Board Members Emeritae
Linda Heller Kamm
Susan Lewis Solomont
Roselyne "Cissie" Swig
* served as Chair
Board of Directors
Barbra Streisand is a film director, producer, writer, actress, singer and composer, as well as a leading spokesperson and fundraiser for social and political causes. Her production company, Barwood Films, has focused on creating television movies and documentaries that explore pressing social, historical and political issues. She established the Streisand Foundation in 1986, which since its inception has made grants totaling more than 11 million dollars to organizations that promote and support women’s rights, civil rights and race relations, environmental causes, youth-related issues focusing on the economically disadvantaged, and AIDS research. Brandeis University awarded Barbra Streisand an honorary doctorate in arts and humanities in 1995. She is a recipient of the National Medal for the Arts.
Phyllis Hammer, Current Chair
Phyllis Hammer has been active in the Boston Jewish community for close to 20 years. She served as president of Ma’ayan, Boston’s Torah Studies Initiative for Women, which she helped found. Hammer was a founder of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton and served as its vice president. She also has served on the boards of Maimonides School, Boston’s Bureau of Jewish Education and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Phyllis Hammer is also a founder of Edah, a national organization dedicated to strengthening Modern Orthodoxy. She earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and was a National Science Foundation Fellow at MIT, conducting research in immunochemistry. Until 1983, she was a member of the research staff of MIT, working in biochemistry and biophysics.
Rita Blitt is a painter/sculptor/film maker who cares deeply about people and creating a more harmonious world. Her art, which has been seen in 10 countries, celebrates nature, music, dance and the spontaneous flow of movement captured in the drawn gesture. Her 6 minute film, Caught in Paint, a collaboration with the Parsons Dance Company, has been invited to over 130 film festivals and received 16 awards. This film reveals how Rita creates. A new DVD, Rita Blitt: Visions of My World, 9 films of creative inspiration: drawing, painting, sculpture, music and dance, will be available in 2014. Rita Blitt: A Passionate Gesture, Willoughby Design, RAM / Brandeis publications, was published in 2000. A new book featuring over 40 of her monumental sculptures is being proposed. Rita’s current passion is gifting her works to spaces where they will inspire and bring joy to people. To view Rita Blitt’s exhibitions, public sculptures, films and news go to the Rita Blitt Museum Without Walls, www.ritablitt.com.
Talia Carner was the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine. A former adjunct professor at Long Island University School of Management and a marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies, she was also a volunteer counselor and lecturer for the Small Business Administration and a member of United States Information Agency (USIA) missions to Russia. She participated at the 1995 International Women's Conference in Beijing, where she sat on economic panels and helped develop political campaigns for Indian and African women. Ms. Carner's first novel, PUPPET CHILD, was listed in “The Top 10 Favorite First Novels 2002” and launched a nationwide legislation (The Protective Parent Reform Act) that became the platform for two State Senatorial candidates. CHINA DOLL made Amazon’s bestsellers list and served as the platform for Ms. Carner's presentation at the U.N. in 2007 about infanticide in China—the first ever in U.N. history. Her next novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN, (HarperCollins, 2011,) won the Forward National Literature Award in the “historical fiction” category, and her newest novel, HOTEL MOSCOW, won USA Book News award. Over 50 of Carner’s award-winning short stories, articles and personal essays have appeared in anthologies, literary magazines and leading websites. Ms. Carner is a board member of HBI, a research center for Jewish women's life and culture at Brandeis University. She is also an honorary board member of several anti-domestic violence and child abuse intervention organizations and works toward Israeli causes. She is married to Ron Carner, president of Maccabi USA. The couple has four grown children and reside in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, NY.
Please check www.TaliaCarner.com
Debbie Finkel is a lawyer and entrepreneur living in Newton, Massachusetts. Debbie has been active in Jewish communal organizations for over 20 years. She served as the President of Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore (Massachusetts). Debbie serves on the board and is a founding board member of Eim Chai, whose mission is to empower Jewish women across all streams of observance with Jewish Torah values and wisdom to ignite their homes with greater spirituality. Debbie has a particular interest in helping Ethiopian Jews transition to their new lives in Israel. She spent time in Gondar helping to prepare emigrates for their new lives in Israel. She worked to establish curricula designed to help young immigrant children find common ground with their new Israeli schoolmates. Debbie is currently establishing a U.S. and Israel based initiative to train Ethiopian immigrants to provide direct care services to Israel’s elderly, infirm and disabled. Debbie and her husband Robert lived in Israel for two years with their children Max, Hannah and Aliyah.
Leslie B. Gaffin has served as a lay leader of Jewish organizations for nearly 40 years. She is a member of the National Council of Hadassah and Liaison to the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. She is a past Chair of the Hadassah Northeast Area Development Center and served as the first Northeast Liaison for Keepers of the Gate from 2000-2002. A resident of Boston, Leslie is a member of the Board of JArts and serves as past chair and member of the executive committee of the Miriam Fund. Leslie received her B.A. from Wheaton College and earned a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Management from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Leslie and her husband, Michael, were founding members of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland where Leslie served on the Board of Directors from 1978-88. Leslie and Michael have three married children and seven grandchildren.
Dr Tobe Levin von Gleichen is a collegiate professor emerita with the University of Maryland University College in Europe, an adjunct at the University of Frankfurt, and an Associate (since 2006) of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She earned her Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell University and a maitrîse from the Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle (Paris III) for her thesis on “Images of Women in Rousseau and Diderot.” Dr. Levin has conducted extensive research and publication on women in the Holocaust. She has also held visiting research positions at Mt. Holyoke College, Brandeis and Cornell universities in the USA, and at China Women’s University in Beijing, China.
Dr. Levin has been teaching summers since 2009 at Northwestern Polytechnical University (Xi Gong Da), Department of Aeronautical Engineering, in Xi’an, China, and has lectured in Beijing on gender in African and African American literature as well as in her specialty, female genital mutilation (FGM). The topic first seized her attention in 1977 when the German feminist magazine EMMA introduced “Clitoridectomy.” Since then, Dr. Levin has combined scholarship with activism and is recognized in Germany as one of the movement’s pioneers. In regular consultation with African activists, in 1998 she co-founded FORWARD-Germany, e.V., a charity that aims to end the dangerous practice and in 2009 launched UnCUT/VOICES Press to present to English-language readers key books on FGM that had appeared in French, German and other European languages. A multi-lingual educator and activist, she also translates and publishes, having three edited volumes and more than a hundred articles and book chapters to date. She lectures widely and blogs regularly at www.uncutvoices.wordpress.com.
Prof. Dr. Judit Bokser Liwerant is Professor of Political Science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She has been appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2013. BA and Master Studies in Political Science and Sociology- The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Phd summa cum laude, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Professor Bokser Liwerant has lived in Mexico since 1968. She has been a member of the Mexican Academy of Science, since 1999 as well as a Member of the National Research System (Fellowship at highest level) since 1991. She is the Director and Editor of the Mexican Journal of Political and Social Science and co-editor of the Brill Book Series on Jewish Identities in a Changing World, Boston-Leiden (2009-present). As former Head of the Graduate School of Political and Social Sciences (1996-2012), a nationally and internationally recognized Latin American post-graduate program, Professor Bokser Liwerant led its, academic reform. She has been Visiting Professor at several national and international universities, including: Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO); San Martin University, Argentina; Beatty Chair, McGill University, Canada; Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris; Eckstein Scholar in Residence, Arizona State University; San Martin Chair and The Institute of Advanced Studies, at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; research stay at La Maison des Sciences de L’Homme. Her work spans across different disciplinary fields and research areas, ranging from political theory and Contemporary Jewry. Her specific research has been carried out in political sociology; Jewish responses to Modernity; Jewish identities in Latin America; pluralism and multiculturalism; citizenship and collective identities; Jewish identities and gender perspectives; globalization processes and transnationalism. Her academic production also covers the field of anti-Semitism, racism and human rights, with both theoretical works as well as policy contributions within the framework of the activities of the Citizens’ Study Commission Against Discrimination, the Human Rights Commission and the National Council to Prevent Discrimination. She has authored and edited 14 books and more than 140 scientific articles and chapters. Among her recent books: Pertenencia y alteridad. Judíos en/de América Latina: cuarenta años de cambios (Belonging and Otherness. Jews in/of Latin America: forty years of changes) (Edit., with Haim Avni, et al), Madrid, Iberoamericana, 2011. Reconsidering Israel-Diaspora Relations, Boston and Leiden: Brill, ( ED. with Eliezer Ben Rafael and Yosi Gorni, 2015. El Educador Judío Latinoamericano en un Mundo Transnacional, (Latin American Jewish Educators in a Transnational World), with Sergio DellaPergola, Leonardo Senkman and Yossi Goldstein, Jerusalem- Mexico, Bonilla y Artigas, 2015. Community, Society and Politics. Past and Present Paths of Latin American Jews (Forthcoming).
Sylvia Neil is the founder and chair of HBI's Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and co-editor of its book series. She is lecturer in law at the University of Chicago Law School where she previously served as associate dean. She began her career as a poverty law litigator, served as Midwest regional executive director and legal counsel of the American Jewish Congress and consulted with government and not for profits, establishing the Jewish Women’s Foundation for the Chicago Jewish Federation. She was appointed to both the Illinois and Cook County Commissions for Human Rights. She currently serves on several boards of trustees including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, vice chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art, vice chair of Columbia College Chicago and the visiting committee for the humanities at the University of Chicago. She also serves as president of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole. She received her AB with high distinction from the University of Michigan, A.M. in Jewish studies from the University of Chicago and J.D. cum laud from Northwestern University School of Law. Sylvia is married to Dan Fischel with a wonderful growing family of children and grandchildren.
Elaine Reuben received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in English, American and Dramatic Literature, fields in which she taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A leader in the development of Women's Studies and affirmative attention to women faculty and students, Elaine was a member, then co-chair, of the Modern Language Association Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, and was visiting associate professor and the first full-time faculty director of women's studies at The George Washington Graduate School. While national coordinator of the National Women's Studies ssociation (NWSA) she taught in the American Studies program at the University of Maryland, College Park, where NWSA was based, and directed the NWSA/FIPSE Project to Improve Service Learning in Women's Studies. Subsequently, Elaine served as a special assistant to the deputy undersecretary for management at the U.S. Department of Education, conducted executive search for colleges and universities, was acting executive director of the Network of East-West Women, and provided training, consulting, editorial and organizational assistance to academic and non-profit organizations. A past president of the Jewish Study Center in Washington, DC, and among the founding trustees of the Tikkun Olan Women's Foundation of Greater Washington, she is a council member of Theater J at the Washington DCJCC, a supporter of the Mosaic Theater Company of DC, and patron of the Timbrel Artist-in-Residence at the Summer Institute of the National Havurah Committee. She co-chaired the Middle East Peace and Democracy Circle of the Women Donor's Network, and is a member of J Street President's Council and Finance Committee and of the New Israel Fund's DC Leadership and International Councils; she is a supporter of DC's Jeremiah Fellowship, a program of Jews United for Justice, and of the ACLU of the National Capital Area. On the HBI board, Elaine founded the Reuben/Rifkin Jewish Women Writers Series, a joint project of HBI and the Feminist Press, where she was also a board member for many years, and recently supported the HBI Spring 2016 Scholars-in-Residence Seminar on Jewish Women Writers in North America. A Brandeis graduate, she has supported the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, made possible the University's acquisition of the Lilith Magazine archive, and been an engaged supporter of Peacebuilding and the Arts programs of the Brandeis International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, where she is now a board member. In 2016 she was elected to the Brandeis Board of Fellows.
Served as Chair, 2008-2002
Laura S. Schor, Professor of History at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, received her PhD in Modern European History at the University of Rochester in 1974. Her early work focused on the women silk workers of Lyon, culminating in a book, Women and the Making of the Working Class: Lyon , 1830-1870, published in 1979. This was followed, in 1983, by a study of gender role education in French primary schools, published as What Were Little Girls and Boys Made Of? In 1988, Schor published her first biography, The Odyssey of Flora Tristan, a French feminist-socialist of the first half of the 19th century. This was followed by a study of women’s struggle for political rights in 1848 and the political satire depicting that struggle culminating in an exhibit and catalogue of the cartoons of Edmund de Beaumont titled, Les Jolies femmes de Paris. In recent years, Dr. Schor has turned her attention to Jewish women’s history, publishing, The Life and Legacy of the Baroness Betty de Rothschild, in 2006, followed by her study of the Evelina de Rothschild School, The Best School in Jerusalem: Annie Landau’s School for Girls, 1900-1960, published in 2013. Dr. Schor has presented her research at academic conferences in the United States, Europe, and Israel. In addition to research and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Dr. Schor has had a substantial career in academic administration. She was a pioneering Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Cincinnati, where she initiated a Friends of Women’s Studies group, created a Scholar in Residence Program, and initiated a Women in Science series. She later was appointed Vice Provost for Academic Planning and supervised the distribution of significant investment in academic excellence funds. Dr. Schor served Hunter College as Provost for nine years, creating the Freshman Year program and hiring 100 new faculty members. During a brief hiatus from academe, Dr. Schor was the Executive Director of Hadassah, where she was instrumental in establishing the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Hadassah Foundation. Returning to university life, she was appointed Founding Dean of the Macaulay (then CUNY) Honors College, serving from its inception until the graduation of the first class in 2005. Dr. Schor serves on three boards: the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Macaulay Honors College Foundation Board, and the Slim Peace Board.
Served as Chair, 1997-2002
Diane has held numerous leadership positions in the Jewish community on local, national and international levels. She is passionate about Jewish education. Diane was the first chair of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute whose mission is to develop fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research and artistic projects.
A science educator by profession, she is extremely interested in the neuroscience of language acquisition in early childhood and the cutting edge research on the spiritual child.
Diane was past chair of PEJE (partnership for Excellence in Jewish education) and JESNA (Jewish education service of North America.) Presently in addition to HBI, she serves on the board of the Davidson School of education at the Jewish Theological Seminary; Hebrew Publics-a growing group of Hebrew Charter schools in the U.S., Shalom Learning, an online after-school program reaching students from 2nd to 7th grades in conjunction with synagogues as well as private mentoring; and the Washington Institute for Mid East Policy. She is a "friend" of the Israel Sci Tech schools. During the last twenty years, Diane has been involved in the renaissance of Jewish life throughout the world, especially in the FSU where she often travelled with a group of family foundations from 1993-2006 renewing and restoring the seeds of Jewish life by giving grants to newly formed Jewish organizations. Diane and her husband Harold Grinspoon have traveled extensively around the world. She is a trustee of the Grinspoon Foundation and serves on the PJ Library book selection committee. She has received numerous awards and honorary degrees as well as published articles on intergenerational philanthropy. Between Diane and Harold they have six children and eleven grandchildren.
Jane Zolot is a member of the national board of Hadassah and formerly a national vice president. She has chaired Hadassah committees for marketing/communication, strategic planning and children at risk. Zolot serves on the boards of trustees of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Har Zion Temple and Women's Division State of Israel Bonds. Formerly she was a Vice President and Treasurer of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council. She served on the National Commission on American Jewish Women, a cooperative study between Hadassah and the Cohen Center at Brandeis University that provided the impetus for the creation of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Zolot has served on the HBI Board since its founding. She and her late husband Stanley have three children and seven grandchildren.