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Leo Baeck College is delighted to announce the new intake of students who will be joining the Rabbinic Programme in September 2015

2015 rabbinic students

Yaera Ratel, Elliott Karstadt, Anna Posner, Deborah Blausten and Frankie Stubbs join the class of 2015 from a variety of backgrounds. Jessica Rosenfield, who was also accepted, will join the programme in 2016.

Deborah Blausten
Deborah is a native Londoner and a third generation member of Alyth Synagogue. Involved in RSY-Netzer from a young age, she spent a year in Israel on Shnat Netzer, studying at the Conservative Yeshiva and the Machon l'Madrichei Chutz La'Aretz before studying Medicine at UCL. After graduating she worked for Jeneration, developing the presence of Reform Judaism on university campuses, before returning to UCL to study for a Masters in her twin passions of Education and Technology. Deborah has worked at Finchley Reform Synagogue for the past five years, first teaching and co-ordinating its 'Shabbat Programme' and more recently as the synagogue's Young People's Educator. Deborah is also a keen Limmudnik and is currently the programming chair of Limmud Conference 2015. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, running and crafting.

Elliott Karstadt
Elliott was brought up in Finchley Progressive Synagogue, where he is now a long-standing teacher at Ivriah (the religion school) and bass player in Shabbat Resouled. After a successful year teaching GCSE at West London Synagogue, he has also been involved in shaping their innovative Tripod programme for teens. Elliott is a regular at Limmud conferences and the Liberal Judaism Biennial. Before being accepted at Leo Baeck College he gained a BA in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, then an MA and PhD in Intellectual History from Queen Mary University of London, where his research focused on moral and political ways of talking about particular interests and the common good in the seventeenth century. For the last two years Elliott has worked as an editor at Polity Press in Cambridge. He is a lover of books, films, and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Elliott very much looks forward to studying at Leo Baeck College, where he hopes to develop skills required for building community and enhancing the philosophical and prophetic messages he finds in Jewish texts.

Frankie Stubbs
Frankie grew up in Southport as a member of Southport Reform Synagogue. She was an active member of the community from early on, developing leadership skills and teaching at Cheder. Frankie was a participant and madricha for RSY-Netzer before truly realising her passion for communities and prayer. During her time at Nottingham Trent University where she studied Youth Studies, Frankie enjoyed learning more practical skills around working with individuals. In September 2011 Frankie became a Movement Worker for RSY-Netzer. MRJ then employed her to continue working with the Reform Communities as their Youth Community Development Worker. Frankie is looking forward to this next stage of her journey of learning more, meeting new people and growing from all the new experiences to come!

Anna Posner
Anna Posner was born and raised in Nottingham as a member of Nottingham Liberal Synagogue. She was active in the community teaching at the cheder and was a participant and madricha in LJY-Netzer. Anna studied Drama and Religious studies at Liverpool Hope University before spending two years as a Movement Worker for LJY-Nezter. Whilst living in London. Anna was active in organising LEAPP (Learning eating and progressive praying) events. Anna is currently living in Jerusalem and working for Netzer Olami's gap year programme, Shnat Netzer.

Yaera Ratel
Yaera was born and grew up in East of France and studied for a degree in Sociology in Strasbourg and Paris where she worked for 20 years as a Sound Editor for films.

She became involved at the Communauté Juive Libérale (Reform synagogue), in Paris, initially as a member, then as a teacher. She was subsequently Director of the Talmud Torah for several years. Her commitment and active life in her congregation together with her interaction with the members of the community and the education and encouragement she received from her rabbis determined her conviction to become a rabbi. In addition, she had the opportunity to develop a strong connection with Israel at Beutel seminar at Beit Shmuel and at the Hebrew University summer Ulpan, both in Jerusalem.

Before coming to the Leo Baeck College, Yaera undertook studies for a Modern Hebrew degree at INALCO (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations) and in parallel she taught Judaism to adults and young people at her synagogue via e-learning.


Leo Baeck College Annual Review 2014-15

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Tributes to Rabbi Sheila Shulman z"l


Rabbi Sheila Shulman z"l
18 October 1936 - 25 October 2014

A Geology Lesson

Here, the sea strains to climb up on the land
and the tree blows dust in a single direction.
The trees bend themselves all one way
and volcanoes explode often
Why is this? Many years back
a woman of strong purpose
passed through this section
and everything else tried to follow

Judy Grahn
The Work of a Common Woman
London: Onlywomen Press, 1985, p.88

It was with deep sadness that we at Leo Baeck College learnt of the death on Saturday 25 October of our beloved teacher, friend and mentor, Rabbi Sheila Shulman z”l. Sheila was an exceptional teacher and colleague and an inspirational role model for generations of rabbis and students. Her memory is an abiding blessing.

What follows is a selection of tributes to Sheila z"l from her colleagues, friends and former students:

Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, Principal Leo Baeck College
'I am not sure how to speak from a position of privilege about someone who, for so much of her life, resided outside the normal definitions and bounds of privilege. And yet Sheila was a privilege to know.' Read more >

Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, Dean Leo Baeck College
'Sheila made an indelible impression on everyone she met and her first on me was when, in her second year, I taught her Aramaic. It was quite clear from the start that Sheila had forgotten more about teaching than I then knew and having her as a pupil certainly kept me on my toes.' Read more >

Rabbi Miriam C Berger, Finchley Reform Synagogue
'As I sat listening to the amazing tributes at the cremation of Rabbi Sheila Shulman on Wednesday I gained a little more insight into the extent to which the world has changed during her life time. I always felt I was a bit of a disappointment as far as Sheila was concerned.' Read more >

Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith, Harrow & Wembley Progressive Synagogue
'Sheila and I had long conversations during the last year or so of her life.  We shared a love for the New York Review of Books and moaned together about the general political state of today's world and the lack of transformational activism in our society'. Read more >

Rabbi Colin Eimer, Sha'arei Tsedek, North London Reform Synagogue
'I first met Sheila Shulman when she applied to the Leo Baeck College. She was one of the first lesbians to apply to the Leo Baeck College to train for the rabbinate. I was part of a small group in the Progressive Jewish world that saw no reason why gays or lesbians couldn’t or shouldn’t train for the rabbinate. Sheila started in 1984 and I was one of her teachers, teaching Biblical Hebrew.' Read more > 

Student Rabbi Roberta Harris, Leo Baeck College
'I met Sheila when she was a student rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue in the late 80s. I don't remember much about her until the Shabbat when she preached a sermon that some of us came to call 'Out and Proud'.' Read more >

Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz, Sinai Synagogue, Leeds 
'How do you make a Jew? This is a tried-and-true recipe that has worked fabulously well throughout the centuries, starting with Rikvah and Yitzchak.' Read more >

Rabbi Neil Janes, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue
'And to begin this journey with you today seems most apt because one of my dear teachers and colleagues died last Shabbat. Rabbi Sheila Shulman, z’tzl was one of those teachers from whom I learnt the simple, yet enduring lesson that it is possible to disagree so fundamentally with someone intellectually and yet demonstrate a deep compassion for their being and their humanity. These are my reflections – not a eulogy of her life but how I was transformed in knowing her and learning from her.' Read more >

Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi, Birmingham Progressive Synagogue
'Since I heard that Sheila had died I have been thinking about what made her so special. In part, it was her very gruffness. She was down to earth, no-nonsense and you knew that whatever she said she meant. She had no time for sentimentality and as I write I am conscious of her care about words. The love she extended to those she cared about was absolutely genuine and she had no time for politeness or show.' Read more >

Student Rabbi Daniel Lichman, Leo Baeck College
'This week the Leo Baeck College community is mourning our own Ivri: Rabbi Sheila Shulman, a true crosser of boundaries.' Read more >

Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, Professor of Bible, Leo Baeck College
'I have been trying to cast my mind back to when I first met Sheila when she applied to enter the Leo Baeck College to study to become a rabbi.  At the time the idea of accepting a self-proclaimed radical lesbian feminist was unprecedented and shocking. No one here will be surprised to learn that Sheila was quite upfront and challenging. We had to accept her on her own terms.  As much as we at the College might be judging her suitability to become a rabbi, she was also quite clearly judging us as representing the Jewish establishment and probably expecting to find us wanting.' Read more >

Judy, Marion, Varda and Vivi
'I don’t think there are many rabbis out there who design and set up a community of their own. But then, most rabbis wouldn’t need to. But Sheila, today so much respected by so many in liberal/reform circles, was a pioneer.' 
Read more >

Rabbi Judith Rosen-Berry, Beit Klal Yisrael
'Sheila was looking, she said, for: “more life” and she kept finding it in Judaism, in a religious tradition that was tough, edgy, ironical, and sometimes even funny - a little like her.'  Read more >

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah, Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue
'I first got to know Sheila in 1982 when we were in a Jewish Lesbian group together for two years. In addition to that connection, which involved weekly gatherings, often at her home, I also worked for Onlywomen Press in 1983 – a unique publishing enterprise run by Lilian Mohin, together with a collective that included Sheila.' Read more > 

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue
'This week, my colleague of twenty five years, Rabbi Sheila Shulman died of cancer. She was seventy-eight.' 
Read more >

Rabbi Dr Andrea Zanardo, Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue
'I cannot begin this week's sermon without mentioning the sad passing of one of the most beloved teachers of mine, Rabbi Sheila Shulman, z''l.' Read more >

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