Sharon Brous had no interest in becoming a rabbi until a bewildering weekend in the Old City of Jerusalem where she was given the answers to all of life's questions. While she ultimately found the answers facile and unconvincing, she realized she wanted to spend her life grappling with the questions. Years later, as a rabbi, she found herself drawn not only to those already invested in Jewish life, but also to those deeply disaffected. She began working to make Jewish learning, ritual and community compelling and meaningful even for those alienated by conventional religious expression. In 2004 Brous, Melissa Balaban and a handful of young, entrepreneurial Jews realizing they shared a passion for meaningful and intentional Jewish engagement, social justice and really good fair-trade chocolate, set out to create IKAR - now one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the country.
Brous was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree. After ordination, she served as a Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in NYC.
In 2013, Brous was recognized as the most influential Rabbi in the United States by Newsweek and the Daily Beast, and as one of the Forward’s 50 most influential American Jews. In 2013 Brous blessed the President and Vice President at the Inaugural National Prayer Service. She sits on the faculty of the Hartman Institute-North America, Wexner Heritage and REBOOT. She serves on the board of Teruah-The Rabbinic Call to Human Rights, is a rabbinic advisor to American Jewish World Service and Bend the Arc. She received the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary, was a JWI Woman to Watch and was the inaugural recipient of the Inspired Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David, and their three children.
Hillel majored in musicology, and specialized in composition, classical guitar, the renaissance lute and pop music. He went on to co-found the Jewish rap band MOT. The son of a rabbinical scholar, Hillel has spent his life expressing his love of yiddishkeit. He spent several years living in Israel, has cantored during High Holy Days since his high school years, and has been the bar mitzvah tutor at Beth Am in Los Angeles since 1991. In addition to leading IKAR services, he spends his time writing his own Jewish music and posing as an international male tweed model.
Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal
Director of Children and Family Education
Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal is the Director of Education at IKAR, where she oversees IKAR's innovative Limudim religious school program, the IKAR ECC and programming for teens. Prior to coming to IKAR, she was the Director of Education at Congregation B'nai Zion in El Paso, TX and the Shabbat and Holidays Coordinator for the Youth and Family department at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in New York City. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was a Wexner Fellow, and received a BA from Yale University. She was selected as a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's Education Panel, charged with re-envisioning education
Ronit has been a part of the IKAR community throughout her years at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies where she was ordained as a rabbi in May 2012. Her road to the rabbinate included fundraising at Rutgers University, retail at Target, and teaching at Solomon Schechter Day School in New Jersey. Ultimately, she was inspired to become a rabbi and share her love of Torah and tradition with the masses.
In her free time, Ronit enjoys learning Talmud (yes, really), soaking up the LA sun, and watching trashy television dramas. Ronit is thrilled to be continuing her work within the community she so loves in her new position as Rabbinic Fellow.