Pictured from right to left: Marcia Cohodes, WHP Alum (Minneapolis)Stephen Hazan Arnoff, WGF Alum (Class 13) and Ofer Chen, current WIF (Class 27), meet each other at The Wexner Foundation Reception.  

Ofer Chen, current WIF (Class 27): My favorite thing about the GA was the feeling of a special connection bonding all participants from so many places and opinions into one community, and allowing each of us to approach others and naturally engage in conversation.

Ofer Chen, a member of the current WIF at the Harvard Kennedy School (Class 27) , most recently served as Head of Department of Community Health at Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second largest HMO. In this role, he was in charge of Maccabi’s entire family physicians sector, developing new models for community healthcare and for providing better management of chronic diseases. He previously worked as a clinical internal medicine specialist for many years. Ofer can be reached at oferche@gmail.com


Marcia Cohodes, WHP Alum (Minneapolis): I was very happy to see that the GA offered presentations and interactive [round table] discussions on the subject of Inclusion and Jewish adults with disabilities.  Also, instead of talking about millennials and how Federations can engage them, there were numerous opportunities to hear directly from this population in breakout sessions and plenaries; resulting in many stereotypes being dispelled.

Marcia Cohodes, an alum of the Wexner Heritage Program, focuses primarily on two areas in the Jewish community: inclusion of individuals with special needs and Hillel LIFE. She has spearheaded multiple inclusion programs in the Minneapolis area and around the country, including her work on the JFNA Domestic Affairs Cabinet and as co-chair of the Disability Workgroup, and with Tikvah-Atzmayim. Marcia also designed, along with Jerry Ingber, Hillel LIFE, a program funded by local WHP alumni. The program honors the Wexners for their commitment to Hillel, raises the visibility of Hillel locally and brings Jewish students together with one another and introduces them to the greater Jewish community. Marcia can be reached at macohodes@earthlink.net.


Stephen Hazan Arnoff, WGF Alum (Class 13): A takeaway from this year’s GA was that I really enjoy being with my colleagues. My favorite thing about the GA was schmoozing. An example of inspiring leadership at the GA was the passion so many of us bring to our work. I heard this new idea: an app called “joomie” developed by BBYO. I had this new idea: let’s move from territory to community.

Stephen Hazan Arnoff, an alum of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class 13), is President and CEO of the Jewish Community Centers Association (JCCA), the leadership organization for almost 350 JCCs, YM-YWHAs, and day and overnight camps throughout North America. He holds a doctorate in Midrash and Scriptural Interpretation from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He publishes and lectures widely on art, religion, music and Jewish life, and is currently completing a book on religion, myth and popular music. Stephen can be reached at hazanarnoff@gmail.com.



Pictured from right to left: Sarah Mulhern, current WGF (Class 26), Luay Bader, WIF Alum (Class 27), Jeremy Ragent, current WGF (Class 26), and Elie Lehmann, current WGF (Class 26), connect at The Wexner Foundation Reception.  

Luay Bader, current WIF (Class 27): In general, this year is a big and extraordinary experience for me, especially the meetings with the Jewish community in America and the Wexner alumni from all different programs. One thing I learned throughout my exposure to this unique community: no matter who you are and no matter where you came from, you’re always welcome and you’ll be treated as one of the family. I’m glad and lucky to have the opportunity to know new friends and to build a concrete friendships with some of the Wexner Fellows and Alumni who I met during the GA conference. I wish I could promote such respectful meaning of diversity back home between Arabs and Jews.

Luay Bader is a current Wexner Israel Fellow (Class 27) and was born and raised in Kfar-Qassem, Israel. Since 2007 he has been working in the Ministry of Culture and Sport as a Sports Supervisor for the Central and Southern Districts and as a member and coordinator of the National Council for the Prevention of Violence in Sport. Luay earned his Bachelor in Physical Education from Ohalo College and a Master’s degree in Life Sciences from The Zinman College at the Winegate Institute.  Luay is the father of two small children, Abdalla and Youssef, and is married to Mona.  Luay can be reached at Luay_Bader@hks16.harvard.edu.


Jennifer Weinstock, current Wexner Field Fellow (Class 26):  My experience of the JFNA General Assembly was highlighted by the Honourable Rosalie Abella, the first Jewish supreme court justice in Canada who spoke at the first plenary. She left me with this this lasting quote, “It’s not what you stand for, it’s what you stand UP for.”  Abella, who was born in a displaced persons camp shortly after the Holocaust (her parents were both survivors), reminded us that as a Jewish community it’s not enough to see injustice in the world we must actually take action against it.  We spent the next few days exploring the many cracks in our society through plenaries and breakout sessions, Abella’s words rang in my head the whole week.  It’s not enough to be educated about what is wrong with the world, it is not enough to have empathy and understanding.  We must move to action as a community and it is through action that we will live out the deepest of our Jewish values:  Naaseh v’Nishma.  My GA experience was a call to action.  Not only to the issues that we face today, but to the organizations and individuals who are leading the way.  

Jennifer Weinstock, a current Wexner Field Fellow (Class 26), has been applying her expertise as a development professional for more than 19 years with an emphasis on relationship-building strategies between donors and organizations. She is currently the Director of Development at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA. Before coming to Gann this spring, Jennifer was Strategy Manager for Growing Annual Fund Revenue at the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education for six years.  Jennifer worked in the women’s division at both the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston. She also spent more than a decade at WGBH, Boston’s public broadcasting station, as the senior Major Gifts officer, Director of Stewardship and Director of the Major Gifts Annual Fund. Jennifer lives with her husband Amiel and three sons, who all attend Jewish day school and Jewish camp.  Jennifer can be reached at jweinstock@gannacademy.org.


Pictured are members of WIF Class 27 at the GA, from right to left: Maria Ben Assa, Jonathan Tadmor Eliyah, Yoav Tellem and Merav Horsandi.

Maria Ben-Assa, current WIF Fellow (Class 27): We were fascinated to see the diversity of the US Jewish community and its unity, excited to hear Jewish leaders speaking about leadership and innovation, and thrilled by sharing the goal of working together through differences for the common good of the Jewish people. We were so excited to see and receive all the love and support of the American Jewry, coming from the other side of the ocean, and feeling a part of the effort to contribute together to Tikun Olam.  Alongside our participation in the GA, we learned more about the American society and its vision through its monuments, institutions and meeting with an amazing community of Wexner Graduate and Heritage Fellows. Our mifgashim created interesting and productive discussions, established the foundations for future connections and compelled us to seek for more.

Maria Ben-Assa is a current Wexner Israel Fellow (Class 27) and is a Major in the IDF Medical Corps, serving as Head of Central Pharmacy Services for the IDF. Maria holds a B.Sc. (Pharmacy) from Hebrew University and an MA in Health Administration from Ben-Gurion University. As part of her leadership vision, Maria has been investing in training a new generation of military pharmacists and medical personnel, building their professional capacity, developing their managerial skills and caring for their self-development and excellence. Maria is married to Eyal and they have two children, Yuval and Tamar. She can be reached at mariabenassa@gmail.com.