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Rabbi Daniel Bogard

Rabbi Daniel Bogard is one of the two new rabbis at KK Adath Israel. He has been a Hillel director, a congregational rabbi, and a college professor at Bradley University. He loves learning with high schoolers in particular (he was a middle school teacher after college), and looks forward to teaching at Mercaz.


Mitch is excited to return to the Mercaz classroom this year. He was the recipient of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for excellence in Jewish education and the Walter Hattenbach Teacher of the Year Award.  Mitch is a former Mercaz Board member. He is on staff at Adath Israel Congregation as their Bar/Bat Mitzvah Teacher. He also teaches Music and Trope in the Adath Israel Religious School and directs the Adath Israel Choir and band.   He is married to Sherry and has three Mercaz graduates: Jeff, Emily and Ben.


Susan Farber
Susan Farber is a lifelong learner, whether it relates to Judaic knowledge, educational matters or general information and culture. When not learning, helping others or teaching (a form of learning), Susan is preparing food, reading, completing artistic projects, watching different kinds of movies and spending time with her husband, James. Her 2 grown children, Adina and Jared, both attended Mercaz. Susan is looking forward to the opportunity to help other teens explore what makes Judaism so meaningful for others! 


Rob Festenstein is a graduate of Illinois State University, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, and the University of Phoenix. During the day, he works in the Financial Resource Development Department at Talbert House, helping to make a difference in the lives of the thousands of clients that the organization serves throughout Cincinnati in their journeys toward recovery and reintegration. Rob is also the proud father of Noah and Aaron.


Brian Freedman
Brian Freedman was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He has a BA in American History from The Ohio State University and is currently pursuing a Dual Masters in Jewish Students and Jewish Education from Hebrew College.

Brian started his path toward working in Jewish communal life while at Ohio State. He was the Brotherhood Chair and Vice President for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. After college, Brian was the Director of Engagement at Ohio State Hillel for two years and the Program Director at the University of Illinois Hillel for three years. Brian is currently the Executive Director and Educator for Northern Hills Synagogue.

Brian enjoys cooking and baking, reading, biking, music and spending time with his dog, Scarlett, a three-year-old Poodle mix. 


WILL HALL   (photo and write-up coming soon)



Rabbi Haviva Horvitz was ordained in 2009 after attending the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism via the distance-learning program.  The daughter of a "right-wing" Reform rabbi in Bellmore, NY; the niece of a Reconstructionist rabbi in Massachusetts; and married to a cantor from Louisville, KY with Orthodox family traditions, Rabbi Horvitz is a true example of eclectic Judaism.  She serves as rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Middletown, Ohio.

Lowell Lustig holds a Juris Doctor degree from Capital University Law School in Columbus, OH.  He is a graduate of Hunter College where he studied Jewish History and Adolescent Education with a specialization in Social Studies. He also studied Archaeology and Talmudic Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and learned in the Beit Midrash as part of the Jewish Studies Program of the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, IL.  Lowell is a puppeteer and founder/director of Saturday Torah Live  which has been widely used by BBYO.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Robert H. Jackson Center located in Jamestown, NY. Justice Jackson served as the Chief Prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg in the years after WWII. Lowell returns to Cincinnati from Syracuse, NY where he served as Associate Dean for Advancement at the Syracuse University College of Law and Executive Director of Hillel at Syracuse University. Lowell currently serves on the national staff of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science as Executive Director, Leadership Giving.



Zahava earned a teaching Certificate of Jewish Study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a graduate of the Pedagogical Institute in Israel, where she  earned a teaching degree.  She has taught children and adults in our community for over 30 years — at Yavneh Day School/Rockwern Academy, in our supplemental Hebrew Schools, and for The Jewish Federation.  As a Holocaust survivor Zahava is active in the Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education where she continues to speak to the public about the Holocaust.  In her spare time she likes to read, knit and cook.


Rabbi Judy Spicehandler

Rabbi Spicehandler grew up in Cincinnati and in Jerusalem. She is a graduate of Yavneh Day School (Rockwern Academy) and the Tichon Leyad Ha’Universita (Jerusalem), The University of Chicago (BA), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA) and Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati), where she was ordained in 1999, She has served as a pulpit Rabbi and as a Rabbi Educator, most recently as Rabbi Educator at Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley in the suburbs of Boston MA. Rabbi Spicehandler brings a depth of knowledge and vast educational experience to MERCAZ, as well as a love of Judaism and a passion for teaching, grounded in respect for and devotion to her students. She has been teaching Jewish teens for over forty years. When she is not teaching and making art, she is caring for her 91 year old mother and her yellow lab Sabrina in their Amberley Village home.

Dr. Evan Torner is Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of Cincinnati, where he has taught courses on language, culture, and media since 2014. He is originally from Iowa, earned his B.A. in German at Grinnell College, his M.A. and PhD in German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and conducts research on genre fiction and role-playing games.


Liat and Stav

more info to come.







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3201 E. Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236

Mercaz is a product of the Conservative Synagogues in Cincinnati and the USCJ.
Mercaz Director - Ari Finkelstein, 792 5082 ext. 123
, ari@mercazhs.org