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MEET OUR RABBI

Rabbi Justin David (he/him/his) has served as the rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel for 20 years. Before moving to Northampton, he was the Assistant Rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, after having been ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Rabbi David is proud to lead a community that is spiritually vibrant, intellectually alive, morally engaged, and devoted to raising the next generation of compassionate Jews. He is especially proud of CBI's dedication to support those who are most vulnerable as well as our dedication to the poetry of traditional prayer and our commitment to ongoing study.  

Call the CBI office to set up a time to connect with Rabbi David. He would be honored to learn about your life journey, share his vision for Jewish life and the CBI community, schmooze about the issues of the day, respond to any questions about Judaism or the CBI community or simply get to know you.

Feel free to check out Rabbi David's book, Longing: Jewish Meditations on a Hidden God, available at independent bookstores downtown or through the CBI gift shop.  Learn more about T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights, which gave Rabbi David the Human Rights Hero award in 2018.

MEET OUR STAFF

Emily Kieval, Executive Director

 
 
 
 

Emily Kieval (she/her/hers) has served as the Executive Director since August 2019. Previously, she served as the Director of Inclusion at Temple Shalom in Newton. She also served as a Regional Director of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities. Emily received her Bachelors Degree from UMass Amherst and her Masters Degree from Columbia University. Emily is passionate about building resilient and inclusive communities. 

 
 
 
 

Rabbi Jacob Fine, Director of Jewish Life and Abundance Farm

 
 

Rabbi Jacob Fine (he/him/his) has served as the Director of Jewish Life and Abundance Farm since 2013.  Previously, he served as a rabbi and educator for a number of leading Jewish environmental organizations including the Teva Learning Alliance, Adamah, Hazon and the Jewish Farm School. A Wexner Graduate Fellow and former Rabbi and Assistant Director at Hillel at the University of Washington, Rabbi Jacob was ordained as a rabbi from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies where he also received an MA in Rabbinic Studies. He is also a graduate of Vassar College where he received a BA in environmental studies and religion.

 
 

Kate Holdsworth, Director of Gan Keshet Preschool and Young Family Engagement

Kate Holdsworth (she/her/hers) is the Director of Gan Keshet Preschool and Young Family Engagement. Kate has been an integral part of the CBI and Gan Keshet community since she first joined the Gan Keshet faculty as a Parpar teacher back in 2007. Kate has a background in Early Intervention, Special Education, Art, Theater, and Puppetry--including her work with PJ Library Page to Stage. She is a recipient of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation award for teaching excellence in Jewish Education. Kate is deeply committed to the work of cultivating community and a love of the natural world with young children and their families.

Nili Simhai, Director of Environmental and Agricultural Education

Nili Simhai (she/her/hers) serves as the Director of Outdoor Education for Abundance Farm. Nili served as the Director of Teva Learning Alliance, a leading Jewish environmental education organization, for fourteen years.  A recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, Nili has been recognized for her leadership in training and counseling hundreds of educators in the tenets of Jewish environmental education.  One of her current passions is outdoor classrooms in Jewish institutions.

Cynthia White, Office Manager

 

Cynthia White (she/her/hers)  is CBI's Office Manager. She has worked in nonprofit settings as an administrator since leaving her career as a licensed social worker.  Her experience includes running her own small nonprofit, working as a bookkeeper for Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, and serving as a director for a nonprofit in Arizona that advocated for social justice and environmental stewardship. Her passion is with all things related to nature. She loves drawing plants and wildlife. 

 

Amy Stein, Engagement Coordinator

Amy Stein (she/her/hers) is the Engagement Coordinator. Her experience includes building a community of volunteers and interns in her work at Jewish Vocational Service; launching an engagement initiative at Temple Shalom in Newton; and founding the Newton Mothers’ Forum. She earned a BFA from Parson’s School of Design and an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Boston University. She is deeply committed to helping people find meaning and belonging in community.

Thomas Bradbury, Facilities and Events Coordinator

Tom (he/him/his) graduated from the Musicians Institute, Hollywood, CA; was awarded an Associates in English and Creative Writing from Holyoke Community College; a Bachelors in English and English Literature from South College, UMass, Amherst; and a Masters in Business and Analytics from Isenberg School of Management, UMass, Amherst. He considers his greatest achievement as being initiated as a Kriya (Raja) Yogi.  He plays tenor banjo, mandolin, bass guitar, harmonica, some piano, and guitar. He is a member of The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra and also plays solo performances featuring The Country Blues. He is a songwriter, and a published poet and writer.

He currently resides in Florence with his wife Sheryl, but at this time they have no domestic pets; maybe the backyard squirrels count. Their daughter, Hope, is a school teacher in Indiana.

 

Rose Cherneff, Farm Manager

Rose Cherneff (any pronouns) serves as the Farm Manager for Abundance Farm. Rose got her start in the farming world as a teenager working at The Food Project in Boston, MA. Since then she has worked for a variety of educational and production farms throughout New England including Sawyer Farm - a horse powered CSA, Villageside Farm - a diversified vegetable operation, and Rebel Hill Farm - a native and perennial plant nursery.  Rose is interested in the ways in which farming and land-based relationships can help bring people together, and how connecting with each other can help us connect to the land.

Rebecca Leung, Farmer and Educator

Rebecca Leung (she/her/hers) serves as Farmer and Educator for Abundance Farm. Rebecca became interested in gardening while doing an AmeriCorps program at an elementary school in California, where rosemary grows as a bush and kale is a perennial. Since then, she has worked at a variety of CSA and wholesale farms in Massachusetts, including Brookfield Farm and most recently Old Friends Farm in Amherst, MA. Rebecca is excited to facilitate her own and young people's Jewish learning through farming and being connected to land.

Teen Engagement Coordinator

Aaron Kagan (he/him/his) taught Judaica classes for middle school students and led teen activities at CBI from 2010 to 2012. In 2022, he rejoined the staff as the Teen Engagement Coordinator. Aaron has several years of high school teaching experience, including the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, and the United World College USA, which is an international high school with a focus on peace and sustainability that is located in New Mexico. Aaron has a BA in literature from Brandeis University. Prior to teaching, he spent five years performing and leading theater workshops across the U.S., and his writing has appeared in publications such as the Boston Globe, the Forward, and Smithsonian. He lives in Florence and loves hiking with his family and dog, writing poetry, cooking, and foraging for wild edibles.

Alyssa Vega-Fernandez, Executive Assistant

 
 
 
 

Alyssa Vega-Fernandez (she/her/hers) joined the CBI team as a part-time Executive Assistant in the spring of 2021. Alyssa works remotely and handles all of the scheduling and appointments for Rabbi Justin David and Executive Director Emily Kieval. Alyssa has dual Master's degrees in Strategic Marketing and Business Data Analytics. When she isn't working, she can be found playing with her cocker spaniels and spending time with her husband. Click here to email Alyssa. 

 
 
 
 

Lennie McKemmie, Maintenance Supervisor

Lennie McKemmie (he/him/his) serves as CBI's Maintenance Supervisor, overseeing our building and grounds with great care. He has a background in HVAC and can build just about anything. When he isn't at work, you might find him engrossed in his art, creating intricate woodburned illustrations of animals. 

Emily Bristol, Building Services Associate

Emily Bristol (she/her/hers) serves as a part-time custodian and integral member of the kiddush team at CBI. Emily graduated from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and Information Systems. She has always loved to clean and organize and enjoys being able to put these skills to use at CBI. Emily loves being a part of the CBI community and cherishes the relationships she has formed over the years with both staff and congregants. 

Thu, May 26 2022 25 Iyyar 5782