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.
Elie Lauter, Interim Executive Director
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. Elie lives in Oakland with her husband David.
Elise Stewart, Events Manager
A lover of social sciences and the arts, Elise graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in Postcolonial Literature and Fine Art. Prior to relocating to the Bay Area, she worked as a concert promoter, and managed a venue on California’s Central Coast. Deeply devoted to the independent music community, she continued to book shows while earning her degree, and helped to open an all ages venue in Oakland. After graduating, Elise also explored a number of creative jobs in fields including marketing, screenwriting, editing, and photography. Now back in San Francisco after several years away, she is delighted to find herself in a similar position to that of where she began her career: working with a team to provide people with a greater sense of connectedness and community. Elise is excited to gain a greater understanding of her Jewish heritage through her new position with The Kitchen.
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.