Larry Hoffman, Co-President
For nearly thirty years, Larry Hoffman has combined research in Jewish ritual, worship, and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of American Judaism.
As Co-President with Ron Wolfson, Larry acts as the overall design coordinator of S3K - envisioning and executing the organization's mission, oversees the Synagogue Studies Institute, assists with board development and fundraising, is the chief liaison with and partner to CEO Aaron Spiegel, and is S3K's senior academic scholar.
Larry has written or edited over twenty-five books, including the National Jewish Book Award winner, My People's Prayer Book (Jewish Lights Publishing), a multi-volume edition of the Siddur with modern commentaries from across the spectrum of Jewish life. For a general audience, he has also written The Way Into Jewish Prayer (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000) and One Hundred Great Jewish Books, an introduction to Judaism as an ongoing conversation through the centuries (forthcoming, Blue Ridge Publishing, 2010).
On synagogues, specifically, Larry Has authored Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007); and is coeditor of Sacred Strategies: Moving Synagogues From Functional to Visionary (Alban Institute Press, 2010).
Larry's writings, both popular and scholarly, have appeared in eight languages and four continents, and include contributions to various encyclopedias and journals, including such places as The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion, The Oxford Dictionary of Religion, The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies, The Encyclopedia of Judaism, Worship, Studio Liturgica, and The Fordham Law Review. His regular column for The Jewish Week, the largest Jewish newspaper in North America, is syndicated in the United States and Europe.
Larry was ordained as a rabbi in 1969, received his Ph.D. in 1973, and has served since then as Professor of Liturgy at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. From 1984 to 1987, he also directed HUC-JIR's School of Sacred Music. In 2003, he was named the first Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. A Past President of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the professional and academic organization for liturgists, Larry received that organization's annual Berakhah Award in January 2004 for outstanding lifetime contributions to his field.
Jodi Berman Kustanovich, Executive Director
Prior to joining the S3K team, Jodi was the Director of Development at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles and maintained an active coaching, consulting and training practice.
Jodi served as Senior Vice President for Leadership Development at The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles for 13 years. Before creating that role, she led the Real Estate and Construction campaign division which experienced unprecedented growth during her tenure, both in fundraising and volunteer engagement and leadership.
Jodi is a consultant and professional trainer and has presented and keynoted at multiple leadership conferences. She was an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She is a certified trainer of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and has conducted leadership training and Board development for multiple Jewish groups around the United States including Federations, synagogues, agencies, schools and camps and serves as a consultant to many of these organizations with regard to their leadership and development needs.
Jodi earned her Masters Degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Arizona.
Ron Wolfson, Co-President
Ron Wolfson is a visionary Jewish educator whose enthusiasm for bringing Judaism alive in homes and synagogues has shaped his work in the community.
As Co-President, Ron's duties include fundraising, board development, acting as the "public face of S3K" - representing S3K to the Jewish community, and strategic planning and implementation.
Ron is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles where he has been a member of the faculty since 1975. He has also served as Dean of the Fingerhut School of Education, Vice President and Founding Director of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future and the Whizin Institute for Jewish Family Life.The book, First Fruit: A Whizin Anthology of Jewish Family Education, which he co-edited with Adrianne Bank, won the 1999 Jewish Book Award.
Ron's interest in synagogues dates back to his involvement in a Conservative congregation, Beth El, in his home town of Omaha, Nebraska. Over the years, he has visited hundreds of synagogues across North America as a consultant, teacher and scholar in residence widely recognized for his passionate, insightful and often humorous presentations. Ron is a co-founder of Synagogue 2000 (with Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman) and currently serves as President of Synagogue 3000, a catalyst for excellence, empowering congregations and communities to create synagogues that are sacred and vital centers of Jewish life.
Ron is the author most recently of The Seven Questions You're Asked In Heaven, The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation Into a Sacred Community and God's To-Do List: 103 Ways to Be an Angel and Do God's Work on Earth (Jewish Lights Publishing). A pioneer in the field of Jewish family education, Ron has authored The Art of Jewish Living series of books (Jewish Lights Publishing): Three of the titles (Shabbat, The Passover, Hanukkah) are designed to enrich the celebration of Jewish holidays, and one, A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort, provides a guide to Jewish bereavement and comfort.
Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman, Director of Congregational Engagement
Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman is Synagogue 3000's Director of Congregational Engagement. She is passionate about helping synagogues transform into kehillot kedoshot - sacred communities - and has been involved in cutting-edge conversations about transformation throughout her time as a rabbinical student and a rabbi.
In her role, Jessica is the go-to person for all S3K public contact. She answers questions about how S3K can help, represents S3K in the Jewish community, and is the lead for the Next Dor Initiative. Much of Jessica's time is spent representing S3K and Next Dor out in the world, creating relationships for S3K with top Jewish thinkers.
As a student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jessica learned with Synagogue 2000. As a fellow in CLAL's interdenominational conversations on Jewish life in America, Jessica engaged in new kinds of thinking about the future of American Judaism. She went on to serve as a Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan and then as the Grace and Horace Goldsmith Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Phoenix, Arizona. During her time in Phoenix, Jessica became a STAR Peer Fellow and continues to be involved in the Fellowship as an alumna. Jessica served as the rabbi at the World Union for Progressive Judaism congregations in India and Costa Rica. She also served as the student rabbi at the Community Synagogue in Port Washington on Long Island, at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco and in The Juneau Jewish Community, in Juneau, Alaska. Rabbi Zimmerman graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University in 1995, with a degree in art history. She spent two years doing research in astronomy for the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Columbia and at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile before beginning her rabbinical studies in 1997, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem.
In addition to helping synagogues reshape their visions, Jessica is very involved in interfaith issues, both learning and teaching. She has enjoyed her work with the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding in Connecticut and it inspired her to co-found, with Rev. Frank Shirvinski, Gesher: An Interfaith Bridge to Understanding. Jessica is interested in helping to increase interfaith dialogue in America and Israel. She is an active member of the Steering Committee for New Generations of the New Israel Fund.