Talmud Torah of St. Paul

Where critical thinking
and Jewish values intersect

Hineni Faculty

Sara Lynn Newberger (Bachelor of Science, University of Illinois; Master of Arts, Brandeis University, Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service and Education; Jerusalem Fellow) is the Director of Hineni.  She moved to St. Paul in 1989 to work at the Talmud Torah’s Day School because the mission and vision resonated with her soul. She believes passionately in the importance of Jewish learning and the impact it can have on people’s lives. Sara Lynn has recently begun to explore, both in her own learning and teaching, areas of Jewish mindfulness and spirituality.   In addition to planning programs for Hineni, she is facilitating groups in Jewish Meditation, Torah and Mindfulness, Mussar/Middot, and Contemplative Chanting.  She is teaching the Rhythms of Jewish Living course in the Melton core curriculum.  

Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein is the founding Director of By The Rivers: A Multi-Faith Learning and Lifecycle Center. He strives to make learning accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.

He is Rabbi in Residence at the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning and a staff member at Hineni: A Center for Adult Jewish Learning and Contemplative Practices.

He is originally from South Africa, and immigrated with his family to the United States as a young child. He grew up in Golden Valley, MN. He graduated with a BA in Peace Studies and History from Washington University in Saint Louis. After graduation he worked for the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Nyack NY., an organization dedicated to peace. He lived in Israel where he attended Machon Pardes, an egalitarian yeshiva, and graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary NY. in 2000 with rabbinic ordination and an M.A. in Jewish Education. 

For two years, Rabbi Shavit-Lonstein was rabbi of the Tri-City Jewish Center, in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa. He was then the rabbi at Temple of Aaron, St. Paul MN from 2002 to 2014. He currently works at the Apple Store in Ridgedale mall, repairing relationships and iPhones.

Rabbi Shavit-Lonstein enjoys running, and has completed several marathons, in addition, he is an avid SciFi fan. He and his wife Becky are blessed with three children, Noah, Naveh and Naomi.

Meryll Levine Page has taught for 39 years.  She was privileged to teach beginning in 1971 at the St. Paul Talmud Torah. Most recently she taught International Baccalaureate History and US History at St. Louis Park Senior High. During her career, she also taught Torah, Hebrew language, Jewish History, and English in supplementary Jewish schools, day schools, private schools, and two Minnesota school districts.

Since retiring, Meryll has entered the age of “yes, I can do that.”  She has co-authored a nonfiction book with her sister—Jewish Luck:  A True Story of Friendship, Deception, and Risky Business about two Soviet born Jewish women.  She is currently working on a book entitled Ta’am Torah linking recipes, discussion questions, and tidbits of knowledge to the weekly parasha. Meryll will begin her fourth year as a facilitator for the Jewish Artists’ Lab housed at the Sabes JCC and continues to lead classes for Osher Lifelong Learning.

Meryll is married to Christopher Page and has four children and two grandchildren.

Rabbi Lynn Liberman was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1993.  She has served as Spiritual Leader of congregations in Florida, St. Louis, MO, western Massachusetts, and Austin, Texas and for six years, worked as a congregational educator at Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights.  She has also taught and worked in a variety of educational settings, including as Rabbi in Residence of the Solomon Schechter Day School of St. Louis and is a current Adjunct Lecturer in Judaics at Augsburg College, Minneapolis.  

Over the years, Rabbi Liberman’s passions as a rabbi have been many. Currently she volunteers as a Police and Fire Chaplain for the Mendota Heights/West St. Paul Police and Fire Departments and continues to volunteer as a chaplain at the Women’s Prison in Shakopee.   She also serves as a board member of NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster and is especially delighted to be on the board and to serve as board secretary for J-HAP, a program creating supportive housing for people with special needs.  She is also a trained advocate for victims of domestic abuse through the Jewish Domestic Abuse Collaborative.

As a chaplain, Rabbi Liberman has worked at Northfield Hospital and Clinics and continues to work as a per diem at Regions. Currently she is a hospice chaplain at HealthEast Hospice and is the Community Chaplain for Jewish Family Service of St. Paul.

Earl Schwartz is a master teacher. He is on the religion faculty of Hamline University, and has received Hamline's Faculty Member of the Year and Grimes Teaching awards  He is the author of Moral Development: A Practical Guide for Jewish Teachers, and co-author with Rabbi Barry Cytron of When Life Is In the Balance: Life, along with numerous articles on Jewish history and literature.

Cantor Rachel Stock Spilker has served as cantor at Mount Zion since 1997. She currently serves part-time. She grew up in Pittsburgh where she was inspired by her Cantor, Mordechai Heiser. Cantor Spilker received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters degree in Sacred Music and investiture as cantor from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem and New York. Cantor Spilker enjoys teaching about Judaism and Jewish music to people of all ages through services, special programs and classes. She also likes to explore other areas of Jewish life including yoga and art.  She and Rabbi Spilker have three children, Eiden, Mirit and Liam.


Pam Lauer is a spiritual director who received certification from the Lev Shomea Jewish Spiritual Direction Training program where she was a member of the first cohort in 2001-2003. She also studied Jewish Spiritul Direction with Rabbi Amy Eilberg. Along with seeing individual directees, Pam also leads Interfaith Holy Listening groups and larger group "Interfaith Holy Listening Experiences" in which she uses the tools of group spiritual direction to help participants from different traditions and cultures have an experience of listening and being "heard at a level deeper than dialogue". In the Jewish month of Elul, Pam leads spiritual direction groups focused on the process of heshbon ha-nefesh or "accounting of the soul" in preparation for the Jewish High Holidays, and also teaches a class on the uses of Nonviolent Communication in working toward "at-one-ment" in advance of the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Pam teaches Nonviolent Communication and leads Holy Listening Groups in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Former Faculty

During the summer of 2014, Debra Rappaport married the love of her life and moved back to her home-town of Minneapolis. For the previous seven years, she served as Rabbi and Executive Director for B’nai Vail Congregation in Vail, Colorado. She received ordination at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia in 2007. After earning her BA at Vassar College, Rabbi Rappaport pursued a business career over the next ten years, in sales, marketing, and management roles, as well as earning an MBA in Marketing from the Wharton School of the University of PA. She currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Board of Scholars and Advisors for the Vail Leadership Institute.

Rabbi Amy Eilberg is the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. After many years of work in pastoral care and hospice, Rabbi Eilberg now serves as a spiritual director, directs interfaith dialogue programs in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, and teaches at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She teaches the art of listening, dialogue and peacebuilding in venues throughout the country.  Her book, From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace, was published by Orbis Books in March 2014.

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., RYT-500, is a Professor at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the prevention of eating and weight-related problems including eating disorders, unhealthy weight control behaviors, body dissatisfaction and obesity; she has published over 400 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on these and related topics. She has also written a book for parents entitled, “I’m, Like So Fat! Helping your teen make healthy eating and exercise choices in a weight-obsessed world.” In recent years, Dianne developed an interest in the potential for yoga to help with eating and body image problems. To this end, she became a certified yoga instructor, and now teaches therapeutic yoga to individuals with eating disorders and studies the impact of yoga on eating behaviors, psychological well-being, and weight status.

Rabbi Jeffrey Schein is a noted teacher and author in the field of Jewish education. He is currently director of the adolescent initiative and special projects at the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. He has served as Professor and Director of the Education Department at the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland, and consulted nationally on range of special projects with Jewish schools, synagogues, and summer camps.Dr. Schein, a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1977) and of the doctoral program in curriculum studies of Temple University (1980), the author of several books and numerous articles. Jeffrey and his wife Deborah have recently moved to the Twin Cities. Their children are Benjamin, Jonah, and Hana. Their grandchildren are Ilan, Tali, and Aryeh.


Julie Dean is an experiential educator & professional facilitator who has been guiding participants in personal & spiritual development for 20 years.  Julie is an active member of the Twin Cities Jewish community, facilitating Mussar groups & the Women's Spirituality Group at Mount Zion Temple, drumming for Spirit & Song at Adath Jeshuran & also Shir Tikvah's first Friday Shabbat services, and serving on the Hineini advisory committee.