Noa Kushner, Founding Rabbi
Rabbi Noa Kushner founded The Kitchen in 2011 in response to friends who were looking for an informal, transformative shabbat experience that they couldn’t find. Along the way, she crashed head first into what has now been well documented as a generational trend away from many established religious institutions. The Kitchen quickly grew from a local shabbat experiment into an active doorway for San Francisco’s Gen X and Millenials looking for serious Jewish life. Through an emphasis on first-hand experience and “doing jewish” over pedigree, The Kitchen has become an international resource, growing to serve thousands of modern families annually in seven years. In working with IDEO and by emphasizing design + communications, The Kitchen has also changed the ways religion is perceived and integrated into daily life.
After graduating with a degree in Religious Studies at Brown, Kushner was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1998. She then served as a Hillel Rabbi for both Sarah Lawrence College and Stanford University.
The Kitchen has been featured internationally in Ha’aretz, Tablet, The Forward, and Medium. Kushner has been profiled in SF Magazine’s Power Issue and the final Newsweek / Daily Beast: Rabbis to Watch list. Her written work appears in many publications including, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, and the Prayers of Awe series.
Noa is married to Michael Lezak, the Rabbi at GLIDE. Together they have three daughters: Zella, Bluma and Minna.
Jessica Kate Meyer, Rabbi / Chazzan
Jessica Kate Meyer has served for the past 4 years as a rabbi of Romemu in New York City. She was ordained by Hebrew College Rabbinical School, and strives to build community through prayerful music, and music through prayerful community. At Hebrew College and in Jerusalem, Jessica studied Sacred Jewish music with rabbis and paytanim from Sephardic and Ashkenazi traditions, and performed as a vocalist with ensembles in New York, Boston, and Jerusalem. Before ordination, Jessica worked for Encounter in Jerusalem, Temple Beth Zion and Temple Ahavat Achim in Massachusetts, and Havurat Tel Aviv in...Tel Aviv. After graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, Jessica pursued graduate theater training in London, and appeared in many film, theater, and television projects in Europe and the United States: most notably, as a principal role in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist. Jessica is beyond thrilled to join the clergy team, and to serve The Kitchen community!
Joel Abramovitz, Senior Family Educator
A long-time Kitchen member, Joel has served as Judaic Studies Principal and the Middle School Principal at the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School on the north Peninsula for the past 3 years; prior to that, Joel taught middle school Judaic Studies. Joel loves to teach and learn Bible, analyze Jewish comedy, and think about how his work as a Jew and Jewish educator intersects with social change. He is also deeply involved in the local organizing work of Bend the Arc, focusing on criminal justice reform. Joel is a graduate of the DeLeT (Day School Leadership through Teaching) Program at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, and received his Master’s degree in Jewish Education from HUC-LA. Despite receiving much of his education in Southern California, Joel is a proud third-generation Bay Area native and lives in Berkeley. When not working, Joel can be found in his kitchen, baking or studying cookbooks as if they were sacred texts.
Tarlan Rabizadeh, JEN Rabbinic Fellow
Tarlan was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, in the Persian Jewish community affectionately known as "Tehrangeles." In 2008, she graduated from Boston University with a bachelorʼs degree in Public Policy and Education, with a minor in Hebrew. After college, Tarlan worked as an interior designer in Los Angeles. In 2010, she began her career as a Jewish professional by attending the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education in Los Angeles, graduating with a masterʼs degree in Jewish Education in 2013. For the next year, she served as Assistant Director and then shortly after as the Interim Director of the Religious School at Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, CA. During her years in rabbinical school, Tarlan has fulfilled internships for Temple Beth Am in Monessen, PA, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, B'nai Israel Synagogue in High Point, NC, and the HUC-JIR National Office of Recruitment and Admissions. Tarlan is thrilled to contribute her artistic sensibility towards creating meaningful Jewish experiences at The Kitchen.
Elise Stewart, Program and Events Manager
Born in Los Angeles and raised in the foothills of the Kings Canyon National Park, Elise happened on her ideal combo of city-life and wildlife when she moved to San Francisco for college 10 years ago. After earning a degree in Postcolonial Literature and Fine Art, she went on to gain extensive event experience through jobs in experiential marketing and concert promotion. In the past several years she has learned the ins and outs of event organization and execution, and is always considering new ways of integrating art, entertainment, and activism into her work. Elise’s cultural heritage, interests, and experiences make her a natural fit for the The Kitchen, and she is delighted to be working with this passionate team to provide people with a greater sense of purpose and connectedness.
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 with Tthe 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 an educator, designer, and author, but above all, he is on a mission to help organizations design a culture advantage. Even though his day job is Principal of Great Mondays, a 10-year-old culture design company, Josh is most known as Executive Director and Co-Founder of the international non-profit Culture LabX. His new book Great Mondays: How to Design a Company Culture Employees Love is available on amazon. You can find him around the web @akajoshlevine.
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.