|Staff and Board|
Rabbi Ari Weiss is the Executive Director of Uri L’Tzedek. Rav Ari is a thought leader, social entrepreneur, activist, and Jewish educator. Through his leadership, Uri L’Tzedek has grown into a national organization which has been recognized for its innovation and impact in creating social change. Rav Ari played a key role in launching multiple initiatives including the Tav HaYosher, Uri L’Tzedek Publications, the Synagogue Affiliate Program, and the Uri L’Tzedek University Fellowships. A frequent scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Ari has taught at over fifty foundations, synagogues, conferences and campuses across the world including Limmud, Yeshiva University, and the General Assembly of the JFNA. He has been published extensively in the Jewish press including the JTA, The Jewish Week, and Sh'ma.
In 2010, Rav Ari was selected as a Joshua Venture Group fellow, a prestigious honor conferred upon Jewish leaders that show particular promise for social change and social entrepreneurship. In 2011, he was selected as part of the first cohort of Neta Fellows, an American Jewish World Service fellowship for Rabbis that are working toward creating a just world. The Jewish Week recently selected Rabbi Ari as one of “36 under 36” young Jewish visionaries who are reimagining Jewish life.
Rav Ari serves on multiple steering committees and advisory boards in the Jewish innovation ecosystem including, the first Siach Conference, the Food Stamp Challenge, and the Joshua Venture Group selection committee. He represents Uri L’Tzedek at the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable.
Prior to Uri L’Tzedek, Rav Ari was the Co-Director of the Meorot University Fellowship, an initiative of YCT Rabbinical School; and served as the Rabbinic Fellow at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU from 2007-2009. Rav Ari taught as part of the Judaic Studies Faculty at the Heschel School and was a Community Educator at Genesis. He has served as a Rabbinic Intern at Netivot Shalom in Teaneck, NJ and the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. In the summer of 2006, he was a JCUA Rabbinical Student Fellow and interned at We The People Media, a Chicago-based public housing advocacy group. He has served as a Jewish educator for American Jewish World Service, Bnei Akiva, and the Lauder Foundation on missions to Nicaragua, Ghana, Israel, and Hungary.
Rabbi Weiss received his rabbinical ordination from YCT Rabbinical School in June 2007. He has studied philosophy and Jewish studies at graduate schools in New York and Jerusalem and received his B.A. from Yeshiva College where he studied Philosophy and Religion. Rav Ari devoted years studying Advanced Talmud at Yeshivat Har Etzion and Beit Morasha of Jerusalem.
Director of Operations: Hillary Levison
Hillary Levison is the Director of Operations on the Uri L’Tzedek leadership team. Prior to joining Uri L’Tzedek, Hillary served as a development assistant at AMIT, where she focused on fund-raising and event planning. Hillary received her bachelor's degree in Marketing from Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University and studied for a year at the Pratt Institute. As a student, she volunteered in Honduras with the American Jewish World Service and with Livnot U’Lihebanot in Israel.
Director of Programming: Yael Keller
Yael Keller is the Director of Programming at Uri L’Tzedek. Prior to starting at Uri L’Tzedek Yael earned a Masters in Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and a Masters in Jewish Professional Leadership at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University. Yael was an intern at the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel, where she worked on the grant writing team, advocating for Jews at risk throughout the world. Last summer, at Impact Boston, she facilitated a teen experience focused on social action, community service and advocacy. Yael’s final Masters paper examined the potential of Jewish regulatory power to affect social change in the Kosher food industry. Before graduate school, Yael spent three years in Washington, DC, working at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and Hillel's Schusterman International Center. She also spent a semester in Israel studying at the Pardes Institute of Judaic Studies before attending the Hornstein Program. Yael earned her B.A. in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. She was active in her campus Hillel, serving as a student leader and board member. Yael is excited to join the Uri L’Tzedek team and use her passion for informal Jewish education and lifelong engagement in Torah study to deepen connections to social justice and create social change.
Director of Summer Fellowship in New York: Ariel Fisher
Ariel Fisher has recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied urban studies focusing on the role of religion and urban poverty. At Penn he was a leader of numerous interfaith community service organizations as well as a leader in the Penn Jewish community where he taught classes on chassidutand helped start and ran the branch of Heart to Heart, a student run outreach organization. He was also a big brother in the Big Brother Big Sister program Next year he plans on heading to Israel to study at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa and then plans on returning to New York to start semicha. Ariel is really excited to move back to New York City, where he grew up, and to be part of the Uri L'Tzedek Summer Fellowship.
Founder & President: Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek. In 2012, Newsweek rated Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America! Rav Shmuly is the author of "Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century" now available on Amazon. He studied at the University of Texas as an undergraduate and Harvard University for a Masters in Leadership and Psychology, and he completed a second Masters degree in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University. He completed his doctorate at Columbia University in Moral Development and Epistemology, and has taught as an instructor of moral philosophy at Barnard College and at the UCLA Law School. Shmuly was ordained as a Rabbi by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (the YCT Rabbinical School) as a Wexner Graduate Fellow prior to which he studied Talmud and Jewish law at Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat, Israel for two years. Shmuly also received a second rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat and a third rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo of Jerusalem.
As a global social justice activist and educator, Shmuly has volunteered, taught, and staffed missions in five continents including Israel, Ghana, India, France, Thailand, El Salvador, Britain, Senegal, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, and Haiti. Shmuly served at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and Davos, Switzerland as the rabbinic representative, a facilitator, and motivational speaker. Shmuly served as the Director of Jewish Life & Senior Jewish Educator at the UCLA Hillel, was on faculty at Shalhevet High School, served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and is a member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. For three years, Shmuly taught philosophy twice a week at an inner-city school in Harlem and served on the New York Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health Clergy Steering Committee. Shmuly worked in business consulting for a major top 10 firm, has lectured and consulted across the world, has served in five different congregations in Montreal, Connecticut, Boston, Florida, and Los Angeles and has taught as a scholar-in-residence for dozens of synagogues and organizations. He served on the International Board of Hillel for two years and was the Director of Panim’s Leadership and Activism training (JAM) in Washington D.C.
A film crew followed Shmuly for over a year to produce a PBS documentary (“The Calling”) about the training of religious leadership which aired nationwide in December 2010. In 2008, the Jewish Week recognized Shmuly as one of “36 under 36” (one of 36 of the most influential Jewish leaders under the age of 36). In 2009, the UJC named Shmuly one of five “Jewish Community Heroes.” On two occasions, Shmuly has celebrated Chanukah at the White House Chanukah party with the President and First Lady. Shmuly, and his wife Shoshana, currently live in Overland Park where he serves as the Senior Rabbi at Kehilath Israel, a 500 family synagogue.
Rabbi Ari Hart is a co-founder of Uri L'Tzedek and rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. A leader of several initiatives that bring together Orthodoxy, the Jewish community, and the world at large to make positive change, Ari launched Or Tzedek, the Teen Institute for Social Justice, served on multiple community boards and social justice organizations, and has taught at schools, synagogues, and summer camps around the country. He also served as a Nadiv Social Justice Fellow for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and as Court Appointed Special Advocate for neglected and abused children in Cook County. Ari was recently selected by the Jewish Week as one of the 36 under 36, a list of "forward-thinking young people who are helping to remake the Jewish community," and his work bringing the Hispanic and Jewish communities of Northern Manhattan together was profiled by the Jerusalem Post. Ari learned at Yeshivat HaKotel, Machon Pardes, and graduated from Grinnell College in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in music theory and composition.
Evan Farber is currently an Associate in the Commercial Litigation Group at Reed Smith LLP. He graduated in 1999 from Yale University with Distinction in Religious Studies, and in 2003 from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Evan has also clerked for Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York and for Judge Robert S. Smith of the New York Court of Appeals.
Evan has provided pro bono counsel to several synagogues and other Jewish institutions. He has served on the Board of Directors of Panim: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, where he had previously completed a year-long fellowship, and of his shul, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan's Upper East Side. Evan has also volunteered for other organizations, including the Unemployment Action Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, and the Anti-Defamation League.
David P. Stone retired as a partner in the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, one of the largest New York-based international law firms, approximately six years ago. At Weil Gotshal, Mr. Stone specialized in corporate, securities and mergers and acquisitions law. During the last decade of Mr. Stone's 35 year career, his practice focused almost exclusively on the Middle East. At Weil Gotshal, he created and led the firm's Israel Practice Group and Middle East Practice Group. During his tenure, the Israel Practice Group represented the issuers or underwriters of more than 90 public offerings by Israeli companies of equity and debt securities in the United States and Europe, and the Middle East Practice Group represented and advised governments and government agencies, as well as private enterprises and individuals, in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Since his retirement Mr. Stone has studied 15th Century Flemish painting at New York University and Jewish law and philosophy at Yeshivat Hadar and has taught International Securities and Capital Markets Law at the Law School of the College of Management in Rishon L'Tzion, Israel. He also actively participated in the development, creation and administration, and served as Chairman of the Selection Committee, of the Avichai Foundation Fellowship Program, and actively participated in the development and creation, and current serves in the administration, and as Chairman of the Academic and Selection Committees, of the Russell Berrie Foundation Program in Interreligious Studies at The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Acquinas in Rome, Italy.
Mr. Stone was a founding trustee of the Tikvah Fund, from whose board he recently retired. In addition to serving as a trustee of Uri L' Tzedek, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Friends of the Israel College of Management, a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Friend of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, a member of the Board of Trustees of Lincoln Square Synagogue and a member of the Finance Committee of J Street. Mr. Stone is also a member of the Board of Directors of On-Track Innovations Ltd., a NASDAQ-listed high technology company headquartered in Rosh Pina, Israel.
Mr. Stone is a graduate of Columbia (A.B., 1967) and the Harvard Law School (J.D., 1970).
Karin Fleisch has been immersed in the food systems field since 2004, when she worked at Teachers College, Columbia University's LiFE (Linking Food and the Environment) Program, an award-winning, food-based science curriculum. She worked at the Food Bank For New York City for five years, until 2011, helping build capacity within NYC's emergency food program network. Previously, Karin apprenticed at Hava V'Adam Ecological Farm in Modiin, Israel, where she lived in a geodesic dome and grew vegetables for five months. Post-farm life, Karin consulted for non-profits in the fields of food systems, food security, and sustainability. Her clients included Leket Israel, Israel's national food bank. In June 2009, she participated in the ROI Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators, after which she returned to the Food Bank as Manager of Member Services. Karin is currently an independent food security consultant and a Dean's Scholar at NYU Wagner, where she is pursing a Master's in Public Administration.
Mitchell Raab is an attorney and is an investment professional at a fund based in New York, where his work includes analyzing companies; legal, regulatory and legislative policies and trends; corporate governance; and merger and acquisition, restructuring and other commercial transactions. Mr. Raab has extensive experience with these matters in the global energy and power, environmental, education and healthcare fields. Mr. Raab also works on structuring complex debt and equity investments and other commercial transactions.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Raab advised numerous global investment funds, companies and governments regarding finance, investment, merger and acquisition, joint venture, restructuring, and other commercial activity as a lawyer at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton and Richards, Spears, Kibbe and Orbe. Mr. Raab served as a law clerk for Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Raab has acted as pro bono counsel to emerging artists, the elderly and immigrant small business owners in litigation and other matters.
Mr. Raab serves on the energy committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Mr. Raab is also on the steering committee for the New York division of Eli’s Mishpacha, Yale University’s Jewish Alumni Group.
Mr. Raab received his B.A. cum laude and with distinction from Yale University and his J.D. cum laude from the New York University School of Law.
Shira Hecht-Koller teaches Talmud and Comparative Law at SAR High School in Riverdale, NY. Her particular educational interest is in creating and implementing interdisciplinary curricula, about which she has published and lectures. She received her B.A. in Biology summa cum laude from Yeshiva University, was a Golding Scholar at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where she received her J.D. summa cum laude and was an Associate Editor of the Cardozo Law Review. She is a graduate of the Bruriah Scholars Program at Midreshet Lindenbaum and has studied at the Bernard Revel Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Prior to joining SAR she was the Director of Interdisciplinary Programs, and Instructor of Talmud at the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School. In that capacity she was involved in designing and implementing school-wide interdisciplinary social justice programs.
Prior to embarking on her teaching career Shira was an associate in the Mergers and Acquisitions department at the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP where she worked on various pro bono projects involving human rights causes. As an associate, she coordinated a mentoring program for inner-city high school students as part of the NYC Mock-Trial program, assisted the New York Immigration Coalition in securing protection for their intellectual property, and assisted the American Council for Cultural Property in formulating principles and guidelines for U.S. and international policy relating to the art trade and preservation of cultural property and historic sites, resulting in the publication of Who Owns the Past? Cultural Policy, Cultural Property and the Law.
Shira is a member of the Orthodox Forum Steering Committee as well as a member of the first Orthodox cohort of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP). She has spent time educating Jewish teens abroad in both Australia and Israel. Together with her husband, Aaron, she served as a community educator for five years in Holliswood, NY. She is the proud mother of Dalya and Shachar.
Dyonna Ginsburg is the Director of Jewish Service Learning at the Jewish Agency.
Upon completing her B.A. in political science at Columbia University, Dyonna made Aliyah in 2002 and obtained an M.A. in Jewish Education from Hebrew University. From 2003-2006, Dyonna served as International Director of Yavneh Olami, an international religious Zionist student organization based in Jerusalem, and from 2003-2008, she served as Senior Advisor to the Director of the Education Department of the Jewish Agency. From 2008-2011, Dyonna served as the Executive Director of Bema’aglei Tzedek (“Circles of Justice”) www.mtzedek.org.il, an Israeli NGO that uses education and social action campaigns to create a more just Israeli society informed and inspired by Jewish values.
Dyonna was one of the founders of Siach: An Environment and Social Justice Conversation www.siachconversation.org, an international network of Jewish social justice and environmental professionals. In the past, Dyonna sat on the founding board of the PresenTense Institute for Creative Zionism, promoting social entrepreneurship in the Jewish community.
In recognition of these achievements, Dyonna was awarded the World Council of Jewish Communal Service’s Ted Comet Exemplar Award for Outstanding Leadership in Strengthening the Jewish People in 2008.
J. David Jacobs has served as General Counsel of Ampersand Capital Partners since 2005, as well as a number of other privately held health care companies. In addition to general counsel services, David’s focus is in acquisitions, dispositions, merger, and follow-on transaction. Previously, he was General Counsel of ArQule, a chemistry services and drug discovery company. Prior to ArQule, David served as the business lawyer for the Biomedical Services division of the American Red Cross. Both at ArQule and the Red Cross, David’s work focused on international joint ventures, licensing, M&A, commercial agreements and compliance. Prior to joining the Red Cross, David practiced in the fields of tax and international transactions at Kramer Levin in New York and Shimron Persky in Jerusalem. David holds a B.A. from Columbia, a J.D. from Columbia Law School as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and an M.A. with distinction in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
With twenty years of experience in finance and operations, Ivan Wolkind's goal is to help steer the Federation toward a sound financial future, allowing it to make an even greater impact in the local community, Israel and around the world. His experience in finance and operations within the for-profit sector, both domestically and internationally, provide the external perspective to help the Federation operate more efficiently.
Prior to the Federation, Wolkind has served as Chief Financial Officer and in other leadership positions with publically and privately held companies, primarily in the technology arena. Most recently he was CFO and COO at Cosmic Toast Studios, a content development company for film and television. Previously, he served as CFO at Destination Rx, Inc. – a firm that licenses software to the federal government, health insurance carriers and other clients. He’s also provided consulting services to financial investor groups.
Wolkind is a native of the United Kingdom, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Keele University in England, and then going on to earn the status of Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in London which is the equivalent of our CPA certification. In addition to Wolkind’s professional accomplishments, he is actively involved in the Jewish community. He is currently the voluntary Treasurer/CFO of Harkam Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills. Past philanthropic roles include serving as an Executive Board member of B’nai David Judea Congregation in Los Angeles and Treasurer of Congregation Emek Beracha in Palo Alto.
Past Board Members
Adam Block practices law in San Antonio, Texas at the firm of Pulman, Capuccio, Pullen & Benson, LLP, where he represents businesses and individuals in commercial litigation, investment, and bankruptcy matters. Before attending law school, Adam served as a campaign staffer and aide to elected officials, including former Houston Mayor Bill White.
Though he grew up in Houston, Texas, Adam is a fifth-generation member of Congregation Rodfei Sholom in San Antonio, where he serves on the board of directors. Adam is an Eagle Scout.
Dr. Emilie S. Passow, having completed her BA from the City College of New York, magna cum laude, graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She then received her MA and Ph.D. in English Literature with Honors at Columbia University. She has taught a wide range of literature and writing courses as well as wor
kshops in many academic venues including Haverford College and Swarthmore College, where she taught for 12 years, and the University of Pennsylvania in the English Department of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Wharton School of Business, the Graduate School of Education, and the Annenberg Graduate School of Communication, and Gratz College, in both the Florence Melton Program and the Gratz Graduate Program i n Jewish Studies.
Most recently, Dr. Passow’ s professional interests focus on two areas: Medical Humanities and Jewish Studies. Through grants from The Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the Templeton Foundation as well as support from the Dean of Jefferson Medical College, Dr. Passow has been a Visiting Scholar in Medical Humanities at Thomas Jefferson University, where she also has been on the Task Force on Professionalism and an observer on the Thomas Jefferson Hospital Ethics Committee. In addition, she has given Medical Humanities Grand Rounds at all the major medical institutions throughout the Philadelphia area.
Since September 2004, Dr. Passow is the Director of the Certificate Program in Medical Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences of Drexel University, where she is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy and the Judaic Studies Program.
Dr. Passow also lectures widely on Medical Humanities as well as on Jewish bioethics, Biblical narrative, and American Jewish writers. She is a member of the Arts- Medicine Division at the College of Physicians and the Pennsylvania Medical Humanities Consortium, and is also a Research Associate for the Transcending Trauma Project at the Penn Council for Relationships. This project explores patterns of resilience, communication, and Jewish continuity in Holocaust survivor testimonies.
Ellen Rosen Singer, a well-established management consultant, brings her expertise in operations, strategic planning, finance and business
psychology to BizBuilding, the ultimate resource for business professionals. Singer has extensive experience managing companies and starting new businesses. Her specialization in corporate governance gives added value to the services she provides. She is also a SixSigma black belt and a certified negotiations specialist.
In her role, Singer is responsible for managing the full scope of the firm's services both domestically and globally. She is also the founder of the non-profit WomenTeachingWomen.org, an international organization that provides training and consulting services to women who have been awarded micro loans to start small businesses.
With advanced degrees in business and psychology added to her positive approach and energetic style, Singer has a proven track record in motivating business professionals to get actively involved in the process of revitalizing their businesses.
Jeffrey M. Wice is a Special Counsel to the New York State Senate and serves “of counsel” to Sandler, Reiff & Young P.C. He has over 30 years of experience working in redistricting, voting rights and census law. He is considered a national expert on redistricting and has been included by ROLL CALL in its list of the top 50 Washington policy insiders.
Mr. Wice has assisted state legislative leaders, Members of Congress, and other state and local government officials on redistricting and voting rights matters across the nation. During the 1980s, Mr. Wice developed a national political party redistricting assistance program. During the 1990s, Mr. Wice served as a counsel to President Bill Clinton's appointees to the 2000 federal Census Monitoring Board. During the 2000 redistricting cycle. Mr. Wice served as counsel to the Democratic National Committee’s Redistricting Project. He serves as counsel to the Foundation For The Future, the party’s redistricting planning project and as counsel to the non-partisan National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL).
Mr. Wice has been a contributor to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) “Redistricting Law Handbook” for the 1990, 2000, and 2010 editions. As a long time counsel to the New York State Legislature. Mr. Wice has served in several NCSL leadership positions, including service on the national Executive Committee and as a staff chair of the Elections and Redistricting Committee.
He is a Special Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School where he teaches election law. In the past, he has also taught election law at Touro Law School. Mr. Wice holds a B.A. from The George Washington University (1974) and a J.D. from the Antioch Law School (1982). Mr. Wice is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and has been admitted to practice the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court.
Past Staff Members
Program Director: Raizel Druxman
Raizel Druxman is the Program Director at Uri L'Tzedek. Prior to joining Uri L’Tzedek, Raizel coordinated leadership training and service learning programs at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, which empowered young Jews to create meaningful change in their communities and to integrate social activism into their Judaism. Raizel grew up in Seattle, studied in Israel at Baer Miriam for two years and received her B.A. in psychology from Lander College for Women. While serving as a resident advisor in college Raizel planned a clothing sale and drive that raised money for One Heart, an organization dedicated to helping terror victims across the globe. Additionally, she has volunteered at a wide variety of organizations including, Connect2, New York Cares ESL Program, JCorps and JCRC’s annual Israel Day Parade. Recently, she volunteered for NextGen: Charity, a conference focused on innovation in non-profit and philanthropy work, where she assisted in planning and running the conference. Raizel is really excited about combining her passion for Judaism and social justice at Uri L’Tzedek!
Associate Director of Programming: Na’amit Sturm Nagel
As the Associate Director of Programming, Na’amit Sturm Nagel is excited to start developing Uri L’Tzedek’s presence on the West Coast. Previously, Na’amit worked as a program coordinator at UJA-Federation of New York where she managed inter-agency taskforces, professional development seminars, and the summer internship program. She also taught at Maimonides Middle School in Boston, where she was a recipient of Yeshiva University’s Give Back Fellowship, a teaching and education leadership training program. Na’amit earned an MA in English Literature from Brandeis University and received her BA from University of Toronto. She spent the past year living in Budapest, Hungary and Asia with her husband, working with local Jewish communities abroad.