Chaplains and Staff


Liza Stern with green background
Rabbi Elisabeth Stern
Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and Jewish Chaplain

Rabbi Elisabeth (‘Liza’) Stern, a graduate of Vassar College, was ordained from Hebrew Union College’s Rabbinic School in 1984. She served as a congregational Rabbi in Dallas, Texas for a dozen years before moving back to Newton with her husband, Rabbi Keith Stern, and their five children. Currently, Rabbi Liza is the Rabbi of Congregation Eitz Chayim in Cambridge. In addition to congregational work, she was Chaplain at Solomon Schechter in Dallas; adjunct faculty at Brandeis’ Hornstein Program and Rabbinic Faculty to STAR (Synagogue Transformation and Renewal), and as Mentor and Field Supervisor for HUC Rabbinic students.

Rabbi Liza has served as co-chair of the Women’s Rabbinic Network and as interim Rabbi at local synagogues. She has also served on numerous Boards in the community, and is currently on the Board of Boston Area Gleaners. She raises chickens and bees and is an avid skier and retired hockey player.

Read Rabbi Liza's Convocation 2017 remarks.

Matt Carriker with blue shirt
Reverend Matt Carriker
Protestant Chaplain

The Protestant community at Brandeis is guided by Protestant Chaplain Reverend Matt Carriker. Protestant activities and worship services at Brandeis are open to students of any Protestant denomination as well as students looking to observe a Protestant service. Rev. Cariker, often colloquially referred to as “Minister Matt” by students, leads Protestant services as well as serves as a religious advisor to Protestant student clubs.   Chaplain Matt Carriker leads services twice a month (including “Dinner Church” once a month) at Brandeis’ Intercultural Center, Harlan Chapel, or 50 Church St. in Waltham through Agape Spiritual Community, an Open & Affirming United Church of Christ congregation in Waltham.  Information on Agape services can be found here: 

Several Protestant clubs meet on campus, sometimes in the Christian Lounge, located on the second floor of Usdan Student Center over the Chaplaincy Office. These groups include Cru Brandeis Christian Fellowship and the Asian Baptist Student Koinonia (ABSK). ABSK holds weekly Bible studies on Friday nights in Shapiro Campus Center, while Cru meets weekly Wednesday evenings in the Christian lounge.  Brandeis Graduate Christian Fellowship meets weekly in Harlan Chapel.  Contact Matt at for more information about these and other Christian student groups that meet on campus.

Matt also leads a variety of self-care and mindfulness activities, including Zen Zone in 2017-18. 

Head shot of Shrestha standing in front of white wall
Shrestha Singh
Hindu Adviser

Shrestha hails from Fremont, California. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she was raised in a multicultural and multifaith community and spent much of her childhood between two worlds, navigating her dual identities as Indian and American. She brings this creative tension and her passion for being of service to others to her work of providing spiritual care to students.

Shrestha graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in global health and journalistic writing and received her masters degree from Harvard Divinity School. In college, her love of stories and growing consciousness of social inequality led her to leave her pre-med track and explore other routes to being a part of serving and healing the world. She ended up working at a mental health center, then on a farm, and then landed in divinity school. She has been involved in racial justice work throughout the years and is particularly interested in that intersection between the "inner" spiritual life and the work of engaging in the sacred and beautiful mess that is community and the "outer" world. She is passionate about mental health, talking about gender, race, and sexuality, and working with folks to navigate issues of identity and faith. She loves hiking, writing, and her sweet pit bull mixes Clooney and Scout.

Head shot of Allison standing in front of trees
Allison Cornelisse
Pastoral Associate for Catholic and Spiritual Life

Allison Cornelisse is the Catholic Pastoral Associate in the Multifaith Chaplaincy. With a master's degree in Pastoral Ministry and concentration in Education from Boston College, Allison is passionate about how we listen for the movement of God in our lives. Through one on one discussion, facilitating multiple faith-sharing groups at a Newton parish as well as end of life work at a Waltham elderly care facility, Allison’s passion is not only listening for the call of God as we make decisions about the future but also looking back, retrospectively, to make sense of decisions or experiences in the larger journey of life. Allison has a longtime passion for interfaith dialogue and appreciation. As a part of the Multifaith Chaplaincy, Allison enjoys organizing dinners and gatherings which bring together the chaplains and students from the diverse faith communities at Brandeis.

Outside of her ministry work, Allison cultivated her passion for environmental stewardship to bring about concrete change. She assisted with the founding of a local, community farm, helped to start a website to encourage elementary aged students to walk to school and participated as a certified food vendor at her town’s farmer’s market.

Allison is married with two teenage sons and, as a born Canadian, has lived in both the United States and Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, knitting and baking cookies.


Head shot of Isaac with trees in the background
Rabbi Isaac Attia
Co-Director and Torah Educator, OU-JLIC
781-736-3583 Usdan 144

Rabbi Isaac Attia was born and raised in sunny San Diego, CA. He received his BA in Psychology and Business Administration and served as President of the Yeshiva Student Council (SOY) at Yeshiva University. After marrying his best friend and moving to Israel, Isaac pursued ordination at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary Israel Kollel (Gruss). He served as the program Rabbi for Counterpoint Israel and the Bar Ilan Summer Research Program, and most recently taught at Yeshivat Orayta. Isaac has a passion for Jewish education, along with a keen interest in psychology and entrepreneurship. Isaac and Tal are both thrilled to be joining the Brandeis community. They can’t wait to learn and chill with you!

JLIC, the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, is a national partnership between Hillel and the Orthodox Union that places an Orthodox, Rabbinic couple on select campuses to serve as Torah Educators and mentors for Jewish students.

Head shot of Tal with green scarf on
Tal Attia
Co-Director and Torah Educator, OU-JLIC
781-736-3581 Usdan 144

Fresh out of Jerusalem, Tal Attia holds a BA in Psychology from Stern College for Women, and an MA in Nonprofit Management & Leadership from Hebrew University. She most recently worked for Ayeka Center for Soulful Education as Development Associate, and Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim as Activities Coordinator/ Guidance Counselor. Tal is the proud mother of the cutest baby ever (objective fact), is an avid reader, enjoys nature hikes, and plans to pursue a further degrees in Psychology/Family Counseling. Tal and Isaac are both thrilled to be joining the Brandeis community. They can’t wait to learn and chill with you!

JLIC, the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, is a national partnership between Hillel and the Orthodox Union that places an Orthodox, Rabbinic couple on select campuses to serve as Torah Educators and mentors for Jewish students. 

Ellie Afienko
Department Administrator
781-736-3570 Usdan 51

Described in a "Brandeis Hoot" article as "the heart and soul of the chaplaincy," Ellie Afienko has served its department administrator for more than 30 years. She has mentored countless students and served as colleague, counselor and friend to many Brandeis chaplains. Ellie’s job involves all elements of administrative matters, from departmental budgets to managing day-to-day communications, from greeting new students to helping student leaders with financial reporting.