Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD is an author, educator, midrashist, myth-weaver, and ritualist. She is the co-founder of Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Institute, and the director of Tel Shemesh, a website and community celebrating and creating Jewish earth-based traditions. She is also the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic Jewish seminary.
Rabbi Hammer is the author of two books: Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (Jewish Publication Society, 2001) and The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons (Jewish Publication Society, 2006). She is a poet and essayist whose work has been published in many journals and anthologies such as Lilith, Bridges, Response, Natural Bridge, Zeek, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, The Jewish Spectator, Biblical Women in the Midrash, and The Women’s Torah Commentary.
Rabbi Hammer is a celebrated adult educator who has taught in many venues including retreats, conferences, synagogues, Jewish community centers, new moon gatherings, and on-going adult education classes. She conducts workshops around the country on ancient and contemporary midrash, bibliodrama, creative ritual, and Jewish cycles of time. As part of her work as director of Tel Shemesh, she crafts innovative multisensory ritual experiences for the different seasons of the Jewish year.
Rabbi Hammer has served as a senior associate at Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project of the JCC in Manhattan and as the editor of Ma’yan’s journal Journey, and also as the editor of Living Text: The Journal of Contemporary Midrash. Her academic work in feminism and Jewish folklore has been published in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues. Her work in psychology has been published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
Rabbi Hammer was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and holds a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut. She received a BA at Brandeis University, where she began her multifaceted career as a writer, feminist, and maker of myth and ritual. She has been the winner of the Rabbi Joseph and Frances Miller Prize in Bible (Jewish Theological Seminary), the Whizin Prize for Best Midrash on a Contemporary Issue, the Sanctity of Life Award for service to the Jewish community (Brandeis University), and the Rose Schlow Prize in Judaic Studies (Brandeis University).
Holly Taya Shere is a folklorist, ritual artist and educator on women's spirituality and Renewal Judaism. Holly received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998—her Master's thesis was titled "Everything She Touches Changes: A Feminist Ethnography of Women Integrating Spirituality, Politics and Creativity." She spent several years priestessing in earth-based spiritual communities and working as a healer before returning to Judaism and becoming a student, teacher and organizer in Jewish spiritual communities.
Holly is co-founder and co-director of Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, an organization and training program devoted to reclaiming and innovating models of embodied Jewish spiritual leadership, creativity and community from an earth-honoring, feminist perspective.
Since 2006, Holly has held the rabbinic pulpit at Olney Kehila Jewish Congregation, where she serves as Spiritual Leader, facilitating life-cycle ritual for congregants, leading Shabbat and holiday services, teaching special programming in the Hebrew school and supporting members in their pastoral care needs. In addition, Holly serves as Education Director of Yavneh on the Hill and teaches Judaism and facilitates life-cycle ritual in many Washington, DC area Jewish communities.
Holly sits on the planning committee of the Sacred Circles Interfaith Women's Spirituality Conference of the National Cathedral and the Women's Faith and Development Alliance. She also served as an executive officer on the board of directors of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and remains a primary leader of their next generation programming
Holly’s first CD, “holy, holy: the wild earth shebrew chants,” is currently in production. She is editing an anthology, She-Is-One-With-a-Flow: Renewing Jewish Perspectives on Women’s Blood, and her writing on Judaism and conscious menstruation can be found in the book God In Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice.