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The Wexner Foundation is a nonpartisan, interdenominational, pluralistic organization.
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Leadership Development for Jewish Communal Professionals in Graduate Schools
Tzvi Benoff, originally from Bergenfield, New Jersey, is a first year rabbinical student at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) He graduated this past year from Yeshiva University with a Bachelor’s degree in Quantitative Economics and History, before which he studied for two years in Israel at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh. Tzvi is also a UJA Graduate Fellow and serves as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Talmud Torah Adereth El in the Murray Hill neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan and the Shenk Community Synagogue in Washington Heights. In his free time,he enjoys swimming, writing music, and playing tennis.
Maia Ipp is a writer, educator, and culture producer. In 2016-17 she held a research and writing fellowship with the Polish Ministry of Culture and lived in Krakow, where she co-founded Festivalt, a festival of avant-garde Jewish art and ideas. Before she moved to Europe, Maia co-led a group for grandchildren of Holocaust survivors in San Francisco to critically and creatively explore the effects of Holocaust legacy, which led her to pursue dialogue work with descendants of Nazi perpetrators in Germany and Poland. She created and led the Borderlands Residency in 2016, a week-long artists’ workshop for Jewish and non-Jewish artists from the U.S., Poland, and Lithuania who work on Holocaust-related projects. Maia was Associate Director of Creative Writing at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco from 2009-2016, and is now an editor at Jewish Currents magazine. She is working on a novel that expands and inverts the extensive field research she conducted in Central and Eastern Europe; her fiction and nonfiction appears or is forthcoming in Tablet, Jewish Currents, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Erica Shaps is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University with concentrations in Human Security and Conflict Resolution & Negotiation. She most recently worked as a Middle East Program Coordinator for Encounter. In this role, she planned programs in the West Bank to help cultivate more informed and constructive Jewish leadership on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Previously, as a Fellow at the Joint Distribution Committee, Erica supported employment programs for vulnerable communities in Israel. Most of her work centered around Arab citizens of Israel and Haredim. Erica's passion for intergroup dialogue, peacebuilding, and international development emerged while she pursued her bachelor’s degree at Brandeis University with a double major in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies and International & Global Studies. During this time, she started an interfaith dialogue and service group and student-led educational programming reframing campus conversations about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She enjoys volunteering as a mediator and facilitator.
Leead Staller is a Semikha student at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and a MA candidate in Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School. Leead graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Intellectual History and Humanistic Philosophy. Academically, Leead spent much of his time in Penn pursuing different research projects, writing an honors thesis in both History and Philosophy, in addition to a number of side projects. Outside of classwork, Leead dedicated most of his time to his main passion– the Orthodox Community at Penn (OCP). Serving as the community’s Co-Chair, Leead formed and managed over a dozen committees, including a major fundraising operation, and coordinated large scale events for hundreds of students in the Penn Hillel. Looking towards the future, Leead hopes to take the lessons he learned in the OCP, build upon them during his time in YU, and ultimately work towards being a pulpit leader who can help strengthen the Jewish community.
David Shmidt Chapman's first love was making theater as a catalyst for social change. He received a Fulbright scholarship to study post-Cold War dramaturgy in Hungary and a Henry Luce Scholarship to teach drama at an arts college in Vietnam. After a successful career as a theater director, David found his new vocation the Jewish social justice world. David's first "Jewish job" was with the grantmaking team of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, helping strengthen its Jewish Life & Values, Israel, Climate Change, and Inequality programs.In 2014, David created and produced PEW-ish, an evening of short plays insired by the (in)famous Pew Study. He later joined the New Israel Fund, serving as Associate Director for NY/Tri-State and leading the region's public programming and millennial engagement efforts. David is Vice President of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the country's largest LGBTQ synagogue, where he is an active member of the Traditional-egal minyan. He holds a B.A. with Highest Honors from the Univ. of North Carolina and a Master's in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham. A member of the ROI Community, David was named to this year's "36 Under 36" list in the Jewish Week. Originally from Chicago, David now lives in New York with his husband Jonathan and their son Elior. This fall, David will begin rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Chelsea Feuchs is an incoming rabbinical student at HUC-JIR and the Communications Associate at ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America. Originally from Goldens Bridge, New York, Chelsea attended Brown University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies and received the distinction of the Michaelson Prize for Excellence in Judaic Studies. Upon graduation, she became a JOIN for Justice Fellow and worked for two years as a labor organizer with the Massachusetts Building Trades Council. While there, she planned protests to advocate for workers’ rights, focusing on safety conditions, fair pay, and healthcare coverage. Chelsea subsequently became a Dorot Fellow in Israel and lived for a year in Jerusalem, developing leadership skills and learning about Israeli society. During that time, Chelsea read the whole Tanach with feminist commentary and developed a theory linking all women in the text to promote deeper critical engagement with the Jewish library. Chelsea is eager to pass on her love of Torah to others, and to use such teaching as an opportunity to open up and center difficult conversations in the Jewish community.
Sam Langstein is an incoming student to the Univeristy of Michigan's Jewish Communal Leadership Program through the School of Social Work. Most recently, Sam was the Program Operations Coordinator at Footsteps, an organization which supports and affirms those transitioning out of the ultra-Orthodox world. Sam originally came to Footsteps as a member of the 2015-2016 cohort of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. In 2015, Sam received his BA in psychology from Hunter College, where he served as Hillel’s social outreach chair and graphic designer. Sam also worked as a psychology intern and web designer at Yale University’s Haskins Laboratories and interned at Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families, a social service organization for at-risk families. In his three years at Footsteps, Sam has supported career and education programs and worked to build up their data infrastructure. He is most proud of his work on Footsteps' community engagement team, envisioning what community can look like for those who are "Off The Derech," or off the path of orthodoxy. He is excited to build on those experiences as he pursues an MSW and advocates for greater awareness and better treatments for Jews living with mental illness and addiction.
Dave is a first-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Raised in Port Washington, New York, Dave graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in Geography. At Middlebury, he was a pioneer in the Jewish, LGBT, and dance communities. He worked at Camp Ramah in the Rockies for five summers as a madrich, tikvah madrich, and rosh eidah. There, he combined his passions for guiding Jewish youth, leading wilderness trips, and experiential education through developing social-justice curricula and the Shira b’Ramah minyan. Deepening his passion for direct care, Dave worked as a field guide with New Vision Wilderness, where he supported young adults and teens to heal from traumas of suicidal ideation, addiction, abuse, and mental illness. Dave is an alumnus of the Yeshivat Hadar year fellowship and Nativ College Leadership Program. He is a founding staff member and Rabbinic Intern at BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy.
Madeline Cooper is a first year student at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, studying in Jerusalem, Israel. Next year, she will continue her studies at HUC in New York. Before matriculating at HUC, she served as Director of Education at the Upper Valley Jewish Community in Hanover, NH, where she administered the Hebrew School and developed family education programing. Originally from Lexington, MA and a graduate of Gann Academy in Waltham, MA, Madeline graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 2016 with a major in History and minors in Religion and Jewish Studies. Passionate about pluralism, interfaith engagement, and Jewish learning, Madeline served as President of Dartmouth Hillel and Student Director of Dartmouth’s interfaith center. Living in New Hampshire, Madeline developed an interest in politics, serving as President of Dartmouth Democrats and working as a campus organizer for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Madeline’s hobbies include spending time outdoors, reading, and volunteering for political campaigns.
Zev currently teaches talmud and math at SAR Academy and is the Rosh Moshava “Head of Camp” at Camp Moshava California. Originally from Riverdale, NY, Zev grew up attending the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and SAR Academy/High School. Zev studied philosophy at Brandeis University where he received the philosophy award and where he served as the student representative to the board of trustees. Upon graduating, Zev worked at fortune 500 real estate firm CBRE as a senior financial analyst in their consulting practice. After two years in consulting, he decided to pursue his passion for Jewish education, and joined the faculty at SAR. In addition to Zev’s roles in school and camp, he co-founded “BAbayit” (Bnei Akiva Bayit) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where he facilitates educational, spiritual, and social programing for young professionals.
Yoav Schaefer will begin his doctoral studies at Princeton University in the fall of 2018. His research focuses on modern Jewish thought and modern Jewish intellectual history. Yoav received a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University in 2015 and studied Jewish philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Prior to beginning his academic studies, Yoav served as a combat soldier and self-defense instructor in the Israel Defense Forces. Together with his family, he also founded the Avi Schaefer Fund in memory of his identical twin brother Avi in 2010. Yoav is currently participating in the Dorot Fellowship in Israel.