Todd Kessler, Co-Chair
As a suburban Jewish kid from New Jersey, I grew up with a remote sense of post-Holocaust guilt that if I did not attend to my Judaism, it would be a slap in the face to all those who came and perished before. But like many of our generation, my temple membership was, at best, a social affair and at worst, an alienating experience. I always believed that modern Judaism had a "marketing" problem that failed to attract a younger, more intellectually-demanding Jewish community. I was wrong. When I tried out my first IKAR service, I realized that what most congregations were lacking wasn't a marketing approach, but a core of relevant meaning and intention; I liked Rabbi Brous's word for it - kavanah. Somehow, the experience felt both modern and ancient at the same time. Seven years later, IKAR has stripped away my misconceptions about our religion's potential. The special quality of IKAR became profoundly – and unexpectedly - apparent to me when my oldest son became a bar mitzvah and was celebrated by the entire loving and supportive community. I still am not the most devout, nor well-schooled Jew in the crowd, but I am always surprised to discover my presence in services rewarding me with a sense of gratitude and purpose... and that's a lot more constructive than guilt.
Outside of IKAR, I am a television writer/producer, having worked on Pan Am, The Good Wife, The Unit, Rome and The Practice. I am married to Sharon Hall, a television executive, and we have two boys, Levi and Jack, who both love challah and television.
Karen Hanovice Hogan, Co-Chair
Mother, wife, daughter, sister, former Investment Banker, native New Yorker, Los Angeles resident since 2004. My Jewish identity used to be something that I took for granted, but now I think it is one of the most important parts of what makes me who I am. As a younger woman I was content to be a High Holiday Jew. After I fell in love with a non-Jewish man and we started discussing marriage, I decided that there had to be more to my religious identity than that. My searching took me to B’nai Jeshurun in New York. We became active members and I had an adult bat mitzvah in 1999, with my six-month-old twins in attendance.
When we moved to Los Angeles it took me a while to find IKAR. IKAR fulfills my search for spirited prayerful services infused with meaning and kavannah, and so much more. The IKAR community has become our community. My son Tyler was a proud member of the IKAR ECC inaugural class. My twin sons Jack and Mathew had their b’nai mitzvot at IKAR last Spring. My six-year-old son Ryan attends IKAR’s Limudim. My wonderful husband Jeff, still a practicing Catholic, joins me for some and supports me in all of our IKAR endeavors. I am thrilled to join the board of IKAR at this exciting time in IKAR’s development. I feel so honored to work with Rabbi Brous and all of IKAR’s spiritual leadership, staff and fellow Board members. I hope to meet many more IKAR members and to add to this beautiful spiritual community in any way that I can.
In addition to running our bi-Coastal family life and raising our four sons, I sit on the boards of four public closed-end investment funds, managed by one of my former clients. My husband Jeff is an Investment Banker, and I left my full-time career to raise our family. I have a B.S. degree in Economics and French from the State University of New York in Albany, and a Masters degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Finding in IKAR both an opportunity to explore the many beautiful and sublime states that Judaism offers while also discovering novel ways to confront the challenge of living a moral, integrated Jewish life in an impossible world, my wife and I joined. In IKAR we have also come upon an extraordinary community of thoughtful, creative and kind people. As the descendant of a long line of ambivalent Jews, IKAR is to me what Hillcrest Country Club was to my grandparents.
I am co-founder of Civic Enterprise Development LLC, an urban planning and infill development firm devoted to revitalizing Los Angeles’ many great neighborhoods through strategic consulting services and neighborhood-oriented housing and mixed-use development. My prior background in real estate and urban infrastructure reaches from providing legal advice to George Soros’ real estate investment funds to building affordable housing for low income families in the Pico Union section of Los Angeles. I graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and from Harvard Law School with a degree of irony. I also serve as the Chairman of the Board for Proyecto Pastoral, a Boyle Heights community-based organization.
I am married to Sarah Vanek and together we have two wonderfully funny children, Tamar and Ezra.
In my first few years navigating the Jewish kaleidoscope that is Los Angeles, I had nearly given up on finding a niche. Finally, I was blessed to find it at IKAR, which has become a true home to me, my husband, Jordan, and our daughters, Dori and Rina. As our lives have evolved through the years, we have been awed, challenged, delighted, and nurtured by IKAR in our most joyful and most challenging hours. And in the past three years, it has been an honor to help found and chair our phenomenal new Early Childhood Center.
I have a B.A. in Jewish Studies from Indiana University and an M.B.A. in Non-Profit Management & Jewish Communal Studies from American Jewish University. I have spent the past decade working in the Jewish community, most recently as Development Officer for the Southern California Region of Birthright Israel Foundation.
I joined the IKAR board in November 2010, and have worked on the committee to launch a partner school project in the developing world to pair with IKAR’s own educational efforts, the ECC and Limudim. I am a Senior Vice President at HBO, overseeing dramatic series production. Prior to HBO, I served as Senior Vice President at Scott Free Productions, where I was a producer on such films as Prometheus, Robin Hood and Cyrus. Before that, I was Vice President at Scott Rudin Productions. I received my A.B. from Dartmouth College in Government, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.
I am married to Sarah Ellenberg, and we have a beautiful and silly son, Bobby.
I am excited to join the board of such a dynamic, engaged, inspiring and inspired community. The first time I attended services, I knew IKAR was a special place, a different kind of shul from any others I had ever been to. That experience was moving and thought-provoking -- and I get that feeling every time I come back.
I have been married to my amazing wife Kitt since 2002. We are thrilled that our son Ezra loves being a charter member of the IKAR ECC, and we also look forward to being able to send our daughter Adyn to the ECC in a few years. I did my undergrad at UC Berkeley, and I went to law school at Georgetown. Since returning to LA from Washington DC in 2006, I have been an attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where I practice general corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance.
IKAR is the manifestation of an idea that there can be a place where Judaism is soulful, relevant, engaging and passionate. Where repairing the soul and the world are not mutually exclusive but intricately intertwined. Where individuals can nurture community and community can nurture the individual to the elevation of all. It was a fortunate bit of fate that I was able to participate in those early conversations where stale notions of practice were challenged and fresh ideas were given breath.
For me, Judaism is my compass; somehow in it’s endlessly contradicting opinions of ancient tales and text I am able to find my North. Judaism is my engine, driving me to act, to engage, not just for myself, but my family, my community and my world. Judaism is my soul. It is a source of joy, introspection, heartache and strength. I am honored to serve on the board of this remarkable community.
I share my life with my three little monkey boys, Chaz, Dex and Theo. I also serve on the board of Reboot. Prior to children I was a television director, after children I am mostly a mom and sometimes a director.
I had been on the hunt for a Jewish community for a long, long time. While I have historically felt some level of identity with other Jewish people, I had yet to find a place where I felt fully comfortable and able to be myself. And then, in 2008, it all changed; I experienced IKAR. I was immediately drawn to the dynamic, youthful, and vibrant community, felt inspired by Rabbi Brous and her passion for social justice and building an open and vigorous Jewish space, and simply felt welcome from the first moment I stepped in the front door. I immediately got involved. I joined the Board of Trustees, offered my help any time I could, all with an open heart to serve those who serve so many. I feel honored to be on the Board of Directors, I have also been an integral part of American Friends of The Israel Museum, MOCA AND LACMA.
By profession, I am an interior designer. For me, design is about helping my clients articulate a vision for their physical space and making it come to life. And in this process, I so thoroughly enjoy getting to know their tastes, what makes them comfortable, and what gets them excited. I see my participation at IKAR in the same way. What our community is offering the larger Jewish community is something quite unique. It is a clear vision of a present and a future that excites us, inspires us, and encourages each of us to get involved. It gives me great joy to offer my service, my creative mind, and my love for this special place to help move us closer and closer to seeing our vision come to life.
I am very grateful to Rabbi Brous and Melissa Balaban for sharing their dreams and dedicating their lives to building this beautiful future.
Hello. My name is Fred, and I'm an IKAR-holic. I knew the moment I showed up for my first Kabalat Shabbat at Roxbury Park that I had found something special. IKAR is a manifestation of everything I always thought could be possible in a Jewish community, but seemed to be lacking wherever I went. Elements of simple spirituality, soulful davening, and social justice abound in everything the community does. IKAR is the most dynamic, engaging crew I've come across anywhere, reinvigorating the practice of Judaism. Serving on the board of an organization that offers such amazing opportunities for humankind is both an honor and responsibility - the type that I had always hoped I'd be capable of.
For years, I worked in businesses of both the entertainment and internet variety. Some strange coincidences, amazing travel, and awakenings I experienced with this remarkable IKAR community have led to my spending my days as the Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, a non-profit dedicated to fighting genocide and mass atrocities where they are occurring today. JWW is focused primarily on events now unfolding in Sudan and Congo.
I feel honored to serve on the board of IKAR. It has been a long journey to get here. My husband of 28 years, Jeff Ayeroff, and I were blessed with two dear daughters, Anna and Eve. When they were young, we wanted to give them a solid Jewish foundation, but I wasn’t Jewish and Jeff only had a cultural identity with Judaism. After many years of study and learning the traditions of life within the Jewish calendar, my soul was stirred. I went before a conservative bet din and the girls and I went to the mikveh and emerged as Jews. I felt like I’d come home.
That’s how I feel about IKAR. While searching for a new congregation, we attended High Holy Days services several years ago and knew we had found the best possible place for our family. We were inspired by the wisdom in the davening, the music, the community and the Rabbi’s teachings. But that social justice is also a core value in the IKAR philosophy, made it unique in a very compelling way. I became involved with Minyan Tzedek at its inception and along with its value in the world, I’ve benefited personally by developing relationships with people in the community who I might not have otherwise known. I am also currently working with exceptional but underserved minority youth in the Lennox school district through Y.E.S. With a B.A. in Special Education, a Master of Architecture degree from UCLA and having been an advocate for justice throughout, I am excited to work with the board, Rabbi Brous and Melissa Balaban toward our future here at IKAR.
Annie Lainer Marquit
About a month after I moved back to Los Angeles after ten years in New York, I attended Shabbat b' Yachad at IKAR. Rabbi Brous spoke about the rabbinic concept of shinui makom, shinui mazal, which means, "change your place, change your luck." I thought to myself, well, I'm ready for my luck to change. That night at dinner, I sat with the some of the most incredible people I've ever met -- young people who were exploring their passions, curious about the world, and determined to experience what life offered them. These were people who, whether it be through politics, academics, art, or just overall friendliness, were out to make the world a better place. These people, who embodied the spirit of justice, creativity, and welcoming that animates IKAR, are just a handful of the wonderful people I've met in the past two and half years that I've been part of the IKAR community. I feel that IKAR has been an important part of my "change in luck" that I've experienced the past few years. For me, IKAR is the perfect Jewish community -- creative, spiritual, rigorous, welcoming, intergenerational, and 100% committed to justice and not afraid to show it.
I attended college and law school at Columbia University, with some extra years in between and after, living and working in New York and New Jersey. I returned to Los Angeles to be a public interest lawyer and currently live in Santa Monica with my fabulous husband Jonathan.
In many ways, IKAR is the realization of a dream for me. For many years, I'd yearned for a place that could recapture the spirit of Judaism, break down the walls of denomination, encourage social action, and provide a close community for us to reconnect. More recently, I also wanted to find a place where our children can learn from a rabbi with real kavenah.
Even without a permanent location, IKAR is that place. So now I spend my days working to help build IKAR and my nights with my awesome wife Staci and our son Hayden. In my spare time, I run an enterprise software company called Cornerstone OnDemand.
I can't really decide if I found IKAR or if IKAR found me. I didn't even know I was looking for a spiritual community until I walked into Roxbury Park in 2004 and discovered a space that was vibrant and resonant with meaning and excitement. For the first time, I wasn't simply going through the motions and paying lip-service to the words I had memorized from years of religious school and bar mitzvah training. IKAR makes a demand upon me -- as a Jew, as a member of the multi-cultural community of Los Angeles, and as a concerned global citizen -- and it is refreshing to grapple with how to respond to this demand. The call was always there, buried deep within -- but I am so thankful to Rabbi Brous, the leadership, and the staff for providing the space and the guidance for me to think about the words of our Sh'ma and what it means to truly listen.
Professionally, I serve as a Vice President at The Jewish Federation where I fund innovative education and engagement programs. I was blessed to marry my partner-for-life Bill Deliman on July 4, 2008 after countless years of waiting.
I am honored to be serving on the board of IKAR. When I came to IKAR for the first time I had an instant connection to the essense of the shul. There is an energy that is indescribable. It is something you just have to breathe in and let go. I knew I was home. Raised traditionally, I wanted to make sure my children (Carly and Wil) would have a guiding light as I did. I believe that rooting them into Jewish life early and modeling the importance of being Jewish is a core value both my husband and I share, and IKAR has provided that space for us as a family. IKAR has also allowed my husband and me to grow together and infuse more tradition into our home. There is a warmth and a fire for learning that I can't help but want to just dive into!
Social Justice is at the core of my life and it is something I believe should be instilled at a young age for our children. I have served for 7 years on the board of Beyond Shelter, an organization committed to taking homeless families off the streets of LA, providing them with skills to hold a job, and helping them find permanent housing that is safe and affordable. IKAR's commitment to our community, our city and our world is why I feel so honored to serve on the board. Being able to make change, however small or big, is what keeps me grounded in gratitude and faith. I am committed to serve our community with all my heart and soul.
My wife, Andrea, and I have had the pleasure of watching and participating in the development of the IKAR community since its beginnings. We have proudly raised our 3 children, Clara, Charlie, and Jesse, to become members of this devoted and active community, and continue to relish the meaningful interactions with other IKAR families, as well as a shared devotion to IKAR’s core values of reanimating Jewish life. Serving on the Board is just one more opportunity to get involved with this group of passionate and dynamic community members, and I find it constantly rewarding in all aspects of my life.
On the professional side, I am the President of Entertainment of Showtime Networks Inc., and responsible for all aspects of programming for all of the Showtime channels. Prior to joining Showtime, I was a producer of various TV shows, such as Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development, 24, and Parenthood. I graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and I am originally from Washington, D.C.
Kim Rogoff Silverstein
I cannot imagine my life in Los Angeles without IKAR. I had never able to find the right niche for a personal Jewish connection until I found this community. I continue to be inspired by and learn from Rabbi Brous, my fellow board members, and the rest of the IKAR community who share treasured values and a commitment to spirituality and justice. I feel so blessed to have made so many wonderful friends. My soul has grown in ways I never dreamed possible. I have engaged with Torah and the world in a meaningful fashion, and now I am passing these gifts onto my children.
I'm originally from San Diego, CA, am a proud alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, and I have a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. I have lived in Los Angeles since 2004 and I am currently the Director of Operations for California Faith for Equality. My wonderful husband Mike and our amazing children - Ivy and Sidney - are also proud to call IKAR home.
I am have been married to my wife, Barbara Dalton-Taylor, for 31 years, and we are blessed to be the parents of twin daughters who had their b'nai mitzvot at IKAR in July 2007 and now work as teacher assistants in the Limudim religious school. IKAR has provided and nurtured an enriching environment for our children's religious studies, while simultaneously exceeding my wife's and my needs for a thoughtful religious community that is committed to values which we share.
I come from a family of Jews who have lived in Los Angeles since 1912. I grew up in Beverlywood, on a street with 52 kids on the block, then in Westwood, and became a bar mitzvah at Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills. While I always identified strongly with my Jewish heritage, I never took organized religious life too seriously, until we participated in an egalitarian minyan led by Rabbi Richard Levy many years ago. I was also actively involved in the Jewish Federation Council for many years through the Young Men's Leadership Cabinet and sat on the board of several agencies.
When our daughters were born 16 years ago we moved to Santa Barbara to raise a family out of the city and we joined the Isla Vista Minya, led by the UCSB Hillel Rabbi Steve Cohen. In that community, we experienced religious study, ritual and joyful celebration that we wanted to find when we moved back home to Los Angeles a few years later.
We joined a new synagogue every year for four years, aware of what we wanted and needed, but unable to find it. Our wandering came to an end when we discovered IKAR 6 years ago at their first High Holy Days services.
I currently sit on the Board of Directors of IKAR and serve on the finance and development committees. When I am not attending to the needs of my family and IKAR, I run a food brokerage and trading business (Taylor & Associates) in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a great Jewish city, but with so much diversity of choice it can be hard to find a real community to call home. I’ve found my home at IKAR. IKAR members are just as passionate about social justice as they are about caring for each other. It’s truly a gift to be part of this community and serve on its board.
I’m lucky enough to share the IKAR experience with my beautiful and always-energetic wife, Alejandra, and our two daughters, Grace and Ella. Both my wife and I were born and raised in Southern California and attended UCLA as undergraduates. As a family, we enjoy short car rides and watching bad American movies made between 1976 and 1986.
In my professional life, I am an attorney and co-founder of Dietrich Siben Thorpe LLP, a boutique law firm that focuses on representing institutional investors in recovering investment losses due to fraud. I am also a member of J Street’s National Finance Committee