Rabbi Howard Zack
Rabbi Howard Zack has been the Spiritual Leader of Congregation Torat Emet since its inception in September 2001. His passion for people and community and his keen insight into communal endeavors have made him a vital part of the Columbus Jewish landscape and have endeared him into the hearts of all those who know him.
Rabbi Zack's warm and welcoming manner and his concern for those around him makes everyone he is with feel special. He is highly regarded for his involvement in may aspects of the Columbus Jewish community and he is often called upon by people from outside the synagogue for advice, spiritual guidance, and assistance in their various endeavors.
In addition to building and fostering our growing congregation, Rabbi Zack is also a driving force in the ongoing work and development of many local and national organizations. He serves as a mentor to many young Orthodox Rabbis in the field, and he is an Executive officer of the Rabbinical Council of America. He has served as Pesident of the Columbus Board of Rabbis, as well as on various committees for the Columbus Jewish Federation, the Wexner Graduate Fellows Program, Columbus Torah Academy, Yeshiva University, Orthodox Union, and the Executive Committee of the Rabinic Cabinet at United Jewish Communities.
Rabbi Zack's shiurim cover classical Jewish texts, modern Jewish philosophy, Jewish bioethics and contemporary Halacha. His style allows him to Illuminate Jewish sources and text with contemporary issues, presenting information in an unbiased manner and giving people the tools to come to their own conclusions. He has taught and lectured at various institutions for the past 20 years, including University of California at Berkley, and the OU Biannual Convention, where he delivered the keynote address.
Rabbi Zack became the Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation of Oakland in 1985, following a post-rabbinic fellowship in Israel. During his 16 years in Oakland he founded the Gan Mah Tov preschool and Oakland Hebrew Day School and developed a number of other community institutions.
Main Street is proud that Rabbi Howard Zack, his wife Linda, and their three children, Etana, Shifra and Meria, have made Columbus, Ohio and Torat Emet, their home.
Liz Kalef, MSW
Liz Kalef has been part of the Torat Emet staff since the shul's inception, and was named full-time Executive Director in 2007. Liz earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work in 1992. As the child of a Holocaust survivor and kosher butcher/grocer, Liz developed her passion for working with and for the Jewish community at a young age. After graduating OSU, Liz created and built the unique program "B'nai B'rith Hillel of Central Ohio," which offered Jewish experiences and leadership development opportunities to Jewish students at Denison University, Kenyon College, and Ohio Wesleyan University, following which she worked as Program Director of the OSU Hillel. After Hillel, Liz served as Project Manager and Assistant Vice President at Healthcare Research Systems, a survey research firm in the healthcare industry, then as Executive Director at Agudas Achim Synagogue.
Throughout her career, Liz has continued to refine and enhance her skills in planning, project management, daily problem solving and crisis management. She had spoken publicly about healthcare, the Holocaust, and on tolerance and differences between all people and has even tried her hand at film production. Her experience in writing and preparation and development of PR materials has been evident throughout her career, as are her skills in counseling and interpersonal relations.
Liz and her husband Jeremy (an NCSY success story) and their children Max, Rose and Neil, are proud to be part of the Torat Emet family.
Rabbi Ari Neuman
Rabbi Ari Neuman and his wife Shira came to Columbus after a very successful tenure as the OU's JLIC (Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus) couple at University of Maryland. Rabbi Neuman began his academic career majoring in Psychology at Yeshiva University, went on to receive an MA in Medieval Jewish History from YU, and his ordination from REITS. As part of his rabbinical training at YU, he worked with the Jewish Community in Highland Park, NJ as the NCSY City Director, and was rabbinic intern at Young Israel of Plainview.
Rabbi Neuman traveled to Israel on two CJF missions, studied in the CJF's Beth Jacob Kollel in LA for two summers, and participated in Torah Tours seven times, visiting various communities throughout the country.
Rabbi Neuman loves learning, teaching, playing soccer, sculpting tin foil, fishing, water sports, watching the Jets, and being a father. He, his wife Shira, and their son Moshe, are excited to call Torat Emet home.
Rabbi Joel Epstein
Rabbi Epstein has served as Religious Director and Co-Coordinator of Bar Mitzvah progams since the shul began in 2001. Rabbi Epstein spends a great deal of his time teaching students of all ages, giving a weekly Talmud shiur at the shul, and having taught advanced Talmud to girls at CTA for many years. With his warm, caring nature, Rabbi Epstein has played a significant role in countless lives throughout the Columbus community. He is the definition of someone who would "give you the shirt off his back". Prior to Torat Emet, Rabbi Epstein was Religious Director at Agudas Achim Synagogue for 15 years.
Rabbi Epstein and his wife, Janice are proud parents of Rabbi Shaul Epstein (Sara Libby), Sarah Epstein Barth (Amitai) and David Epstein (Miriam). They have 7 grandchildren.
Shabbat Morning Youth Coordinator
Shira Neuman graduated with a BA in Psychology from Stern College for Women and holds a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. She has been a longtime informal educator in roles such as Unit Head in Camp Shalom in Old Tappan, NJ, NCSY advisor in Upstate New York, and NCSY City Director in Highland Park, NJ.
You might see Shira in the halls of CTA, as she is a Judaic Studies teacher in the lower school. In her spare time, Shira enjoys traveling, playing the guitar, flying kites, yoga, zumba and learnig (anything and everything!). She also loves her role as mother to Moshe, the Neuman's son.
Shira, her husband Ari, and their son Moshe, are enjoying Columbus and Congregation Torat Emet.