Buffalo Day of Jewish Learning

Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 10 AM – 5 PM

JCC Benderson Building & Virtual Options

Please join the Buffalo Jewish community for the 2022 Buffalo Day of Jewish Learning. Hosted by Professor Alex Green, Buffalo Community Jewish Educator in the University at Buffalo Department of Jewish Thought, this event will be a celebration of local Jewish talent for all of us who love to learn. You will have your choice of sessions led by a rich array of speakers who will be sharing their expertise in business, academia, religious practice, music history, mindfulness and spirituality, theatre, and more.

Some of the topics that you can explore are:

  • What does it mean to be Jewish in Western New York?
  • How can I run a successful business without compromising my Jewish values?
  • How can future generations learn about the Holocaust in a hands-on way that will leave a lasting legacy?
  • How can I live Jewishly through ritual?
  • How has Jewish music and culture evolved in the last century?
  • How can we inspire our children to carry on meaningful Jewish lives?

You will have access to local well-known figures such as Rabbi Ori Bergman; Macie Clawson; Buffalo Corner Reading Series; Gon Erez; Zahava Fried; Prof. Drew Kahn​; Dr. Gunilla Kester; Lindy Korn, PLLC; Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein; Lori Morrison; Prof. Noam Pines; Rabbi Sara Rich; Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum; Michal Shmuel-Lewis; Dr. Mike Steklof; Rus Devorah Wallen, LCSW; Nirit Weiner; Prof. Gil Wolfe; Prof. Alexandra Zirkle; and students from Hillel of Buffalo and Kadimah Scholars at Park.

For the full immersive experience, join us in-person at the Jewish Community Center, 2640 N. Forest Rd, Getzville, NY 14068. For those who will not be able to attend in person, there will be a special track online on Zoom. Kosher lunch is included and fully BVK supervised for those who attend in person.

The subsidized registration fee is $18 for community members and free for students.

Thanks to the Buffalo Jewish Federation, the UB College of Arts and Sciences, Hillel of Buffalo, Amherst Memorial Chapel, and the TELLL Fund for sponsoring this event.

The Buffalo Jewish Day of Learning is the first public project of the Home/Hub Partnership between the Buffalo Jewish Community and UB’s College of Arts and Sciences. The Home/Hub Partnership seeks to draw on the academic resources of the university to address critical issues facing the Jewish community while presenting opportunities to enhance Jewish life on campus and throughout Jewish Buffalo.

Buffalo Day of Jewish Learning Schedule

TimeProgram Option 1
JCC Board Room
Program Option 2
JCC Lippman Lounge
Program Option 3
Program Option 4
(In-Person for Kids!)
JCC Upstairs
10-10:15amWelcome and Opening Words -
Dean Robin Schulze, College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo
Shelly Yellen, Vice President Venture Steel U.S. and President of the Buffalo Jewish Federation Board of Governors
Experience the Jewish Holidays through Art
Chair: Logan WoodardChair: Macie ClawsonChair: Michelle PietruszewskiRun by Elizabeth Ilyina-Orak
Session 1 10:15-11amAnti-Semitism: Past and Present with Prof Noam PinesJewish Values & Civil Rights Leadership with Lindy Korn, PLLCRosh Hashanah: Honeycomb and jar decoration
Session 2 11:15-12pmA Glimpse into Kadimah Scholars at Park led by Michal Shmuel-Lewis, Nurit Weiner and Kadimah Scholars at ParkSukkot: Build a sukkah
Session 3 1-1:45pmJewish vs. Democratic, The Separation of Church and State in Israel with Gon ErezJewish Composers, Lyricists and Song Writers: Past to Present, performed by Zahava Fried Poetry Reading
with The Buffalo Corner Reading Series led by Dr. Gunilla Kester and Dr. Irene Sipos
Click Here To Read Poems
Hannukah: Decorate a dreidel
Session 42-2:45pmConversation on The Future of Jewish Buffalo, Post-Covid, hosted by Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein with Rabbi Ori Bergman, Rabbi Sara Rich, and Rabbi Adam RosenbaumThinking about Gender and Sexuality with the Song of Songs? with Professor Alexandra ZirklePurim: Mask making
Session 53-3:45pmMaking Hummus and Falafel with Lori MorrisonRabbi Sara Rich and UB Students discuss Life’s Big Questions Teaching Gender in Jewish Education
with Mike Steklof, Ed.D.
Passover: Design your seder plate
Session 64-4:45pmKosher Meditation: Relaxation Techniques in the Digitally Distracted World with Rus Devorah Wallen, LCSWIntroduction to Story Building with The Anne Frank Project, led by Prof Drew KahnA Sabbath for the Land: Learn the Basics of Shmita/The Sabbatical Year and Creative Contemporary Applications with Rabbi Sara RichShavuot: Put together your own flower wreath

Presenter’s Bios

Rabbi Ori Bergman

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - Ori Bergman scaledRabbi Ori Bergman is the Rabbi of Kehillat Ohr Tzion. Together with his wife Norah, he has four children: Ruvi, Simcha, Devorah Leah, and Zusha. In addition to his work at KOT, Rabbi Bergman has taught at Kadimah Academy, provided kosher supervision through the BVK, taught numerous classes to congregants and the community, and has spread the joy of Judaism to everyone he meets in the Buffalo Jewish community.

Macie Clawson

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - MacieClawsonMacie Clawson is the Springboard Innovation Specialist at Hillel of Buffalo. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, where she earned a BA from KU in 2020, with a double major in Political Science and Jewish Studies, and earned an Honors Certificate. Macie was an active leader at KU Hillel and brings to this position a passion for student engagement, social justice, and education. As the Springboard Innovation Specialist, Macie strives to increase student engagement by supporting students in the creation of new initiatives in their areas of academic and personal interest.

Buffalo Corner Reading Series

Buffalo Corner Reading Series is a monthly poetry reading hosted by Gunilla Kester and Irene Sipos.

Gon Erez
Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - GonErezGon Erez is the Chief Program Officer at the JCC of Greater Buffalo. Originally from Israel, he graduated with a Bachelor in psychology and economics from Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, Israel and served as the Program Director of the Youngstown JCC. He is currently completing a Master’s in Non-Profit Management at Gratz college.
Zahava Fried

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - HeadShotZahava Fried is a Jewish educator, cantorial soloist, newfound Buffalo Bills fan, and self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast. She is also a classically trained violinist, violist and singer and had the opportunity to perform with the Pittsburgh Opera as a teenager. She resides in Williamsville with her husband, two daughters, and a small zoo of animals.

Elizabeth Ilyina-Orak

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - ElizabethIlyina OrakElizabeth Ilyina-Orak is a graduating senior at the University at Buffalo. She is completing her BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Financial Analysis and Marketing and a Minor in Jewish Studies. Eliza is born and raised in Brooklyn and is in the process of applying to law school, with an interest in prosecution. She volunteers with the Chabad House of Buffalo and is the President of the Chabad Student Leadership Board.

JLF Fellowship at UB

JLF Fellowship at UB is a 10-week experiential, conversational seminar for students looking to deepen their understanding of Judaism on their own terms. Last Fall they discussed ‘Life’s Big Questions, Or How to Get the Most out of College,’ with Rabbi Sara and Macie. Discussion topics include: Where is home, and what is its purpose? What is the connection between your personal story and communal history? What is the meaning of the Sabbath in modern times? What is a contemporary sexual ethic that is rooted in Jewish tradition but relevant to today’s approach to sexuality?

Kadimah Scholars at Park School

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - KadimahKadimah Scholars at Park School launched in 2019 and represents a relationship that transitioned Kadimah Academy from being an independent school to an education program and scholarship fund with classes, students, and teachers integrated into our vibrant community. Established for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 and funded by the Buffalo Jewish Federation, the program also adds to Park’s curriculum and programming. With classes in Hebrew and Judaic Studies, our students have more opportunities to learn about the wider world, encouraging a global perspective and enhancing our commitment to diversity.

Prof. Drew Kahn

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - DrewKahnProf. Drew Kahn is is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Theater at SUNY Buffalo State where he teaches acting (President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching/SUNY) and has directed over 20 productions (Kennedy Center Award). He is the Founding Director of the Anne Frank Project, a multi-layered social justice program at SUNY Buffalo State that utilizes the wisdom of Anne Frank as a springboard for the examination of oppression through the lenses of story and performance. He presents and teaches internationally on the use of story as a tool for conflict resolution, community building and identity exploration—most recently in Rwanda, Kenya, Switzerland, DR Congo, Turkey, Burma and Viet Nam.

Dr. Gunilla Kester

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - GunillaKesterDr. Gunilla Kester is a Swedish-born award-winning poet and the author of If I Were More Like Myself (The Writer’s Den, 2015). Her two poetry chapbooks, Mysteries I-XXIII (2011) and Time of Sand and Teeth (2009), were published by Finishing Line Press. She was co-editor with Gary Earl Ross of The Still Empty Chair: More Writings Inspired by Flight 3407 (2011) and The Empty Chair: Love and Loss in the Wake of Flight 3407 (2010). Dr. Kester has published many poems in Swedish anthologies and magazines, including Bonniers Litterära Magasin, Sweden’s most prestigious literary magazine. A Fulbright scholar, she authored a scholarly study entitled Writing the Subject: Bildung and the African American Text (New York: Peter Lang, 1995, 2nd ed. 1997), and published many articles in academic journals and anthologies. She lives near Buffalo, NY where she teaches classical guitar. She has poems recently published or forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Pendemics, Slipstream, Trampoline, Great Lakes Review, San Pedro Review, Cider Press Review, and I-70.

Lindy Korn, PLLC

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - LindyKornLindy Korn, PLLC earned her BA at Boston University and her law degree from the Ohio Northern University School of Law in 1979. In 1981, Lindy was the first woman to run for Town Justice in the Town of Amherst. In 1990, Governor Cuomo appointed Lindy to become a Commissioner for the Workers’ Compensation Board for the State of New York. In 1997, Lindy started Diversity Training-Workplace Solutions, Inc., an anti-discrimination and retaliation consulting firm, and trained companies throughout the United States to prevent discrimination and hostile environments in the workplace. Lindy also served as an Administrative Law Judge for the State Liquor Authority.

Currently, Lindy is a columnist for the Buffalo Law Journal, The Daily Record, and the Buffalo Jewish Review covering current workplace trends. Lindy is a SUNY Buffalo Law School adjunct professor and teaches sexual harassment mediation as a Bridge Course. She has taught at the Cornell School of Labor Relations in the area of Workers’ Compensation and SUNY Buffalo School of Architecture and Urban Planning School in the area of conflict resolution. She also participates in SUNY Buffalo’s Law School mentoring program. Lindy has sat on the boards of the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts Advisory Council, the Buffalo Prenatal/Perinatal Network, the Women Lawyers and Physicians Council, and is the former President of the Mid Day Club of Buffalo. She is a proud member of the National Employment Lawyers Association, Erie County Bar Association, and the Erie County Minority Bar Association.

Lindy is the proud mother of two daughters, Emily and Leslie, and has a dog named Sigmund. Her avocations include playing cribbage, walking, photography, and looking for reasons to laugh.

Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - Rabbi Alex 600x600Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein came to Buffalo in the Fall of 2008 to serve as the rabbi of Temple Sinai, now called Congregation Shir Shalom. He brings warmth, creativity, and compassion to the role of synagogue rabbi. A trained chaplain and gifted teacher, he is actively engaged in all aspects of communal life, from helping people with their everyday struggles, to intricate details of synagogue governance.

Lori Morrison

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - LoriMorrisonLori Morrison is owner, operator, and chef of Luscious by Lori – a specialty catering firm under the supervision of Buffalo Vaad of Kashrus (BVK). Lori has been in the hospitality business for over thirty years and understands how to ensure that every event is successful and no detail is overlooked. Luscious by Lori specializes in small parties, appetizer platters, wraps, salads, desserts, and fruit displays. 

Michelle Pietruszewski
Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - MichellePietruszewskiMichelle Pietruszewski is a second-year MA student in the English Department. She holds a BA in English with a Jewish Studies minor from the University at Buffalo, where she participated in the Thunder of the East Marching Band, UB Pep Band, and service fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi. Michelle continues to study music in her free time as a member of the UB Choir. Her academic interests include literature of migration, transnational literature, biblical criticism, Jewish studies and the philosophy of religion. Michelle is currently writing her MA thesis on Jewish emigré identity.
Prof. Noam Pines

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - NoamPinesProf. Noam Pines is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Jewish Thought. His research interests include poetry and poetics; literature and theology; modernism in Hebrew, German, Yiddish and English; and animals in literature. He recently published The Infrahuman: Animal Poetics in Modern Jewish Literature. Professor Pines’ current book project, Children of Saturn: Jews and the Roots of Melancholia, examines the notion of melancholia in its relation to Jews and modern Jewish identity by uncovering a constellation in which an entire array of themes and motifs play a part. A native Hebrew speaker, Professor Pines is also fluent in English, German and Yiddish.

Rabbi Sara Rich

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - rabbiSaraRichRabbi Sara Rich is the Executive Director of Hillel of Buffalo. Rabbi Sara earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.A. in Hebrew Literature from HUC-JIR. Rabbi Sara was ordained in 2011 from the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She subsequently earned a Certificate in Experiential Jewish Education in 2015 from Yeshiva University and completed Hillel International’s Weinberg Accelerate executive training program in 2016. Prior to joining the staff in 2017, Rabbi Sara served as the Director of Education at the Hillel of Princeton University for six years. In her role, she worked with students on leadership development and community-building, and taught numerous classes at the Hillel in topics such as Jewish Biomedical Ethics and Judaism 101. Today, Rabbi Sara resides in Williamsville with her husband, Ezra, and their daughters, Miriam, Sivan and Naomi.

Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - Adam RosenbaumRabbi Adam Rosenbaum is thrilled to be Temple Beth Tzedek’s spiritual leader. He was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and grew up in Denver, Colorado. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. He was ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2005, where he also earned a Master of Arts degree in Bible and Semitic Languages. While at JTS he served as Student Rabbi at Degel Israel Synagogue in Watertown, NY, and as Rabbinic Intern at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, NJ. Upon ordination, he served as Temple Beth Shalom’s assistant rabbi for four years. He served most recently as rabbi of Synagogue Emanu-El in Charleston, SC, for 11 years. Rabbi Rosenbaum is proud of his three children: Shoshana, Jonathan, and Eliana. He feels privileged to serve his congregation and is committed to helping foster a synagogue of learning and caring.

Dean Robin Schulze

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - RobinSchulzeDean Robin Schulze is a Professor of English and Dean of Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Yale University (1983), and her first and second Master’s degrees in Music (1986) and English (1987) and her PhD in English (1991) from the University of Michigan. She specializes in Modernist American Poetry, Textual Scholarship and Editorial Theory, and Modernist Literature and Culture. Prior to her appointment, Schulze served as Associate Dean for the Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware from 2014-2016. She came to Delaware from Penn State University where she taught for more than a decade before accepting the position of Head of the Department of English in 2007. An expert in the poet Marianne Moore, Schulze has authored four books and over 20 scholarly articles.

Michal Shmuel-Lewis

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - MichalShmuel LewisMichal Shmuel-Lewis is a native of Israel, was the Hebrew Language teacher at Kadimah Academy from 2001-2019 and a school counselor since 2016. At Park, she teaches Hebrew to grades K through 10 and assists with the coordination of the Park-Kadimah Scholars program. Michal studied English and education at Seminar Hakibbutzim College in Tel Aviv, Israel, receiving a BA in 1997. She was certified through the Israeli Ministry of Education, and worked with various grade levels in Israel teaching English as a New Language. She also served as a Community Service coordinator at Kugel High School in Holon. After moving to Buffalo in 2001, she studied in the School Counseling program at the University at Buffalo, receiving her MA and a school counselor certification in 2006. She is in the process of being certified as a NYS English as a New Language teacher. In 2010, she received the national Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She and her husband, Shai Lewis, live in Amherst and have two daughters.

Irene Sipos

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - IreneSiposIrene Sipos earned her Master of Arts in the legendary 1970s English Department of SUNY University at Buffalo. She recently retired from SUNY Buffalo State where she taught in the English Department and the College Writing Program and was a co-founder of Buffalo State’s Rooftop Poetry Club.

Her work has appeared in Lilith Magazine, The Comstock Review, Earth’s Daughters, Buffalo Poets Against War, Burchfield Penney Newsletter, The Jewish Journal of Western New York, Artvoice,The Owl Light News, Buffalo News, as a Park Street Press broadside and in the anthology, A Celebration of Western New York Poets. Her chapette, Poem… and other Poems, is No.12 in the Buffalo Ochre Papers. She was a finalist in the 2004 Comstock Review Awards Issue and the 2015 Jesse Bryce Niles Chapbook Contest. Recently Irene published a book of poems titled Stones.

Currently, Irene works at the Writing Center at Buffalo State, is a freelance editor and tutor, and is a co-host, along with Gunilla Kester, of the Corner Poetry Series at Congregation Shir Shalom.

Mike Steklof, Ed.D.
Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - Mike Steklof updated August 2020Mike Steklof, Ed.D. is a Director of Jewish Experience at LiNK Jewish Buffalo. Mike works with children, teens, and adults throughout Jewish Buffalo to deepen their connection to Judaism through gatherings, relationships, and text. Mike also leads LiNK’s Belonging Initiative, which works to create a welcoming environment for all who seek to engage and find their own space in Jewish life. Formerly, Mike was a Regional Director for BBYO and the Assistant Director of Camping and Youth Services for the Jewish Community of Louisville. Mike received his Doctorate in Education at Gratz College where he explored how children are educated about gender in Jewish educational spaces. Mike also holds a Master of Arts in Education from Gratz College and a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from the University at Albany, State University of New York and is a past JCC Association Merrin Fellow and a past Shalom Hartman Institute Created Equal Fellow. Mike enjoys cooking savory vegetarian dishes, training for half marathons, and walking on bike paths.
Rus Devorah Wallen, LCSW

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - RusDevorahWallenRus Devorah Wallen, LCSW, ACSW is an alumna of Wurzweiler School of Social Work –Yeshiva University as well as College Conservatory of Music—University of Cincinnati, and Machon Alta Women’s Institute—Safed, Israel. She is a motivational entertainer, psychotherapist and consultant social worker, community leader and accomplished musician. Displaying unusual versatility as an educator, she conducts workshops and programs on various themes ranging from emotional wellbeing and marriage enhancement to Chassidic philosophy, mindfulness, music, and religious practice.
As co-founder and clinical supervisor of SPARKS (Serving Postpartum families with Awareness, Relief, Knowledge and Support), Mrs. Wallen frequently speaks on women’s perinatal issues (postpartum depression, anxiety, etc.), focusing on giving support to families in need and training professionals to assist their clients. Most recently, she has embarked on producing music that is not only calming, but therapeutic.

Nirit Weiner

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - NiritWeinerNirit Weiner was born in Israel and moved to Michigan in 1986. She attended the University of Detroit Mercy and graduated with a Bachelor Degree in world history with a minor in women’s studies. She has been working in Jewish education for the past twenty years teaching nursery through eighth grade, and developed and implemented Hebrew programs as well as special needs programs. In addition, she taught at Kadimah Academy for two years prior to the transition to the Kadimah Scholars at Park in September 2019. Nirit and her husband have five children ranging from 21 to 32 years old. They spend their free time traveling and visiting their children in five different states. Nirit frequently practices yoga and received her yoga teaching certification three years ago.

Prof. Gil Wolfe

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - gilwolfeProf. Gil Wolfe is a Professor, Irvin and Rosemary Smith Chair of Neurology and University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor in the Department of Neurology. His research interests in neuromuscular medicine are wide but have mainly focused on myasthenia gravis and other disorders of neuromuscular transmission, as well as peripheral neuropathies. Among his many volunteer roles include serving on the Buffalo Jewish Federation Board of Governors and Federation’s Partnership 2Gether Leadership Council and is currently the General Campaign Chair for Federation’s Campaign for Jewish Buffalo. 

Logan Woodard

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - LoganWoodardLogan Woodard is the Director of Engagement at Hillel of Buffalo. Logan was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, where he first realized his passion for Jewish Life, Israel, and SU basketball. Before attending the University at Buffalo, Logan enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard. Logan graduated from the University at Buffalo in February 2017 where he studied History and Judaic Studies. Logan is thrilled to have the opportunity to work at his alma mater and continue his involvement with Hillel. In his free time, you can find Logan enjoying coffee, watching HGTV, and pursuing his passion for martial arts.

Shelly Yellen

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 - ShellyYellenShelly Yellen is currently serving as the President of the Buffalo Jewish Federation Board of Governors. He is a consummate volunteer beginning his engagement with the Jewish community in Washington, DC through event participation at Federation, MAZON, and AIPAC. In Buffalo, Shelly has been involved in a variety of Jewish organizations including Jewish Federation Apartments, the Bureau of Jewish Education (now CJEL), and Congregation Shir Shalom. Shelly’s Federation leadership includes chairing the Annual Campaign for Jewish Buffalo and serving as Treasurer.

Shelly received a BA from University of Maryland and an MBA from American University. He began his career as a Senior Financial Analyst at the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and returned to Buffalo in the early 1990’s to work at Lancaster Steel Service Company, a multi-family Regional Steel Service Center. Shelly ultimately became President of Lancaster and sold the business in 2007 to Ryerson Steel; the largest publicly held Steel Service Center in North America at the time. After about a year with Ryerson, Shelly joined Mr. Fox Tire Company as a partner. Missing the steel industry, he started Yellen Metals LLC in 2011 and several years later sold the business to Venture Steel, a large privately held Metals Service Center. Today, he serves as Vice President for Venture Steel U.S., Inc.

Shelly met his wife Heidi when he returned to Buffalo in the 1990s. The Yellens have three children: Kayla, Noah and Ethan. “We are fortunate to have been able to raise our children surrounded by family and great friends,” Shelly added. “Heidi and I are proud to contribute to building a strong community that offers a vibrant Jewish life.”

Prof. Alexandra Zirkle

Day of Jewish Learning 2022 -Prof. Alexandra Zirkle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at UB. She is a scholar of modern Jewish thought, biblical hermeneutics, and Jewish-Christian relations. Her research centers biblical interpretation as a mode of critical inquiry, restores nineteenth-century figures to the canon of modern Jewish thought, and explores the ways that the interpretation of scripture is always also a mode of political speech. Professor Zirkle’s forthcoming book analyzes how German Jews wielded the constructive power of biblical exegesis to craft new forms of Judaism and stake their claims to civil emancipation. Throughout the nineteenth century, German biblical scholarship often spilled beyond the walls of the university and German intellectuals and politicians often turned to biblical exegesis to support their campaigns for or against extending civil rights to German Jews.