- Rebecca Bigman
Israel Coordinator, Union for Reform Judaism
Interests: Informal Jewish education, Jewish camp leadership, general education
Rebecca Bigman grew up in Ormond Beach, FL in a small Jewish community. She attended Blue Star Camps, a Jewish summer camp, for seven years and began her work in Jewish informal education as a staff member there. She received a BA in political science from the University of Florida and worked with supplemental education services tutoring kids in failing Florida elementary schools. She spent the year before she came to NYU in Israel volunteering in different communities throughout the country through the program OTZMA. From Ashkelon to Beit Shean to Jerusalem, she taught English, helped the poorer communities in the periphery, and worked with Young Judaea's short term Israel programs. Her year in Israel inspired her to build a career in the Jewish world, and to that end, she pursued an MA in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU. During her studies at NYU Rebecca also worked with the Israel Action Network and worked during the summer at Young Judaea Camp Sprout Lake. Rebecca graduated with a Dual Masters in Education and Jewish Studies in September 2013 is currently the Israel Coordinator for the Union for Reform Judaism.
- Layah Steinberg Blacksburg
Program Coordinator, Jewish Communal Service Association of North America
Interests: Jewish leadership and programming
Layah Steinberg Blacksburg is a graduate of the M.A. in Education and Jewish Studies at New York University. Before coming to NYU, Layah worked on a research study for the University of Utah looking at longevity in the elderly population. In 2006, Layah was honored with a Gold Star Award from the Human Development Honor Society for her outstanding work in social research. Since moving to New York, Layah has been involved with the early learning center at the the Chabad of North East Queens. Layah obtained her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah. She currently works as the Program Coordinator of the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America.
- Aliza Donath
Judaic Studies Teacher, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, New York
Interests: Judaic Studies, Visual and Studio Arts, Literature and Folklore, Childhood Education, Jewish Community Programming
Aliza received her MA in Judaic Studies and Education with a focus on Arts Education in Summer 2014. She currently works as a Judaic Studies teacher at Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, NY, and has continued her freelance work in art and cartooning. Her short-story comic The Lamps of Life was recently published in The Jewish Comix Anthology, a collection of Jewish folklore in comic form. She lives in New York City.
- Shifra (Staiman) Friedman
Middle School Teacher, SAR Academy in Riverdale, New York
Interests: Teaching Bible, special education
Shifra (Staiman) Friedman graduated with a masters in Education and Jewish studies from Steinhardt in May 2012 and is currently completing her second masters in Hebrew and Judaic studies. She studied at NYU as a Jim Joseph Fellow. Before attending NYU, she graduated with a B.A. in Judaic studies from Stern College's S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program.
During her time at NYU, Shifra studied special education research and methodology and the way it can be applied in a general education classroom. For her Capstone project, she researched Bible education and studied the benefits of including academic Bible research,especially contextual-historical perspectives, in a middle school Bible class.
Shifra currently teaches Bible in the middle school at SAR Academy in Riverdale, New York.
She also has always had a love for informal education. This love was fostered at Camp Moshava in Indian Orchard, PA, where she worked as a counselor and division head and where she and her husband worked this past summer to create and implement the camp's educational curriculum. She also spent two summers at Bnei Akiva’s Moshava Ba’ir day camp, first as an informal educator and then as Educational Director.
Shifra lives in Washington Heights, NY with her husband, Noam, and their young daughter.
- Yael Friedman
Museum Educator, Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
Interests: Holocaust education in schools and museums, curriculum development
Yael Friedman grew up in Potomac, Maryland where she was actively involved in her Jewish community. Throughout high school, she volunteered in a Talmud Torah, working individually with students as well as within the classroom. She was also a head counselor in a Hebrew immersion summer camp for four summers. After attending a Jewish Day School from K-12, Yael joined her high school class on a week long trip to Poland and Prague, visiting sites related to the Holocaust, as well as on a three month trip to Israel. This trip reinforced her interests in studying the Holocaust and has contributed to the direction of her studies and career choices. Yael earned a B.A. in Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St. Louis where she received the Steven S. Schwarzschild Prize for Overall Excellence in Jewish Studies. Upon graduating, Yael worked at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in Jerusalem for five months, where she primarily edited and produced resources for a Holocaust curriculum for Jewish educators. She also interned in the Archives Department at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and at the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust as a Lipper Intern. Additionally, Yael interned at the US Department of State for the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, where she drafted speeches, contributed to reports through research and writing, and assisted with monitoring anti-Semitism around the world. During the two summers while she was in grad school, Yael worked at Centropa and participated in the Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program, respectively. For her Capstone project, Yael developed a Jewish peoplehood curriculum at Facing History and Ourselves. Yael graduated with a Dual MA in Education and Jewish Studies and Hebrew and Judaic Studies as a Jim Joseph Fellow and is currently a Museum educator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
- Reyzl Geselowitz
Teacher, Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Interests: Elementary education, Jewish history
Reyzl Geselowitz was born in Boston, but moved to Long Island at a young age, where she attended Solomon Schechter Day Schools through 12th grade. Reyzl graduated from Harvard College in 2010 with a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and a minor in Archaeology.After college, Reyzl studied in the Beit Midrash Program at the Drisha Center for Jewish Education. Reyzl spent three summers as a counselor at Jewish summer camps, and three years teaching Hebrew school in Boston, both 6th grade Judaics and 7th grade Hebrew. In summer 2009, Reyzl participated in the Collegiate Leadership Internship Program and was an intern in the Hadassah Archives. During her first year at NYU, Reyzl was a research intern for the Lippman Kanfer Institute at JESNA. Reyzl currently teaches 4th grade, both Judaics and secular subjects, at the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan. She studied in NYU's Dual MA program as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar and a Jim Joseph Fellow.
- Jael Goldstein
Middle School Judaic Studies Teacher, Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Interests: Talmud, teaching Talmud, curriculum development, multicultural education
Jael Goldstein, originally from Chicago, graduated from the Barnard College and Jewish Theological Seminary Double Degree Program, where she earned degrees in American Studies and Talmud and Rabbinics, respectively. She has taught in a variety of camp and supplemental settings, including Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, the 92nd Street Y, the Jewish Community Project Downtown, Matan, and the Jewish Journey Project. In addition to working in the world of Jewish education, Jael helped develop curriculum and train educators to teach respect for religious diversity as a member of the Education team at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. As a Jim Joseph Fellow at NYU, her coursework focused on Jewish texts and Teaching and Learning; her Capstone project explored the theory and practice of the chevruta learning model. As of Fall 2014, Jael is a Middle School Judaic Studies Teacher at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, where she teaches 6th grade Mishna and 7th grade Talmud.
- Stefanie Gordon
Graduate Intern, Jewish Community Center Association
Interests: Jewish history, Jewish literature
Stefanie Gordon grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and earned her B.A. in English/Journalism at the University of Delaware, where she minored in Jewish Studies, graduating with honors as a Division 1 scholar-athlete. Stefanie was active with Jewish life at UD as a member of both Chabad on Campus and the Jewish Heritage Program. While studying on a Fellowship with the Ivy League Torah Study Experience in Ellenville, NY, Stefanie realized her deep interest in Judaic studies through intensive study in Torah and Jewish Philosophy. She later spent a semester abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she focused on Hebrew and Jewish History. Stefanie has worked as a Hebrew teacher at the Brotherhood Synagogue of Manhattan and as a Communications and Development Associate at the Berman Jewish Policy Archive. She is currently a graduate intern at the Jewish Community Center Association. Stefanie is a graduate of the MA program in Education and Jewish studies at NYU. She enjoys running, tennis, and working as a Pilates instructor in Manhattan. Stefanie is a recipient of a 2012-2013 Shapiro Family Fellowship. She was also a 2012 speaker at the Sinai Scholars Symposium at John Hopkins University for her presentation “The Book of iSaiah: Is it possible for one to be a light unto the nations in the age of iPads and Androids?”
- David Hoffman
BBYO Director, Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
Interests: Adolescent education, interfaith/interdenominational dialogue
David Hoffman was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Dallas, Texas where he went to public schools and attended religious school at a Conservative synagogue. He went to New York in 2003 to pursue his undergraduate studies at List College, earning one Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from Columbia University and another in Bible from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. After graduating in 2007, David worked in multiple positions relating to education, ultimately leading to his position as full-time teacher team leader at Central Synagogue’s religious school in New York City, where he taught for five years. He worked in and out of classroom settings with students ranging from 2nd grade to high school seniors and adults, tutored B'nei Mitzvah students, and coordinated B'nei Mitzvah service projects.
David began his full-time studies at NYU in the fall of 2011 as a Jim Joseph Fellow, looking to advance his Jewish content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and understanding of how people learn in a multidenominational and interfaith environment with educators from a wide variety of backgrounds and who taught or worked with students in diverse settings. During the summertime, he has worked as an educator at BBYO's International Kallah, an immersive, pluralistic Jewish educational experience in a camp setting, where he teaches about spirituality and nature. For his Capstone project, David worked at Auburn Seminary to assess the outcomes of their various multifaith experiences and support their teen program, My Faith, Your Faith. In August, 2013 he moved back south where he is currently the BBYO Director at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.
- Jodie Honigman
Teacher, Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and B'nei Jeshurun
Interests: Experiential education, modern Jewish history, innovative Israel education
Jodie Honigman is a student and Jim Joseph Fellow in the Dual MA program at NYU in Education and Jewish Studies and Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Jodie was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in Psychology, Jewish Studies, and Hebrew and Semitic Studies. After graduating, Jodie moved to Haifa to intern at Isha L’Isha, an NGO that works on anti-trafficking initiatives. After Haifa, she spent a year studying at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem with a focus on social justice texts. Jodie moved to Washington, DC in 2009 to plan and implement youth and family programs at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She was also a participant in the first DC cohort of the Jeremiah Fellowship through Jews United for Justice. This past year, as an intern at RAVSAK, Jodie conducted research on Hebrew language charter schools. Jodie spent the summer of 2012 as an educator at BBYO's International Kallah in Starlight, PA. During the year she teaches sixth grade at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and is a member of the New York Pursue City Team, which plans programs for alumni of AJWS and Avodah.
- Erica Korman
Sales and Marketing Support, BoxaVox
Interests: American-Jewish identity, informal education with emerging adults
Erica Korman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, FL with little interest, even disdain, for her own Jewish education and identity. Later in life, while participating on Taglit-Birthright, Erica became keenly aware of the dire consequences of living as an apathetic, assimilated Jew in the Diaspora. Now, her life is devoted to improving Jewish education and communal opportunities, reviving vigor for Jewish life, and reconciling tradition in the age of modernity. Erica graduated with honors from Florida State University, where she studied humanities and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Post-graduation, she spent some time studying at the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. A strong Zionist, Erica has staffed two Birthright trips and was a member of the first cohort of The iCenter's Master's Concentration certificate program in Israel Education. She completed a year-long internship with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA), where she analyzed innovative Jewish educational programs around the country and was an active part of the launch for the Jewish Education Change Network web community. Her vision at NYU, where she studied as a Jim Joseph Fellow, was to learn the art of engaging emerging adults in meaningful, exciting, and relevant ways to help them connect and deepen their Jewish identity and connection with Israel.
Erica now lives in South Florida with her husband and daughter.
- Yehudis Kramer
Assistant Director, NYU Steinhardt Graduate Programs in Education and Jewish Studies
Interests: Leadership and administration, Jewish history
Yehudis Kramer is from Melbourne, Australia. She is a graduate of the MA program at NYU in Education and Jewish Studies. Yehudis completed her undergraduate degree majoring in Jewish History and Jewish Civilizations in Monash University. During the years prior to and upon completing her degree, she worked for the United Jewish Education Board in Melbourne, Australia creating Hebrew School curriculum and for the Jewish Children's Museum in Brooklyn, NY as an after school program coordinator. She also spent time teaching Jewish Studies to junior high school students in Morristown, New Jersey, and in Manhattan Beach, California. Since moving to NY, Yehudis has been very involved volunteering her time and skills to organizing events and educational programs for Young Jewish Professionals in New York City.
- Lea New Minkowitz
Teacher, Tannenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto
Interests: Teaching Jewish history in high schools, Jewish history
Lea New Minkowitz was born and raised in the Chabad community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She is passionate about teaching Jewish history and ameliorating poverty within the Orthodox Jewish community through improved access to quality education and services.
Lea holds a dual M.A. in Hebrew & Judaic Studies and Education & Jewish Studies from NYU, where she focused on the teaching and learning of Jewish history and social studies. During her graduate work at NYU, Lea was a Jim Joseph Foundation Fellow and a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar. She graduated summa cum laude from Stern College for Women with a B.A. in history.
Lea’s classroom experience spans the spectrum of Jewish day school education. She taught Jewish history and Tanach at Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy, a Chabad day school in Orange, Connecticut, as well as organized student programming. In conjunction with her MA, Lea completed her student-teaching at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, a pluralistic day school in New York City.
As a private consultant, Lea specializes in nonprofit work and education. She consults for a variety of organizations, such as Efsharut Jewish Day School in Toronto and the Menachem Education Foundation. In her consulting work, she advocates for women by designing culturally sensitive avenues for women to take leadership roles, mentors new teachers, and works to create healthy organizational structures.
Lea currently lives with her husband Avi in Toronto. She teaches Judaic Studies at Associated Hebrew Schools in Toronto.
- Ruben Rais
Tikkun Olam Coordinator, BINA
Interests: Informal education, experiential education, event production
Although originally from Bogota, Colombia, Ruben has spent considerable time living both in the U.S. and in Israel. During high school he was very active in the youth movement at his local JCC in Miami. Ruben attended Georgetown University, where he learned about Middle Eastern and Modern Jewish history. Upon graduating, he began to travel. He spent seven months exploring China, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. After his solo journey, Ruben continued traveling, this time as a madrich on Kivunim, a program that seeks to explore Jewish history and to that end travels to over ten different countries around the Diaspora. Following his time with Kivunim, Ruben spent the summer at Yeshivat Hadar in NYC, where he was first introduced to the wonders of Jewish texts. The experience brought him back to New York, where he continued to learn Jewish texts at the yeshiva, while pursuing the Education and Jewish Studies Masters at NYU. Upon graduation, Ruben has now returned to Israel where is employed by BINA, the secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv, as a coordinator for their Tikkun Olam program. Ruben acts as mentor, educator, and liaison for a group of students living, learning, and volunteering in the neighborhoods of Jaffa and South Tel Aviv. In his spare time Ruben runs a small Jewish learning group in Jaffa, and is a salsa DJ, once a month, at a local neighborhood bar.
- Yael Steiner
Student Programs Coordinator, RAVSAK
Interests: Experiential education, curriculum development, Jewish history
Yael (Mendelson) Steiner works as the Student Programs Coordinator at RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network , developing and implementing RAVSAK's growing catalog of experiential programs for students. She has worked as a Jewish studies classroom teacher at SAR Academy, the head of educational programming at Camp Stone, a research intern at JESNA, and most recently as the Jewish Studies coordinator at Beit Rabban Day School. Yael holds a BA from the University of Michigan, a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from YU, and studied NYU's dual M.A. program in Education and Jewish Studies as a Jim Joseph and Wexner/Davidson graduate fellow.
- Ilana Weltman
Director and CoFounder, iVolunteer Dallas
Interests: Holocaust and museum education, supplementary education and leadership, curriculum development, Jewish literature
Ilana Weltman, a graduate of NYU's Dual MA in Education and Jewish Studies & Hebrew and Judaic Studies, grew up in metropolitan Detroit, where she first began teaching in a Hebrew school during her first year of high school. After graduating from Michigan State University in 2006, Ilana moved to Jacksonville, Florida to teach full time at Dupont Middle School, where she taught sixth grade critical thinking and eighth grade U.S. history. Ilana has staffed Birthright Israel trips, served as a gallery educator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and worked as the Judaica Director at Camp Seneca Lake. She is a former participant in the University of Florida's Summer Holocaust Institute for Florida Teachers and a Jim Joseph Fellow. While studying in NYC, Ilana taught Hebrew and Judaics at the New Shul and Shaare Zedek. In 2010-2011 Ilana was involved in curating and educating the public at NYU's Grey Gallery exhibition Art/Memory/Place: Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. After graduating from NYU, Ilana served as the Director of Entry Point DC, the DCJCC's Young Professional Program, from 2011-2012. In 2012 Ilana co-founded iVolunteer Dallas, a Young Professional Volunteer organization which assists Holocaust survivors and participates in various volunteer events around the Dallas community. Since 2012 she has been iVolunteer's director. Ilana is also an adjunct instructor at the University of North Texas in their Jewish Studies Program.