Who is who


The members of the Board of the Robert A. Levisson Foundation are appointed by the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism. The Board is charged with managing the administrative and financial interests of the Institute. The Board appoints the Dean, the Management Team and the members of the Academic Committee.

The board members are:

  • Ella Wijnschenk-Oesterman, chair. She is a member of the Vocational Committee since the start of the Institute. Till her pension she was working for Joods Maatschappelijk Werk (national welfare organisation for the Jewish community in the Netherlands) and was member of the board of several welfare organisations inside and outside of the Jewish community.
  • Leopold I. Hertzberger, treasurer. Till his pension he was neurologist in the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Dordrecht. He is chairman of the Liberal Jewish Congregation of Rotterdam.
  • Helma Blankman, member with focus on education, is coordinating policy advisor at the Ministry of Justice & Security and before that head of Science and Education at the Netherlands Institute for Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology. She followed the shaliach tsibur course at the Levisson Institute and is chazan at LJG Rotterdam.
  • Anita van Leeuwen, member with the focus on general and legal affairs. In daily life she is a family and juvenile judge at the Noord-Holland District Court.
  • Liane van Dantzig, member on behalf of the Board of the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism. She is social geographer and does policy research for a research institute.

Dean and Management Team

The Management Team (MT) is composed of three people, each with his/her own specialty. The three members have equal authority, each in his/her field, hoewever, the Dean is the primus inter pares.

  • Menno ten Brink, Dean, is since 2004 senior rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Congregation of Amsterdam, as full time successor of rabbi David Lilienthal. Before he worked as a part-time rabbi in the Liberal Jewish Congregations of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Simultaneously he worked for 12 years as the first Liberal Jewish Chaplain to the Dutch Armed Forces. He graduated in Dutch Law at the University of Amsterdam in 1984 and was ordained at the Leo Baeck College in London in 1993. He has been a member of the Academic Committee since the beginning of the Institute. Is is also member of the board of the European Rabbinic Assembly (ERA) and of the Executive Board of the European Union for Progressive Judaism.
  • Marianne van Praag, Head Vocational Programme, is rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Congregation The Hague. Marianne was ordained in 2008 as one in our first class of Levisson rabbis and has many years experience of pastoral work. She is active in several interfaith organisations, and a frequent speaker for various religious, philosophical and social institutions and associations.
  • Francine Püttmann, Director General Affairs, is the central person in the daily work, the one who coordinates all activities and is the first point of contact in all that concerns the Management Team. She studied Semitic Languages ​​at the Juda Palache Institute of the University of Amsterdam, followed by a postdoctoral year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among others she has worked as a documentalist and photo editor at the NIW, the main Dutch Jewish Weekly, and with a number of projects of the Jewish Historical Museum. She also is the librarian of the Levisson Institute and the Liberal Jewish Congregation Amsterdam.

Academic Committee

The Academic Committee is responsible for:

  • formulating the objectives of the training
  • appointing and assessing lecturers
  • admitting the students
  • determining the content and the quality of the courses of study
  • judging the students and the results of their studies

This is done in close consultation with the Dean, the Head Academic Program and the lecturers.
The Academic Committee may appoint subcomittees to assist in the preparation and execution of specific tasks. The final responsibility rests in all cases with the Academic Committee.

The members of the Academic Committee are:

  • Prof. dr. Irene E. Zwiep, chair, is head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Amsterdam
  • Drs. A. Carolyn Levisson, secretary, was till her pension Student Psychologist at the Technical University of Delft and till end 2020 chair of the Vocational Committee
  • Mr. Ernst Numann, member, is Vice-President of the Dutch Supreme Court and a former chairman of the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism
  • Dr. Ortal-Paz Saar, member, is researcher religious studies and Jewish cultural history at the University of Utrecht
  • Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, rabbi-emeritus of the Liberal Jewish Congregation The Hague
  • Rabbi Tamarah Benima, rabbi of the Progressive Jewish Congregation Noord-Nederland and Beit Ha’Chidush
  • Rabbi David Lilienthal, Honarary Dean of the Levisson Institute
  • Rabbi Menno ten Brink, Dean of the Institute (without voting rights)
  • Ella Wijnschenk-Oesterman, chair of the Board (without voting rights)

The Academic Committee has appointed two subcommittees:

Admission Committee

This committee evaluates the candidates for the Rabbinic programme and makes a recommendation on the admission to the Academic Committee. This subcommittee consists of

  • Prof. dr. Irene Zwiep, chair of the Academic Committee
  • Rabbi Menno ten Brink, dean
  • Vacancy (chair Vocational Committee)

Vocational Committee

This subcommittee consists of:

  • Vacancy, chair
  • Rabbi Marianne van Praag, Head Vocational Programme
  • Ella Wijnschenk-Oesterman, chair of the Board (listener)
  • Vacancy