LEAP (Leverage, Expand, And Popularize)

is a highly selective fellowship program run in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.  

This unique program integrates world-class academics and equally world-class rabbis in an unprecedented living laboratory which leverages two often segregated domains which serve and build American Jewish life — the rabbinate and the academy — as a way to deepen and enrich the quality of conversation and leadership across the wider community. 

LEAP was founded to unlock one of the great resources and success stories of the last half-century and more on university campuses around the world — the vast expansion of academic Jewish studies — and in recognition of the pivotal role played by rabbis to leverage, expand and popularize that work through their roles as teachers, leaders, and pastoral care-givers.

LEAP rabbinic fellows, joined by a group of Katz Center academic fellows explore some of the most pressing debates and vital questions that have shaped Jewish life for 3,000 years and continue to do so today.  Working with the Center’s chosen theme for the 2021-2022 academic year, they will be exploring Jewish law — how it has been understood, observed, overthrown, and how Jewish law continues to matter, or not, in the lives of the contemporary communities which rabbis serve.

Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies/University of Pennsylvania.

Anne Albert is the Katz Center’s Klatt Family Director for Public Programs and managing editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. Previously, she was a fellow in the year 2010–11 (Conversion) and 2013–14 (Early Modernity). Her research is in the area of early modern Jewish cultural history and political thought, and she recently completed a book manuscript on the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. She earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Penn, Brown, Swarthmore College, and Bryn Mawr College before coming to the Katz Center.



Steven Weitzman, Ella Darivoff Director at the University of Pennsylvania, specializes in the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Jewish culture. Recent publications include Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity (Harvard University Press, 2005); Religion and the Self in Antiquity (Indiana University Press, 2005); The Jews: A History (Prentice Hall, 2009); and a biography of King Solomon, part of the new “Jewish Lives” series, published by Yale University Press in 2011. 

Weitzman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University after completing his B.A. at UC Berkeley and spent several years teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University where he served as director of its Jewish Studies program for six years. He comes to Penn from Stanford University, where he was Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion and the director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies.

Sample Topics:

“Are Pit Bulls Dangerous? Reflecting on Rabbinic Constructions of Risk”

Beth Berkowitz | Barnard College | Research Topic: Jewish and Other Imperial Cultures in Late Antiquity: Literary, Social, and Material Histories

“Charity in Rabbinic Judaism: Atonement, Rewards, and Righteousness. Is That All?”

Alyssa M. Gray | Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion |Thomas and Elissa Ellant Katz Fellowship | Research Topic: Reading Halakhah: The Jewish Legal Canon as Literature

“What Went on in the Bet Midrash of the Tannaim?”

Paul Mandel | Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies | Maurice Amado Foundation Fellowship | Research Topic: The Redaction and Ratification of Law in Geonic Babylonia: The Siyuma in Cultural Contexts

This Year’s Fellows

Rabbi Daniel Gropper

Rabbi Daniel Gropper is the Rabbi of the Community Synagogue of Rye in Rye, NY. Ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, he previously served congregations in New York, California, and Massachusetts. He holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education. His long-time passion for education led him to create programs such as J-Life and Chavurah at the synagogue. He has served as faculty and as a member of the Board of Trustees at URJ Eisner/Crane Lake Camps. Rabbi Gropper also served as a vice-chair of the URJ’s National Youth Commission and Commission for Lifelong Learning.

Rabbi Julia Appel

Rabbi Appel creates and leads Clal’s Jewish community training programs in innovation and entrepreneurship, including the on-the-ground program “Spark” and the graduate course for rabbinical and cantorial students “Leading Through Innovation.” She most recently launched The Belonging Project, which enables Jewish communal institutions to measure and improve the culture of belonging among their community members. Rabbi Appel has been bringing her entrepreneurial lens to congregational and organizational settings for over a decade in both the United States and Canada. Read More

Rabbi Nissan Antine

Rabbi Nissan Antine is the Senior Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, MD. He graduated, summa cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and received ordination from YCT Rabbinical School. Before entering rabbinical school, Rabbi Antine studied in various yeshivot in America and Israel and was a fellow of the Torah Metzion Kollel in Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently the president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. Rabbi Antine is very passionate about making the messages of Judaism relevant to Jews across the religious spectrum.

Rabbi Dr. Jon Kelsen

Rabbi Dr. Jon Kelsen is Dean of Yeshiva Chovevei Torah in New York, NY, where he previously taught Talmud and Pedagogy. Previously, Rabbi Kelsen was Rosh Kollel of the Drisha Kollel as well as an adjunct faculty member at the Pardes Institute. He received ordination from Rabbis Daniel Landes and Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg. He holds an MA in Jewish Civilization from Hebrew University and received his doctorate in Education and Jewish Studies at New York University as a Wexner Graduate Fellow.

Rabbi Ari Kaiman

Rabbi Ari Kaiman is the Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in Atlanta, GA. Upon ordination, he served as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis for five years where he founded Makor, a young adult group. His partnership with the Miller Introduction to Judaism program brought dozens of seekers to their home in Judaism. He is part of the Rabbinical Assembly Cohort of the Pardes Mahloket Matters Fellowship. He believes deeply in a vibrant future for our rapidly changing Jewish community. One of his great joys is the work of turning this belief into reality together with his community. He received his Rabbinic ordination, with a concentration in Philosophy, from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. 

Rabbanit Goldie Guy

Rabbanit Goldie Guy is Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel in Chicago, IL. She studied in Israel at the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz and earned her B.A. in Religion at Barnard College. Afterward, Rabbanit Guy attended the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies at Yeshiva University, a two-year program of study in Talmud and Jewish law. While there, she served as chaplaincy intern at North Shore University Hospital. She then studied at Yeshivat Maharat, completing her course of study in Jewish Law and Pastoral Care. During her time there, she taught a beginners’ Talmud course and was a clergy intern at Columbia/Barnard Hillel and a UJA-NY Fellow.

Rabbi Dahlia Kronish

Rabbi Dahlia Kronish is High School Associate Head at the Heschel School in New York, NY, where she has worked for over ten years. The daughter and granddaughter of rabbis, Dahlia grew up in Jerusalem. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. For many summers, Dahlia worked at Camp Ramah in New England and before that at the Ramah-Noam sleep away camp and the Ramah Day Camp in Israel. She also served on The Bronfman Fellowship Faculty.

Rabbi Michael Knopf

Rabbi Michael Knopf is the Rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, VA. Named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by The Forward, he is dedicated to helping contemporary Jews meaningfully engage with their tradition, each other, and the world. Among his signature initiatives at Temple Beth-El is The Havurah Project, a program that brings diverse groups of congregants and community members together for monthly Shabbat dinners in each other’s homes. He holds degrees from Columbia University (History, Cum Laude), the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Talmud and Rabbinics, Magna Cum Laude), and the American Jewish University (Master of Arts in Rabbinic Studies, Rabbinic Ordination).

Rabbi Adam Kligfeld

Rabbi Adam Kligfeld is Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, CA. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College, with a degree in psychology and Jewish history and was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, with a focus on Talmud. Previously, he served  at Congregation Eitz Chaim in Monroe, NY.  Rabbi Kligfeld is an active member of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and a graduate of the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. He served on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement for ten years and stimulated a process of self-review for the CJLS that culminated in a series of recommendations for its future work and progress.

Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner

Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner is the Rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, GA. She received her master’s degree in Jewish Studies, Master of Hebrew Letters, and ordination from HUC-JIR, Los Angeles. She also holds an M.Ed degree in School Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma and received her bachelor’s degree from Bar-Ilan University, double majoring in Education and the Humanities. Rabbi Shuval-Weiner previously served as Associate Rabbi of The Temple, Congregation B’nei Jehudah in Overland Park, Kansas. She is on the executive committee of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association and co-chairs GARC, the Greater Atlanta Reform Clergy group and sits on several other boards and committees in the Greater Atlanta community.



Want to learn more?


All Projects