Who we are

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Rabbi David Curiel

Co-Founder and
Spiritual Director

Not so long ago, I was a statistic that worried institutional Jews: a Spiritual None, turned off by mainstream American Jewish practice as I had received it. Yet I always felt a spiritual longing for connection. I worked at Apple Computer, earned an MBA at Indiana University, and moved to the West Coast to work in the wine industry. Along the way, I found many folks with a shared zeitgeist: a desire for living in community and supporting each other physically and emotionally.

Through an unexpected turn of events (ask me about that sometime!), I found Jewish Renewal, a daring approach to Judaism as a spiritual practice, and realized not only that this Jewish thing was for me, but also that I needed to become a rabbi.

With my wife, Amberly, we made our home in Boston, where I began my rabbinic studies with Aleph, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, while also working at Nehar Shalom Synagogue in Jamaica Plain and at Kesher Hebrew School in Cambridge/Somerville. We spent the 2014-15 school year in Jerusalem while I studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and then moved to New York City for the next two years while I served as rabbinic intern at Romemu, arguably one of the most vibrant synagogues in the country right now.

In 2017, I earned ordination as a Mashpi’a Ruchani/Spiritual Director, a practice of spiritual companionship to help people investigate their relationship with Divinity/ Source/the Eternal. I received rabbinic smicha/ordination from Aleph in January 2018.

 
 
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Amberly Polidor

Co-Founder

I began co-creating the vision for Asiyah along with David while we were living in Jerusalem a few years ago. My motivation was a yearning to be in community with people who, like me, want to explore Jewish practice—prayer, study, contemplation, fellowship—in creative, innovative, and spirited ways.

I didn’t come to my Judaism through my parents—I found it as an adult, in tandem with David’s rediscovery of Judaism. Jewish Renewal was our shared access point; in it, I found the kind of spiritual home I had been longing for, where I could bring a love of song and spiritual expression, which sprung from the Christian tradition I grew up in, along with a spirit of deep inquiry, exploration, and open-mindedness.

I’m a graduate of Kol Zimra, Rabbi Shefa Gold’s two-year Hebrew chant leadership training program, and I love bringing this powerful practice to Asiyah’s monthly Rosh Chodesh circle. I’m also a professional copy editor and writer, so I’ve naturally slipped into the role of managing the Asiyah website and other communications.

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Matt Ponak

Rabbinic Intern

Much like Rabbi David, I was also a source of concern for Jewish statisticians before I heard my call back to Jewish wisdom. Growing up in Western Canada, I was involved in the Jewish community but eventually found that my spiritual interests took me outside its bounds. When I attended Naropa University in Colorado in 2010, I had a series of powerful moments calling me to be a rabbi and to reorient my spiritual life toward Judaism. At that time, I connected with Jewish Renewal as well as other amazing spiritual communities, and eventually found my way to Hebrew College to be a rabbinical student. I am very excited to get to know you all this year, as well as to share my music, experimental spirit, and love of mystical texts. 

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Mallory Rubin

Program Associate

Currently a first-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College, I received my master’s in social work from Columbia University in 2017 and worked as a chaplain resident for Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. A lifelong New Yorker, I’ve been deeply involved in serving the community of my home shul, Romemu, for many years—which is actually where I met Rabbi David and Amberly! I’m thrilled to be working with them again and to be serving the Asiyah community, and I’m genuinely looking forward to meeting and building exciting and warm community with all of you!  

 
 

Asiyah Cultivation Crew

The ACC meets monthly to help shape and guide Asiyah's mission, vision, and programming. Members represent facets of the larger Asiyah community: 20s and 30s singles, young couples, parents (both of young kids and teens), and plus-50s. In addition to Rabbi David and Amberly, the following brilliant and dedicated people form the ACC:

  • Hannah Anderson-Baranger

  • Preston Neal

  • Yocheved Peskowitz

  • Mikhael Reuven

  • Danielle Smith

  • Danielle Ulanet