Educators and Speakers
A variety of different speakers from multiple backgrounds and fields teach in the Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education. Below is a list of speakers who have presented in the seminars.
Dr. Mayim Biyalik
Mayim Bialik has done the nearly impossible. She is one of the rare child actors who have managed to blossom (pun intended) from a young teenager on a hit television show to a successful young woman, in both her acting career and life. Best known from her role as ‘Blossom Russo’ on the hit 90’s sitcom “Blossom” she could have easily fallen into the stereotypical life of a child actress. After earning a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA and giving birth to her two sons she managed to make the bridge to adult actress. The past year has been a jolt to Mayim’s career as she has gained the title of series regular on the CBS Chuck Lorre hit series “The Big Bang Theory” as Jim Parsons’ nerdy, brainy ‘girlfriend’ Amy Farrah Fowler. (The show returns with new episodes September 29th and is currently nominated for an Emmy.) Between filming the show, raising her children, and speaking engagements she managed to pen a book on Attachment Parenting titled “Beyond the Sling” which will be released March 2012 through Simon & Schuster.
Born in San Diego to first generation Jewish American parents, she holds the titles of award winner, actress, wife, and mother of two. Mayim boasts a life of normalcy that one who grew up in Hollywood could only dream of. She’s happily married and is both an avid environmentalist and a vegan who lives a minimalistic lifestyle and raises her children with as little stimulation as possible. Together they do their part to help reduce the carbon footprint left by their family. From playing the young Better Midler in “Beaches” to guest roles on some of television’s most beloved shows such as “Webster”, “Murphy Brown”, “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”, and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, Mayim has continued to remain a household name over the past decade.
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein
Director / Founder / Rabbi, Jewlicious, JConnectLA, ShabbatTent
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein is a passionate Jewish activist and community organizer with 25 years experience in community building and informal Jewish education. His broad and inclusive world view has been shaped by his work with Jewish communities in Israel, Europe and North America. He is the executive rabbi of JConnect, and Director of Jewlicious Festivals. In addition to running JConnect’s innovative programs for young adults including JConnectLA, Jewlicious Festivals, and Shabbat Tent, he organizes Shabbat happenings internationally for reggae star Matisyahu. Rabbi Yonah was recently named as one of six community game-changers in America by the Forward in 2009, and was the top vote getter in the Jewish Federation of North America’s innaugural Jewish Community Heroes Award, receiving more than 90,000 votes. During the 1990′s, Rabbi Yonah and his wife Rachel worked for the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland on Jewish community renewal. They founded Jewish youth centers in Krakow and Lodz, revived the Jewish Community center in Warsaw, established the annual Warsaw Jewish Book Festival, and created the Moses Schorr Center for Adult Jewish Education. For five years he served as Campus Rabbi at UC Irvine, and CSU Long Beach, revitalizing Jewish campus life and bringing Israel activism & education to some of American’s most anti-Israel campuses. Rabbi Yonah blogs about current affairs, Israel and the Jewish community on Huffingtonpost.com, JewishJournal.com, and Jewlicious.com, the internet’s most-read Jewish blog. In addition, his podcast classes on Judaism have been featured on iTunes. He was ordained by Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in New York, is a former Fulbright Fellow to Poland, completed his Masters at Oxford University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Oregon. Rabbi Yonah lives in Los Angeles with his wife Rachel, Co-Director of Jewlicious Festivals, and their four fabulous children.
Rabbi Josh Joseph
Chief of Staff and Vice President, Yeshiva University
Rabbi Josh Joseph is Chief of Staff and Deputy to Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel. In addition to managing the Office of the President and working with administration, academic and lay leadership, he runs the Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership and several project teams and task forces. Rabbi Joseph had previously been Director of Special Projects for YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, served as Executive Director of the Orthodox Caucus, worked on Wall Street and served as a pulpit rabbi. Rabbi Joseph completed his undergraduate degree with honors at the University of Pennsylvania and received both rabbinic ordination and a Master’s in Jewish philosophy from YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and Bernard Revel Graduate School.
Esther D. Kustanwotz
Writer, Consultant, Jewish Communal Professional
A Los Angeles-based writer, consultant and Jewish communal professional, Esther has written and consulted for many Jewish publications and organizations. A longtime consultant for the ROI Community of Jewish Innovators, Esther also works part-time as Program Coordinator for the NextGen Engagement Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
In 2011 alone, Esther has engaged audiences at the BBYO International Convention; LimmudLA; Jewlicious Festival; TribeFest; the ROI Community Summit; Opening the Dor and Connections: Women’s Philanthropy Event (both Jewish Federation of the East Bay); JFNA’s General Assembly; JHub-UK and Limmud UK, among others. @EstherK has been named to both JTA lists of Top Jewish Twitter users, and in 2010, Jewcy.com called Esther one of their favorite Twitterers, awarding her the title of “Person Who Seems to Know Every Jew in the Universe”, and in 2011 titled her “Jewish Engagement Superstar” on The Big Jewcy, a list of 100 Jews to watch. You can find her in many online and offline places, including Twitter (@EstherK).
Mr. Ori Neidich
Filmmaker, Producer, Visual Effects Artist and Social Activist
Ori Neidich is a filmmaker, television producer and visual effects artist living in Los Angeles, California. He is an award-winning graduate of the UCLA School of Film & Television and most recently was a Technical Director in the Research & Development department at DreamWorks Animation, SKG. He was the creator and Co-Executive Producer of ‘Tiger Team’ television series on TruTV and is also the Co-Founder of The Hollywood Hill, one of Hollywood’s leading social change organizations. For over fifteen years Ori has been a actively engaged with many seminal media technology organizations.
Mr. Kiva Rabinsky
Program Director, Experiential Jewish Education YU Center for the Jewish Future
Kiva is the Israel Program Coordinator for the CJF Experiential Education and Service Learning programs, including Counterpoint Israel and the Israel Winter Mission. Prior to joining the team in October 2010, Kiva spent two years in Atlanta teaching high school and earning an MPA. During the previous three summers, Kiva served as the Head Counselor at Camp Stone. Before moving to Atlanta, Kiva lived in Israel where he served in the IDF and completed an undergraduate degree in Educational Administration and Leadership as well as a teacher’s certificate in Archeology from Bar Ilan University.
Mr. Yehuda Rothner
Director, Camp Stone
Yehuda Rothner holds two bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and archeology and a master’s degree in Education. Additionally, he spent 7 years studying in Yeshivat Har Etzion. Yehuda has taught History and Judaic Studies in numerous educational institutions. He was Principal of the Fuchs Mizrachi Middle School in Cleveland, Ohio from 2000-2004.
In 1997 Yehuda became the director of Camp Stone, his name becoming synonymous with the camp’s growing reputation. Yehuda’s unparalleled energy, creativity, and devotion to the youth in his care have transformed Camp Stone into an incubator of educational leadership. Yehuda’s deep sense of mission creates a constantly evolving matrix of possibilities with new ideas and projects being continually developed which inspire hundreds of Jewish youth toward commitment to Torah values and dedication to Eretz Yisrael.
Mr. Shuki Taylor
Director, Experiential Jewish Education
YU Center for the Jewish Future
Shuki is the director of Jewish Service Learning and Experiential Education Programs, and previously served as the CJF’s Israel liaison. In his roles at YU he founded the Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education, the YU Innovators Circle, the Counterpoint Israel Initiatives, and the Midrashiya: an advanced leadership-training program for women. He has overseen the explosive growth of YU Service Learning Missions benefitting underprivileged communities world-wide.
Previously, Shuki worked at the Koby Mandell Foundation were he founded and directed innovative and experiential therapy programs for Israel teens affected by terror.
Shuki currently resides New York for two years with his wife Natalie and their three children.
Ms. Rhoda Weisman
President, Rhoda Weisman Consulting
Rhoda M. Weisman is a social entrepreneur with 23 years of expertise in leadership coaching and mentoring, talent development and organizational change. Rhoda currently serves as a coach and consultant to individuals and non-profit organizations throughout the country.
Rhoda created fifteen global initiatives to deepen Jewish affiliation, promote social responsibility and leadership succession across four generations. In the past five years She conceptualized and founded the Professional Leaders Project (PLP) to address the talent crisis in the Jewish community. PLP created a reputation as a model for recruiting, developing and placing outstanding Generation Y leaders and “turning Jewish leadership over to the next generation.”
Previously for more than a decade, Rhoda served as the Chief Creative Officer (CCO) at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Rhoda created and oversaw initiatives that engaged hundreds of thousands of students and post-graduates in Jewish life including Hillel’s Birthright Israel Program, the Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps, Connect and the Campus Leaders Initiative.
Both the “Wall Street Journal” and the “Los Angeles Times” have dubbed her a trendsetter in “next generation leadership development.” Rhoda is an alumnus of the Wexner Heritage Program She has received the prestigious Allan J Kasson and Bobbi Asimov Awards for outstanding mentorship and professional achievement from the Jewish Professionals of Southern California. She is an Occupational Therapist and certified leadership coach with a Masters Degree in Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University. Rhoda resides in Los Angeles, CA and is an avid community volunteer with children and teens, hospital patients and various philanthropies across the city.
Ms. Aliza Abrams
Assistant Director, Service Learning, YU Center for the Jewish Future
Aliza Abrams is the Assistant Director of the Department of Service Learning and Experiential Education at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. Aliza holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College for Women and a Masters in Social Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
Aliza’s career at the CJF began as the Presidential Fellow in the Department of Community Initiatives at the CJF in 2005, prior to that Aliza served as the Assistant Program Director for Rayim Yachad and also taught Hebrew School at Temple Beth Israel. Through her work at the CJF Aliza has worked with thousands of college students, led over 15 different missions around the world and has sent over 3,000 students on Torah Tours, a program that sends hundreds of students to communities around the world for Jewish holidays. Aliza’s passion for the Jewish community and love for informal education is what fuels her fire and helps her come up with really funny Facebook stati based on her experiences in countries all over the world.
Rabbi Hayyim Angel
Professor, Yeshiva University
Rabbi Hayyim Angel has served at Congregation Shearith Israel of New York since 1995, and was appointed its Rabbi in 2006. A professor of advanced Bible studies, he has taught courses at Yeshiva University since 1996 and is the author/editor of seven books. Rabbi Angel earned his B.A. in Jewish Studies, M.A. in Bible, M.S. in Secondary Jewish Education, and Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshiva University in New York City.
Ms. Mijal Bitton
Staff, YU Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education
Mijal was born in Argentina and lived in South America and Israel before moving to the States in 2001. She attended Stern College for Women, where she majored in English with a focus in Journalism and held leadership positions in different student clubs. During her last year at Stern, Mijal began working in the Center for the Jewish Future’s Department of Service Learning and Experiential Education. She staffed an AJWS mission to Nicaragua, coordinated service learning activities in Washington Heights, worked on the development of Yeshiva University’s Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education, and was the Head Counselor for Counterpoint Israel: Dimona, a summer camp for Israeli teenagers from a low socio-economical background in Israel’s periphery communities. Beginning in Fall 2012, Mijal will be enrolled in NYU Steindhart’s PhD program in Jewish Education where she hopes to explore the connection between domestic transmission of Jewish identity and experiential Jewish education. Mijal is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and has also been awarded an AVI CHAI fellowship for her studies at NYU.
Dr. Jim Cain
Director, Teamwork & Teamplay
Dr. Jim Cain is the author of five adventure-based teambuilding texts, including the award winning book Teamwork & Teamplay, which received the Karl Rohnke Creativity Award presented by the Association for Experiential Education, The Book on Raccoon Circles, A Teachable Moment, Teambuilding Puzzles, and Essential Staff Training Activities. He is a Senior Consultant to the Cornell University Corporate Teambuilding Program, a former Executive Director for the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) and the creative force behind his training company, Teamwork & Teamplay. He holds four college degrees including a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester. Dr. Cain frequently serves as a visiting professor on subjects ranging from teambuilding and experiential education using adventure-based activities to corporate culture and leadership. He is the innovator of more than three dozen teambuilding activities and props, and has presented more than 500 programs in 44 states and 12 countries in the past decade.
In addition to his adventure-based activities, Jim is also an accomplished square dance caller, guitarist, boomerang maker, engineer, researcher, author and generally has more books in his library than many developing nations.
Mr. Adam Gaynor
Consultant, The Whelan Group
Adam Gaynor is a consultant with The Whelan Group, a New York-based firm that provides planning and advisory services to non-profits and foundations. Adam was previously Executive Director of The Curriculum Initiative, a national Jewish organization that supported Jewish culture and identity at over 240 independent high schools. He has served as Assistant Director of the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, social work consultant with The Educational Alliance on school-based programs, Program Coordinator at the Department of Education in Jerusalem, and Director of Multicultural Affairs at Bates College. Mr. Gaynor is completing a Ph.D. in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU, holds an M.S.W. from Columbia University, an M.A. from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Bates College. In addition to his professional responsibilities, he is a Scholar-in-Residence at NYU School of Law in 2011-12. Adam was named by the New York Jewish Week on its first list of 36 top innovators under the age of 36.
Dr. Scott Goldberg
Director, Yeshiva University’s Institute for University – School Partnership
Scott J. Goldberg, Ph.D., is the inaugural Director of Yeshiva University’s Institute for University – School Partnership, working closely with organizations, agencies, and institutions to advance and sustain day school and yeshiva education. He is an Associate Professor at the Azrieli Graduate School and an internationally recognized expert in Jewish and general education on various educational and psychological topics. He serves on various national panels and committees that address the most challenging issues in Jewish education today, from the shortage of qualified leaders for our schools, to the economic challenges facing Jewish education. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from New York University, an M.S.Ed. in Special Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York, and a B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago.
Ms. Rae Janvey
Consultant and Mentor
Rae Janvey consultants in the area of expanding leadership capacity for non-profits. Rae’s work primarily focuses on the recruitment for and design of leadership and learning programs. She is also a mentor and leadership coach to senior lay and professional leaders, as well as young social entrepreneurs, in the Jewish community.
Amongst her numerous roles, Rae is currently engaged as principle consultant and leadership coach to the Berrie Fellowship, a leadership program in Northern New Jersey. In addition, she also serves as a senior advisor to the Jewish Week’s “The Conversation, Jewish in America” – an annual gathering of prominent Jews – aimed at exploring what it means to be Jewish in America in the 21st century; and advisor to the Bronfman Youth Fellowship.
Rae is past Executive Director of the Wexner Heritage Foundation where she was head of recruitment and alumni relations. Prior to that, Rae was the director of the American Pardes Foundation.
As a lay leader, Rae has had a long history of Jewish communal leadership, having served on numerous boards in Jewish communal life, She currently serves as head of the nominating committee of The Jewish Week board.
Dr. Moshe Krakowski
Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, Yeshiva University
Dr. Moshe Krakowski is a professor at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, a PhD in the Learning Sciences from Northwestern University, and prior to joining the faculty at Azrieli spent two years as a post-doctoral scholar in the psychology department at University of Chicago. Dr. Krakowski’s research interests include conceptual change and cognition, ultra?Orthodox Jewish education, worldview, epistemology, and culture in schools, curriculum development in Judaic studies, and problem-based learning.
Dr. David Bryfman
Director, New Center for Collaborative Leadership, The Jewish Education Project (formerly the BJENY-SAJES)
David recently completed his Ph.D. Education and Jewish Studies at NYU focusing on the development of Jewish adolescent identity development and experiential Jewish Education. He is also a recent recently graduate of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program. David completed his undergraduate and Masters in Education degrees in Melbourne, and is also a graduate of the Melton Senior Educators Program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Pardes. In Australia he was the Director of Informal Jewish Education at a large Jewish day school, a Hillel Director, and the Director of Birthright Israel in Australia. David is a graduate of Brandeis University’s Informal Jewish Education Leadership Seminar and Jewish Education Leadership Seminar. David is currently an educational consultant for the iCenter.
Dr. Jonathan Mirvis
International Director of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School and Founding Director of the Gandel Institute of Adult Jewish learning
Dr Jonathan Mirvis is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s foremost academic specialist in adult education and the new field of social entrepreneurship. He lectures to graduate students and conducts research on these subjects at the Hebrew University’s School of Education and Melton Centre for Jewish Education, The School of Social Work’s Program in Non-Profit Management and The Business School’s MBA Program. He holds a doctorate in adult education from Surrey University in England, participated in the Jerusalem Fellows program and is a graduate of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in Israel. Jonathan was awarded a Kaye Innovation Prize by The Hebrew University in 2003 for his development of the social franchise model and in 2007 received a special recognition by the Rector of the university for excellence in teaching.
Dr Mirvis is the outgoing International Director of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School and the Founding Director of the Gandel Institute of Adult Jewish learning.
Dr. David Pelcovitz
Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, Yeshiva University
Dr. Pelcovitz holds the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration where he is also the Special Assistant to the President. Serving for over two decades as Director of Psychology at North Shore University Hospital-NYU School of Medicine, and Clinical Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, at NYU School of Medicine, he has consulted extensively with the Jewish community in the United States, Europe and Israel on a wide range of issues facing children and adolescents.
Dr. Pelcovitz, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, has published and lectured extensively on a variety of topics related to education, parenting and child mental health. Areas of research and clinical specialty include family violence, the impact of domestic violence, stress management, transmitting values to children and adolescents and coping with trauma and loss.
Ms. Hindy Poupko
Director, Israel and International Affairs, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
In September 2008, Hindy Poupko was appointed as Director of Israel and International Affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. She also serves as Executive Director of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents, the umbrella for 25 young professional organizations. Previously, Hindy was a Senior Associate at Brand Sphere, a political consulting firm, where she worked on print and radio advertising for the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign. Prior to that, she served as a communications intern for Hon. Corey Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ. Hindy has master’s degree in Public Policy and Israel Studies from New York University and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow Alum. She earned her B.A. at Stern College for Women (Yeshiva University) and was subsequently chosen as a Yeshiva University Presidential Fellow.
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna
University Chaplain and Rabbi at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University
Yehuda Sarna currently serves as the University Chaplain and Rabbi at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University. He is also Adjunct Faculty at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School for Public Service.
Since joining the Bronfman Center in 2002, the Orthodox community tripled in size, becoming the largest such community at any private university. In 2007, Rabbi Sarna founded the Jewish Learning Fellowship, a “school-within-a-school” which offers ten-week courses on Jewish thought for students without a yeshiva background, enrolling 200 such students a year.
Rabbi Sarna was awarded the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence from Hillel International in 2008, and was listed as one of “36-under-36 Changemakers” by the Jewish Week in 2009.
He and Michelle live with their five children, Batya, Maayan, Moshe, David and Amital in the Gramercy Area.
Mr. Shawn Shafner
Director, The People’s Own Organic Power Project
Shawn Shafner is a theatre-maker, educator, and creator of The People’s Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org), an arts and education organization that promotes critical conversations about sustainable sanitation for the person, planet and world community. He is the recipient of a 2005 Spielberg Fellowship, and has been creating original ritual theater and educational programs with Storahtelling ever since. Shawn has created and/or facilitated educational programs for early childhood audiences up through the elderly. He is currently artist-in-residence at the JCC Manhattan Preschool, works with underprivileged NYC school students as a teaching artist with Arts for All, and writes curriculum for Think-Build-Live Success, a self-empowerment, life skills and job search program in career colleges. Shawn holds a BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has trained as an actor in Russia at the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy, the Institute for Contemporary Art in London, and the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy.He spent most of 2008 touring nationally as Pablo in Nickelodeon’s The Backyardigans Live!, and his NYC acting credits include performances at Madison Square Garden, Theater Row, Joe’s Pub, The Club at La Mama, and Classic Stage Company.
Rabbi David Stein
Rabbi, Rimon Center for Jewish Learning
Originally from Skokie, IL, David Stein studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel for two years, going on to study Pre-Engineering, Physics and Political Science at Yeshiva University, graduating from The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College and completing his coursework for Rabbinic ordination at YU’s theological seminary. In addition to his Rabbinic studies, David holds a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University and has worked as a researcher in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. David has been extensively involved in Jewish education, as a program director at Camp Moshava of Wild Rose, WI, as the Youth Director of the Young Israel of East Brunswick, NJ, and as the William Fischman Rabbinic Intern at the Jewish Center in Manhattan. David currently works as the Rabbi of the Rimon Center for Jewish Learning, a Jewish outreach organization in New Jersey, and as a mechanical engineer at Buro Happold, an international engineering firm specializing in sustainable urban development. David was a member of the first cohort of Yeshiva University’s Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education, and is the co-author of an innovative Judaic Studies curriculum at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles, where he will be moving next month in order to teach and continue the development and expansion of the curriculum.
Ms. Ilana Aisen
Vice President, Repair the World
Ilana leads Repair the World’s work with the immersive Jewish service-learning field. Repair the World’s efforts to build a strong program field include grant-making, technical assistance and research on the impacts of Jewish service-learning programs. From 2002-2009, Ilana worked at American Jewish World Service, where she developed and coordinated service programs, trained educators, wrote service-learning curricula and led many service programs in Central America and West Africa. As a Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholar, Ilana earned an MPA in management and an MA in Hebrew and Judaic studies at NYU. Originally from Toronto, Ilana completed undergraduate studies at York University with certification to teach high school English and history. Her current and recent service includes committee work for a colleague organization, tutoring adults in functional math and serving on the leadership team of an independent minyan.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander
David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future
Rabbi Brander is the inaugural Dean of Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future. CJF serves as Yeshiva University’s catalyst to: Infuse the student body with a spirit of leadership and sense of commitment to the Jewish people and society; Builds, cultivates, and supports communities, and their lay and rabbinic leaders; and creates a global movement that promotes the values of Yeshiva University. He is Rabbi Emeritus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, founding dean of the Boca Raton Community Kollel and the Weinbaum Yeshiva High School of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. During his 14 years of service to that community, he oversaw its explosive growth from 60 families to over 600 families. Rabbi Brander is a 1984 alumnus of Yeshiva College and received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1986. During that time he served as the student assistant to the esteemed Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He received special ordination from Machon Puah, a center of medical ethics in Israel, and from the Chief Rabbi, Mordechai Eliyahu, in the field of medical ethics; infertility, gynecology and halakhah. He is currently a PhD candidate in general philosophy at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). He has received numerous awards for his community service and has authored many articles in various scholarly journals.
Mr. Dan Brown
Founder of the web-based publication eJewishPhilanthropy.com, Dan Brown is an experienced marketing professional in both the public and private sectors. He has long been active in the Jewish communal world, in Israel and the US. He is the immediate past director of the American Friends of the WUJS Institute, a mentor for the PresenTense Global Fellowship Program and Gvahim Jerusalem and a member of the international steering committee of Limmud FSU. He consults with NGOs, foundations and academic institutions on leveraging their message and developing new audiences within the global Jewish world. Dan holds graduate certificates in Nonprofit Program Management and in Fundraising from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Steven M. Cohen
Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive, NYU Wagner
Steven M. Cohen is Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner. In the past, he served as Professor at The Melton Centre for Jewish Education; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Queens College, CUNY. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Brandeis University, Yale University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
He has written or edited a dozen books and hundreds of scholarly articles and reports on such issues as Jewish community, Jewish identity, and Jewish education. With Arnold Eisen, he wrote The Jew Within: Self, Family and Community in America. Steven is also the co-author with Charles Liebman of Two Worlds of Judaism: The Israeli and American Experiences, as well as Cosmopolitans and Parochials: Modern Orthodox Jews in America with Samuel Heilman. His earlier books include American Modernity & Jewish Identity and American Assimilation or Jewish Revival? He co-authored A Journey of Heart and Mind: Transformative Jewish in Adulthood, a monograph on Jewish identities of Great Britain, and, most recently, Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary. His current research interests extend to emerging forms of Jewish community and identity among younger Jews in the United States.
In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. In 2010, he received the Marshall Sklare Award of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry and was cited as one of the Forward Fifty (for the second time). The book, Sacred Strategies, of which he is a co-author, won a National Jewish Book Award in 2010.
Dr. Charles Edelsberg
Executive Director, The Jim Joseph Foundation
Charles (Chip) Edelsberg, Ph.D. is the founding Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, a $700 million dollar private foundation whose mission is to support education of Jewish youth in the United States–one of the largest foundations of its type in North America. Previously, Dr. Edelsberg served as Director of Endowments and Vice President for the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland and Executive Director of the historic Temple Tifereth Congregation.
Dr. Edelsberg spent fifteen years in education as a teacher and administrator. Edelsberg received numerous teaching and administrative awards, among them being selected as one of the country’s top 100 educators (awarded by the American Association of School Administrators).
Dr. Edelsberg received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Brown University. His BA in English and liberal arts and PhD in Humanities education were conferred by the Ohio State University. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude with honors as an undergraduate and received his doctorate as a University Fellow with honors.
Chip and his wife and life partner of 38 years, Leslie, are proud parents of three 20-somethings: Eric and twins Zack and Allie, z”l.
Rabbi Dov Emerson
Assistant Principal, DRS HALB; Founder, #jedchat
Rabbi Dov Emerson is an Assistant Principal at the DRS Yeshiva High School for Boys, part of the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach (HALB), in Woodmere, NY. He has worked with young people in both formal and informal settings, and he is particularly interested in learning about creative ways to use technology in education. He has an incredible PLN (Personal Learning Network) of fellow educators on Twitter, who teach him about awesome new resources every day. Dov is one of the founders of #jedchat, a weekly Twitter chat for Jewish educators, and he is the administrator of YU 2.0, an online community of practice for Jewish Educators interested in educational technology. You can connect with Dov on twitter, where he goes by @DovEmerson, you can read more of his posts on his blog, dovemerson.wordpress.com,
Dr. Bethamie Horowitz
Research Assistant Professor at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
Bethamie Horowitz is Research Assistant Professor at NYU where she teaches the core doctoral seminar in the Education and Jewish Studies. She came to NYU after two decades of substantial research experience in a variety of applied contexts in the USA and in Israel. She began her training in international conflict resolution and peacemaking, and subsequently conducted both election research and educational research in Israel. She is an expert on the sociology of American Jews in terms of population, identity, community and education.
She served as Research Director at UJA-Federation of NY in the 1990s where she designed and conducted the 1991 NY Jewish Population Study, and subsequently developed the groundbreaking Connections and Journeys Study documenting patterns of Jewish engagement among baby boomer and younger American Jews.
From 2000-2007 she directed research at the Mandel Foundation Israel, where she studied the careers of graduates of the school.
The theme of lives over time continues to fascinate her. Her current research is about interacting identities among post-college “emerging adults” in terms of their professional choices and their connections to Jewishness.
She received her A.B. from Harvard University in anthropology and her Ph.D. from The CUNY Graduate Center in socio-psychology.
President Richard M. Joel
President, Yeshiva University
President Joel is the fourth president of Yeshiva University and the Bravmann Family University Professor. Appointed in 2003, his commitment has been to foster an environment that can “ennoble and enable” the university community, with a renewed focus on academic excellence, enriched university life, competitive career and graduate school placement, and broadened commitment to the Jewish and wider communities. Throughout his career, he has stressed the importance of communal leadership and rich Jewish identity to ensure a Jewish future, in America, in Israel and around the world.
Prior to his appointment, he served as the president and international director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. He received his BA and JD from New York University where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar. He was an assistant district attorney and Deputy Chief of Appeals in Bronx, NY. His career continued as Associate Dean and professor of law at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. President Joel and his wife Esther, who holds a Ph.D. from YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, live in Riverdale. They have six children and four grandchildren
Ms. Penny Joel
Consultant & Mentor
Penny Joel is an experiential Jewish education consultant and is completing her Doctorate in Jewish Education at the Azrieli School of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University. She was previously the Director of Israel Guidance and a member of the Judaic Studies Department at Westchester Hebrew High School in Mamaroneck, New York . She has taught classes in Halakha, Tanakh, Jewish History and Jewish Philosophy and has been involved in a vast array of innovative education initiatives in schools, summer camps and other experiential education programs. She has an MS Ed in Early Adolescent Education from the Bank Street College of Education and has been a Pardes fellow, ATID fellow and Torat Miriam fellow. Penny has been involved in experiential education for over 15 years.
Dr. Aaron Koller
Assistant Professor, Yeshiva University
Aaron Koller is an assistant professor at Yeshiva University. He researches and writes about life in the ancient Near East, including ancient Israel, and early Judaism, especially issues related to language and linguistics. His first book was about the archaeology of everyday life in ancient Israel, and his second (forthcoming) is about the reception of the book of Esther in ancient Judaism. He also teaches classes at the Drisha Institute and for the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Dr. Marc N. Kramer
Executive Director, RAVSAK
Dr. Marc N. Kramer is the Executive Director of RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, the North American association of pluralistic Jewish schools devoted to serving children and families from across the spectrum of religious practice. RAVSAK is the fastest growing Jewish educational network, encompassing 120 schools and nearly 30,000 students.
Marc earned a bachelors degree in Near East and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, a masters degree in social work from Columbia University, a masters degree in Judaica from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and both a masters and doctorate in education from Columbia University- Teachers College. He is the recipient of the Sachar Award for academic research and the Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellowship.
Dr. Kramer is the founder of Project SuLaM, a founding member of the Think Tank on Day School Headship, and the co-director of Re/Presenting the Jewish Past. Additionally, Dr. Kramer is a consultant to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services where he develops and implements psycho-educational and psycho-social programs which explore the intersection of traditional Jewish text, contemporary social issues, and normative mental health. Marc was the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Covenant Award.
Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz
CEO, Research Success Technologies
Ezra is a sociologist specializing in the Jewish world and Jewish Education. He is CEO of Research Success Technologies (ReST). ReST’s work spans the spectrum of American and Israeli Jewry from public and communal institutions to formal and informal educational organizations working with all age groups. Ezra is a pioneer in research on Jewish Peoplehood, developing intellectual frameworks and conducting applied research. Recent publications include: Building Jewish Peoplehood: Change and Challenge, Academic Studies Press. (2008, co-edited);Cultural Education-Cultural Sustainability: Minority, Diaspora, Indigenous and Ethno-Religious Groups in Multicultural Societies, Routledge (2008, co-edited); “A Framework for Strategic Thinking about Jewish Peoplehood” (Position paper commissioned by the Nadav Fund. Tel Aviv. 2007). Ezra is currently working on a book on Israel Education (co-authored).
Ms. Suzy Schwartz
Assistant Dean, YU Center for the Jewish Future
Suzy Schwartz joined Yeshiva University in 2010 as Assistant Dean, Center for the Jewish Future. Armed with strategic and management skills from the world of corporate advertising, Suzy most recently served as SVP, Senior Account Director at BBDO, a leading worldwide advertising agency. In her role as Assistant Dean at the CJF, Suzy helps manage the strategic vision as well as the day to day activities and personnel of the very active and vibrant Center while serving as its liaison to the greater University. Suzy (nee Greenman), is happily married to William and they are blessed with 4 children; Racheli, Sammy, Yoni and Tamar. They live in Teaneck, NJ where Suzy is a community activist playing leadership roles in many local institutions. An alumnus of Stern College, Suzy has an MBA in marketing/advertising from Baruch College.
Professor Michael Strauss
Associate Dean, Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University
Professor Strauss us entrepreneur-in-residence and clinical professor of management at Syms, has been appointed associate director of student advising and administration at Syms where he has taught business courses for several years. Strauss (MBA, Baruch) is a veteran of both large and small companies, having served in senior management roles at several companies including American Express. He is currently CEO of an advanced start-up company that he founded several years ago, BSafe Electrix, Inc. He is also chairman of Sherwood Consulting Group, Inc., and serves on several boards and advisory boards.
Ms. Rebecca Voorwinde
Co-Director, Director of Strategy & Community Engagement, Bronfman Youth Fellowships
Becky served as a volunteer member of BYFI’s Alumni Advisory Board before taking the full-time position of BYFI’s Director of Alumni Engagement in 2008. Becky’s professional experience includes work in the Corporate Responsibility Group at Ernst & Young LLP. Becky spent several years in Melbourne, Australia, working at a non-profit human resources consultancy, Diversity @ Work. There, she advised public and private sector employers on how to increase the inclusion of diverse workers. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College with a B.A. in American Studies. Her senior thesis explored Jewish identity and involvement in the 1968 New York teachers’ strike. Becky serves on the Advisory Board of InterfaithFamily.com and she is a Task Group member on Interfaith Inclusiveness for UJA Federation of NY. In 2009, she facilitated the “Networks of Purpose” track for the international Jewish leadership program, ROI. Becky resides in Brooklyn with her husband, Michael.
Esther D Kustanowitz
Writer, Consultant, Jewish Communal Professional
Esther D. Kustanowitz, a Los Angeles-based writer, consultant and Jewish communal professional, has written and consulted on Jewish innovation, pop culture and social media for many Jewish publications and organizations. A longtime consultant for the ROI Community of Jewish Innovators, Esther also works part-time as Program Coordinator for the NextGen Engagement Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. She has been named to four major lists of Jewish social media influencers, and she blogs at http://myurbankvetch.com. Esther is currently writing a book about grief as a personal and communal experience, tentatively titled “Nothing Helps (But This Might Help): A Guide to Loss and What Comes After.”