About Us

Come be a part of our effort to build a progressive Jewish spiritual community in Western Queens (LIC, Astoria, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside). Our vision is to transform Jewish people, fellow travelers and the world by creating connections to each other, to the One and to our greater community. We practice ecstatic, musical, and contemplative prayer, mindfulness meditation through a Jewish lens, study of Jewish sources, and social justice work. We are striving to build an open, inclusive community of spiritual seekers, especially for those who may not have found a home in more conventional religious settings. We want to be community composed of Jewish individuals of all ages, fellow travelers, families with kids, interfaith couples, Jews of color, LGBTQ folks, and curious seekers. We are creating a space that honors the inspiration and meaning that so many Jews have found in many eastern spiritual traditions, and our doors are open to those from other faith traditions who find meaning in Judaism.

What does Malkhut (מלכות) mean?

Malkhut is the bottom-most sephirah
According to the Jewish mystical tradition, Malkhut and Shekhinah are both names for the aspect of Divinity that is most accessible to humanity. It represents our experience of Being unfolding in every moment. Malkhut is also an embracing feminine aspect of Divinity.  Our intention is for Malkhut to engender that experience of loving awareness and present-moment unfolding. The name is also a bit of a word play. "Malkhut" comes from the word for sovereignty, or "queenship," thus, a play on the name of our fair borough of Queens!

Rabbi Rachel (pronounced Ra-khel רחל ) Goldenberg

After more than a decade serving wonderful established pulpits, Rabbi Goldenberg moved back to the urban core of New York City to form an open, outreach-driven community around authentic, yet experimental, ecstatic and contemplative Jewish spiritual practices.

Influenced by her training through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, she teaches mindfulness meditation and chant-based prayer in order to open our hearts to one another and to the Divine. She also teaches Torah through the lens of mindfulness. These practices of prayer and study also move us to recognize our own suffering and that of others, and to engage in social justice from a place of compassion.

Rabbi Goldenberg received her ordination from HUC-JIR in New York in 2003 and served as Assistant/Associate rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, TX and Rabbi of CBSRZ in Chester, Connecticut. She has served on the faculty of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is a graduate of Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership and Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training programs. She serves on the Rabbinic Council of JFREJ (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice,) has served as co-Chair of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and is a member of the JStreet Rabbinic Cabinet.

Rabbi Goldenberg and her family happily reside in Jackson Heights, Queens! She is married to Jim Talbott, and they are the parents of two teenagers, Amina and Ziv Goldenberg.

You can find some of Rabbi Goldenberg's sermons and other writings here.

Kris Wettstein (Music Director)

Music at Malkhut is all about intimacy with the divine source of love, life and music happening in real time. This can take many shapes: playful, awe inspiring, messy, austere, ugly, beautiful, pretty much the whole spectrum of experience is fair game. From this intimate core, the music opens out in all directions. Ability levels are irrelevant, connecting is something we all can do. Anyone is welcome to join in!

Kris Wettstein is a musician and teacher interested in the intersection of art, spirituality and activism. He believes that music can be a powerful tool for personal and societal transformation. As a songwriter and musical artist, he has performed in many parts of the United States and internationally. He has been teaching students to play a variety of instruments and sing for over 10 years. Currently, he teaches music at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills. In December 2017, he completed the Meditation Teacher Training program at The Interdependence Project in Manhattan. He has been collaborating with Rabbi Goldenberg to create musical community at Malkhut since 2016. Kris is a graduate of Walla Walla College, and Rice University, where he obtained his Master’s in piano performance.

Ilana Teitel (Director of Programs and Engagement)

Ilana is a fourth-generation resident of the Astoria-LIC neighborhood who is passionate about building and strengthening communities. She’s worked with the Queens International Night Market, Green Shores NYC, the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, and local merchants’ associations and small businesses. She brings us her experience planning festivals, leading public meetings, and writing about Queens History. Ilana grew up involved in Jewish life in Queens. Ilana is excited about having a chance to use her community organizing experience to help Malkhut grow.

Marina Bardash Nebro (Director of Education)

Marina Bardash Nebro (she/her/hers) comes to the Malkhut community with a professional background in non-traditional education, and a life-long personal connection to seeking and strengthening her own Jewish identity. It is her passion to engage with audiences of all ages to foster a love of learning and curiosity, and she is excited to bring her knowledge and skillsets to grow Malkhut’s Youth Institute for Spirituality and Action. Working alongside Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, Ilana Teitel, parents, guardians, and children, her hope is to create a community of life-long spiritual and social justice seekers!

Alexa Weitzman (Development Associate)

Alexa Weitzman (she/her) is thrilled to be joining Malkhut's stellar team as Development Associate. Over the past two years, Alexa has been volunteering as the convener of Malkhut's Organizational Development Circle, where she has worked closely with staff & volunteers, under the leadership of Rabbi G, to lay the groundwork of Malkhut's structural foundation. In her new role, she's excited to begin building on that framework by designing and implementing fundraising campaigns, developing relationships with donors and securing foundational funding to set up Malkhut for a successful, sustainable future. Alexa can be reached at development@malkhutqueens.org

A white woman with short, curly, brown hair smiles at the camera. She wears a green shirt and is in front of a yellow background.
Lily Lipman

Lily (she/her/hers) is a New York based educator, accessibility advocate, and actress. She is passionate about creating environments that engage everyone in learning, creative problem solving, and building community. When not at Malkhut she works as the Director of Education and Imagination at Kaiser's Room, the Access Coordinator and a teaching artist at New York City Children's Theater, a teacher for CUNY's Cultural Careers Course in partnership with the Museum Access Consortium Supporting Transitions Program, and an access consultant for Emit Theatre. She is excited to connect with the Malkhut community and loves working with these young social justice seekers and their families.

Stephen Figurasmith (Madricheh

Stephen (they/them/theirs) is a Jewish educator and songleader with a particular focus on early childhood music and social justice activism. They have taught classes and led family programs at JCCs, synagogues, preschools, community centers, libraries, and summer camps throughout the metropolitan New York area. Stephen lives in Valley Steam, NY but has ties to the Jewish community in Jackson Heights, where they and their wife Rachel previously lived and led programs for Jewish families with Kehillat Tikvah. Stephen believes in never underestimating the capacity of young children to recognize injustice, grapple with big ideas, and be agents of change, and sees Jewish music and education as a vehicle to support children and families in these endeavors. Stephen is grateful to serve the Malkhut community as a teacher for Malkhut & Me and the Children’s Learning Program.

Allison Abrams

Allison (she/her/hers) has called Forest Hills, Queens home her entire life. She graduated from Binghamton University in 2020 with a degree in Judaic studies, with a particular interest in radical Jewish movements and the history of marginalized Jewish voices. Allison has worked with children of all ages in many capacities, including heading a drama and improv program at Camp Tel Yehudah, and staffing Sprout Brooklyn, a dual language day camp based in Brooklyn. She’s passionate about social justice through a Jewish lens, Yiddish language and culture, and all types of dance and music. Allison believes that all children have the autonomy and maturity to express themselves beyond their years, and she often utilizes creative outlets like music and acting to encourage self-discovery and independent thinking. Allison is super excited to meet the rest of the Malkhut team and to get to know such a unique and vibrant Jewish community in Queens.

Alice Kallman (Madricha)
Alice (she/her/hers) was born and raised in New York City. She went to the University of Chicago for undergrad and then participated in Avodah New Orleans and has been there doing criminal justice work for the last three years. She is now working on a Masters in Library Science at Queens College and is so excited to be spending time in Queens again after spending many weekends as a child visiting her grandparents in Bayside. In her spare time, Alice studies Arabic with family to reconnect to her Syrian heritage and enjoys watercolor and reading. She looks forward to joining the Malkhut community and combining her experiences working with children, her pursuit of social justice, and her continuous exploration of her Judaism.

Emily Herzlin (Rabbinic Intern) Emily (she/her/hers)  is interested in Jewish spirituality, particularly the intersections of mindfulness, meditation, and Judaism. She is a certified mindfulness teacher and has spent the last few years teaching meditation in hospitals in New York City. Like many American Jews searching for engaging spirituality, Emily spent several years studying Buddhism before making her way back to Judaism. Now Emily hopes to help spiritual seekers connect to the powerful practices of mindfulness, compassion, and ethical action within Judaism. Emily cares deeply about social justice and supporting interfaith families. Emily lives in Queens, NY with her spouse, Kris, and is a lay leader with Malkhut. She is the founder and guiding teacher of Mindful Astoria, a local meditation community. She has an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University.