Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald
Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald is one of the leaders in the movement of Jewish return in America today. He has pioneered and developed many of the most dramatic and effective outreach programs in this country.
Ordained at Yeshiva University, where he was a student of Rabbi Dr. J. B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Buchwald served from 1973 for 15 years as the Director of Education at Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York, which, during his tenure, became one of the largest and most successful centers for adult Jewish education programs in America. He also established and coordinated Lincoln Square's celebrated outreach program. Since 1975, Rabbi Buchwald has led the now-renowned "Beginners Service," a special Shabbat service for people with little or no synagogue experience.
In July of 1987, Rabbi Buchwald founded the National Jewish Outreach Program. NJOP sponsors the acclaimed Shabbat Across America/Canada and Read Hebrew America/Canada campaigns, establishes Beginners Services and offers the Turn Friday Night Into Shabbat, Passover Across America and Sukkot Across America programs, as well as free "Crash Courses" in Hebrew Reading, Basic Judaism and Jewish History. These programs are now hosted by more than 4,750 locations across North America, and in 39 countries worldwide. NJOP also has an extensive presence on the web. NJOP's "JewishTweets" was the first Jewish presence on Twitter, and has become Twitter's most highly-followed Jewish newswire, generating more than 450,000 impressions daily. "Jewish Treats," NJOP's enormously popular email, offers "Juicy bits of Judaism, daily," on diverse Jewish topics.
Through these much admired programs and the innovative Jewish consciousness-raising advertising campaigns, NJOP has successfully reached more than 1,323,000* North American Jews and engaged them in Jewish life.
In May 2001, Rabbi Buchwald was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Yeshiva University in recognition of his pioneering outreach work. He has been included in the Forward 50, a list of America's 50 most influential Jews and Newsweek's list of the top 50 Rabbis in America.
Rabbi Buchwald was Founding President of the Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals (AJOP). He lectures across the country and overseas, and leads experiential programs in cities throughout the world. He and his wife Aidel, reside in New York City, and are the proud parents of four children and a growing number of grandchildren.
Rabbi Simon Jacobson
Scholar In Residence
Rabbi Simon Jacobson is the author of the best-selling book Toward a Meaningful Life, a William Morrow publication that has sold over 300,000 copies to date and has been translated into Hebrew, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, German, Hungarian, Czech and Croatian.
Rabbi Jacobson heads The Meaningful Life Center (www.meaningfullife.com), which bridges the secular and the spiritual, through a wide variety of live and on-line programming. The Center, which has now found its home in Downtown Manhattan, presents to people of all backgrounds, the universal teachings of Torah as a blueprint for life. MLC, called a "Spiritual Starbucks" by the NY Times, is in the process of creating a warm, soulful environment, a "third space" where men and women can commune, read, have a coffee and interact, while also offering dynamic, interactive experiences of living spirituality through a variety of ongoing programs, musical and artistic events, lectures, classes and seminars, as well as a wide array of published learning materials, books, audio and video programs. The Center is an outgrowth of Rabbi Jacobson's popular Wednesday night class that has captured the hearts of thousands of participants over the last 25 years with its spiritual message and profound insights into the human condition.
For over 14 years Rabbi Jacobson, as Editor-in-Chief of VHH, was responsible for publishing the talks of the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Beginning in 1979, he headed a team of scholars that memorized and transcribed entire talks that the Rebbe gave during the Sabbath and holidays, as writing and tape recording are not permitted on holy days. In this position, Rabbi Jacobson was privileged to work in close association with the Rebbe and published more than 1000 of the Rebbe's talks. He also headed the research team for Sefer Halikutim - an encyclopedic collection of Chassidic thought (26 volumes, published 1977-1982).
Jacobson is one of the greatest scholars and sought after speakers in the Jewish world today. He has lectured to diverse audiences on six continents and in forty states on psycho-spiritual issues, applying Jewish thought to contemporary life, in a voice that is rooted in the timeless teachings of Torah, yet at the same time profoundly timely and relevant, unique and cutting edge. He has been interviewed on over 300 radio and TV shows, including CNN with Larry King, the Charlie Rose Show, and the CBS News Show, "The Best of Us."
He is also the publisher of the largest Yiddish-English weekly newspaper, The Algemeiner Journal (www.algemeiner.com), filling the position of his illustrious father, esteemed journalist, Gershon Jacobson.
Dr. Tevi Troy
Tevi Troy is the President of the American Health Policy Institute. He is also the author of the best-selling book, What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House. He is a frequent television and radio analyst, and has appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, Fox Business, and The NewsHour, among other outlets.
On August 3, 2007, Dr. Troy was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As Deputy Secretary, Dr. Troy was the chief operating officer of the largest civilian department in the federal government, with a budget of $716 billion and over 67,000 employees. In that position, he oversaw all operations, including Medicare, Medicaid, public health, medical research, food and drug safety, welfare, child and family services, disease prevention, and mental health services. He served as the regulatory policy officer for HHS, overseeing the development and approval of all HHS regulations and significant guidance. In addition, he led a number of initiatives at HHS, including implementing the President's Management Agenda, combating bio-terrorism, and public health emergency preparedness. He also sponsored a series of key conferences on improving HHS' role with respect to innovation in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, and medical device industries. Dr. Troy has led U.S. government delegations to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, and Africa.
Dr. Troy has extensive White House experience, having served in several high-level positions over a five-year period, culminating in his service as Deputy Assistant and then Acting Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. In the latter position, he ran the Domestic Policy Council and was the White House's lead adviser on health care, labor, education, transportation, immigration, crime, veterans and welfare. At the White House, Dr. Troy also specialized in crisis management, creating intra-governmental consensus, and all aspects of policy development, including strategy, outreach and coalition building. He also served for a time as the White House Jewish liaison. Dr. Troy spearheaded the White House's American Competitiveness Initiative, featured in the 2007 State of the Union Address. He left the White House for a period to serve as deputy policy director for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, where he was responsible for debate preparation.
Dr. Troy has held high-level positions on Capitol Hill as well. From 1998 to 2000, Dr. Troy served as the Policy Director for Senator John Ashcroft. From 1996 to 1998, Troy was Senior Domestic Policy Adviser and later Domestic Policy Director for the House Policy Committee, chaired by Christopher Cox.
From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Troy was Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, where he remains an Adjunct Fellow. He has also been a Researcher at the American Enterprise Institute.
In addition to his senior level government work and health care expertise, Dr. Troy is also a presidential historian, making him one of only a handful of historians who has both studied the White House and worked there at the highest levels. Dr. Troy is also the author of Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians? (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), and has written over 200 articles, for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The New Republic, Commentary, Reason, Investor's Business Daily, National Review, Washingtonian, The Weekly Standard, and other publications.
Dr. Troy's many other affiliations include: contributing editor for Washingtonian magazine; member of the publication committee of National Affairs; member of the Board of Fellows of the Jewish Policy Center; a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute; and a member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel examining the United States' readiness to address bioterrorism and naturally occurring outbreaks. In 2012, he was a Special Policy Adviser to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign and served as Director of Domestic Policy for the nascent Romney transition.
Dr. Troy has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and an M.A and Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Troy lives in Maryland with his wife, Kami, and four children.
Chef Levana Kirschenbaum
For nearly thirty years Lévana Kirschenbaum has owned and operated a catering business, a bakery and a successful Manhattan restaurant ... all while raising a family. She understands that even gourmet chefs don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. With this in mind, she keeps the recipes simple, insisting that using fresh, natural ingredients will yield fantastic results without a lot of fuss.
When Lévana opened her eponymous restaurant with her two brothers-in-law twenty five years ago, all Kirschenbaums were perfectly aware they were facing a hard sell: introduce fine kosher dining to the Kosher public, who until then was content either eating at home or grabbing a bite in the rare joints that served institutional old world treats. The general prediction was that the presumptuous idea would fall flat on its face.
Undaunted by being the trailblazers of the trend, they surrounded themselves with the best chefs, developed the most delicious dishes and waited patiently until the idea of gourmet kosher caught on. The rest, as we all know, is history: kosher food and wine has experienced a veritable explosion and has its place among the most prestigious competitions. Many luxury kosher restaurants have opened and thrived since Lévana’s pioneering days, bearing out the dictum that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.