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Meet Our Rabbi & Staff

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Senior Rabbi

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

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

Melissa 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.

Erin Dimson-Doyle

Administrative Assistant

Erin Dimson-Doyle (she/her or they/them) is thrilled to join the team at Dorshei Tzedek as the Administrative Assistant. She comes to CDT with extensive administrative experience, most recently at Boston Center for the Arts where she helped coordinate theatre, dance performances, and visual art exhibitions. Outside of work, she is an artist, making photography, sculpture, performances, and more. She has performed and shown work at numerous venues around Boston, including the Museum of Fine Arts and Institute for Contemporary Art. Every week she bakes her own challah, and loves spending time with her partner and their cat Nate.

Erin's hours:
Monday-Friday 10am-6pm

Amira Shulman-Kumin

Inclusion Coordinator

Amira brings a wealth of experience to the project of inclusion in the CDT Religious School. With a background as an elementary school reading specialist, Amira has worked with students of all ages and with a wide range of special needs. She has collaborated with other teachers in helping those students in inclusion classroom settings, as well as working with students individually. She has worked with parents to identify priority areas and to develop plans for their children’s success, both within her schools and as a private consultant.

Though working in a religious school context will be a new step, Dorshei Tzedek is a familiar community to Amira, as she has joined our High Holydays services for several years and was raised in a Reconstructionist synagogue. She is also an active member of the Moishe Kavod House community, a young adult Jewish community in the Boston area. At Moishe Kavod, she has been involved with their Farm to Shul team and, more recently, in their accessibility work for young adults with a variety of inclusion needs.

Amira looks forward to getting to know the CDT community, especially the young people. As a self-identified reading nerd, she is looking forward to thinking about how to best support Hebrew reading instruction, especially for students that are already challenged by reading and writing in English.

Amira lives with her partner, Nathan, and dog, Jackson, in Watertown. In addition to her teaching work, Amira enjoys researching and reading children’s literature, cooking, playing board games, and practicing American Sign Language.

Jordan Leonard
Interim Zoom Coordinator

Jordan Leonard (she/her) is thrilled to join the staff at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek as a Zoom Coordinator. She recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in English and a certificate in Technical Writing, and hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Ancient History. During her training as a technical writer, Jordan wrote and researched documentation focused on principles of accessibility, including a grant proposal for after-school enrichment programs in Springfield, Massachusetts. Jordan is always looking for ways to get involved in community outreach and grassroots organizing, and was a member of the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) during her time at UMass. Originally from Mansfield, she recently relocated to Cape Cod and will be joining CDT remotely in Orleans. When she’s not writing or Zoom-ing, Jordan enjoys practicing her Latin and Italian, hiking with her dog, and watching lots of British reality TV.

Jordan's Hours: 
Tuesdays 3:30-6:30
Thursdays 10:30-1:30
Sundays 9:00-12:00

Sun, May 16 2021 5 Sivan 5781