity and community in order to provide tools for making tradition more meaningful in modern life. In addition to building community, he enjoys trail running, discovering new ice cream flavors and nursing his addictions to NPR and The New Yorker. Yoav lives in Marin with his wife, two daughters and Australian Shepherd.
Eliana Lauter, Director of Operations
From New York City but a San Franciscan at heart, Elie graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. After earning her B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies with a minor in Arabic, she served as the Development Associate for the New Israel Fund in San Francisco. Most recently, Elie was the Assistant Director of ContemporaryJewish Life at the American Jewish Committee. There, she managed the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, advocating for religious freedom as a means of strengthening Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. When she’s not at work, you can usually find Elie at Cheeseboard Pizza, Green Apple Books, or anywhere an avocado is sold.
Lisa Motenko, Director of Community Development and Young Adult Engagement
A native Californian, Lisa graduated from UCLA with degrees in Psychology and Hebrew and received her Masters from Middlebury College in Spanish. During her 20's she spent time living in Spain and working as the Program Director at Berkeley Hillel. Most recently, Lisa spent a year in Israel studying at Pardes in the Experiential Education program. Lisa is addicted to cheese but also loves dancing, trail running, biking, playing guitar, speaking Spanish, and spending time outdoors with her husband and dog.
Melissa Ament, Program and Event Coordinator
Melissa, originally from the Chicagoland area, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Social Welfare and Sociology. Her love for people and community mixed with her love of Judaism, leading her to the Bay Area after graduation to become an Urban Adamah fellow. And she hasn’t been able to leave since. Melissa subsequently interned at AJWS (American Jewish World Service) as the Campaigns and Organizing intern. Most recently, Melissa worked at Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and continues to be a part of their Criminal Justice Reform campaign team. Melissa loves seeing live music, sharing Ethiopian food with anyone and everyone, and playing with her dog, Rizzo.
Jonathan Bayer, Shaliach Tzibbur
Jon is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and Jewish educator. Jonathan Bayer has performed and taught almost everyday of the last 10 years in New York and San Francisco. He writes and performs commissioned musicals for places like the New York Historical Society (the battle for Brooklyn) and the Jewish Museum (Pharaoh's Bad day). He leads minyanim for kids and adults at Bay Area Synagogues like Temple Emanu-el and Congregation Rodef Sholom. His interactive, musical renderings of folk stories have mesmerized youth audiences from the New York Transit museum to the Contemporary Jewish museum in San Francisco. He plays guitar, banjo, marching bass drum and sings with NOLA brass group Bug Horn Rex.
Marilyn Heiss, Ritual Maven
Marilyn Heiss is a native New Yorker and has lived in San Francisco since 1986. An Emmy-award-winning editor, she has worked in the TV/Video/Film industry for over 30 years. Marilyn found her way back to Jewish practice through yoga, and has a deep appreciation for Torah study and ritual. A participant in the initial meditation practice periods at Makor Or, the meditation center founded by Rabbi Alan Lew z"l & Zoketsu Norman Fischer, she served as its program director from 2003–2005. In addition to her work withTthe Kitchen, she trains b’nai mitzvah students all over the Bay Area and teaches Torah and Jewish studies in a variety of Jewish environments.
Josh Levine, Branding Partner
Josh Levine is the principal of Great Monday, a business consultancy helping leaders build purpose-driven organizations. He's also a co-founder of Culture Lab X, a community of professionals helping re-define company culture. He regularly speaks and writes on the intersection of brand for his clients and for publications like Fast Company, the Design Management Institute and 99u. You can usually find him going on about brand and culture on twitter.
Mimi Greisman, Camp Kitchen Educator
Mimi has been a Jewish early childhood and family educator for more than 30 years. She has enjoyed working in a wide variety of settings creating quality Jewish programs for families with young children. Mimi has a Masters degree in education and is well known throughout the Bay Area. She plays guitar, sings, and has developed three children's music CD's. Mimi has three grown children, five grandchildren and her husband is Irving Greisman, the founder of Irving's Premium Challah. Mimi is just delighted to be part of The Kitchen and to run Camp Kitchen.