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CJPE Circle of Fellows

A core cadre of practitioners and thought leaders who in their own work are developing a pluralistic approach to Jewish Peoplehood and are interested in sharing from their experience, best-practices and/or research with peers to enrich and expand the field.


Our goals for the Circle of Fellows are to nurture collegiality amongst those involved in advancing pluralistic Jewish Peoplehood, and set the stage for future collaborations to jointly develop opportunities for helping one another and advancing the field.

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Fellows

Aharon Ariel Lavi

Managing Director, Ohr Torah Interfaith Center

Lavi is a serial social entrepreneur and community organizer. With a belief in the power of networks to shape the future, he co-founded MAKOM, the national umbrella organization for intentional communities in Israel. He also founded Hakhel, the Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator in the Diaspora (awarded the 2020 Jerusalem Unity Prize), and was a partner at an AI-based call center solutions startup. Lavi is now the Managing Director of the Ohr Torah Interfaith Center, which works with religious leaders worldwide to make religion part of the solution to global challenges. A thinker who sees the potential for Judaism to inspire all aspects of life, Lavi holds Rabbinic Semicha and academic degrees in Economics, Geography (BA), and History and Philosophy of Ideas (MA). In 2023 he completed his PhD dissertation on the migration of ideas between US Jewry and Israeli society, and in 2024 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Divinity School and wrote on Jewishly inspired community building. Lavi's expertise extends to Judaism and economics, environmentalism, and other topics. Outside of his professional life, Lavi is an avid mountain biker. His passion for the sport extends beyond leisure, as he is also a professional racer, trainer, and trail builder. This commitment to physical activity mirrors his dedication to building strong, sustainable communities. Lavi's latest book, "Seven," presents innovative ideas on economics, social issues, and the environment inspired by Shmita principles. It was an Amazon best seller and won the Global Book Awards Bronze Medal.

Barak Sella

Middle East Initiative Fellow, MC/MPA 24', Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Barak Sella is an educator, community organizer, writer, researcher, and one of the leading Israeli experts on US-Israel relations and World Jewry. Born in Texas, Barak moved to Israel in 1994, exactly one year before the Rabin assassination. This event deeply affected him and became an inseparable part of his socialization in Israeli society. His last role was as the Executive Director of the Reut Institute, one of Israel's foremost think tanks on strategy and leadership. During his years at the institute, Barak worked with leading actors in the Israeli government and with NGOs from Israel and the US on various issues: Israel delegitimization, The Ukraine War, radical movements, antisemitism, Jewish Peoplehood, and Israel-US relations. Barak holds a B.Ed. and a teaching diploma in history from Beit-Berl Academic College and an M.A in American Jewish Studies from the Haifa University. Barak recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School for Government with a Master's in Public Administration and is currently a Middle East Initiative fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Benji Davis

Founder and Director, IMPACT Israel

Benji Davis, the founder and director of IMPACT Israel Education, is an American-born Israeli educator, scholar, and speaker specializing in Israel education. He and his team are experts in providing Israel education experiences to Jewish teens and young adults on short- and long-term Israel programs as well as developing asynchronous and hybrid online Israel education content. The recipient of the Network for Research in Jewish Education’s (NRJE) Harold Wechsler Award for Emerging Scholars (2024), Benji’s scholarly work has been published in the Journal of Jewish Education and Contemporary Jewry. Benji holds a BA in Middle East Studies History (Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kapp) from the George Washington University, an MA in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University, and recently submitted his PhD dissertation (University of Haifa), which developed a theory of pedagogical content knowledge for the field of Israel education. In August 2024, he will begin a post-doctoral fellowship in Israel Studies at George Mason University, where he will live in Potomac, MD with his wife Rachel and daughters Maia, Ella and Lia.

Dr. Alex Pomson

Principal and Managing Director at Rosov Consulting

Dr. Alex Pomson lives in Israel where he serves as Principal and Managing Director at Rosov Consulting. Previously he was a Senior Researcher at the Hebrew University’s Melton Centre for Jewish Education, and Koschitzky Family Chair of Jewish Teacher Education at York University in Toronto. He’s latest book, co-authored with Helena Miller, has just been published: Jewish Lives and Jewish Education in the UK: School, Family and Society.

Dr. Jonathan Boyd

Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research

Jonathan Boyd is a social scientist and policy analyst specialising in contemporary Jewish life. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), an independent research centre and think-tank providing data and policy insight on contemporary Jewish issues for organisations working to support Jewish life in the UK and across Europe. A specialist in contemporary Jewry, he holds a doctorate in education from the University of Nottingham UK, and a BA and MA in Modern Jewish History from University College London. He is a former Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Institute in Israel and has held professional positions in research and policy at the JDC International Centre for Community Development in London and Paris, the Jewish Agency for Israel in London and New York, and the UK-based United Jewish Israel Appeal and Holocaust Educational Trust.

Dr. Keren E. Fraiman

Dean and Chief Academic Officer, Spertus Institute

Dr. Keren E. Fraiman is the Dean and Chief Academic Officer at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, where she also holds a faculty appointment as Professor of Israel Studies. Keren works with educational organizations across the country to support their Israel educational efforts, and also serves on the faculty of the iFellows Masters Concentration in Israel Education program, Hillel International’s MasterClass Israel, and the Wexner Heritage Program. Her research focuses on Conflict Education – how we learn and teach about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within Jewish settings. She earned her PhD in International Relations and Security Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her BA in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from The University of Chicago.

Dr. Zohar Raviv

International VP of Educational Strategy for Taglit-Birthright Israel

Dr. Zohar Raviv is an internationally recognized Jewish thought-leader and educator, currently serving as the International VP of Educational Strategy for Taglit-Birthright Israel. Raviv’s professional experience spans Israel, North America, South America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. He holds a BA in Land of Israel Studies from Bar-Ilan University, a Joint MA in Judaic Studies and Jewish Education from Brandeis University, as well as an MA in Near Eastern Studies and a PhD in Jewish Thought—both from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

Faith Brigham Leener

Chief Innovation Officer, Pardes

Faith is the inaugural Chief Innovation Officer at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and was the founding Executive Director of Base as well as a Senior educator of Base Brooklyn which she founded alongside her husband Rabbi Jon Leener. She received her BA in History from Brandeis University and her MPA in Nonprofit Management and MA in Judaic Studies, both from NYU. She currently sits on the board of Atra: The Center for Rabbinic Innovation. Faith is an experiential educator, coach, writer, mindfulness practitioner, life long learner and proud mom to Hudi, Hannah and Tikvah.

Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Ph.D.

Director of the Department of Education & Professional Development, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Ph.D., is a Professor of Jewish Education in the Parallel Track. She is the Director of the Department of Education and Professional Development at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. Her fields of research include teachers’ professional development, teacher ideologies, multicultural teacher training, and pluralism in Jewish education. She heads the Rikma M.A. program specializing in Community and Pluralistic Jewish Education, in collaboration with the Melton Center for Jewish Education, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She spearheaded and is the academic head of the Teachers’ Lounge, in memory of Shira Banki, a professional development program for Arab and Jewish teachers.

Osnat Fox

Director of Makom’s Institute for Global Jewish Voices

Osnat spearheads Makom’s work to connect young Israelis with global Jewry and peoplehood. Past roles include Senior Shlichah (Israeli emissary) at JEWISHColorado, Psychology and math teacher, regional manager at Mindlab, teaching thinking skills through games and co-initiator-leader of Ya’ala, a community engagement program at Hillel Jerusalem. Osnat holds a BA in Psychology, an MA in Education Policy and Management, and a teaching certificate in Psychology. She is married to Shalom and the proud mother of Shahar, Sagi and Yogev.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel Smokler

CEO, Assembly

Rabbi Dr. Daniel Smokler directs Assembly, an innovation laboratory with expertise in rabbinic and spiritual leadership, Jewish learning, and community building. Dan served as the inaugural Chief Innovation Officer for Hillel International. He received his rabbinical ordination in 2005 by Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg z’’tl, of Jerusalem’s highest rabbinic court. He holds a PhD in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU. Dan lives in New York with his wife Dr. Erin Leib Smokler, the director of Spiritual Development at Yeshivat Maharat, and their children, Shalev, Nadiv, and Tair."

Rabbi Scott Aaron, PhD

Vice President for Community Outreach and Engagement at the JUF of Metropolitan Chicago

Rabbi Scott Aaron, PhD, is the Vice President for Community Outreach and Engagement at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. As VP of COE, Scott leads JUF’s efforts in direct programming for families, synagogues and schools, and other direct contact programmatic touchpoints between JUF and the community. Prior to assuming that position, Scott was the Associate Vice President for JUF Education where he led the federation’s communal investments in congregational education, early childhood education, Israel education and educational research and evaluation. He is also currently an adjunct faculty member and professional development mentor at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Life and Learning. He has served as adjunct faculty at The Ohio State University School of Law, Loyola University Chicago, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Scott received his Ph.D. in the philosophy of education from Loyola University Chicago. Scott also has rabbinic ordination and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, a Juris Doctor from the University of Toledo College of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati. Scott is a published author of books and academic journal articles and has been a project consultant to various foundations and agencies in the Jewish community. Scott is married to Rabbi Donni Aaron, and they have three great young adult children: Meitav, Nitzan and Naor.

Shuki Taylor

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, M²

Shuki is the founder and CEO of M². Previously, Shuki served as director of Service Learning and Experiential Education at Yeshiva University, where he founded the Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education and a range of programs mobilizing college students to serve underprivileged communities worldwide. Shuki has lived in Israel, New York, and South Africa. A Schusterman Fellow, Shuki studied Jewish philosophy, education, and scriptwriting and currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife and their four children.

Alon Friedman

Founding Executive Director of ENTER

Alon Friedman is the founding executive director of “Enter: The Jewish Peoplehood Alliance”, a new coalition initiated by Charles Bronfman and Jeff Solomon that aims to strengthen relations and mutual commitment between Israel and Jewish communities around the world. Between 2012-2019 he served as head of the Israel office of Hillel International and as CEO of Hillel Israel, geared to strengthen the sense of belonging of Israeli students to the global Jewish people. During the years 2008-2012, Alon served as Director of Israel operations for MASA, a joint project of the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency that brings over 10,000 young Jewish adults each year to long-term programs in Israel. Prior to his position with MASA, Alon was the Executive Director of the WUJS Institute in Arad, Israel: A half-year program in Hebrew, Israel and Jewish studies for Jewish college graduates from around the world. Between 2001 and 2004, Alon served as a central Shaliach (Israeli Emissary) in New York, responsible for engagement, recruitment and training of pro-Israel students on campuses across the United States and Canada. Alon began his educational career in 1994 as a group leader for summer programs in Israel. He is a frequent lecturer at conferences in Israel and abroad, where he brings his expertise in Zionism, Jewish Identity, Israeli society and Israel-diaspora relations. Alon was born in Tel Aviv, raised in Jerusalem, and served as an officer in the Israeli Army. He holds an MA degree in communications and Journalism and a BA in Sociology and Anthropology, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Alon is 52 years old; he resides in Hod HaSharon with his wife Joni and their 3 children.

Becky Voorwinde

Director of Bronfman Fellows

Rebecca Voorwinde is CEO of The Bronfman Fellowship. Becky oversees the strategic planning for all aspects of the Fellowship in Israel and the US, including working closely with the global alumni community of over 1,400 and selects incoming Fellows. An alumna of the program, Becky served as a volunteer member of Bronfman’s Alumni Advisory Board before taking the full-time position of Director of Alumni Engagement in 2008. Becky’s professional experience includes work in the Corporate Responsibility Group at Ernst & Young LLP, where she led the roll-out of an employee volunteer program focused on increasing access to higher education for disadvantaged students, implemented a greening and socially conscious element into all of Ernst & Young’s meetings and conferences, and created a social enterprise track at the company’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Previously she worked at a non-profit human resources consultancy, Diversity @ Work in Melbourne Australia. Becky graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College with a B.A. in American Studies. Becky serves on the board of M2: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and Tivnu, a Jewish domestic gap year program. Becky resides in Brooklyn with her husband Michael and their three children.

Daphna Yizrael

Director, Amitei Bronfman

Daphna has been active for many years in the fields of pluralistic Judaism, community development, and young adult communities. She has held managerial and educational positions at the Mandel Leadership Institute, Beit Tefilah Israeli, and the Zalman Shazar Center, and served as a community emissary in the MetroWest community of New Jersey. Daphna holds a degree in Jewish Philosophy and Political Science from Tel Aviv University (Cum Laude), and is completing her thesis research at the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Bar Ilan University on mentoring. She graduated from the Hartman Institute’s Beit Midrash for outstanding students in Jewish Studies, and completed the programs in Cultural Institution Management and Career Development Counseling at Tel Aviv University. Dapha has also volunteered as the Chair of the Alumni Organizations Forum in Israel and served on the Board of Directors. She has edited the book Georgia – Journey to Jewish Heritage, published by The Zalman Shazar Center; and co-edited a book with Dr. Daniel Marom on Hebrew culture for early childhood education, published by The Mandel Leadership Institute.

Dr. David Bryfman

CEO of The Jewish Education Project

Dr. David Bryfman is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Jewish Education Project. After working in formal and informal Jewish educational institutions in Australia, Israel, and North America, David earned his Ph.D. in Education and Jewish Studies from NYU, focusing on the identity development of Jewish adolescents. David has authored several articles and presented broadly on topics ranging from the Jewish teenage experience, innovation and change in Jewish life, Israel education and more broadly about Jewish education. He is a founder of the annual Jewish Futures conference, helped direct the 2019 study GenZ Now: Understanding and Connecting with Jewish Teens Today, and was the lead researcher of the groundbreaking 2016 study, “Generation Now: Understanding and Engaging Jewish Teenagers Today,” and editor of “Experience and Jewish Education,” a compendium of essays written by and for Jewish experiential educators. David is a member of Cohort Three of Leading Edge's CEO Onboarding Program. He is an alum of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program and the Schusterman Fellowship.

Dr. Jonathan Golden

Director of Wellspring Leadership Initiatives at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

"Dr. Jonathan Golden is Director of Wellspring Leadership Initiatives at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Previously he served as the Israel Curriculum Coordinator and a history teacher at Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school in Waltham, MA where he taught since 1999. During his career at Gann, he has taught AP American History, chaired the History Department, served as Assistant Head of School and Director of Academic Operations, and mentored numerous teachers and department chair. He teaches adult education courses on contemporary Israel at synagogues and homes in the Greater Boston area and is a member of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Shared Society Task Force and a Community Representative of JCRC Boston. A graduate of Princeton University, Jonathan received his M.J.Ed. from Hebrew College and Ph.D. from Brandeis University. At Brandeis, he studied American Jewish history under the tutelage of Professor Jonathan Sarna and wrote a dissertation entitled From Cooperation to Confrontation: The Rise and Fall of the Synagogue Council of America. Jonathan has participated in the Schusterman Center Summer Institute for Israel Studies which in 2022 included participants from Abraham Accords countries (Morocco, Bahrain, UAE), and has taught the Myra Kraft Seminar on Israel to first year students of the Hornstein program at Brandeis University. As a member of a Conservative synagogue in his childhood, a Reform community in college, modern Orthodox synagogues in his 20s and the independent Temple Beth Zion today, Jonathan is interested in historical and contemporary questions of Jewish pluralism. His professional career in the world of Jewish pluralism is a natural extension of his educational path. In 2007, Jonathan was the recipient of Hebrew College’s Sydney Hillson Memorial Award for Distinguished Leadership in and Commitment to Jewish Education. In 2014, he received the AJC Boston Young Leadership Award. In 2018, he was given CJP’s Chai in the Hub award honoring the contributions of young professionals and lay leaders in the greater Boston Jewish community. He is a member of the Boston JCRC Board. Jonathan lives in Brookline, MA with his wife and son, and serves as a Brookline Town Meeting member."

Dr. Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath

Jewish Education Project

Dr. Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath is a lifelong Jewish educator and learner. She is the Senior Director of Knowledge, Ideas and Learning at The Jewish Education Project. Samantha is a recognized expert on Jewish teens, identity development, antisemitism, and Israel education. She is the author of #antisemitism: Coming of Age During the Resurgence of Hate, a deep dive into the experiences of Jewish Generation Z. Samantha is an alumna of the University of Pittsburgh, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Gratz College. She lives in Westchester, New York with her husband, baby, and two beloved rescue dogs.

Elan Ezrachi, Ph.D.

Elan Ezrachi is a Jerusalem-based consultant in the areas of Jewish Peoplehood and Israel – Diaspora relations. Elan served in various executive roles including: the International Dept. of Melitz – Center for Jewish Zionist education, the Charles Bronfman Mifgashim Center, Masa – Israel Journey (founding CEO) and the International School for Jerusalem Studies at Yad Ben-Zvi. He has taught in recent years at the MA program in Jewish Peoplehood and the Ruderman Program on American Jewry at the University of Haifa. Elan received his BA and MA from Hebrew University in Education and Jewish Thought and a doctorate degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. His dissertation topic was: "Encounters between American Jews and Israelis: Israelis in American Jewish Summer Camps". Author of two books: Awakened Dream: 50 Years of Complex Unification of Jerusalem (2017), and Deep Pain and Sublime Joy: Pepita and Yehuda Haezrahi (2022). His first novel, "The Emissary" is expected to be published in July 2024. Elan is married to Rabbi Naamah Kelman, a father of three, and grandfather to six children.

Josh Feigelson

President & CEO of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality

Rabbi Josh Feigelson, PhD has served as President & CEO of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality since February 2020. He received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in 2005, and served for six years as the Hillel Rabbi at Northwestern University, where he also earned a doctorate in Religious Studies. In 2011, Josh helped found and served as Executive Director of Ask Big Questions, an initiative of Hillel International, which won the inaugural Lippman-Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom. He is the author of Eternal Questions: Reflections, Conversations, and Jewish Mindfulness Practices for the Weekly Torah Portion (Ben Yehuda Press, 2022) and the host of "Soulful Jewish Living: Mindful Practices for Every Day, a podcast co-produced by Unpacked and IJS. Josh lives with his wife Natalie and their three sons in Skokie, IL.

Moshe Samuels

CEO of Shazur

Moshe served as the Jewish Agency's community emissary to Birmingham, AL, as an Israel fellow at the University of Western Ontario, and in various leadership roles at Camp Ramah in Canada and Camp Ramah in the Rockies. He was the Educational Director of NOAM, the Masorti youth movement in Israel, and the Director of Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, BINA's service-learning Masa program. More recently, Moshe served as the Director of Israel Engagement at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in NYC and as the Program Director of the Sonabend Center for Israel at JCC Manhattan. In April 2021, Moshe’s acclaimed TV miniseries 'The New Jew' aired on primetime television at the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Rabbi Amitai Fraiman

Director, The Z3 Project

Raised in Jerusalem, ordained in NY, and now living in Palo Alto, Rabbi Amitai Fraiman is the Director of the Z3 Project, an initiative of the Oshman Family JCC aimed at strengthening the relationship between Diaspora Jews and Israel based on a Peoplehood oriented Zionism. R' Fraiman is also the founder of שזור/Interwoven, an organization specializing in telling the story of American Jewry to Israelis. Amitai is an ELI speaker, a musmach of YCT, and a graduate of NYU's Wagner-Skirball dual MPA-MA program. Together with Michal, they are the proud parents of Maya, Yahli and Roee which they love bigger than the sky.

Rabbi Lisa D. Grant, Ph.D.

Director of the Rabbinical Program, HUC

Rabbi Lisa D. Grant, Ph.D. is the Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor in Jewish Education at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Her research and teaching interests focus on adult Jewish learning, Jewish leadership development, and the place of Israel and Jewish Peoplehood in American Jewish life. In addition to numerous articles, book chapters, and curriculum guides, Lisa is co-author of three books and editor of The Year of Mourning: A Jewish Journey (CCAR Press, 2023). Lisa has been on the faculty of HUC-JIR since 2000. From 2018-2024 she served as Director of the New York Rabbinical Program. She has a BA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and Rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR.

Scott Lasensky

Scott Lasensky is an experienced diplomat, scholar, and policy advisor specializing in Middle East affairs, particularly U.S.-Israel relations and Arab-Israeli peacemaking

Smadar Bar Akiva

Executive Director | JCC Global

Smadar serves as Executive Director since 2001. Prior to that, she worked for JCC Association of North America, developing and directing teen and Taglit trips to Israel and supervising 12 teen partnerships around Israel. From 1993-1996 she served as a Jewish Agency Community Shilcha at the Columbus Jewish Federation, Ohio. From 1987-1993 she was the Program Coordinator for 80 staff and lay leadership JCC Association Israel seminars. As a university student, she was a summer camp Shilcha in North America, South Africa and the former Yugoslavia. Smadar holds an M.A. degree (with honors) in Contemporary Jewry from Hebrew University, and a B.A. (with honors) in International Relations and English Literature also from Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Smadar is a graduate “Kolot” Pluralistic Beit Midrash, a two year mentorship at the Mandel Leadership Institute and a course in “Strategic Management for Leaders of Non-Governmental Organizations” at the Harvard Kennedy School. Smadar is a certified Life Coach from Tel Aviv University. In her spare time, she volunteers as a mentor for an Israeli NGO and serves on the steering committee of a new local JCC. Among her hobbies are music, sports and creative writing. Smadar resides in Tel-Aviv and is the proud mother of Noam and Hadar.
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