News from William Davidson School Alumni

We are delighted that so many William Davidson School alumni responded to our call for professional updates! The expansive listing below is inclusive of alumni in our academic programs (MA, executive doctoral), as well as our field-based instructional leadership programs. If you have an update that you would like to share in the next issue, please reach out to Melissa Friedman, Director of Alumni Affairs at

Mazal Tov to our alumni included in Cohort 10 of the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute: Kevin Peters, Assistant Rabbi and Director of Jewish Education & Youth Programs at Temple Sholom, Greenwich, CT; Amanda Phillips, Center City Director at Makom Community; and Amy Deutch, Religious School Director,Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline, MA.

Mazal Tov to our two alumni who received their certification of Conservative Jewish Educator (CJE) from the Jewish Educators Assembly (JEA) at the January 2022 annual conference: Elizabeth Singer, Director of Lifelong Learning at B’nai Aviv in Weston, FL and Rabbi Matthew Nover, Assistant Rabbi & Education Director at Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor, NJ. These talented educators are being recognized for “their ongoing dedication to Jewish education on the national level as well as in their own communities.”

Mazal Tov to Saul Kaiserman and Anna Hartman, doctoral candidates in the William Davidson School executive program, who were both named doctoral fellows at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education.

We are very proud of our alumni who shared the following professional achievements and brought us up to date on their roles:

Danny Aviv is now the Director of Engineering and Design at the Leffell School in Westchester, NY.

Eli Bass recently joined the professional team of Pearlstone in Reisterstown, MD, as its Program Director.

Etta Bendavid is a Board-Certified Chaplain (Spiritual Care Counselor) in the US and Israel. She has a private practice in Raanana, specializing in end-of-life, grief and spiritual support in all life transitions. Before Aliyah four years ago, she worked in hospice and palliative care. Etta is the Rabbanit of Shivtei Israel in Raanana and a graduate of the Morot LeHalacha (Yoetzet Halacha) program at Matan. Etta is also a singer and leads tefilat nashim.

Stephanie Ben Simon moved back east and is the Director of Education at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners, NY.

Mara Berde joined the professional team at Camp Kingswood, a Jewish overnight camp in ME, as its Director of HR and Operations.

Yoni (Jonathan) Berger became the Head of School at Solomon Schechter of Greater Hartford in July 2021.

Lori Binder, who serves as Head of School and CEO at Gray Academy of Jewish Education in Winnipeg, Manitoba, just became Chair of the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools.

Matthew Check has a new EP coming out in March and is also working on new material, that will be recorded in Nashville this February with an expected release in the fall of 2022.  Additionally, he serves as the Interim Education & Family Program Director at Ansche Chesed through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Daniel Cohen joined ezCater as a Director, Sales Acquisition.

Lynn Anne Cutler joined Temple Har Shalom in Warren, NJ as Director of Congregational Education.

Jamie Darsa recently transitioned to a new role at the JCC of Greater Boston and is now the Director of Communications.

Shira Deener is Head of School at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.

Anne A. Ebersman now serves as both the Early Childhood/Lower School Program Director and Director of Hesed and Tzedek N-12 at The Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York.

Sara Evangelista became the Director of Student Life at George Washington University Hillel.

Naomi Fabes has served as the Director of Education at Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester since July 2020. Additionally, Naomi is a member of Cohort 4 of the Ruskay Institute.

Laurence Fhima became the Head of School at Ecole Maimonide in Saint-Laurent, Quebec.

Rachel Figurasmith was promoted to Regional Director of the Northeast at Repair The World.

Jeremy Fine became the rabbi of Congregation Bnai Tikvah, Deerfield, IL in July 2021.

Brad Garoon recently became the Senior Director of Onward Israel Marketing & Communications at Birthright Israel.

Nessa Geffen recently became the Director of Ramah Eastern Great Lakes and
US Engagement Manager, Camp Ramah in Canada.

Rebekka Gold is the Director of Israel Experiential Education with RootOne at The Jewish Education Project.

Elliot Goldberg is an executive coach and education consultant who coaches individuals during professional transitions and works with educational institutions to develop leadership, refine curriculum and improve instruction.

Jodie Goldberg’s position at the Jewish Education Project has transformed with her skills and she is now the Education Consultant, Teen Engagement and Educator networks. Additionally, Jodie designed and is overseeing the GENERATE Fellowship, a one-year experience to provide early career teen engagement professionals with the tools, skills, and knowledge to become better mentors for their teens.

Merav Goldman is the co-founder of a CBD personal care brand,

Debbie Goldsmith became Executive Director of Aardvark Israel gap year program.

Julie Goodman became the Director of Hillel at Dartmouth. 

Sheryl Gordon is the Director of the Religious School of Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, NY.

Hannah Grossman has been the Manager of Repair the World NYC’s Family and Youth Senior Program since Summer 2020.

Rachelle Grossman is the bibliography and collections manager at YIVO as she pursues a doctorate from Harvard in comparative literature.

Bruce Helft is the owner of Darlings Coffee Roasting, a company that procures and roasts specialty coffee for select clientele. When he’s not roasting, he’s an energy specialist for the state of California, working on policy implementation for clean energy regulations and decarbonization initiatives.

Branden Johnson joined the yearlong team at Northern Ramah California as its Program Director.

Yossi Kahan is now the Director of Student and Jewish Life at Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, FL.

Abby Kerbel is the Director of Jewish Life/Middle School Judaics at Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, VA.

Darren Kleinberg is now serving as Visiting Scholar with the Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and is also the 2022 Visiting Educator at Urban Adamah, in Berkeley, CA.

Sharon Knafo serves as the Head of School of Shenker Academy in Las Vegas, NV.

Dani Kogan is now the Manager of Programs and Innovation for B’nai Jeshurun’s Center for Prayer and Spirituality.

Kelly Kossar became the Associate Director of Youth Education at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA.

Danielle Leader was promoted to Program Specialist at the Veterans Health Administration last March. Danielle is now also a FAC-COR I, which is a first-level Contracting Officer’s Representative.

Gideon Levin has spent the last fifteen years at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City in a variety of roles, most recently as the Lower School Specialist working on curriculum for the elementary science program as well as teaching English Language Learners from Israel and working as the Lower School Special Projects Associate. He has spent the last twenty summers working in a variety of roles at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack.

Mitch Levine recently became the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Asheville, NC.

Karen Lewin recently joined Marlboro Jewish Center as its Education Director.

Meredith Levick is the Director of Strategic Development for the Office of Innovation at Hillel International.

Eliana Light works for NewCAJE as the director of the Leadership for Emerging Education Professionals (LEEP) Fellowship. Additionally, Eliana is the artist in residence at Beth El Synagogue in Durham NC, and continues to be an artist in residence, curriculum writer, and prayer consultant for both local and national Jewish communities.

Rhonda Lillianthal, who continues to be the Director of the Center for Jewish Life at the JCC MetroWest NJ, recently earned a Certificate in Jewish Spiritual Counseling from Beit Tshuvah in Los Angeles.

Marc Lindner now serves as the Head of School at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles, CA.

Seth Linfield is the new campus rabbi at Dartmouth.

Jeffrey Lipschultz is now the rabbi of Congregation Beth Emeth in Sun City, AZ.

Danna Livstone is a program evaluator for Rosov Consulting. Danna is also an active lay leader at Beth El in East Windsor, NJ

Joshua Lookstein is currently the Head of School at Westchester Day School. In the 2022-2023 school year, he will become the Associate Head of School, Rabbinic Leadership, Jewish Life and Learning at the Ramaz School.

Dani Luft now teaches kindergarten at B’nai Shalom Day School in Greensboro, NC.

Alex Malischostak joined the Global Teletherapy team as a Recruiter in June 2020.

Benjamin Mann became the Chief Planning Officer of Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ, in July 2021.

Lucy Marshall earned a degree in social work from the University of Minnesota and is the Director of Rising Tide at Mayyim Hayyim.

Myra Maskin received her ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in May 2020, and now works at AJU as the Associate Director of the Maas Center for Jewish Journeys, which includes the Ziering BCI Program, the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program, Marriage for Life, and the AJU Community Mikveh.

Gabe Miner is a second-year rabbinical student at HUC.

Thabatta Mizrahi is the founder of ThabattaSM Consulting and an educational consultant working with schools across the country. Additionally, Thabatta is a professor at the University of Miami School of Education.

Kate O’Brien is a third-grade general studies teacher at The Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York.

Raphi Ozarowski assumed a position as a Judaic Studies Teacher at Solomon Schechter of Chicago.

Jeremy Pappas recently joined the senior leadership of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland as its Managing Director, Campaign.

Jacob Pinnolis is currently serving as the Interim CEO of Maimonides School.

Zac Price earned a PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Maryland.

Daniella Pressner graduated from Yeshivat Maharat and currently serves as the Head of School at Akiva School in Nashville, TN.

Nicole Raphael will be directing an off-Broadway production of Out of the Apple Orchard, a play by Ellen W. Kaplan based on the book by Yvonne David, at the Actors Temple Theatre in New York in fall 2022. 

Ronit Razinovsky is currently working at the JCC of Harrison as the educational director for K-12 and also serves as the coordinator of the Hebrew curriculum at the Westchester Hebrew School.

Alison Roemer became the Senior Director of Jewish Journeys and Experiences at the

Louisville Jewish Community Center.

Evie Rotstein serves as the Senior Education Advisor at Hebrew Union College. Additionally, Evie recently founded EMR Educational Consulting. Along with Nancy Parkes, Founder of JTeachNow, they are offering a SESL Certificate Course for Jewish Educators.

Scott Russell became the Director of Operations at The Calgary Jewish Community Centre.

Debbie Cohen Savage recently joined UJA Federation of Greater Toronto as its

Director of Jewish Engagement.

Dr. Melissa Ser, CJE, now in her tenth year as Director of Education at Adat Shalom Synagogue, serves as a Vice President of the Jewish Educators Assembly (JEA) and is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Pardes Senior Educators Learning Fellowship.

Aliza Serbert recently joined the professional team at the Shefa School as a Middle School Teacher and Student Life Educator.

Sam Schindler, along with being a Professor at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, is also a co-owner of Riverbend Comics, an online comic bookstore.

Adam Shapiro became the President of the Center for Israel Education in Atlanta.

Sara Shapiro-Plevan defended her dissertation,” The Social Networks of Jewish Educators,” and will be graduating in May 2022 with her EdD. Sara is the founder of the Gender Equity in Hiring Project.

Mollie Sharfman was shortlisted by the BBC for best original journalism in 2021 for her story about being the first witness in the Halle synagogue trial.

Rebecca Shargel, who earned her doctorate from the William Davidson School, was recently promoted to Professor of Education in Towson University’s College of Education. Dr. Shargel teaches courses in the Department of Educational Technology and Literacy as well as to graduate students pursuing a Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service degree. She is an affiliate of the Baltimore Hebrew Institute (formerly Baltimore Hebrew University).

Laura Herman Shefter assumed a new role as Director of Program and Evaluation at JPro.

Rachel Sherman became the Director of Religious School at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL.

Andy Shugerman has recently relocated to Pittsburgh and is now the inaugural Development Director of Congregation Beth Shalom.

Ilana Sidorsky became the Network Director at itrek.

Clara Silver became the CEO of the Katie and Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center in Columbia, SC.

Daniel Silverman was promoted to Director of Education and Program Development at Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto.

Leor Sinai is currently a doctoral candidate at the William Davidson School’s program for Education Leadership. He also serves as the Chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) Committee on Youth Aliyah & Absorption. Leor founded Sinai Strategies to provide consulting, mentoring, and other educational services in Israel and around the world.

Monika Singletary is the Director of Engagement and Membership at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, AL.

Evita Sokol graduated from Pacific College of Health and Science in August 2021 with a Master’s in Eastern Medicine and is expecting her doctorate in Eastern Medicine by summer 2022. Evita is currently working at WTHN in NYC as a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist.

Sarah (Attermann) Topal is the Director of Youth and Family Engagement at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, IL.

Eran Vaisben is the Executive Director of the Inland and Desert Hillel in Riverside, CA.

Ayala Wasser became the Assistant Director of Ramah Darom.

Allison Weill recently became the Programming & Communications Associate for the Jewish Federation of Howard County in Columbia, MD.

Ruth Weiss recently transitioned to become a Learning Specialist at Kohelet Yeshiva in Merion Station, PA.

Laura Novak Winer became the Director of the Master of Educational Leadership Program at HUC in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education.

Dori Wolgel is currently teaching 4th and 6th grade at Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook, IL and 5th grade at Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, IL.

Nina Yeske teaches Middle School Judaic Studies and Hebrew at the Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Atlanta, GA. Nina also recently completed the Pardes JSITT year-long program for day school educators.

Sarah Ellen Zarrow, PhD is an associate professor at Western Washington University.

Shana Zionts became the Associate Director of Columbia/Barnard Hillel.