Meet Our Staff

Student Life Staff

Sara Horowitz, Dean of Student Life, guides the staff with a caring hand and an abundance of energy. She enjoys spending her time working with JTS students and the Office of Student Life. Sara was born and raised in the Washington DC area, but feels truly at home in New York City's Morningside Heights neighborhood. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Government and Politics, and received an MA and an MEd in Student Affairs Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.  In her spare time, she loves to walk through Central Park and along the Hudson River and travel, especially to Israel. 

Ruth Decalo, Director of Student Life and Community Outreach, helps to facilitate and coordinate the myriad student life and community service initiatives spearheaded by the JTS community. Her personal and professional pursuits before coming to JTS took her around the world as she worked with youth, refugees, and trade unions. She also worked with domestic Jewish organizations during her time at the Jewish Outreach Institute. Ruth’s always happy to discuss her service in the Peace Corps, local volunteer opportunities, arcane medieval trivia, Harry Potter, international literature, music, and travel.

Shira Markert, Student Services Office Manager, is the first smiling face you see as you enter the Office of Student Life. She grew up in New Jersey, and began working at JTS soon after graduating from New York University in 2003 with a BA in Judaic Studies. Shira loves working with JTS students.

2015–2016 Jewish Life Directors
Jewish Life Directors (JLDs) help create and foster community in the residence halls and on the JTS campus through Jewish cultural, religious, and educational programming; home hospitality; and their daily interactions with residents. Have a question about Judaism or Jewish life in New York City? Ask your JLD, and he/she will help you find the answer.

Louis Polisson and Gabriella Feingold, List College Jewish Life Directors

Louis Polisson is a third-year rabbinical student at JTS. He and Gabriella recently returned from a year of living and studying in Jerusalem. Louis grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and graduated from Brandeis University where he studied Classical Studies, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and Music. Louis is a proud alumnus of the Conservative Yeshiva , Yeshivat Hadar, and Brandeis' co-ed Jewish a cappella Group, Manginah (in which he met his wonderful spouse Gabriella!). Louis enjoys going to concerts, jamming, and exploring New York City. As he once told participants at BIMA (the Brandeis Institute for Music and Art), he hopes to be a punk rock star / archaeologist / rabbi when he grows up.

Gabriella Feingold grew up in West Hartford, CT with her three younger siblings and her dog, Caspian. She went to Brandeis University and immediately jumped into Jewish co-ed a cappella, where she met Louis! She played various roles in the group - as musical director, historian/social activities coordinator, and board-member liaison - and also took part in undergraduate theater productions. She graduated from Brandeis with a BA in Theatre for Social Change and is currently pursuing a career in non-profit administration. She takes special interest in human rights, women's issues, positive body image, conflict resolution / mediation, and mindfulness.

Yoni Dahlen, Graduate Jewish Life Director, is a fourth-year rabbinical student hailing from the tropical paradise of Sioux City, Iowa. Before coming to JTS, he lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received his MA in Jewish Philosophy from Brandeis University. He is thrilled to have left the cornfields and fried food of the Midwest for the deli grid and fried food of New York City. A die-hard baseball fan, he loves taking the train to Yankee Stadium (though he is a devoted Chicago Cubs fan), and spends the majority of his non-rabbinical time reading, writing, and exploring the city. Yoni has been the Graduate Resident Advisor at Goldsmith Hall, and is looking forward to working with our graduate level students in his capacity as Jewish Life Director.