In the first half of this week’s Jewish Sacred Aging Radio show, Rabbi Address chats with Rabbi Judy Schindler, Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte and Sklut professor of Jewish Studies there, and Judy Seldin-Cohen, who became a community advocate after 20 years in business. Their new book Recharging Judaism: How Civic Engagement is Good for Synagogues, Jews, and America is available directly from CCAR Press at Recharging.CCARpress.org and also on Amazon Kindle.
In the second half of the show, the guest is Rabbi Steven Sager, director of SICHA, Hebrew for “conversation,” an organization promoting the vital ongoing dialogue between classical Jewish texts and modern life, enabling Jewish communities and their leaders to enlist the Jewish past in the service of the Jewish future.
About the Guests
Judy Seldin-Cohen is a community advocate and author. She has spent the last ten years collaborating on social justice issues with Rabbi Judith Schindler, her then synagogue rabbi and now co-author. Prior to researching and writing Recharging Judaism, their work included establishing the first Jewish-sponsored site for the Children’s Defense Fund® Freedom Schools and creating two award-winning documentaries – “Souls of Our Students: Appreciating Differences” and “Souls of Our Neighbors: Fears, Facts & Affordable Housing.” Seldin-Cohen is also a lay leader at Temple Beth El (Charlotte, NC), where she has served on the board, led the social justice committee, and represented the temple in the community.
Outside the synagogue, she advocates for homelessness solutions and LGBT inclusion and has periodically served on non-profit boards. She is currently on the governance board of A Way Home, a $20 million public/private endowment at the Foundation For The Carolinas providing rental subsidies and arranging support services to move families from homelessness to financial independence.
Before moving to Charlotte, Seldin-Cohen worked for more than twenty years in business, starting her career in management consulting and then leading sales and marketing divisions of various multi-million dollar companies. She worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton in Chicago for several years, and later as vice president of ticketing at the Jacksonville Jaguars for its first three seasons as an NFL expansion team.
Seldin-Cohen earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, graduating magna cum laude.
Seldin-Cohen is married to Jeff Cohen. She is the mother of three adult children and fortunate also to be a mother-in-law and a grandmother.
Rabbi Judith Schindler is the Sklut Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte. She was named Rabbi Emerita of Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina after serving as Senior Rabbi from 2003-2016 and as Associate Rabbi from 1998-2003. Prior to coming to Charlotte, she was an Associate Rabbi at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York. She is a contributing editor for the Charlotte Observer.
She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Tufts University in 1988 (magna cum laude), her Master’s from the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles in 1993, and her rabbinic ordination at the Hebrew Union College in New York in 1995.
Rabbi Schindler serves on the Executive Committee of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, is co-chair of the Rabbinic Council of the Association of Reform Zionists of America and is a Trustee of the Reform Pension Board. She is past co-chair of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, served on the Board of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Coalition for Housing, and as co-chair of the Clergy Council of MeckMin (Charlotte’s interfaith organization).
On behalf of Temple Beth El, Rabbi Schindler envisioned and led the creation of four social justice documentaries being utilized across the country. “Souls of Our Students: Appreciating Differences” and “Souls of our Students: A Transgender Focus” address diversity in schools. “Souls of Our Teachers” addresses urban education and “Souls of our Neighbors” explores the value of creating affordable housing. Three of the documentaries earned Telly Awards. Rabbi Schindler has contributed chapters and articles to more than ten books and recently researched and co-authored a book on recharging congregations through civic engagement and moving the religious community from volunteerism to advocacy (Recharging Judaism: How Civic Engagement is Good for Synagogues, Jews, and America, CCAR Press, 2018).
Among the many awards she has received, Rabbi Schindler was named Charlotte Woman of the Year in 2011. She received the 2008 Humanitarian Award from the Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice, the 2008 Mecklenburg Ministries Interfaith Clergy Award, was selected as one of Charlotte’s USA 20: Celebrating Dynamic Women in 2010, and was recently named the 2017 Outstanding Champion of Diversity by the Association of Fundraising Professionals NC Charlotte Chapter.
Rabbi Schindler is married to Chip Wallach, who works for Bank of America. They have two sons, Maxwell and Alec. She is the daughter of the late Rabbi Alexander Schindler who was president of the Union for Reform Judaism 1973-1995.
Rabbi Steven Sager is the Rabbi Emeritus of Beth El Synagogue in Durham, NC, where he served as rabbi for 32 years. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) and he earned a Ph.D. in Rabbinic Literature at Duke University. Rabbi Sager has been a teacher, rabbinic advisor and mentor for students and graduates of the RRC, the Hebrew Union College, The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Rabbinical School of the Boston Hebrew College. Rabbi Sager is an adjunct faculty member of the Duke Divinity School and has taught at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and in the Department of Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina Medical School. Rabbi Sager is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem where he is also a leader of the Rabbinic Programs Advisory Committee and of the Rabbinic Havurah program. Rabbi Sager has served as President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and of the Greater Carolinas Association of Rabbis (GCAR). He served as the co-director of the GCAR Interfaith Institute. Rabbi Sager has served as Scholar in Residence on numerous occasions for the GCAR as well as serving in this capacity in congregations throughout the United States. Rabbi Sager has published articles in The Reconstructionist, The Journal of Religious Education, and The Southern Medical Journal. Rabbi Sager now serves as the Director of Sicha, a project to stimulate conversations between classical Jewish culture and contemporary Jewish needs.