Chaplains and Staff
As a Jewish-founded, nonsectarian institution, Brandeis does not have one university chaplain. Instead, religious life is supported by a team of religious leaders representing many faiths.
Brandeis chaplains offer counseling, support and community to students of all faiths. The chaplains oversee on-campus worship and student religious life while also offering community support in times of joy and crisis. For students of all levels of spirituality, the Chaplaincy can serve as a home away from home.
Rabbi Seth Winberg is director of the Center of Spiritual Life and the University's senior Jewish chaplain. He also serves as executive director of Hillel. Originally from Canada and a graduate of York University in Toronto, he received rabbinic ordination in New York and Israel after many years of study. Seth completed more than 400 hours of chaplaincy and pastoral training, and has been involved in interfaith efforts with Christian and Muslims.
He served on the executive committee of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and on the rabbinic task force of Jewish Women International. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Jerusalem Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, Detroit Free Press and Hakirah. He lives in Newton with his wife and children.
A graduate of Georgetown University and Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, Lara Ericson originally hails from Fairport, New York, and has also called Washington, D.C., home. She is passionate about community, conversations that ask the big questions and the belief that we can find the presence of the divine in our daily lives. In her free time, Lara can be found rowing on the Charles River, reading a novel or sampling the Boston area’s many desserts.
After receiving her Master's in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine and working for a few years as a computer scientist, Anjum Biswas took a break to fully devote her time in studying Vedic scriptures. Thereafter, she earned a Bhakti Shastri degree from the Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education. Over the last 13 years she has been interacting with students at many universities who want to develop their spiritual dimensions, and supporting their spiritual journeys in a variety of ways. Apart from mentoring many spiritual aspirants, she takes special interest in bringing the messages of ancient scriptures alive through stories, drama, puppetry, art, music and through a strong practice in her own life.
Her spiritual work is also intrinsic to her life as a mother of two children, together with Partha. The entire family shares a common enthusiasm and passion for increasing their devotion to God and sharing their experience with others. Anjum also finds time to use her computer engineering skills with a variety of charity organizations, and to offer classes as an experienced cook of karma-free diet.
Partha Biswas serves as a spiritual trainer in the lives of many spiritual aspirants coming from all walks of life. His deep faith in spiritual principles is a result of seeds that were sown when he was 10 years old. Since then, he has inculcated habits of regularly reading scriptures and practicing meditation. His practices and realizations matured with the opportunities to receive directions from various qualified teachers. As an offering of gratitude to his teachers, he founded meditation clubs at various universities (UCI - 2003, Tufts - 2006, Northeastern - 2009) to share his knowledge of how to live scriptural principles in contemporary settings. Partha is an engineering manager at MathWorks, with a Bachelor's from the Indian Institute of Technology, and a PhD from the University of California, Irvine. Despite having high-profile responsibilities under his belt, he strives to live a very simple and humble life of devotion toward God. He believes that when we take upon responsibilities of life as a service to God, we can tangibly experience God's presence even in so-called mundane affairs of life.
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. Carriker, often colloquially referred to as “Minister Matt” by students, leads Protestant services as well as serves as a religious advisor to Protestant student clubs. 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.
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). Cru meets weekly Wednesday evenings in the Christian lounge and ABSK holds weekly Bible studies on Friday nights in Shapiro Campus Center. Brandeis Graduate Christian Fellowship meets weekly in Harlan Chapel.
With a master's degree in Pastoral Ministry and concentration in Education from Boston College, Allison Cornelisse 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.
Dr. Harun Spevack aims to help people discover and apply knowledge and skills that allow them to solve problems, produce with excellence, and experience nuance and depth. Whether in personal, academic, or professional contexts, he is guided by Islam's primary principles of Peace, Security, and Beauty-Excellence (Islam, Iman, Ihsan). These fundamental principles inform his approach to personal spirituality, communal worship, and service-oriented social justice. Aaron writes, teaches, and advises on topics in Islamic law, theology, and mysticism, as well as comparative religion. He also has a background in music which informs his approach to community building and personal development. He has studied Islam in the traditional master-disciple method with scholars from around the world and also has a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Intellectual History.
Prior to Brandeis, Diane Lauber served as an office coordinator at language schools and environmental agencies. She holds a Master’s in Intercultural Relations, and taught English to immigrants at a community college for many years. She enjoys environmental education with young children, and being outside feeds her soul. She is an active member of Christian and Buddhist communities.