Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch joined the Hevreh community in July 2015.
He earned his bachelor degrees in Art History and Classics from Tufts University, and was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 2010. Prior to coming to Great Barrington, Rabbi Hirsch served as Assistant and later Associate Rabbi at Temple Shalom in Newton, Massachusetts.
Interested in gender studies, Rabbi Hirsch wrote his rabbinical thesis on biblical and rabbinic models of masculinity. He is also a contributing author to The Still Small Voice: reflections on being a Jewish man. He currently serves as a member of the Commission on Social Action for the Religious Action Center, and has been involved in many other social justice and community organizing initiatives. He also serves locally on the board of Construct, Inc, an organization that saves lives through housing solutions.
He is married to Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, an assistant director at the URJ Eisner Camp. They live in Great Barrington with their son, Lior.
Rabbi Gordon is our Rabbi and Educational Director. Originally from Rockville Centre, NY, Rabbi Gordon grew up with strong connections in the Reform movement, especially through her time at URJ Eisner Camp, which instilled in her a lifelong love for Jewish learning, and the Berkshires. She attended Brandeis University where she earned a degree in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies. Prior to attending rabbinical school, Rabbi Gordon gained invaluable community experience building, programming and teaching in a variety of Jewish communal institutions, including Hillel at the University of Wisconsin and The JCC in Manhattan, and Ma’yan: Listen for a Change. Rabbi Gordon was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 2014.
In recognition of her academic excellence and leadership potential, Rabbi Gordon was awarded the Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Fellowship for Rabbinic Leadership during her time at HUC-JIR. Her publications include “Koach Banot (Girl Power): Talking Feminism with Jewish Teen Girls”, a chapter in the volume New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future, and an article entitled “”Emerging Rabbis: It’s Too Soon to Proclaim “Mission Accomplished!” which appeared in the Fall 2012 CCAR Journal. Rabbi Gordon is passionate her work, helping individuals and families find meaningful ways to live Jewishly on Jewish time. She also serves locally on the board of the Berkshire Baby Box, an organization providing education and resources to new parents.
Rabbi Gordon is married to Joshua Bloom, and they are thrilled to live in the Berkshires with their daughters Lola and Goldie.
On July 1, 2014, Rabbi Deborah Zecher became Rabbi Emerita of Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, after having served as Rabbi and Leader of Music from 1992-2014. Rabbi Zecher feels tremendous gratitude to the members of Hevreh for having been her partners in continuing to create a wonderful, vibrant, music-and study-filled community over the twenty-two years of her tenure at Hevreh.
She is a graduate of Brandeis University and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York in 1982 where she also received her Doctor of Divinity degree in 2007. Rabbi Zecher has also served congregations in Scarsdale, NY, Washington, DC and Germantown, MD in addition to working as a chaplain at American University and Williams College.
During Rabbi Zecher’s tenure at Hevreh, she was especially proud of the many congregants who studied and learned to chant Torah, including almost 250 teen and adult bnai mitzvah students. She created a five year post-bar/bat mitzvah program leading to Confirmation which also included annual trips to Prague, Amsterdam, the American South for a Civil Rights journey and L’Taken, a social justice advocacy program in Washington, DC. Together with Hevreh’s choir and in recognition of the important role music plays at Hevreh, Rabbi Zecher recorded two CD’s of Jewish music. Rabbi Zecher’s time at Hevreh also saw the creation and construction of two buildings, one of them the first building created specifically to be a synagogue in South Berkshire county.
Rabbi Zecher feels honored to have served on the national board of every organization in the Reform movement, having completed two terms on the Board of Governors of HUC-JIR and as well as serving as president of the Rabbinic Alumni Association of HUC-JIR. She served as Recording Secretary of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and was also a member of the Board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism). In 2003, Rabbi Zecher was thrilled to have been chosen as one of the sh’lichei tzibor (leader of worship) for the URJ Biennial Shabbat morning service, the first time a rabbi was chosen to share musical responsibilities for this service and in 2007, she served as cantor for the CCAR convention service at the historic Plum Street Temple, a service which formally introduced Mishkan Tefillah to the members of the CCAR. She is a past national co-coordinator of the Women’s Rabbinic Network and served several terms on the board of the Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires. Rabbi Zecher is a past president of the Southern Berkshire Interfaith Clergy Association. For several years, she served as one of the moderators of Religious Roundtable, a radio program on WSBS sponsored by the South Berkshire Interfaith Clergy Association. She especially enjoyed her work as a mentor to several rabbis and rabbinic students in programs sponsored by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Hebrew Union College.
Shani Cohen is thrilled to be joining Hevreh at the new student cantor for the 2017-2018 school year. She grew up in Sunnyvale, California, and is currently in her second year as a cantorial student at the HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. This past summer, Shani got to travel to Argentina with an HUC cohort to learn about its Jewish community, as well as study with leading Reform clergy and songleaders at the Hava Nashira Jewish music convention. Last year, Shani had an amazing experience living and studying in Jerusalem as part of HUC’s Year-in-Israel program, where she led prayer services, soloed with the HUC High Holy Day choir, performed at the Debbie Friedman Memorial and Classical Reform concerts, and connected with Israeli friends and family. She was also chosen for the inaugaral JDC Fellowship for Global Jewish Leadership, through which she visited and worked with Progressive Jewish communities in Eastern Europe during the Passover holiday. She looks forward to a wonderful year of praying and growing together with the wonderful Hevreh community!