We encourage and help Jews to embrace plant-based diets as an expression of the Jewish values of compassion for animals, concern for health, and care for the environment.
Meet the Leaders of Jewish Veg
Jeffrey 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: jcohan(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Naomi Davis, Program Manager
Naomi brings to Jewish Veg a wealth of experience in Jewish communal service, as well as a demonstrated commitment to the animal rights movement. She is a graduate of NYU. Email: ndavis(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Evan Davidoff, Director of Member Engagement and Development
Evan is an experienced development professional who is strongly committed to serving the Jewish community and promoting social justice. Prior to joining Jewish Veg’s professional staff, he worked for Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, Bend the Arc, and Kulanu. Email: edavidoff(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Natalie Ahwesh, Vegan Options Always Program Coordinator
Natalie is an experienced vegan advocate and community organizer. Her professional and volunteer experience includes work for Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Action Pittsburgh and, previously, Jewish Veg. Email: nahwesh(at)JewishVeg(dot)org
Board of Directors
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.
Ran is a senior sales engineer at Instart Logic, a technology company. A graduate of Israel’s Bar Ilan University, Ran now lives in Plano, TX, with his vegan family. He brings to Jewish Veg a deep understanding of technology issues and of Jewish theology and its connection to veganism.
Alison is President of Fox Strategy Group, LLC, which helps animal-welfare organizations, among other clients, manage interactions with the federal government. Alison has significant experience on Capitol Hill, including as a senior staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She is a graduate of MIT, with graduate degrees from both Boston College and Boston University.
Jim is a certified lifestyle medicine practioner 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.
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.
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.
Shoshana Smajda is a physician's assistant specializing in plastic surgery and lacerations. She has been active in introducing vegan cooking to the Orthodox community in the Harlem section of New York City.
Brett is a professor of accounting in UCLA's Anderson School of Management, where he chairs the accounting area. He earned all of his college degrees, including his Ph.D. in finance, at Columbia University.
Jennifer N. Vogel
Jennifer is general counsel for Copperpebble Solutions, a global consulting firm in New York. A Yale graduate, she earned her J.D. and M.B.A. at Washington University.
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 longtime spiritual leader of Congregation B'Nai Israel in Danbury, 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 is the Director of Jewish Student Life at the University of Delaware Hillel. 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 and currently resides in Philadelphia.
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 Robert Judd
Robert Judd, known to his congregation as “Rabbi Bob,” is the rabbi of Kol Ami, a Conservative synagogue in Tampa, FL. 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 Educational Leadership and Innovation at the Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, California. He works on issues of food justice and civic engagement in San Diego and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Jonathan Klein
A Los Angeles resident, Rabbi Klein has served as Executive Director for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice since 2009. He also co-founded Faith Action for Animals. Rabbi Klein's advocacy has helped ban fur in West Hollywood and ban the use of bullhooks in circuses in Los Angeles and Oakland, and currently he leads efforts within California to curb the practice of Kapparot.
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 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.
Katie is the founder and the executive director of the The Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, an organization formed in 2010 to educate people about the realities of modern animal agriculture. An experienced public speaker, she is a graduate of UC Berkeley and resident of Oakland, CA.
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.
Garth Davis, M.D.
A national leader in the field of bariatric surgery, Dr. Davis is the author of "Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It." A resident of Houston, TX, he has fast become one of the most sought-after speakers on the vegan circuit.
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.
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.
Sylvia is the director of development and communications for Farm Sanctuary, working in the organization's Los Angeles office. She has 30 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector. Immediately before joining Farm Sanctuary, she served as director of development for the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation.
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.
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.
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.