We inspire and assist Jews to embrace plant-based diets as an expression of Jewish values.
Meet the Leaders of Jewish Veg
Jeffrey Spitz Cohan, Executive Director
Jeffrey came to Jewish Veg after successful careers in journalism and Jewish communal service. A vegetarian since 2007 and a vegan since 2010, Jeffrey has a Master's in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University. Email: jeffrey(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Lisa Apfelberg, Deputy Executive Director
Lisa brings to Jewish Veg more than 15 years high-level nonprofit experience, most recently at Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy, where she served as executive director. A vegan for more than two decades, she has a Master's in Social Work and is part of the current cohort of the Executive Masters in Jewish Professional Studies of the Spertus Institute. Email: lisa(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Sara Eifler, Director of Programs
Sara has extensive experience in events planning, writing and editing, and nonprofit management. Since becoming vegetarian at age nine and subsequently vegan at fourteen, she has been dedicated to activism and social change in both her personal and professional life. She is a graduate of Brandeis University. Email: sara(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Jodi Krizer Graber, Director of Donor and Public Relations
Jodi brings her passion for health, well-being and her Jewish heritage to Jewish Veg. She was an arts executive for 20-plus years after earning her master’s degree from New York University. Jodi is certified to practice health coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Email: jodi(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Liz Madsen, Director of Marketing and Communications
Liz has extensive experience in communications and marketing at Jewish organizations. They became vegan for the animals and the environment, but they are also passionate about cooking and eating good vegan food. They earned their Masters in Professional and Technical Writing and Editing at Youngstown State University. Email: liz(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Board of Directors
David Niekerk, Chair
David joined Amazon in 1999 and worked there until 2016, rising to the position of Culture and Employee Engagement Leader for Worldwide Operations and Customer Service. He was at the forefront of promoting vegan food options for Amazon employees. He is a U.S. Army veteran, having served 10 1/2 years in diverse domestic and international assignments and achieving the rank of Major.
Richard Schwartz, President Emeritus
Richard Schwartz is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island, New York. He is the author of several books, including the seminal work, “Judaism and Vegetarianism.” He is the assistant producer of the documentary "A Sacred Duty" and the author of more than 200 articles.
A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Alicia has been vegan since 2014 -- motivated by concern for animals. She has served as co-chair of our Los Angeles Chapter and she is the founder of Vamos Vegan, a local organization with the same mission as Jewish Veg, to inspire and help people to go vegan.
Jeff Schrager, M.D.
Jeff is a physician and works for Integrated Oncology, a division of LabCorp, as a pathologist. Although his medical education and training prepared him to diagnose blood cancers, he lacked knowledge on how to prevent chronic diseases. Realizing the truism of Hippocrates' statement "Let food be thy medicine," he adopted a whole-food plant-based diet. This, combined with no longer wanting to contribute to the exploitation of animals, led him to become vegan in 2014.
Rabbi David Rosen
Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee. He lives and works in Jerusalem. Rabbi Rosen authored the preamble for Jewish Veg's Rabbinic Statement.
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Rabbi Gutow is the former President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. He has been named one of the nation's Top 50 most influential rabbis by the Daily Beast for three consecutive years. Rabbi Gutow is a graduate of the University of Texas Law School and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Rabbi David Wolpe
A leader in the Conservative Movement, Rabbi Wolpe was named the Most Influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek in 2012. He is the author of eight books and the spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
Rabbi David Sears
The director of The Breslov Center in New York, Rabbi Sears is the author of "A Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism."
Rabbi Katy Allen
Rabbi Allen, of Wayland, Massachusetts, is the spiritual leader of Ma'yan Tikvah, which holds outdoor Shabbat and holiday services. She is also the co-founder and president pro-tem of the Jewish Climate Action Network.
Rabbi Nelly Altenburger
Rabbi Altenburger is the spiritual leader of Adath Israel in Middletown, CT. A native of Brazil, she earned her Bachelor's degree at the University of Sao Paolo and her ordination at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz, M.D.
Rabbi Dr. Bortz is both the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, GA, and a bioethicist. She is a leader in several issue areas, including infertility, mental illness and anti-Semitism.
Rabbi Rick Brody
Rabbi Brody lives in Denver, where he serves as the Community Chaplain for Jewish Family Service of Colorado. A vegetarian since the age of 14 and a vegan since 2009, he has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to animal rights and social justice. Rabbi Brody is a graduate of Yale University and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Rabbi Boris Dolin
A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Dolin serves as the rabbi of Congregation Dorshei Emet in Hampstead, Quebec. He is an avid runner and is a strong advocate of Jewish veganism.
Rabbi Akiva Gersh
Rabbi Gersh teaches about Judaism, animal welfare and veganism online via his Vegan Rabbi social media accounts. He created an online course as well to help people deepen their knowledge about how much Judaism promotes compassion for animals and supports going vegan in our world today. He and his wife Tamar live in Pardes Hanna, Israel, with their four children.
Rabbi Donn Gross
Donn Gross is the rabbi of Congregation Bet Dovid, an Orthodox shul in Caldwell, NJ, whose events are fully vegan. He also owns the vegan catering company "Meals to Heal." Rabbi Gross also has a presence on YouTube.
Rabbi Robert Judd
Robert Judd, known to his congregation as “Rabbi Bob,” is the rabbi of B'nai Shalom Congregation in Huntington, WV. Before obtaining his Master’s from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, he completed coursework for a doctorate in English and American Literature at the University of Tulsa.
Rabbi Andy Kastner
Rabbi Andy Kastner serves as the Director of Community Impact for the Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay.
Rabbi Jonathan Klein
Serving as Jewish Veg Los Angeles Rabbinic Chair, Rabbi Klein is the interim rabbi at Temple Beth El in Bakersfield, CA. He also co-founded Faith Action for Animals, a faith-based animal advocacy organization, and has already helped ban fur in West Hollywood. He also leads efforts to practice Kapparot without the use of animals.
Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein
Rabbi Rubenstein, along with his wife, Rabbi Linda Motzkin, are the longtime spiritual leaders of Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs, NY. Together, they are co-founders of Bread and Torah. Rabbi Rubenstein has led workshops on Judaism and vegetarianism and has translated Rav Kook’s classic work, “A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace.”
Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner
Rabbi Shuval-Weiner is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, GA. Under her leadership, Beth Tikvah has been selected as one of five synagogues to participate in a year-long endeavor to learn about and practice kashrut's ideal form -- veganism. A graduate of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, she earned a graduate degree from Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Barry Silver
Rabbi Silver is the rabbi of Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor in Lake Worth, Fla. He is also a practicing attorney, handling cases in civil rights, environmental law, public-interest law, among other areas. Rabbi Silver founded and chairs the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition and the Interfaith Justice League.
Rabbi Eliyahu Soiefer
Rabbi Soiefer is the spiritual leader of Congregation Achdus Yisroel of Pomona, N.Y. An accomplished musician and composer, he graduated from the Berklee College of Music before going on to earn a Master's degree from Adelphi University and smicha from Yeshiva Kol Yaacov.
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Rabbi Dobb has served Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation -- a progressive community of nearly 500 households in Bethesda, Maryland -- for more than a decade. He serves on the national boards of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and Shalom Center and as Chair of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light.
Rabbi Marc Soloway
Rabbi Soloway serves Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder, CO. He chairs Hazon's Rabbinical Advisory Board, and has co-chaired two Hazon Food Conferences. In 2015, Rabbi Soloway was honored at The White House as a Climate Champion of Change. In 2013, The Forward named him one of America's most inspiring rabbis.
Rabbi Micah Streiffer
Rabbi Micah Streiffer serves as spiritual leader of Kol Ami, a Reform congregation outside Toronto. He writes and lectures on matters pertaining to the environment, vegetarianism, and liberal Jewish life.
Rabbi Beni Wajnberg
Born and raised in Brazil, Rabbi Beni Wajnberg serves as the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Shaaray Tefila, a large Reform synagogue in New York City. Through his rabbinate, he seeks to find ways of leading others into a path of sacredness, inspiration, justice and compassion..
Rabbi Ariann Weitzman
A native of San Diego, Rabbi Weitzman is the Director of Congregational Learning at Bnai Keshet, a Reconstructionist synagoguge in Montclair, NJ.
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
Rabbi Yanklowitz is the founder and president of Uri L'Tzedek, the Orthodox Jewish social justice organization; the executive director of Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix; and the founder of the Shamayim V'Aretz Institute, an organization which collaborates with Jewish Veg in promoting veganism in the Jewish community.
An expert in vegan advocacy, Caryn is the author of "Animal Impacts: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World." She is the co-founder and CEO of Priority Ventures Group, which provides a wide range of strategic consulting services to animal-protection organizations.
Alex Hershaft, Ph.D. is the Animal Rights Conference Chair and founder of Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM). He launched World Farm Animals Day in 1983, the Great American Meatout in 1985, Gentle Thanksgiving in 1990, and has organized 20 national Animal Rights conferences. He has a doctorate in chemistry.
Patti is a sought-after public speaker and well-known writer about veganism. She is the director of the Marin (CA) Vegetarian Education Group and the co-author of the book "Never Too Late to Go Vegan."
Dan created and maintains The Vegetarian Mitzvah Website, one of the leading sources of information on the Web about Jewish vegetarianism. Having earned a doctorate in sociology from UC Davis, Dan now teaches at San Jose State University and San Francisco City College.
Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D.
Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens is the founder of the Tree of Life Foundation and its residential health center in Patagonia, AZ, where he treats patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases with a vegan, mostly raw, diet. He lectures internationally and is the author of nine books.
William is the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. A vegan since 2011, Daroff was named by the Jerusalem Post as among the 50 most influential Jews in the world; by the Forward newspaper as being among the 50 most influential Jews in the U.S.; and by the Algemeiner newspaper as one of the Top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life. He received his B.A., M.A., and J.D. from Case Western Reserve in his hometown of Cleveland, OH.
Jason is a Philadelphia-based filmmaker focusing on documentary and short-form storytelling. His past clients include Comcast, NBC-Universal, the Philadelphia Flyers and Groupon. After experimenting with a plant-based diet for improved health, Jason quickly began to love the lifestyle for the environmental and ethical benefits as well.
Diana’s career has focused on corporate and high school curriculum development, training and education. Currently, she is the founder of Beantown Kitchen, which provides plant-based cooking instruction, personalized vegan lifestyle coaching and educational seminars. Diana holds a B.S. from Cornell and an Ed.M. from Harvard.
Maxim Hammer, M.D.
Max is an associate professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, specializing in the treatment of stroke victims. He is an advocate of veganism as an effective preventive-health measure.
Ellen Jaffe Jones
Ellen is an the author of several top-selling books on veganism, including "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day." She is also an accomplished plant-based distance runner, a personal trainer and a popular speaker at veg fests.
Joel Kahn, M.D.
A graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, Joel has been practicing cardiology since 1990. In addition to his practice, he is now a sought-after public speaker about the benefits of plant-based diets for cardiovascular health and the author of the book “The Whole Heart Solution.”
Roberta is the founder and chief editor of Micah Publications, the leading publisher of books on Jewish Vegetarianism. She is the author of "Vegetarian Judaism: A Guide for Everyone," and the editor of "Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition," among several other books.
Ellen is the award-winning author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost,” VegNews’ 2013 Book of the Year. She is the Huffington Post’s Meatless Monday blogger and writes the Edgy Veggie syndicated column for the Miami Herald. Learn more about Ellen at SoulfulVegan.com.
Jim is a certified lifestyle medicine practitioner living in Beersheba, Israel. He is a former Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. In that capacity, he provided executive level leadership in policy development, planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programs.
Daniel Marcus, M.D.
Dan is a physiatrist with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. He is board-certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, with subspecialty certification in Pain, Sports, and Neuromuscular Medicine. He has a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition and is leading a plant-based lifestyle medicine program.
Nina Natelson is the founding director of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI), a non-profit organization established in 1984 to improve the lives and treatment of Israel’s animals through education, legislation and direct support.
Alan is the founder and executive director of the Vegan Trade Council, the trade association for the vegan food and clothing industries. An expert on Animal Law, Alan teaches animal law at the American University Washington College of Law and University of Baltimore School of Law. He is also the founder of the Maryland State Bar Association Section on Animal Law.
Robert Ostfeld, M.D.
A cardiologist, Dr. Ostfeld is the founder and director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. He is a nationally recognized leader in educating fellow and future doctors about the health-benefits of plant-based diets.
Stewart is the vice president of Vegetarians of Washington, the largest regional veg-advocacy organization in the country. He is the author of "The Vegetarian Solution: Your Answer to Heart Disease, Cancer, Global Warming and More," and a co-coordinator of Seattle Vegfest.
Aaron is the National Director of Campaigns for The Humane League, overseeing the outreach and organizational campaigns in all of the regional offices. He resides in Baltimore.
Roberta is the coordinator of Hudson Valley Vegans, a regional vegan-advocacy organization in upstate New York. She is also a co-author of two cookbooks: "Thanksvegan" and the "Vegetarian Shabbat Cookbook."
Steve, a resident of Boston, is the founder and CEO of Rainier Communications, a public-relations firm serving more than 200 clients in the high-tech sector. Rainier has offices in Westborough, MA, and Tel Aviv. He is a past president of Temple Sinai in Worcester, MA.
Heather Shenkman, M.D.
Heather is an interventional cardiologist in the Los Angeles area. While she is skilled at angioplasty, she prefers to prevent heart disease through healthy lifestyles, including plant-based diets and exercise. She has followed a vegan diet for over ten years and competes in triathlons, cycling and running races, including two Ironman triathlons. She blogs at VeganHeartDoc.com.