Speakers’ bureau

The Kulanu Speakers Bureau is a great way to bring an individual to your community – a board member, affiliated volunteer, or member of one of our partner communities. We have helped organize events at synagogues, university campuses, high schools, private homes, and many other kinds of venues. Generally, we expect an honorarium plus travel expenses. Most of our speakers travel within the Americas, Israel, and Europe, but we can try to arrange for events beyond these areas if you request it. If you are interested in hosting a Kulanu speaker, please contact us.

These events are available year-round, but you might also be interested in our annual speaking tour.

Rabbanit Bonita Sussman, Vice President, and Rabbi Gerald Sussman

Bonita Nathan Sussman, Vice President of Kulanu, is available to make presentations on Kulanu’s vision to change the worldwide Jewish community, her travels, and what she has gained through her encounters with emerging, returning, and isolated Jewish communities around the globe.

Her writing, photographs, and YouTube channel document these communities for the historical record. Her husband, Rabbi Gerald Sussman, often serves as the “mara d’aytra” spiritual guide and rabbi of these communities, and community members often come to him for rabbinic guidance on questions that are particular to new, emerging, and returning Jews. Their travels include Nicaragua, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and India. The Sussmans live in Staten Island, New York.

Capers C. Funnye, Jr., Board Member

Capers Funnye

Capers C. Funnye, Jr. is Chief Rabbi of the International Israelite Board of Rabbis. In addition, he is rabbi and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago.

Rabbi Funnye earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew Literature and rabbinic ordination from the Israelite Board of Rabbis, Inc., Queens, NY. Rabbi Funnye also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies and Master of Science in Human Service Administration from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago, Illinois.

Rabbi Funnye has lectured at numerous universities, synagogues, churches, and various community organizations throughout the United States. He has appeared on several national and local television programs and spoken on numerous radio programs both national and local.

Rabbi Funnye is married and he and his wife Mary have four children and are the proud grandparents of 12 grandchildren, 3 granddaughters and 9 grandsons.

You can watch his talk from our Online Speaker Series held July 2020 here.

Barbara Vinick, Board Member

Barbara is currently a research associate at Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, a center focused on Jews and gender worldwide. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, she earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Boston University and conducted post-doctoral work in human development at Harvard.

She is currently working on a volume of stories about Jewish brides around the world, a follow-up to her book Today I am a Woman: Stories of Bat Mitzvah Around the World published by Indiana University Press.

Barbara’s one-hour presentation features Kulanu’s partner communities located in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Southwestern United States, and is accompanied by a slideshow of on-site photographs, documenting Kulanu’s inspiring efforts to help communities and individuals connect or re-connect with their Jewish roots. Barbara brings both a humanitarian and expert scholarly perspective to her presentations and has a wealth of experience representing Kulanu at speaking events. Barbara lives in the Boston area.

Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Board Member and Italian Community Leader

Rabbi Barbara Aiello is Italy’s first and only woman rabbi. Currently, she serves the b’nei anusim (or “Crypto-Jewish”) congregation Ner Tamid del Sud, The Eternal Light of the South. This Reconstructionist synagogue is the first active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years – that is, since the Inquisition. Rabbi Barbara was ordained at The Rabbinical Seminary International and the Rabbinical Academy in New York City. She is also a Kulanu board member.

Rabbi Barbara is available to discuss her Italian community’s history and recent re-emergence, as well as her involvement with Kulanu’s work over the years.  If you are located in Europe and would like Rabbi Barbara to come to speak to your community/organization, please be in touch. Rabbi Barbara lives in Calabria, Italy, and sometimes in south Florida.

You can watch her talk from our Online Speaker Series held in April 2020 here.

Daneel Schaechter, Board Member

Board member Daneel Schaechter has focused his work with Kulanu on the issue of Latin American B’nei Anusim (Crypto-Jews) for the last decade. At the University of Pennsylvania, he studied Latin American and Latino Studies and wrote his thesis on the intersection of religion and politics in Ecuador, with a case study of the Ecuadorian Jews and Crypto-Jews.

He spent 2015 living in Recife, Brazil as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English at the Federal University of Pernambuco, working at a small start-up, ProDeaf, and engaging with the Brazilian emerging Jewish communities. Daneel lives in New York City.

Simcha Butchart, Community Member from Zimbabwe

Simcha is originally from Zimbabwe, where she spent time as part of the Lemba community before moving to Israel to pursue her studies at Pardes. She recently made aliyah and now lives in Jerusalem.

Simcha can speak first-hand about her experience both as a member of a Kulanu community, and now as a volunteer staff member.

Shoshana Nambi, rabbinical student from Uganda

Shoshana grew up in Uganda’s Abayudaya community. During 2014-15 she was Kulanu’s annual speaking tour representative, touring North America and sharing her personal experiences. Shoshana then spent time studying at Pardes Institute. In 2018 she began her rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, and she is has been at Hebrew Union College in New York City since fall, 2019.

Shoshana can speak first-hand about her experience both as a member of a Kulanu community and about her journey within Judaism that has led her on the path to rabbinic ordination. Shoshana is a keen singer and loves sharing renditions of Jewish music from the Abayudaya community.

Sonya Loya, Crypto-Jewish Community Member

Sonya Loya is a well-known glass artisan and founder-director of the Bat-Tzyion Hebrew Learning Center in New Mexico. She is a descendant of “Crypto-Jews” or “Benei Anousim”. Sonya travels the country to share her own fascinating story of return, as well as her beautiful Crypto-Jewish artwork. Invite her to visit your congregation or other group and learn not just Sonya’s story, but also the trials and triumphs of the Anousim from the Inquisition to today.

Read Sonya Loya’s biography by clicking here.
Get a glimpse of Sonya’s Jewish-themed glass art in this video on YouTube.

Genie Milgrom, Crypto-Jewish Community Member

Genie Milgrom is a published author and experienced speaker on Crypto-Jewry, having traced her own family ancestry back 15 generations to before the Spanish Inquisition in order to prove her Jewish origins. She was born in Cuba and now lives in Miami.

Genie has spoken at dozens of events, from academic conferences to synagogue luncheons, and is a true expert on Crypto-Jewry both from her research and her personal experiences.

Remy Ilona, Community Member from Nigeria

Remy Iona is a lawyer and writer from Abuja, Nigeria. He is currently a Masters student in religious studies at Florida International University in Miami. He is gaining a reputation as a key emissary and spokesperson for the Jews of Nigeria, native-born Igbo people whose customs and traditions are understood throughout Nigeria as having their roots in ancient Israel.

Author of The Igbo: Jews in Africa? (2004) and The Igbo and Israel: An Inter-Cultural Study of the Largest Jewish Diaspora (2012), Remy looks to the past and future of the 30 million Igbo of Nigeria – who they were, who they are, and who they are destined to be. His presentation is fascinating and sure to inspire lively discussion.

Miriam Feinberg, Volunteers and Travelers

Miriam Feinberg has volunteered, under the auspices of Kulanu, as a Judaic teacher for communities in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Poland. She has been an advocate of Kulanu’s work for many years and is available to share their first-hand experiences within Jewish communities that Kulanu serves.