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Meet Our Rabbi & Staff

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Senior Rabbi
t.spitzer@dorsheitzedek.org

Rabbi Toba Spitzer has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek since graduating from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1997. Rabbi Spitzer has long been active in peace and justice work both in the U.S. and in Israel/Palestine. She currently serves on the Board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and as President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. She brings her love of music and her guitar-playing to CDT services, and her passion for teachings to adults and children both at CDT and throughout the greater Boston area.

You can find more information about Rabbi Toba and links to her writings here.

Earnest Vener

Director of Congregational Learning
e.vener@dorsheitzedek.org

Earnest Vener (he/him/his) is honored to be the Director of Congregational Learning and is eager to support CDT in creating inclusive, meaningful, and justice oriented Jewish learning opportunities. In addition to working at CDT, Earnest is a SVARA Teaching Kollel fellow, which equips trans and queer teachers to lead empowering Talmud learning communities. Earnest received an M.A. in Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley. Earnest draws on his education to create learning experiences rooted in history, storytelling, cultural arts, and social justice. Prior to moving East, Earnest ran an outdoor Jewish religious school in the Oakland Redwoods and a Jewish farming program at URJ Camp Newman. Earnest is engaged to Emma Price and they enjoy playing board games, studying Torah, spending time with their two cats, and working to build a more equitable world.

Melissa Colten

Executive Director
m.colten@dorsheitzedek.org

Melissa (she/her/hers) comes to Congregation Dorshei Tzedek with an extensive background in non-profit and public sectors, with expertise in community building, educational program development and management, international diplomacy, and TESOL.

Previously a life cycle coordinator and cantor’s assistant at an 1800+ member synagogue in NYC, she returns to the Jewish world after more than 5 years as the executive director for a community development nonprofit in New Jersey. In addition to her core role there, she beta-tested and honed a collaborative intergenerational teaching model that intertwined multi-disciplinary and service learning.

Raised in the Boston area, Melissa earned a BA in Russian studies and theater from Hampshire College. She spent a combined 8+ years in eastern Europe, where she worked for the consular section of the US Department of State during wartime, the International Organization for Migration combating human trafficking and aiding refugees, and teaching English as a second language. She holds a MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in public international law and international migration, and has also completed coursework in non-profit management at the Kennedy School of Harvard University.

Melissa is passionate about connecting people with ideas and with each other. She adores a good story in any medium, prefers salt water to fresh, and takes great delight in language. She is deeply committed to learning, inclusiveness and making the world a better place for all, and is thrilled to be a part of the CDT community at such an exciting time of growth.

Jess Green

Inclusion Coordinator
inclusion@dorsheitzedek.org

Jess Green (she/her/hers) is thrilled to be joining Congregation Dorshei Tzedek as the Inclusion Coordinator. She will also be teaching first graders in her eighth year at Temple Beth Shalom and leading the Family Learning Circle at Nehar Shalom for the second year. Jess earned her Master's degree on Jewish education with a focus on special education from Hebrew College. She has a strong focus on Jewish spaces that are inclusive for her and believes that everyone can and should learn and live Jewishly and in community. Jess loves to teach about social justice, Jewish food, holidays, and ways to make ritual our own.  Originally from New Jersey, Jess has lived in Boston for 16 years and is a member of several different local Jewish communities. She loves to cook for her chosen families, hang out with the kiddos in her life, and be at the beach.

Emmanuel Cantor
Rabbinic Intern
e.cantor@dorsheitzedek.org

Emmanuel (he/him) is grateful and excited to be CDT’s rabbinic intern. Outside of CDT, Emmanuel is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. He comes to CDT after serving as the rabbinic intern at Yale’s Slifka Center for Jewish Life. Before rabbinical school, Emmanuel worked as a community organizer for Jews United for Justice and lived with *eleven* housemates in an Avodah Bayit, an intentional, cooperative Jewish social justice community. 

Emmanuel earned his BA at Yale, where he majored in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. While at college Emmanuel taught middle schoolers, facilitated workshops on consent and bystander intervention, and guided backpacking trips along the Appalachian Trail. Emmanuel also studied at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa in northern Israel, a big change in scenery from his native New York City. When not working or in class, Emmanuel enjoys yoga, Jewish music and dance, and ambitious new recipes. 

Fri, October 15 2021 9 Cheshvan 5782