Austin Z3 Bios | Shalom Austin


Austin Z3 Conference Bios

Zack Bodner

Author and President & CEOOshman Family JCC

Zack Bodner is the author of the book “Why Do Jewish? A Manifesto for 21st century Jewish Peoplehood.” An Amazon #1 new release in Jewish Life and Religion & Philosophy, “Why Do Jewish?” takes one of our oldest wisdom traditions and provides an accessible road map for anyone looking for answers to life’s most important questions.

Zack serves as the President and CEO of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. Under Zack’s leadership, the JCC began hosting an annual conference called Zionism 3.0 which became The Z3 Project, a global effort to reimagine Diaspora-Israel relations.

Before joining the JCC, Zack served for 14 years as the Pacific Northwest Regional Director of AIPAC. Zack holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Religion and Theology from Claremont Graduate University, earned his Bachelor’s degree from Yale University, studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Stanford Business School’s program for Executives in Non-Profit Leadership.

Zack is an accomplished speaker, including as a MOTH storyteller and TEDx presenter, and writes regularly for Jewish publications in the US and Israel. He is a member of YPO, participated in the Executive Leadership Seminar at the Aspen Institute, is a board member of the JCC Association of North America, and is on the Advisory Board of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University. Zack lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and three children.

Rabbi Amitai Fraiman

Director, The Z3 ProjectOshman Family JCC

Raised in Jerusalem, ordained in NY, and now living in Palo Alto, Rabbi Amitai Fraiman is the Director of the Z3 Project, an initiative of the Oshman Family JCC aimed at strengthening the relationship between Diaspora Jews and Israel based on a Peoplehood oriented Zionism. R’ Fraiman is also the founder of שזור/Interwoven, an organization specializing in telling the story of American Jewry to Israelis. Amitai is an ELI speaker,  a musmach of YCT, and a graduate of NYU’s Wagner- Skirball dual MPA-MA program. Together with Michal, they are the proud parents of Maya, Yahli, and Roee which they love bigger than the sky. 

Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus 

CEO, Shalom Austin

A fifth-generation Houstonian, Rabbi Septimus has been in Austin since 2014, serving as Texas Hillel Executive Director for just over two years and now as CEO of Shalom Austin since September 2016, the hub of Jewish life in Central Texas. Before coming to Austin, Rabbi Septimus served at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, the largest Jewish congregation in the Pacific Northwest for seven years as Associate Rabbi and Director of Congregation Learning where he brought a holistic approach to congregational learning.

Rabbi Septimus graduated from Tulane University in 2002 and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007. He has also been awarded the prestigious Hartman and Schusterman Fellowships.

Congressman Michael McCaul 

U.S. Representative, Texas’ 10th District in the United States Congress

Congressman McCaul previously served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and at the beginning of the 118th Congress, he became the first Texan to chair the Foreign Affairs Committee, which considers legislation that impacts the diplomatic community.

Prior to Congress, Congressman McCaul served as Chief of Counter Terrorism and National Security in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Western District of Texas, and led the Joint Terrorism Task Force charged with detecting, deterring, and preventing terrorist activity. McCaul also served as Texas Deputy Attorney General under current U.S. Senator John Cornyn, and he served as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, DC.

A fourth generation Texan, Congressman McCaul earned a B.A. in Business and History from Trinity University and holds a J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law. In 2009 Congressman McCaul was honored with St. Mary’s Distinguished Graduate award. He is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Fellows Program of the School of Government, Harvard University.

Congressman McCaul married his wife Linda in 1993. They are proud parents of five children: Caroline, Jewell, and the triplets, Lauren, Michael, and Avery. The McCauls call Austin, Texas, home.

Rabbi Stephanie Max

Executive Director, Texas Hillel

Rabbi Max joined the Texas Hillel family in late July 2023. Previously, Rabbi Max has served as the Associate Director at Brandeis Hillel for the past five years, working alongside students and staff to transform the organization, growing student engagement and programming, strengthening university partnerships, expanding the professional staff, and launching new program initiatives. She recently participated in fellowships with the Avodah Institute for Social Change and the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Rabbi Max previously served as Associate Director & Director of Content for Convergence on Campus, Program Director of the Interfaith Youth Initiative, and Rabbinic Fellow at Tufts Hillel. Rabbi Max received ordination in 2019 from Hebrew College.

During rabbinical school, she spent two years in Israel, studying at the Conservative Yeshiva, Pardes, the Shalom Hartman Institute, and BINA, where she also taught in their post-college program. Rabbi Max holds a BA in Sociocultural Anthropology and Hispanic Language and Literature from Boston University.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger

Rabbi Denise L. Eger is an international Jewish leader, author, sought-after speaker and social justice activist. She is the first openly LGBTQ person to be president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the first woman to head the Southern California Board of Rabbis, she is Founding Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA.

She is an author and editor of three books including “7 Principles for Living Bravely,” “Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells, A Celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual” and “Gender & Religious Leadership: Women Rabbis, Pastors, and Ministers. Eger is a contributor to numerous anthologies and books.

Named as one of the most influential Jews by the Jewish Forward, and the #1 LGBT Clergy Person by Huffington Post, she has won numerous awards for her activism for LGBTQ people, women, and Israel. Ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, she has her Doctor of Divinity from HUC. She was given an honorary doctorate from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Rabbi Eger has a master’s degree from HUC-JIR and undergraduate degree in Religion and Jewish Studies from the University of Southern California. She is a Sr. Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Rabbi Eger is a PCC level accredited executive and performance coach and currently coaches clergy, non-profit executives and consults with non-profit organizations. She has served on numerous national boards including Zioness, Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Council, National Council of AIPAC, Hebrew Union College, the Union for Reform Judaism, and is currently a trustee of the Reform Movement’s Pension Board.

She resides in Austin, TX with her wife, Rabbi Dr. Eleanor Steinman who is the Sr. Rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom.

Algom Ben-Horin

West Coast Regional Program Director, The Jewish Agency

As the Regional Program Director for the West Coast, Algom Ben-Horin serves as The Jewish Agency’s liaison to several Jewish Federations, working to strengthen long-standing partnerships through programs such as missions to Israel, Shlichut (Jewish Agency emissaries to Jewish communities worldwide), SparkIL (microloans to Israeli small businesses), JReady (training in community emergency preparedness), and more. Algom facilitates communication such as funding reports and provides professional support to Jewish Agency Shlichim serving in the West Coast region.

A former Jewish Agency Shaliach himself, Algom served as a Jewish Agency Israel Fellow and Assistant Director at the University of Connecticut Hillel from 2012 to 2016. There, he helped build student leadership infrastructure, led Israel education programs, and promoted Israel experiences. From 2016 to 2019 he was on the Missions Team of the JDC, before becoming the Campus Life Events Manager at the Raphael Recanati International School at Reichman University. Before moving to West Hollywood for his current position, he also volunteered for IGY, Israel’s LGBTQ+ youth movement.

Algom holds a BA in Political Science and Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He grew up in Netanya and has lived in Binyamina and Tel Aviv.

Michaela Jacobsberg-Reiss

Product and Marketing Leader, Founder of MJR Go To Market

Hailing from Israel, Michaela embarked on a new chapter in the US in 2010, earning her MBA at the University of Michigan alongside her husband. Post-graduation, she navigated a dynamic nine-year career in the Bay Area before calling the greater Austin area home. Michaela’s professional path has been diverse, beginning with cancer research at the Weizmann Institute of Science and transitioning into Israel’s tech scene as a product manager for an ed-tech startup in 2007. In the US, she held key roles in product management, partnerships, and marketing at brands like EA and Twitter, notably launching Twitter’s first (and last) Jewish ERG.

With a heartfelt commitment to the Israeli and Jewish tech communities, Michaela co-directs an Israeli product management club and has been actively engaged since October 7 in social media advocacy to counter misinformation, along with a team of volunteers she got together. At the Dell JCC, Michaela is a member of the Jewish Peoplehood Committee. Michaela is also a mother of two members of the Austin Israeli Scouts, ages 8 and 10.

Yakir Englander

Senior Director of IAC Gvanim and Leadership Education 

Dr. Yakir Englander is the Senior National Director of Leadership Programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR (rabbinical school) in New York. Originally from the Hasidic community of Israel, Englander obtained his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Jewish philosophy and gender studies. He is a Fulbright Scholar and was a visiting Professor of Religion at Northwestern and Rutgers Universities, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. 

Englander’s books about body, gender and sexuality in the Ultra-Orthodox and Zionist-Orthodox communities have changed the discourse on sexuality and gender inside the Jewish religious societies in Israel. After leaving Orthodoxy, Yakir was drafted into the Israeli military, spending most of his service in an elite unit tasked with the identification of human remains. As a result of his service, he joined as a director at Kids4Peace, an interfaith youth movement in Jerusalem and other cities in North America.

Dror Stein

Content and Leadership Director, Z3
Oshman Family JCC

Dror serves as the director of leadership and content at The Z3 Project, in the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. During Dror’s tenure, the Z3 Leadership Lab has grown its reach to new communities, establishing new curricula to support the reach of the Z3 approach.

Previously, Dror served at Hillel International and UC Berkeley Hillel for nine years in different capacities, from which she led the Bay Area’s Israel strategic work. Prior to that, Dror served as a captain in the IDF designing training curricula for various units throughout the country and supporting leadership to promote civic discourse in the West Bank. 

Dror holds a Master’s degree from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s from Bar Ilan University in Israel. 

Carol Silverberg

Co-founder and President, Explorei3
Co-founder, Fertility Foundation of Texas

Carol Silverberg is an experienced Community Volunteer with leadership and project management history at various non-profits. She is the Co-founder and President of Explorei3, which spearheads the Israeli Innovation & Impact interactive wall at Shalom Austin, on the Dell Jewish Community Center. Carol is also the Co-founder and Board member of the Fertility Foundation of Texas, which raises awareness about infertility and awards grants to help Central Texans pay out-of-pocket costs for prescribed treatments so they can realize their dream of having a family.

Graduate of Vanderbilt Law School; Proud wife (of Kaylen) and mother of 4 amazing adult children and 3 fabulous and absolutely amazing grandchildren.


Wendy Goodman 

Senior Marketing and Communications Director, Shalom Austin 
Editor-in-Chief, The Jewish Outlook & Jewish Austin Magazine 

Wendy Goodman grew up in Austin and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas. Wendy then moved to New York City where she achieved her master’s degree and took positions in advertising with Saatchi & Saatchi, marketing and PR with GfK, journalism with NY Daily News, and videography and teaching at Brooklyn College. Wendy has been awarded for her video documentary work, served as co-chair of the Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) young executives board, participated in Young Jewish Professionals (YJP), hosted and produced programs on commercial and indie radio, and volunteered with Holocaust survivors. With over 15 years of experience in media and marketing, Wendy currently holds two positions at Shalom Austin as Senior Marketing & Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief / Publisher of The Jewish Outlook newspaper and Shalom Austin annual magazines. 

Rabbi Amy B. Cohen

Chief Social Services Officer, Shalom Austin
Executive Director, Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service

Rabbi Cohen comes to Shalom Austin from Temple Beth Shalom where she had served as associate rabbi since 2012. Rabbi Cohen is also a Licensed Master Social Worker who is no stranger to Jewish Family Service. She served on its committee for the past 8 years. Throughout her career, Cohen has focused on social service work. Raised in Sudbury, Massachusetts, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work with a double major in Jewish history and civilization and a Master of Arts degree in social work from New York University. Cohen also earned a master of religious education and a master in Hebrew letters degrees from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She completed her ordination as a rabbi at HUC-JIR in New York. Cohen received her license in social work from the state of Texas. Rabbi Cohen is also the executive director of Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service. 

Maura Kinney

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service
Pronouns: they/them

Maura is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who focuses on working with clients on the myriad ways grief can manifest in our lives: via loss of a loved one, relationship, or element of identity; via the experience of systemic oppression and identity-based rejection by family, community, or country; and/or via the grief associated with traumatic experiences past and present.

Maura comes to clinical social work via a background in theatre, sexuality education, and community organizing. They enjoy working with clients across the lifespan through a relational and psychodynamic lens. Maura uses their strong orientation towards justice and self-determination to work towards co-creating a therapeutic space that feels supportive based on each client’s history and needs.

Maura has received training in Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions, and through Ample and Rooted’s Eating Disorder training program. When not at work, they enjoy writing and playing music, and working in their garden.