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2021 Auerbach Launch and Ignition Grant Recipients

Reconstructing Judaism’s Auerbach Launch Grants and Ignition Grants support rabbinical students and rabbis in reconstructing the Jewish landscape to be more inclusive and engaging. This year’s winners point the way to a dynamic Jewish future. 

Auerbach Launch Grants

Talia Werber | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Talia grew up in Queens, NY, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and daughter of immigrants, and studied at Solomon Schechter schools from K–12. She has lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan since attending Barnard College (‘02), where she majored in Sociology and Film. Talia attended Cardozo Law School (‘09), concentrating in Constitutional Law and Rights and Public Law and Regulation, and studying mediation and conflict resolution to boost democracy. After law school she worked in New York City and State politics, with a focus on government structures and accountability, voting and democratic rights, and civics education. Talia is a visual artist whose work can be seen at studiomargalit.com, and an emerging playwright and poet. She has spent the last few years studying playwriting, improv, storytelling, and television production, and deepening Jewish connections, including through serving as the Social Action Committee Chair at West End Synagogue. Talia is a lifelong learner with many creative projects, who loves to write, cook, and think about the stories we tell and retell, how we use them to pass on pain and joy, and how we can use them to build justice and peace. Her innovative project “Briya” will build a creative, open space for Jewish individuals who express themselves through the arts, by offering courses that are anchored in Jewish time and texts and facilitating a virtual gathering space for artists to support expression and the creative process.  

Miriam Geronimus | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Rabbi Miriam Geronimus was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in May 2021. She grew up in Ann Arbor, MI, in a Secular Humanistic Jewish family. Having spent three summers studying Yiddish language, history, and culture, she views cultural expressions of Jewishness as an important part of the tapestry of Jewish tradition and peoplehood. She graduated from Princeton University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Ecology continues to inform how she understands the world and is an important part of her spirituality and political work. Her innovative project continues her work from previous years: she is the founding rabbi of the Cleveland Jewish Collective, a progressive Jewish community in Cleveland, OH, that is rooted in relationship. She is committed to co-creating a community that reflects and celebrates the diversity of the Jewish people and fellow travelers. She draws on experience working with queer folks, interfaith families, and people with disabilities. 

Joseph Berrios | Academy for Jewish Religion

Joseph Berrios served 29 years in the US Navy as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer. He holds a PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida and an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS). During his studies at ATS, Joseph was inducted and became a member of Eta Beta Rho (National Honor Society for students of Hebrew Language and Culture). He is currently pursuing rabbinical studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Joseph is a student member of Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains and is a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. Joseph is the recipient of the UJA Scholars Graduate Fellowship. Joseph’s authenticity is reflected in his compassionate and empathetic care for those who are excluded and marginalized.   

Joseph’s innovative project, the Anusim Society, seeks to create a spiritual, uplifting community in which Anusim can support each other  in their journey of discovery. The Anusim Society is a platform that strengthens interreligious cooperation, dialogue, and trust between Christian and Jewish communities regarding Anusim and their place in Klal Yisrael. 


Auerbach Ignition Grants 

Sarah Brammer Shlay | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Sarah Brammer-Shlay is a fifth-year rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, seeking to create more spaces of healing and connection for individuals who have suffered from police/military brutality. The emotional impact of police brutality can lead to feelings of isolation and more. By using the Auerbach Ignition Grant she will explore how we can connect to existing resources, or create new resources, systems and potentially other programs in the Jewish community to support individuals who have experienced police brutality in long-term ways, not just in the immediate aftermath of violence. Sarah believes that getting people out of experiences of isolation and into ones of connection is a crucial part of healing. 

Maor Greene | Jewish Theological Seminary

Maor has been a spiritual adventurer since childhood. Using the model of group spiritual direction, they are developing Makom Kadosh (Sacred Space) that will provide a safe, accessible, transformative online spiritual container for 20s and 30s LGBTQ+ Jews to explore and grow together in their spiritual journeys. Maor is a musician, yoga teacher, climate activist, Bible scholar, outdoor enthusiast, and spiritual director. They currently serve as the Ritual and Music Rabbinic Intern at Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. They are a rabbinical student and doctoral candidate at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Maor is based in Durham, NC. 


Talia Weisberg | Yeshivat Maharat 

Talia Weisberg is a connector, passionate about facilitating rich Jewish experiences and introducing people to resources that will help them make informed Jewish decisions. She is excited to be using the Auerbach Grant to start Shalom Camberville, an initiative that welcomes new Jewish residents to Cambridge and Somerville, MA, and introduces them to the local Jewish landscape. She is a student at Yeshivat Maharat and earned her AB at Harvard University. Talia loves the hip, quirky vibe of Cambridge, where she has lived for almost a decade, as well as the dedicated young Jews who call it home. 


Leah Nussbaum | HUC-JIR

Leah Nussbaum is a 5th year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. They are excited to build or lead in an inclusive Jewish community for those who might not otherwise have found their way in, especially in the LGBTQ community, the disability community, Jews of color and many others. As an aspiring Jewish chaplain, they also appreciate opportunities to be present for any person going through transitions or challenging life moments. This summer, they participated in the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship, which has ignited their enthusiasm for earth-based Jewish community, learning, and prayer spaces that they are excited to be part of and create!



With appreciation to the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Advisory Fund I/Schiro (SFS), a donor-advised fund at the Jewish Community Fund of Greater Hartford. 

The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

The Reconstructionist Network