Meet Our Fellows
There are almost eighty active Wexner Graduate Fellows and Davidson Scholars. Below are profiles of some of our Fellows/Scholars.
Sara currently serves as Assistant Director of AJC ACCESS Global, the young leadership division of AJC, where she creates programming for young leaders to engage in intergroup outreach and advocate for global Jewish issues, including Israel and combatting global anti-Semitism. She also focuses on developing future Jewish communal leadership and inculcating a culture of philanthropy in the younger generation. Additionally, she serves as Director of AJC’s Goldman Fellowship, an opportunity for students to gain substantive experience working in Jewish communal life. Prior to her time at AJC, she interned at the Clinton Global Initiative in the Event Logistics department. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, where she concentrated in the Sociology of Extremism and De-Radicalization. While at NYU, she served two terms on Hillel board, planned programming revolving around gender issues as a JOFA Fellow, and connected to unaffiliated Jews on campus as a Jewish Heritage Program Fellow. She currently lives in New York with her husband and 5 month old daughter. Sara will be attending the dual degree program of Public Administration and Jewish Studies at New York University.
David is a Doctoral Fellow at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and a rabbinical student. Prior to his doctoral studies, David graduated summa cum laude from Yeshiva University (2011), received an MA in Jewish History (2012), and an MS in Education (2013). Formerly Assoc. Director of and singer in the Maccabeats, David co-wrote the lyrics for and co-produced the group’s viral hits, such as “Candlelight,” and performed in hundreds of Jewish communities around the world. David served as Educational Director for NY NCSY, and has been a recurring scholar-in-residence at the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach. As Featured Presenter at Limmud NY (2014), David developed a curriculum on teaching the Holocaust through music, and is a Curriculum Developer at Aleph Beta Academy, where he designs comprehensive Jewish Studies curricula for classroom use. David’s passion for Jewish education lies in reconnecting students with meaning in Judaism, and in inculcating students with Albus Dumbledore’s lesson that “it is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” David grew up in West Hempstead, and he and his wife Gila currently live in New York City.
Elizabeth Bonney completed her Master of Divinity degree as Yale Divinity School’s William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Scholar in May 2012. Originally from Overland Park, KS, she graduated from William Jewell College with majors in Religion, Philosophy, and Gender Studies & Human Sexuality. There, Elizabeth served as the Founding President of the College’s first recognized LGBT-Ally organization and initiated an annual publication, The Empty Chair, printing voices from LGBT students and faculty about their experiences on the historically Southern Baptist campus. Passionate about interfaith and inter-cultural engagement, she has been a Contributing Scholar for the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue’s blog, State of Formation, and she served as the Interfaith Intern for the Yale University Chaplain’s Office for two years. Elizabeth enrolled at Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Fall 2012, pursuing vocational work in the rabbinate aimed at serving pluralistic Jewish and multi-faith communities. While a rabbinical student, she has served in many roles that engage young people, including: teaching 7th grade Hebrew School, directing an after school Teen Beit Midrash, co-teaching a World Religions course at Brandeis' summer program Genesis, and serving as the Director/Rabbinic Advisor at Boston College Hillel. In addition to her passion for religious work, Elizabeth loves technology and regularly tries to incorporate her five-years of experience working for Apple into her vocational pursuits as a religious professional.
Josh Botwinick grew up in Riverdale, NY. He spent a year learning in Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) in Israel before returning to New York and graduating Yeshiva University's Honors Program. Josh is now in his third year of rabbinical school at Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), while simultaneously pursuing an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School. Josh’s passion lies in experiential Jewish education, and throughout his college career he has been heavily involved in NCSY and Bnei Akiva, as well as serving as the Youth Director for congregation Ohav Sholom in Merrick, NY. This academic year, he will serve as the Rabbinic Intern at the Roslyn Synagogue. During the summers, Josh has spent many months working at Camp Stone, most recently serving as Rosh Mosh (head counselor). He also spent several years as Head Counselor in Camp Dora Golding’s teen wilderness program, known as Ya’alozu. Josh enjoys playing frisbee, biking, and playing guitar, though not at the same time.
Tuvia Brander is a rabbincal student at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and a member of the Rabbi Norman Lamm Kollel L'Horaah, a program focused on training future rabbinic judges, as well as completing an M.A. in Jewish Studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Raised in Florida, Tuvia graduated summa cum laude from Yeshiva College with a B.A. in mathematics and a minor in Jewish Studies. At Yeshiva University, he served as the Founding Director of the Yeshiva University Kansas City Summer Experience and led the campus American Jewish World Service Humanitarian Mission to Muchucuxcah, Mexico. On campus, he served as the Head Resident Adviser, the Executive Editor of Gesher: Yeshiva University Journal of Jewish Studies and Chief Justice of the student court. Tuvia has a passion for youth work and has held leadership roles in a number of different youth initiatives including NCSY Shoresh, Plainview Friday Night Lights, and the Torah Leadership Network. He has served as Rabbinic Intern at the Young Israel of Plainview and Congregation BIAV of Overland Park, KS. Currently, he is actively engaged with AIPAC as part of the Leffel Fellows program as well as part of the Straus Center for Western Thought's seminar exploring Bio-Ethics. He enjoys fishing, reading and amateur archaeology and is married to wonderful Miriam Apter Brander. He soon will be starting as the Senior rabbi at Young Israel of West Hartford, CT.
After three years of study in Israel, Yakov completed his BA at Yeshiva University in Jewish Studies and Philosophy. Throughout college, Yakov has been active in various Jewish leadership roles. He worked for NCSY as Regional Coordinator in Oceanside, NY, Division Head in the Summer Kollel in Israel, and Educational Director of Shoresh in the tri-state area. Yakov has published nearly a dozen articles on a variety of topics in Jewish thought. Yakov is currently teaching Judaic Studies in a new high-school in Teaneck, NJ. Yakov has a deep appreciation for Jewish spirituality. He organizes and hosts a weekly Hassidut study group and is an active participant in local musical prayer groups. Yakov also nurtures a love of philosophy and seeks to understand Judaism in context of broader philosophical discussions. Yakov is now pursuing rabbinical ordination and an MA in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University. Yakov’s dream is to become a synagogue rabbi where his passion and love of life and Judaism will inspire and motivate his congregants.
Yoni Heilman is the Executive Director of the Tamid Group, an organization that pioneers the next generation of American commitment to Israel by connecting business minded students with opportunities in the Israeli economy. Previously, Yoni was the COO for Online Jewish Learning, where he was responsible for building critical systems for a fast-growing social enterprise. Earlier, he served as Special Advisor to the CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel, working on organizational strategy and management as the program experienced 40% growth. Yoni has also worked as a Legislative Assistant in the U.S. Congress and a Senior Parliamentary Aide in Israel’s Knesset. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Boston University.
Rebecca Stone Kagedan
Rebecca currently serves as the Director of Development-Campus Excellence at Hillel International. Prior to her position at Hillel, she served as Director of Major Gifts at HIAS, an internationally renowned refugee resettlement agency, where she oversaw HIAS' major gifts portfolio and helped to increase HIAS' major gifts revenue by 15% in her first year. Prior to HIAS, Rebecca served as the Director of Community Engagement for Encounter, overseeing fundraising, communications, and VIP recruitment. During her tenure at Encounter, Rebecca exceeded revenue projections during an executive leadership transition and oversaw the rebranding of Encounter’s visual design and messaging. She also recruited some of the most influential Jewish leaders as well as unusual suspects to visit Palestinian territory and developed strategic partnerships with leading think tanks, government officials, and Jewish institutions. Before joining Encounter, Rebecca spent three and a half years in major gifts fundraising at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), growing a portfolio from $300,000 to over $2 million. A graduate of Yeshiva University (YU), Rebecca received the Presidential Fellowship and spearheaded student-led social justice initiatives for both YU students and the modern Orthodox community at large. As a result of her efforts, YU sent more students to the national Darfur rally in Washington, DC than any other college in the country. Rebecca is a graduate of the Silberman School of Social Work from Hunter College as well as a Wexner Scholar/Davidson Fellow. Her research paper on pre- and peri-natal trauma was recently published in Voices: The Silberman Journal of Social Work and her graduate thesis, Can the Void be Avoided: A Comparison of Buddhist and Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Non-Existence and Dissolution, received the Jacob Goldfein award for creative and scholarly work.
Julie Schnur Karol
Juliana S. Karol is a second-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in New York City. Previously, she was the coordinator of strategic initiatives at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), a role she transitioned to after working as the assistant to the president-elect and serving on Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ presidential transition team. Juli came to the URJ from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) where she was selected as an Eisendrath legislative assistant and then moved into a role as projects coordinator. During her two years in Washington, DC she directed the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, a state-based advocacy group. Juli grew up in Scarsdale, NY where she and her family are members of Westchester Reform Temple. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a BA in Jewish History and Spanish Literature and received her MA in Jewish History from NYU in May 2011. Juliana is a Senior Fellow of Humanity in Action, an international educational organization that promotes human rights and active citizenship around the world.
Georgette Kennebrae is currently pursuing my rabbinical studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Coming from a military family, she was born in Japan and has lived in countries from Turkey to France. Her time abroad has given her an immense love of languages and diverse cultures. She earned a joint Masters’s degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. Following graduation, she relocated to Denver, Colorado, establishing a career in higher education administration at the University of Denver before beginning her journey to the rabbinate. Georgette has a deep love for chaplaincy work and helping families as they navigate health, spiritual, and family difficulties. While in Denver, she was a Chevra Kadisha volunteer and felt very blessed and honored to participate in this incredibly poignant moving work. It is her desire to continue in this capacity throughout her life. Her desire upon ordination is to work as a full-time chaplain and to teach educational programs around death and dying, grief and loss, and the many ways that our Jewish traditions can support and guide individuals and families before, during and after these difficult times. She is blessed with 3 fantastic children and loves the perspectives on life that they share with her. When not volunteering, working or raising children, she can be found on the dance floor. Her love of dancing ranges from Israeli folk dance to west coast swing and two-stepping. In her eyes, dancing is one of the most effective ways of connecting with people both individually and cross culturally.
Morris Panitz grew up in Norfolk, Virginia and attended the University of Maryland, College Park where he earned a double degree in Philosophy and Jewish studies. He participated in the Adamah Fellowship at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, and served as a farm apprentice at Ocean Air farms before joining the team at the Pearlstone Center in February 2011. He has managed the Jewish Community Gardening Collective, helping local Jewish institutions create educational gardens. He most recently served as the Program Director at the Pearlstone Center, overseeing a wide array of innovative educational programs, including farm-based field trips, conferences and retreats, immersive programs, and service learning. In August, 2014, Morris and his wife, Elana, relocated to Los Angeles, where he started rabbinical school at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University. He is thrilled to join the Wexner community as a member of Class 27 of the graduate fellowship.
The grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, Justin Pines was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey, where he attended a Conservative day school and an Orthodox synagogue, and began a lifelong commitment to Jewish practice at his bar-mitzvah. He graduated summa cum laude in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Hillel President and as Student Speaker at his commencement ceremony. He received his JD from Harvard Law School, and then spent three years as a corporate associate at Paul Weiss in New York. Justin serves on the young leadership boards of AIPAC and the Hebrew Free Loan Society, was an Encounter Davar Acher Fellow and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow. A love of exploring Jewish texts with a variety of people has led Justin to study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Machon Shlomo, Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), and Orayta. A passion for and commitment to service has led Justin to enroll at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical school, where he is entering his third year. During the upcoming year, he will be interning at the Bronfman Center at NYU for Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and at Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim for Rabbi Adam Mintz. In his free time, Justin loves outdoor travel, live music and beach volleyball. He has traveled to 40 countries and 38 states, and has seen over 60 Dave Matthews concerts.
Leah Sarna is a student at Yeshivat Maharat in Manhattan. She graduated in May 2014 with a BA in Philosophy & Psychology from Yale University, where she spent her time leading the Orthodox community and the partnership minyan as well as the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project and Dwight Hall: the center for public service and social justice at Yale. She also participated in interfaith groups with Evangelicals, Muslims and Mormons. Leah hails from Newton, Massachusetts, where she attended the Maimonides School, and she spent a year before college studying at the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz. She loves crocheting and filling out tax forms for individuals who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (though she hasn't yet figured out how to do these things simultaneously). Leah aspires one day to build her own shul.
Carine Warsawski is an MBA Candidate at Boston University. Prior to BU, she was the Director of Marketing at Authentic Israel, a provider of worldwide Jewish travel programs in Washington DC, and a consultant to the iCenter in Chicago. Carine specializes in experiential marketing and Jewish engagement through travel. Her creative marketing strategy and execution has helped send more than 35,000 teens, young adults, and families on global Jewish journeys. Carine’s involvement with immersive Jewish education began as a camper at URJ Eisner Camp and proliferated through two semesters of NFTY-EIE in high school, a semester at Hebrew University in college, and honors thesis research in Israel - focusing on civil religion and the construction of secular Israeli holidays. She even skated with the Israeli national women’s ice hockey team on the side. After college, Carine joined the URJ as the Assistant Director of Marketing & Recruitment for NFTY’s travel programs. She was a Project InCite fellow in 2009 and worked at the URJ until joining Authentic Israel in 2010. Carine graduated with honors from Bates College (B.S.) in 2007 and holds a Certificate in Marketing from Georgetown University. Raised in Lexington, MA by an Israeli father and Jewish-Peruvian mother, Carine infuses her passion for global Jewish education into all she does.
Ari Witkin is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Originally from Minneapolis, Ari graduated from Goucher College where he received a BA with honors in both Religious and Peace Studies. After graduating he spent a year in service as an Americorps VISTA working to engage faith-based institutions in supporting Baltimore city public schools. He subsequently went on to staff the Baltimore Interfaith Coalition, which convenes the city’s top religious leadership in taking action to address social justice issues in the city. In 2011 Ari spent six months living and learning with the Abayudya Jewish community in Uganda before returning to Baltimore and joining the staff at the Pearlstone Center. At Pearlstone he spearheaded the establishment and curriculum development of the Sustainability Apprenticeship, a seven month program that integrates farm work, Jewish education, and leadership development. While in school Ari works on the faculty for Repair the World's fellowship program, is the development manager at the Jewish Farm School, and volunteers as the coordinator for programs in Kenya with Kulanu inc.
NEWS / EVENTS
Welcome to Class 29 of the Wexner Israel Fellowship
Meet Class 29 of The Wexner Israel Fellowship
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