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.
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.