Our Founders

Rabbi John Carrier

John Carrier is an ordained rabbi living, leading, teaching, and thriving in Burbank, California, but this is a long way from where he started. John was born in East Texas to a family of Christian pastors going back three generations. Finding it harder and harder to connect with his own family's beliefs and traditions, he converted to Judaism as an adult. Some years later, John left a successful career in management consulting to attend the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Today John teaches Jewish wisdom and traditions to students age 3 to 95, in person and through his Rabbi John Carrier YouTube channel. He is also the author of The Promised Life: Overcome Your Crisis and Find Your Purpose with Seven Gifts from a Time-Tested Tradition. As a second-career leader in his second faith, John understands how difficult change can be - and how rewarding - and is experienced in translating the Gifts of Judaism for people of many spiritual and cultural backgrounds.

Lawrence J. Epstein, PhD.

Larry Epstein is an author, retired English professor, and congressional advisor on Middle East issues. He is the author of such Jewish-related books as The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, At the Edge of a Dream: The Story of Jewish Immigrants on New York’s Lower East Side, 1880-1920, and A Treasury of Jewish Anecdotes. He has written a over a hundred articles on Jewish subjects for The Jerusalem Post, My Jewish Learning, and others. For decades Larry has been a pioneer in the field of online conversion resources, creating one of the first websites directing potential converts to welcoming Jewish communities. He also literally wrote the books on conversion, Conversion to Judaism: A Guidebook and Should I Convert to Judaism? Larry lives on Long Island, New York.

Rabbi Stuart Federow

Stuart Federow is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaar Hashalom in Houston, Texas. As a young boy, Stuart found himself explaining Judaism to his friends and neighbors. By age 11, because of his love of Judaism, he had already chosen his career. Stuart earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Religious Studies from Brown University and his rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Stuart served for many years as a congregational rabbi in Mississippi & California and as the director of the Houston Hillel before coming to Shaar Hashalom. He has taught Introduction to Judaism at Houston Baptist University and other colleges. Stuart is the creator of A Show Of Faith, a live radio talk show where he discusses current events with clergy of other faiths. He is also the author of Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast. In 2007 Stuart received a Doctor of Divinity (D. D.), honoris causa from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.

Rabbi Michael Gilboa

Michael Gilboa lives in Chicago, where he teaches adults and children in classes across the Chicago area. He spent his early childhood on the west coast and his teen years in Iowa. He studied film at the University of Iowa and Chapman University in southern California, where he ultimately graduated with a B.A. in Religion. Michael studied at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, pursuing a concentration in Jewish philosophy and theology. After his ordination, Rabbi Gilboa served as the Campus Rabbi for Drake University Hillel in Des Moines, Iowa, as the Rabbi of Ahavat Achim-Hebrew Congregation in Wichita, Kansas, and most recently as the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob in Fresno, California. He is known for his innovative system of welcoming called Open Outreach, an approach that has led to substantial membership growth at every congregation he has served.

Rabbi Carol Levithan

Carol Levithan was ordained at JTS in 1995, 20 years after her conversion to Judaism. Beginning in rabbinical school, she taught 13 Derekh Torah classes at New York’s 92nd Street Y, a 30 week program for prospective converts and interfaith couples, She created the Introduction to Judaism class at Congregation B’nai Jeshrun and at the JCC in Manhattan where she taught the class many times during her 17 years as Senior Director of Adult Programs and Rabbinic Director. Each year at the JCC, she ran several Conversion to Judaism workshops, ran groups for interfaith couples, taught a classes on a variety of topics, created and ran programs of all kinds. During five years at the Rabbinical Assembly, she launched 13 Exploring Judaism conversion classes. She has taught for UJA and at various congregations, spoken widely about conversion and counseled many individuals and couples. To date, her three children have blessed her with six fabulous grandchildren.

Rabbi Juan Mejia

Rabbi Juan Mejia was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Raised a Catholic, he converted to Judaism after discovering the powerful beauty and deep message of Torah. He holds a degree in Philosophy from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and a Masters Degree in Jewish Civilization from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Rabbi Mejia was ordained in 2009 by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He lives with his family in Oklahoma CIty where he serves as a Jewish educator and a Rabbi in Residence for Bechol Lashon. Rabbi Mejia is a passionate advocate for converts and making Torah available to all. He has been teaching Torah in Spanish for over a decade through his website Kol Tuv Sefarad.