MEET OUR SCHOLARS AND STAFF
Rabbi Ysoscher Katz is the Chair of the Department of Talmud at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. He received ordination in 1986 from Rabbi Roth, dayan of UTA Satmer. Rabbi Katz studied in Brisk and in Yeshivat Beis Yosef, Navaradok for over ten years. A graduate of the HaSha’ar Program for Jewish Educators, Rabbi Katz has taught at the Ma’ayanot High School for Girls and SAR High School. Rabbi Katz was appointed as Rabbi of the Prospect Heights Shul in Brooklyn, NY and currently holds several positions including Director of the Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies and Educational Director of Judaic Studies at Luria Academy in Brooklyn, NY.
Dr. Sharon Flatto is a Professor of Judaic Studies and the Director of the Judaic Studies Graduate Program at Brooklyn College. She received her Ph.D. in Jewish history from Yale University, her B.A. from Barnard College, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University. Specializing in early modern Jewish history and Kabbalah, Professor Flatto has taught at a broad range of educational institutions, including Yale, Queens College and Brown, and at numerous adult education programs. She has received multiple awards and grants, and is the author of “The Kabbalistic Culture of Eighteenth-Century Prague: Ezekiel Landau (the ‘Noda Biyehudah’) and his Contemporaries” (Littman Press, 2010) and various scholarly articles.
Rabbi Aaron Frank is Head of School at Kinneret Day School in Riverdale, NY. Rabbi Frank has also held other positions in education including Associate Principal at SAR High School, and Lower School then High School Principal at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore. Rabbi Frank serves as a High Holidays rabbi at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, MD. A graduate of the Jerusalem Fellows program at the Mandel Leadership Institute (Jerusalem) and the Principals’ Center at Harvard Graduate School, Rabbi Frank serves on the board of the International Rabbinic Fellowship and on the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Yeshivat Maharat. He served for 4 years as Associate Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale under Rabbi Avi Weiss. A musmakh of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Aaron holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan and an M.S. from Columbia Univ. School of Social Work. Rabbi Frank and his wife Laura Shaw Frank have four children: Ateret, Yanniv, Elinadav, and Neri.
Laura Shaw Frank, Director of Recruitment, Placement, and Alumnae Support at Yeshivat Maharat, is completing her PhD in modern Jewish history at the University of Maryland. She is also the Director of Israel Guidance and a member of the history faculty at SAR High School in Riverdale. Before moving to New York, Laura was the chair of the Jewish History Department and Director of Israel Guidance at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School in Baltimore. A former commercial litigator, Laura is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School. She is a founding board member of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and of PORAT, People for an Orthodox Renaissance and Torah.
Rabbi Psachyah Lichtenstein is a teacher, farmer, scribe, and designer. He serves as Creative Director at Pearlstone Center. Psachyah graduated from the Rabbinical College of America and Pratt Institute of Design. He has served the Jewish community as a mentor and teacher of Earth-Based Torah and Jewish mysticism in both the US and Israel for over 20 years. As a Rabbi and speaker, Psachyah has built trans-denominational relationships across every boundary and met in interfaith dialogue with the Vatican’s liaison to the Jewish people. As a designer, Psachyah has worked with HP, UPS, Agilent Technologies, AT&T, and Accenture. He homesteads with his family in a restored 1764 log cabin along with their sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, cats, and border collies.
Rabbi Aryeh Goetz, Rav HaMachshir — Rabbi Goetz holds a Bachelors of Science in Urban Planning from the University of California at Pomona and Semicha from Yeshiva Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem. He recently retired from CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. as the Director of Neighborhood Investment. His wife, Bracha Goetz, is the coordinator of the Jewish Big Brother Big Sister Program at Jewish Community Services and the author of 37 children’s books. They live in Park Heights, Baltimore City and have six married children and many wonderful grandchildren. This will be Rabbi Goetz’s 5th year as Rav HaMachshir for Pesach at Pearlstone.
Sara Shalva (Pearlstone Center Assistant Director)
Child & Teen Program Coordinator — Sara Shalva is the Assistant Director of the Pearlstone Center, where she focuses on strategic retreat and program management and systems. Previously she served as the Chief Program Officer, Jewish Life and Learning at the Edlavitch DCJCC. In that role, she infused joyful Jewish content into all programs and departments. Sara graduated cum laude from Mary Washington College with a BA in Political Science, and, as a Taub Fellow, from NYU with dual masters in Nonprofit Management and Judaic Studies. Over the last fifteen years Sara has split her time between Israel and the United States, working in formal and informal educational and administrative settings serving teens and adults in the Jewish community and beyond. In Israel Sara volunteered on Project Otzma, studied at Pardes, and served as the Development Associate for Hebrew Union College’s Jerusalem campus. In the United States, she served as the Director of Enrollment Management at Hebrew College and as the Executive Director of Limmud NY. More recently, she became a certified Bikram yoga teacher and taught yoga full time, consulting for Jewish nonprofits and teaching in Jewish settings part time. In Jewish communal work Sara focuses on leadership development, recruitment, strategic management, conference planning, program development, budgeting and organizational change. Sara lives in Reisterstown with her two children and her husband Rabbi Benjamin Shalva.
PEARLSTONE’S PROGRAM STAFF
Laura Leventhal, Director of Guest Services — Running retreats at Pearlstone since 2007, and involved in Pesach at Pearlstone since 2009, Laura Leventhal brings over 30 years of experience planning events for companies, synagogues, non-profits and friends to the Pearlstone Guest Services Department. Originally from New Rochelle, NY, Laura has been living in Baltimore since 2000 and is mom to four wonderful, grown children. Her passionate expertise, integrity and attention to details is evident to all who meet her, as she makes each guest’s comfort her top priority. One of Laura’s mottoes in planning multi-generational retreats is: “Happy children, happy parents!” and she strives to ensure everyone has a good time.
Jay King, Executive Chef — A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef King has over 40 years experience in the culinary world. Chef King has worked in dinning for corporations, senior facilities, hotels, health care facilities, catering and now Kosher dinning. Chef loves the farm-to-table experience Pearlstone provides and will ensure high quality in food and service from his entire department. Chef King was raised near Boston and has also lived in North Carolina. He and his wife currently live in Frederick, Maryland with their three children.
Sonja Sugerman, Director of Programming —
Greg Strella, Director of Stewardship — Greg Strella and his team spend their time stewarding the plants and animals that bring the Pearlstone Campus to life for visitors and guests. Greg has grown organic vegetables for more than a decade and has worked in leadership positions for Baltimore City Public Schools’ Great Kids Farm and Future Harvest: A Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. As someone who works with Pearlstone’s living landscape each day, he welcomes the opportunity to share it with you warmly and informally through walking, dialogue, and all of your senses.
Joe Murray, Caretaker/ Naturalist — At Pearlstone since 2015, Joe Murray has been teaching nature connection since 1997 and has made it his life’s work to learn from the indigenous peoples of the earth and share the old ways with as many people as possible. Joe teaches wilderness survival, naturalist and Indigenous skills to homeschooling groups, school field trips, adult classes, Tiyul adventurers and retreat guests. Additionally, Joe brings a wealth of knowledge of the wild and the animals that live there.