Lila Foldes is the Co-Director of Just Congregations, the community organizing strategy of the Union for Reform Judaism, which engages synagogues across the country in organizing across lines of faith, race and class. Lila has been on the staff of Just Congregations since it began, in July 2006. Working with Founding Director Rabbi Jonah Pesner, she helped Just Congregations grow from a start-up to a widely-embraced effort involving the participation of thousands of Reform Jews. In 2011 she also served as the Lead Organizer in the launch of the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a ground-breaking effort to unite and mobilize the Reform Movement to involve young people in meaningful Jewish life. The Campaign for Youth Engagement raised over $1 million and engaged more than one thousand people in conversation across North America. Previously, she worked for two years as the Assistant Director of Jewish Organizing for the Jewish Funds for Justice, where she planned the first-ever national gathering of organizing synagogues. She trained as a community organizer with the Organizing Apprenticeship Project in Minnesota. She graduated cum laude from Barnard College. Lila and her husband, Oliver Kakos, live in Brooklyn, NY.
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is the Co-Director of Just Congregations. She first joined the Just Congregations team in the summer of 2011, serving as the Lead California Organizer and opening the west coast office of the URJs Just Congregations. Stephanie, a native of New York City, is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Brandeis University and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Stephanie was ordained as a rabbi in 2006 at the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and achieved a distinguished record as a rabbinical student, receiving awards in Talmud, Liturgy, Human Relations, Commentaries, Halakhic Literature, Midrash and Bible, youth work, and contributing to the campus. Her rabbinical thesis, "Empathy, Equity and the Establishment: An Unclaimed Legacy of Social Justice," explores the biblical and rabbinic worldviews of social justice and reflects her deep commitment to the Jewish expression of social justice. While in rabbinical school, Stephanie co-founded the Jewish Funds for Justice Rabbinical Student Fellowship for Leadership in Public Life and continues to serve as co-chair of the Fellowship Alumni Council. Upon ordination, Stephanie served as a rabbi of Temple Israel, Boston, where she guided the social justice community organizing and was rabbinic liaison to the youth program. In this capacity, Stephanie and her team organized on issues such as Access to Higher Education, Usury, Equal Marriage, Anti-Bullying Legislation, Transgender legislation, Healthcare, and other issues of shared concern. She was named as a Woman of Valor by the Jewish Funds for Justice and is included in a list that the Forward called: The Sisterhood 50: Americas Influential Women Rabbis. Stephanie has a reasonable fear of bears and a less reasonable obsession with super heroes.
Julie Chizewer Weill is the Coordinator of Institutional Advancement for
Just Congregations. She has worked to strengthen synagogue life and in
the field of Jewish social justice for the past 20 years as a staff
member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs in Chicago, and both the
Union for Reform Judaism and the Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) in New
York. While at JFSJ she initiated its program to engage synagogues in
congregation-based community organizing and planned the first-ever
national gathering of involved congregations. She graduated from
Washington University in St. Louis and received a Masters Degree in
Social Work and a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service from Yeshiva
University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She and her husband,
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill, live in Deerfield, IL and are the parents of Betsy,
Ruthie, and Samuel.
Joy Friedman has worked as a community organizer for the last nine years. Currently, she is Senior Organizer for Just Congregations, taking primary responsibility for the Rabbis Organizing Rabbis campaign, a project of the Reform Movement's social justice initiatives. As Synagogue Organizer for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Joy founded and coordinated the first teen organizing effort across multiple synagogues in the Boston area. She has provided training on community organizing principles and practices to synagogue and church members in the Boston, Detroit and Kansas City regions. Joy worked for several years with the Kansas City affiliate of the PICO National Network to mentor clergy, lay leadership, and staff in the Kansas City area on influencing legislation, developing and enhancing their communities, and supporting collaboration among diverse communities around common interests. Most recently, Joy served as Lead Organizer of the URJ's Campaign for Youth Engagement, helping to launch a North American endeavor to transform 875 congregations' efforts to engage young people in Jewish life. A cum laude graduate of Carleton College, Joy was selected to participate in the Leading Change program at Harvard's Kennedy School and the Jewish Funds for Justice's Selah development seminar.