Meet the Staff

Rabbi Hyim Shafner

Rabbi Shafner has been the Rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation since 2004. He has Smicha (rabbinical ordination), a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW), and an MA in Jewish philosophy, from Yeshiva University in New York City and a Certificate in Advanced Psychotherapy from the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

Before becoming our rabbi, Rabbi Shafner was the Campus Rabbi of the Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis for 8 years. Under his religious guidance Hillel and Washington University’s diverse Jewish life experienced great growth, from an expanded kosher food program, to deeper Jewish spiritual knowledge and a new growing Orthodox minyan.

Rabbi Shafner considers himself blessed to have spent much time with Bais Abraham’s former rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Magence, over the past few years, learning from him and from his unique ability to speak to all Jews and help them to grow spiritually. Bais Abraham is excited about having a vibrant rabbi who can follow in Rabbi Magence’s footsteps of deep Jewish learning combined with openness to all people and love for all Jews.

Before coming to St. Louis, Rabbi Shafner was the community Rabbi of Bombay, India, where he and his wife, Sara Winkelman, spent a year working with the Jews of India. They have three children, Benjamin, Yonah, and Hava.

View Rabbi Shafner’s profile by the Rabbinical Council of America

The Everything Jewish Wedding Book” – written by Rabbi Shafner 

Morethodoxy Articles

The Dream of Exile: A Rereading of Honi the Circle-Drawer, Kerem: Creative Explorations in Jewdasim


Don't Give Up the Shul: Reorienting Our Synagogues

Learning from the Bene Israel of India, Conversations: The Journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals


The Endangered Next Generation of Israeli-American Jews

Director of Operations Ruth Schachter

Ruth Schachter joined Bais Abraham Congregation in 2015 as Director of Operations. She has extensive experience as a Jewish educator and non-profit professional. Previous positions include Executive Director at Next Dor St. Louis, Jewish Student Life Coordinator at the University of Illinois-Chicago Hillel, and Jewish Studies and History teacher in various settings. Ruth has an academic background in Jewish Studies, History, and Jewish education. In her free time, Ruth enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, cooking, and is an avid Indiana Hoosiers and St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Director of Programming Ginat Midler

The Midler family – Ginat, Tal, Yagel, Roni, Ori, and Ruth – moved to St. Louis in August 2016 as Torah MiTzion Kollel shlichim. Ginat was born in Staten Island and made Aliyah with her parents when she was 1 1/2 years old. She grew up in Ginot Shomron, attended the Ulpana High School in Kedumim and then did 2 years of Sherut Leumi (National Service); one year working with at-risk teenagers and the second year helping new-immigrant children adapt to school in Israel. Ginat completed her Bachelor degree in Behavioral Sciences at Ben Gurion University (Eilat branch).

Israeli Sheliach Yael Treger

Yael, 24 years old, was born and raised in Carmiel, a city in the north of Israel.  As a teen she was very involved in, and greatly impacted by, Tzofim – the Israeli Scouts.   This experience set her on her course as an educator.  During her army service, Yael  prepared high school students for their future army training.  In becoming a Shelicha she hopes to facilitate for her self and others, a deeper connection to Jewish peoplehood through education.

Rabbinic Intern Gabe Kretzmer Seed

Gabe Kretzmer Seed is beginning his final year of studies at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Fall 2016. He is a graduate of the Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto and Columbia University, where he majored in United States History. He also received BA and MA degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he focused on Talmud and Midrash. He served as the Religious Life Coordinator on the student executive board of Columbia/Barnard Hillel. Gabe has served as an intern at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York, and has served as a high holiday ba'al tefilah and ba'al keriyah at shuls in Austin, TX and Teaneck, NJ. He is also the co-founder of the Zemirot Database, an editable online databse for zemirot, liturgy and other Jewish songs.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss

Religious Consultant 

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss is the Executive Director of the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council and a member of the Bais Abraham community.   She is available, in addition to Rabbi Shafner, to Bais Abe women and men for questions of halachic advice and Jewish guidance.   She completed her studies at Yeshivat Maharat, a pioneering institution training Orthodox Jewish women to be spiritual leaders and halakhic (Jewish legal) authorities, and has studied at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.  Rori previously served as Director of Programming, Education and Community Engagement at Bais Abraham.
See the 2013 article about Maharat Picker Neiss in the Jewish Light
Watch Maharat Rori Picker Neiss’ presentation at the Jewish Federation’s Celebrate Women Clergy event

Rabbi Abraham Magence zt”l

Rabbi Abraham Magence zt”l (1920-2003) was the Rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation from 1975 until his death. He was legendary for his warmth, devotion to Yiddishkeit, and genuine love for all Jews regardless of affiliation.

Rabbi Magence was born in Poland, where his father and grandfather were rabbis. He studied with many of the luminaries of the pre-war yeshiva world of Eastern Europe. Rabbi Magence spent the war years as a fugitive from Nazi and Soviet persecution and most of his family was killed in the Holocaust. He came to St. Louis in 1950 and began a career as a mohel, teacher, and rabbi that touched literally thousands of lives.

Thu, August 17 2017 25 Av 5777