The Ark Immigration Clinic

Rabbi Marisa Elana James, Director of Social Justice
Rabbi Marisa Elana James (she/her/hers) is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a long-time member of the CBST community. Before rabbinical school, Marisa was a college English teacher, competitive ballroom dancer, insurance broker, student pilot, bookstore manager, and professional Torah reader. As a teenager growing up in Connecticut, she was a co-founder of her high school’s GSA, the second to be founded in the state.
While living in Jerusalem for more than five years, Marisa worked for Encounter Programs, taught Introduction to Judaism classes in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, studied at a wide variety of schools (including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, secular, and non-Jewish settings), and helped create and lead the rabbinical student program for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, where she most recently worked. Marisa has also taught English at the University of Connecticut and Rutgers and has acted as cantor for communities in Israel and America. Marisa and her wife, contrabassoonist and translator Barbara Ann Schmutzler, live in New York City.

Noah Habeeb, Immigration Clinic Director
Noah Habeeb directs the asylum clinic at CBST for LGBTQ/H asylum seekers in coalition with Seeking Asylum Finding Empowerment (SAFE), RUSA-LGBT and New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC).
Noah’s writing has appeared in the Nation, Tikkun, Truthout, and publications of the Institute for Policy Studies. He has an MA in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning from UEP at Tufts University, and previously worked as an Urban Fellow in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA).

Laura Clark, Immigration Clinic Coordinator
Laura Clark (she/ella) has a long history of working and volunteering with immigrant rights organizations. She has lived and worked on the San Diego-Tijuana border and in Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua — though she has called NYC home for nearly 30 years. She is an activist, writer, and bilingual educator with a Master of Pacific International Affairs (UC San Diego) and a Master of Education (Teachers College). Laura practices tai chi, watches birds, and learns from her two daughters. 


Azeem Khan, Immigration Clinic Navigator
Born into a philanthropic family in Guyana, Azeem engaged in humanitarian work from an early age. As a teen, he worked promoting HIV/AIDS awareness with a non-profit called Artist in Direct Support. Azeem fled Guyana in fear for his life but continued his HIV/AIDS work in New York at the AIDS Center of Queens County and then The Alliance for Positive Change, serving as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, substance use, and mental health challenges. Azeem began his journey with CBST checking in volunteers during our in-person clinics and then heading downstairs to work on his own asylum application – an application that was granted 20 years after his arrival in the US! He is proud to stand as a lighthouse to guide new friends to a safe shore the way he was guided when he came to CBST.”

  • The Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Randi Weingarten
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