|Staff and Board|
Director of Civic Engagment Campaign: Hadas (Dasi) Fruchter
Hadas (Dasi) Fruchter thrives on spiritual leadership and faith-driven social justice work. Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Dasi graduated summa cum laude from the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College. An Uri L'Tzedek fellow in its first summer, she is now a first-year student at NYU and a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar, pursuing an MPA at the Wagner School for Public Service and an MA in Jewish Studies. Dasi, who has experience organizing for economic justice with organizations in New York, Washington D.C., London, and Israel, is a presenter on Judaism and social justice at synagogues, schools, and conferences. Dasi looks forward to spending her graduate school experience exploring innovative models and multifaceted strategies that bridge the private, public, and non-profit spheres. Dasi is passionate about harnessing the power of faith-based communities to create meaningful change, making new discoveries about urban life, interacting with all types of people, and hosting delicious communal Shabbat meals.
Research Consultant: Shlomo Bolts
Shlomo Bolts is a Consultant for Uri L’Tzedek, an Emerging Scholar at TAG Institute, and a Middle East Intern at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Under the auspices of a new Uri L’Tzedek-TAG partnership, Shlomo will conduct research and provide program support on solitary confinement issues. In 2011, he graduated from Cambridge University with an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transformations, and in 2010, he graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology. Shlomo previously worked as a Research Assistant at Columbia University’s Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, and completed the inaugural Uri L’Tzedek summer fellowship in 2009.
Chair of College Initiatives: David Bookbinder
David Bookbinder is the Chair of College Initiatives and a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbincal School. He believes that the Torah mandates us to pursue justice in all its forms and that by training new leaders in this context, along with other systemic solutions, we can truly heal our world. David's Social Justice background includes Alternative Spring Breaks with Hillel, volunteer summers with Camp Ramah, and a variety of seminars, courses, and direct service work. Previous to working with Uri L’Tzedek David and his better half, Kara, lived in their home state of California where they both studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They then moved to Israel to study at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, where, in a unique Social Justice track, they learned to ground current social issues in a Torah context. As a future Jewish leader David hopes to bring together people of all faiths and traditions as a united global community to fulfill the statement in Micah: to do justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Rosh Beit Midrash: Alissa Thomas
Alissa Thomas is currently a student at Yeshivat Maharat. She graduated from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies Archaeology and Ancient History. She has studied at Machon Pardes, Neve Yerushalayim, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She has completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bellevue Hospital and also writes for the S Blog of Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. She is particularly passionate about the fusion of talmud torah and gemilut chasadim in Uri L’Tzedek’s Beit Midrash Program. Alissa is originally from Los Angeles, California and currently lives in New York City.
Uri L'Tzedek Supplement Editor: Joshua Schwartz
Joshua Schwartz graduated from the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, with a bachelors in Philosophy of Religion from the former and a double-major in Bible and Talmud from the latter. While at Columbia, he co-founded the Progressive Jewish Alliance in the university's Hillel, was an active member of United Students Against Sweatshops, and interned for Jewish Funds for Justice. In addition, during his college career, Joshua studied in the Northwoods Kollel in the summer of 2007 and in Yeshivat Hadar in the summer of 2008. While studying in college, Joshua also worked as a teacher and advisor at the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. After university, Joshua spent a year as a fellow in the Kollel at Machon Pardes. While studying in Jerusalem, Joshua simultaneously worked as a translator for Dr. Aviva Gottlieb-Zornberg. Currently, Joshua is pursuing a doctorate in Jewish Studies at New York University, focusing in Kabbalah and Hasidism, as well as working as a teaching assistant. Additionally, Joshua runs the Beit Midrash at the Prozdor Hebrew High School and teaches courses from original curricula. When not swamped by thousands of pages of reading/learning, Joshua can be found playing guitar, writing, or taking photographs.
Past Staff and Committee Chairs
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.
Director of Summer Fellowship in Los Angeles: Aviva Bellman
Aviva Bellman is excited to direct the Uri L’Tzedek LA Summer Fellowship inher hometown. Prior to joining the ULT team, Aviva worked in Montreal, Canada, as a research assistant in the field of psychosocial oncology. Aviva is an alumnus of AVODAH, The Jewish Service Corp, through which she worked as a Medical and Asylum Clinic Coordinator for Bread for the City, an anti-poverty organization in Washington DC. When Aviva completed her year with AVODAH, she transitioned to a full-time position within Bread for the City, where she worked in the social services department helping mentally ill clients manage their finances. Aviva spent the summer after college volunteering in El Salvador with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) for an NGO that fights stigmas against people living with HIV/AIDS. Aviva graduated from Stern College for Women with a BA in psychology and a minor in biology.
Rosh Beit Midrash: Elisheva Goldberg
Elisheva Goldberg, originally from Seattle, WA, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania magna cum laude with a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is currently employed by the New America Foundation and is the Assistant Editor of Zion Square, a forthcoming blog that provides a new conversation for American Jews about Israel edited by Peter Beinart. She has spent time in various Jewish learning environments in both America and in Israel including the Batei Midrashot of Migdal Oz, Ein Prat, and Yeshivat Hadar.
Elisheva has interned at the Farmers Market and Winter Harvest programs in Philadelphia, spent time on an organic farm in San Diego as a part of a Jewish Farm School program, and participated in an American Jewish World Service program in Honduras that aimed at supporting sustainable agriculture. While in college she was the Editor-in-Chief of Kedma, Penn's journal on Jewish thought, culture and Israel, served as a member of Hillel's education committee and a member of the Orthodox Community at Penn's scholar in residence committee, as well as led an interfaith trip through Penn to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. Elisheva has studied Arabic in Egypt and Morocco and hopes to continue her studies in the future. She is thrilled to be a part of the Uri L'Tzedek volunteer team!
Uri L'Tzedek Blogger: Aviva Woolf
Aviva Woolf is from Queens, NY and is currently a junior at the University of Maryland as a Journalism major. She's written for major publications such as The Jewish Week in New York City, Israel National News in Bet El, Israel and Interact Magazine in London. On campus she's contributed to UMD newspapers The Diamondback, Unwind Magazine and The Mitzpeh (which focuses on Jewish issues on campus). When she's not writing, she's very involved in planning social events for the Hillel, working at the student union Art and Learning Center and putting an exorbitant amount of time into making it look like she doesn't put any effort into writing her Facebook and Twitter updates.
Uri L'Tzedek Blogger: Shira Finkelstein
My name is Shira Finkelstein, and I'm a junior Communication major at the University of Maryland, College Park. I was born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and have always been interested in Jewish pursuits and social activism. After attending public school, I studied in Israel at seminary Machon Maayan for one year. I transferred from and back to UMD, after taking a year off to study abroad in New York's Stern College for Women. I am an active member of the Orthodox movement on campus, and learn in the UMD Kollel. I feel that it is our obligation to bridge gaps between Jews of different levels of observance and between peoples of different faiths, so I participate in Heart-to-Heart and Interfaith groups on campus. Together, we can change the world.
Director of Communications: Molly O'Glasser
Molly O'Glasser is in her fourth year at the University of Oregon. She is studying Journalism and Judaic Studies. She currently serves as Oregon Hillel's Student Board President. She is passionate about programming and served as the Programming Vice President on Hillel Student Board last year. Additionally, she has worked as an Israel Activist on the University of Oregon she spent the 2006-2007 academic year studying in Israel on Nativ, The College Leadership Program in Israel.
Committee Chair of the Yosher Award: Laura Burnosky
Rosh Kollel: Yoni Friedman
Yoni is a Research Specialist at the Institutes for Fragile States at Princeton University where he researches policy reformers in post-conflict and unstable countries. He has interned at All Africa Global Media in Dakar, Senegal and with the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament (UNREC) in Lomé, Togo. He has volunteered with the American Jewish World Service in Uganda and on campus with Oxfam International and the Princeton Africa Development Initiative. As a student at Princeton, Yoni studied international development and African studies. He studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion from 2004-2006.
Luba Yusim Chair of SOF (End of Poverty Seeds Project)
Luba, born in Ukraine and raised in San Francisco, learned quickly that she had a passion for social justice. While at the University of Oregon, she formed a Darfur advocacy group that worked to promote awareness and education throughout the community. While the Tzedek Chair of her Hillel's Student Board, she co-founded and co-directed a chapter of Challah For Hunger. In 2008 she joined Shomer Achi, a year long program aimed at fostering sustainable and community based connections between Diaspora and Israeli college students through parallel community service initiatives related to immigration. This experience inspired her to such a degree that she spent the first six months of 2010 interning for Isha L'Isha, a Feminist center in Haifa, where she worked on their anti-human trafficking program that supported women trafficked to Israel from the Former Soviet Union. This past summer, Luba interned for American Jewish World Service learning about the role of Jewish citizens in international development. As she pursues her Masters in Public Administration and International Development at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Luba hopes to work on projects aimed at alleviating suffering and disadvantage in the world.
Shoshana Sprague attended the Double Degree Program between Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She graduated with a degree in Urban Studies and Education from Barnard and Talmud from JTS. Shoshana was raised in Chicago where she spent last summer serving as the Service Learning Coordinator for the Chicago Jewish Federation’s Camp TOV, a service learning program for teens. She traveled to Nicaragua with AJWS and participated in a multi-cultural alternative spring break trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She is particularly interested in the intersection between education and social justice and plans to teach in New York City next year.
Chair of Communications: Jonathan Henkin
Jonathan graduated in May 2009 with a B.A. in Modern European History from Columbia University and with a B.A. in Midrash from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. From June 2009-May 2010 he was a Fellow at Yeshivat Hadar, a non-denominational Jewish learning and community-building program on the Upper West Side, and he has continued to learn there on a part-time basis since May 2010. When not learning, he enjoys exploring New York; reading about domestic and global politics and history; being involved in different facets of Jewish life; and finding ways to improve himself and the world around him. He attended the fantastic first Uri L'tzedek Shabbaton in Queens in November 2008 and has been affiliated with the organization since then. He has taught at various Jewish institutions including the Dor HaHemshech Hebrew High School at Congregation Bet Am Shalom in White Plains, NY, and the Park Avenue Synagogue Congregation School in Manhattan.
Chair of New York Community Engagement: Michael B. Seidman
Michael graduated from the University of Maryland with Honors in Finance. He has studied at Ohr Somayach and Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat, Israel. Michael has worked in a variety of Financial positions, including Venture Capital and Financial Consulting, most recently working at Lehman Brothers. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University, and is particularly interested in the interplay of ethics and halacha.
Chair of Los Angeles Community Education: Amanda Gelb has spent the past three summers working at STAR Education, a non-profit educational program, selected as a Model Program by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. She led the youth programming at Canada's oldest and largest traditional synagogue in Montreal, Quebec. Amanda has worked extensively with youth from challenged backgrounds in expressing themselves through the arts. She is passionately engaged in the power of social innovation to positively impact communities. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where she concentrated in Entrepreneurship and Social Strategy.
Adina Judy Bernstein - Chair of UK Satellite
Adina Judy grew up in London, England, and has spent time living in Jerusalem, Waltham, and a small village near Bangalore. Adina Judy has spent time studying full-time and part-time at Nishmat seminary in Jerusalem and Rabbi Aryeh Klapper’s Summer Beit Midrash. She used to spend lots of time trying to find ‘the’ perfect community, but then realised that if she felt something was missing in her existing communities, she could start to be that change and find like-minded people to work with. Having been blessed to have come across Shmuly’s work by chance several years earlier, Adina Judy was so impressed and inspired by Uri’s work in the USA that she decided to start the UK Satellite of Uri L’Tzedek.
Richard Verber - Chair of UK Campus Initiatives
Hello, I’m Richard Verber. I work for the Union of Jewish Students in the UK and Ireland with the slightly pretentious title of Director of Education and Programmes. This is my third year with UJS, having worked last year as the Student Development Director and the previous year as the Southern Development Officer. Prior to that I worked for Jewish Chaplaincy in Brighton for a year after finishing my degree in French and Russian at Oxford University. I work to provide wider educational projects for students as well as developing programmes with Jewish students that they design and execute themselves.
Elana Wall - Chair of UK Student Recruitment
Elana Wall is the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) J-Soc Development Director, meaning she and her team work closely with students on almost 50 campuses across the United Kingdom. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, with a degree in Political Science and International Relations, Elana came to the UK in 2008 to do a semester abroad at Leeds University and returned after graduating from university for her first UJS job in July 2009, Northern Development Officer. 'Development' in the UK means something entirely different than its American counterpart and involves training, guiding, supporting and educating Jewish students on UK campuses. Elana is very excited for this opportunity to be involved with Uri L'Tzedek!
Chair of Interfaith Service Initiatives: Kyla Pollack
Kyla Pollack is currently a graduate student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Her academic interest is in women’s heath and national health policy. She previously worked at Planned Parenthood Federation of America as Special Assistant and Scheduler to President Cecile Richards. From 2004 to 2008, Kyla served as an aide to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton where she handled arts policy, scheduling and logistics, and served as Jewish community liaison. She has also worked on a variety of national political campaigns in Washington State, Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Kyla grew up in Seattle, WA, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science in 2004.
Financial Analyst: Shlomo Neumann
Shlomo Neumann was born and raised in Israel. After completing his military service in the Israeli Army, he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 5 years and was a member of the Israeli diplomatic delegations to Venezuela and the United States. He came to the New York in 2005 to further his education and he is currently a senior at Columbia University pursuing a bachelor degree in Economics and Mathematics. Throughout college, he has been involved in different aspects of Jewish student life, including the first Sinai Scholars program offered by Chabad at Columbia University, and Beit Ephraim Food Cooperative at Columbia University, the nation's oldest communal residence for Jewish students. Shlomo joined the team to help with both planning and implementation of Uri L'Tzedek’s financial budget.
Director of the Uri L'Tzedek Summer Fellowship 2010: Shani Porter
Shani Porter, a recent college graduate, is very excited to be joining the Uri L'Tzedek team yet again! Her major at Queens College in Jewish Studies and Philosophy led to her many different social justice organizations, starting with Aish HaTorah and landing her at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she has been the Service intern for over 2 years. Thanks to a double impact grant from AJWS and Avodah and the excellent leadership of Uri L'Tzedek, she and Yitzi Raisner became Uri L'Tzedek's very first interns in 2008 and has maintained a great relationship with Uri L'Tzedek since then. Shani has volunteered in India and Nicaragua, and recently returned from a semester at Hebrew University where she was a coexistence intern at the Jerusalem Foundation. Shani is looking forward to a great summer as Director of the 2nd annual Uri L'Tzedek Summer Fellowship before she makes aliyah with her soon to be husband at the end of the year!
Director of Communications: Jordanna Birnbaum
Jordanna Birnbaum is currently the editorial intern at MyJewishLearning.com. She is a sophomore at New York University in the Gallatin School for Individualized Study. Jordanna served as the Education Chair of Shalhevet at NYU and co-founded L'SHMA Lecture Series at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. She spent a year in Israel learning at Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem.
Rosh Beit Midrash: Ruth Balinsky
Ruth Balinsky graduated Barnard College in 2007 with a bachelor's in Psychology and Jewish Studies. She was raised in Chicago, where she has spent the past two summers staffing Or Tzedek, a social justice program for Jewish teens. This summer, Ruth plans to return to Or Tzedek as the Rabbinic Teen Leader Fellow. Ruth has a strong background in social justice work, and recently completed the Grace Paley z''l Organizing Fellowship with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. She currently resides in Manhattan where she is studying in her first year of the Scholars Circle at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.
Social Media Chair: Seth Chalmer
Seth Chalmer grew up in Montpelier, VT and received a BFA in Acting from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. Acting credits include a national stage tour of "Sesame Street Live" and various roles at VT
and NH regional theatres. Seth taught acting at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, and was Cultural Arts Director of the Dayton JewishCommunity Center before moving to New York to work for the Center for Employment Opportunities as a Retention Specialist, helping men and women returning home from prison to succeed in careers. Currently pursuing graduate studies at New York University's Dual Degree Program
in Judaic Studies and Nonprofit Management, Seth also works as a Project Assistant for the Berman Jewish Policy Archive.
Chair of Community Engagement: Shira Silton
Shira Silton hails from Albany, NY. She received her BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Anthropology, and Women’s Studies from Brandeis University, and has obtained Master’s degrees in Social Work from the Columbia University School of Social Work and in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Shira currently works as a psychiatric social worker for Montefiore Hospital and has helped coordinate several Jewish religious, cultural, and charity-based programs in New York City. Shira has been active in Uri L'Tzedek since its inception, is passionate about its mission, and is excited to be joining the Uri L'Tzedek team.
Strategic Development Officer: Laura Berger
Laura Berger is the Strategic Development Officer for Uri L'Tzedek after spending the summer as an Uri L'Tzedek fellow. She is currently in her first year of law school at Fordham University. Last year, while studying Jewish philosophy and traditional texts at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Learning in Jerusalem, she served as a development and grant-writing intern for The PresenTense Group. She also spent several months volunteering with Bema'aglei Tzedek, including working on their flagship project, the Tav Chevrati. She graduated from New York University in May, 2008, with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Latin American Studies. She grew up in Rochester, Minnesota.
Program and Community Development Officer: Dasi Fruchter
Dasi Fruchter, originally from Silver Spring, MD, was an Uri L'Tzedek fellow during the summer of 2009. She is currently a sophomore at the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College, and is majoring in Urban Studies and Media Studies. Dasi is active in the anti-genocide network on campus and chairs the Tzedek/Social Justice Committee at the Queens College Hillel. She was recently named a recipient of the Kenan Scholarship, a scholarship that rewards students with a demonstrated history in public service. Through meetings with prominent community activists, participation in collaborative research, and access to a Leadership-in-Action grant, the scholarship heavily supports student-devised social justice initiatives. She enjoys making new discoveries about urban life, the Jewish community, and faith-based activism.