Scheduled to appear at iCON 2023!
Yael SharoniRead more
Yael Sharoni was born in Tel Aviv in 1975 and is an Israeli Academy Award-winning actress. She has been acting since 2002 on TV, and in theater and film. She has been involved in many comedy and drama shows, and is best known for her roles in the following TV series:
- Hayehudim Baim, written by Asaf Beiser and Natalie Marcus
- Ramzor, an International Emmy Award-winning series in 2010, created by the famous Israeli comedian Adir Miler
- Srugim, an Israeli drama created by Laizy Shapiro and Hava Divon, for which she won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Actress in a Drama for her role as Yifat
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yael took part in filming a movie in Ukraine called Check Out by Yonatan Dekel, a soon-to-be-released dark comedy about the Israeli Mossad, which appeared in the Austin Film Festival.
Yaniv BitonRead more
Yaniv Biton, born in Jerusalem in 1978, is an Israeli academy award-winning actor, writer, and dubbing artist. A part of the Beit Lessin Theater Ensemble in Tel Aviv, he is well known for his roles in the TV series The Jews Are Coming (Hayehudim Baim), A Wonderful Country (Eretz Nehederet), and Mossad 101 (Hamidrasha). In 2021 he also took part as a lead in the miniseries Unknowns (Alumim), which won the best drama series award at the Israeli Television Academy Awards. Yaniv Biton was also a lead in the film Tel Aviv on Fire (Tel Aviv Al Ha'Esh), which won awards in several international film festivals, including the Audience Choice award at the 2018 Sarasota Film Festival and an award for Best Film at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival.
Shai TsabariRead more
In recent years, the Israeli audience discovered the distinctive voice and personality of Shai Tsabari through his collaborations with Berry Sakharof, the Adumey Hasefatot ensemble, Ahuva Ozeri, and Idan Raichel, as well as through concerts.
Tsabari grew up in Bat-Yam, surrounded by a melting pot of musical genres and cultures. At home, he was introduced to the intricacies of religious singing through his father, who is a cantor, while his grandmother introduced him to the art of Yemenite percussion instruments and traditional folk songs. Often, he used to raid his older brother’s 60s and 70s American Rock vinyl collection, while keeping a keen ear on the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music all around him.
These influences continue to play an enormous part in his music, especially in his debut album Shaharit, where he brings a new spirit to the words of ancient poets, such as Rabbi Saadia Gaon, Ibn Gabirol, and Ahuva Ozeri. Shaharit received much critical acclaim and awards, and included many hit songs.
Natalie MarcusRead more
Natalie Marcus is a highly acclaimed, award-winning, screenwriter and director based in Tel Aviv. Marcus is the creator and showrunner of the acclaimed historically themed sketch show The Jews are Coming (Hayehudim Baim), winner of two Israeli Academy Awards. Marcus is currently writing the 6th season of the show.
For the past 15 years, Marcus has written for award-winning shows including Fauda (on Netflix) and Tehran (on Apple TV). Marcus is the creator, director, and showrunner of the sitcom Cramped (Zafuf), winner of three Israeli Academy Awards. Marcus directed the 3rd season of the hit comedy show Home Alone (Levad Babait) for Kan11.
Marcus teaches screenwriting and lectures about writing and Jewish humor all around the world.
Asaf BeiserRead more
Asaf Beiser is a highly acclaimed, award-winning, screenwriter based in Tel Aviv. Beiser is the co-creator and head writer of the award-winning sketch show The Jews are Coming (Hayehudim Baim), winner of two Israeli Academy Awards. He is currently writing the sixth season of the show. Beiser's vast body of work includes writing episodes for Fauda (on Netflix), an Israeli Academy Award-winning show, and Tehran (on Apple TV), winner of an International Emmy award.
Beiser had a role in writing many other acclaimed shows, including The Good Cop (Ha-Shoter Ha-Tov) on Netflix, and the psychological thriller The Gordin Cell (called Allegiance in the NBC adaptation). Beiser's children’s sitcom, Elisha, has won an Israeli Academy Award for three consecutive years. Another children's sitcom he created, Cramped (Zafuf), is the winner of an Israeli Academy Award, and Kid's Choice Award. Beiser was also a staff writer for A Wonderful Country (Eretz Nehederet), an Israeli version of SNL.
Beiser teaches comedy and dramatic writing and lectures about writing and Jewish history all around the world.
Yotam PolizerRead more
Yotam Polizer is the Global CEO of IsraAID – Israel’s biggest humanitarian NGO. Leading a team of 250+, currently active in 15 countries including a large scale operation in war torn Ukraine.
Following the August 2021 Afghanistan crisis, Yotam and partners led a rescue operation to save the lives of 167 at risk Afghans from the hands of the Taliban. In September 2015 refugee crisis in Europe, he led IsraAID’s humanitarian mission in Lesbos, Greece, to support Syrian refugees on the island and also established IsraAID Germany, which provides long-term support for Yazidi and Syrian refugees in Germany.
During the last 15 years, Polizer has also built and led programs in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and in South Korea to support the reintegration of North Korean defectors. He has also led missions in Nepal following the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake and in Sierra Leone for Ebola survivors, health workers, and affected communities. He has 15 years’ experience in education, humanitarian aid, and international development.
Prior to his work at IsraAID, Yotam worked in the Israeli Embassy in Nepal and was the program coordinator for Tevel Btzedek an Israeli NGO focused on long term development programs in the Himalayas.
Yarden Leal-YablonkaRead more
Yarden joined the Peres Center in the summer of 2004. As Sr. Deputy Director, Yarden drives the Peres Center's content development as well as fundraising and promotional efforts. She leads the strategic development of the organization’s numerous scalable and impactful programs, as well as the development of the local, regional, and international partnerships relevant for successful project implementation. Yarden works closely with the Center’s Director General and Chairman on overall organizational strategy and steering.
Throughout her years at the Peres Center, Yarden has led programs in the fields of mental health, journalism and peace education. As a Department Director, she focused on several initiatives for Palestinian and Israeli youth using virtual tools in the promotion of dialogue and peacebuilding, and worked closely with a network of partners, including NGO’s, schools, community leaders and educators.
Yarden holds a Bachelor’s Degree and Master's Degree, both from Tel Aviv University.
Viva PressRead more
Viva joined the Peres Center as a senior connector in the winter of 2022. Viva has spent 24+ years in the communications field as a storyteller, editor, correspondent, speaker, mentor and consultant. Viva lectures on Israeli innovation and shares lessons we can learn and apply in our day-to-day lives. She also teaches journalism at Reichman University. And she's now wrapping up a MA thesis in Human-Computer Interaction for which she designed and tested a new form of robotic humor and the impact it can have on mitigating awkwardness among strangers.
Mishy HarmanRead more
Following his military service, Mishy studied history at Harvard, archeology at Cambridge and wrote his PhD – a biography of the first Protestant missionary in Ethiopia – at the Hebrew University. He lives in Jerusalem, with his wife Federica.
Yochai MaitalRead more
Yochai Maital is a veteran podcaster and avid audiophile. Yochai is a co-founder of Israel Story, the most popular Jewish podcast in the world, with over 150,000 monthly downloads in 190 countries. His work has been featured in Radiolab, 99% Invisible, NPR’s Rough Translation and more.
In addition to his work at Israel Story, Yochai also produces many other podcosts. One episode he recently produced for Sports Illustrated/iHeart was mentioned in two list (Esquire and Vulture) of the best podcasts of 2022.
Shahira ShalabyRead more
Shahira joined the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF) in 2022 as Content Expert and Field Representative. In this role, she serves as a bridge between the civil society field in Israel and American Jewish communities and brings educational content to funders, educators, and Jewish communal professionals. She comes with decades of dynamic experience as a civil society and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of Arab citizens of Israel.
Shahira is on the Haifa City Council and previously served as Haifa’s Deputy Mayor. She has held several key managerial roles at numerous social service organizations, including helping establish the Hiwar School for Alternative Education in Haifa. Previously, Shahira directed Shatil’s Shared Society Department for ten years and she co-founded Kayan, the first Palestinian feminist organization in Israel. She was on the faculty of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the North and managed its local leadership programs. Shahira holds an M.A. in Religious Studies and a B.A. in Social Work. She is a trained organizational consultant, group facilitator, and trainer specializing in dialogue, conflict, and conflict resolution.
Erica ShapsRead more
Erica Shaps is the Educational Programs Manager at the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues (IATF). In this capacity, she develops educational programs, trainings, and resources pertaining to Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish-Arab relations within Israel for American Jewish organizations. She has consulted, written, and conducted research for diverse organizations in Israel and abroad including Integrity Global, Save the Children, and JDC. She worked as a Middle East Program Coordinator for Encounter where she planned programs to cultivate more informed and constructive Jewish leadership on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Previously, as an Entwine Fellow at the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Erica supported social mobility programs for underserved communities in Israel, including Arab citizens of Israel.
Erica is a trained facilitator and mediator. She received her BA from Brandeis University in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies and an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in International Law and Diplomacy as a Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholar.
Ethan ZohnRead more
Ethan Zohn gives the word survivor a whole new meaning.
He is a former professional soccer player from Lexington, MA, winner of the hit reality television show Survivor Africa, two-time cancer crusher, sports broadcaster, author and co-founder of Grassroot Soccer (GRS). GRS uses the power of soccer and the energy of youth to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to improve health. Over the last 20 years, Ethan has been an important force in driving the strategic direction of GRS and building partnerships that have helped provide lifesaving education for more than 18 million young people in 60 countries.
In 2011, after twice surviving a rare form of Hodgkins Lymphoma and two bone marrow transplants, Ethan ran the NYC and Boston Marathon and was named a global ambassador for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, StandUp2Cancer, and AKTIV Against Cancer.
Having just returned from playing for the US Masters Soccer team in the 21st World Maccabi Games in Israel, Ethan is excited to share how his inspiration to heal the world stems from being taught at an early age the importance of community, preservation of Israel, and a connection to Judaism.
Donna OrenderRead more
Donna Orender learned early on that the games played on the courts and in the fields were a vital learning and proving ground for life’s opportunities. Recognized as a leader of growth and innovation in several high-profile companies, her ability to pivot as a former professional basketball athlete has served her well. Her passionate pursuit of working on behalf of women and girls is a result of her journey as a professional athlete, a corporate executive, a leader of an iconic women’s business, the WNBA, a board member and founder of Generation W. She has been recognized as one of the top 10 Most Powerful Women in sports and one of Newsweek`s100 most Influential people in the business of sports and is a best-selling author with her 2018 release of Wowsdom! the girl’s guide to the Positive and the Possible.
In 2011 Donna launched Generation W, www.genwnow.com, a dynamic platform of education, inspiration and connection for women and girls, in the service of building community. It has changed the trajectory of thousands of lives who have become part of this inclusive and energetic community. Leveraging intergenerational connectivity and mentorship, Generation W and Generation WOW have positively impacted skills and opportunities while broadening perspectives on women’s equality and equity.
Donna served 6 years as the President of the WNBA, during which time she solidified its base and led double digit growth in all key business metrics. Prior to the WNBA, Donna spent 17 years at the PGA TOUR serving in the Office of the Commissioner. She developed a global and domestic media business leading global production, programming, distribution and digital businesses for the TOUR. As the CEO of Orender Unlimited she works with companies on strategic and growth initiatives.
She currently serves on the board of the SPAC Goal Acquisition Corporation as well as on the privately held World Surf League Board and Cre8tor, an Israeli based health and wellness manufacturing company.
Her community board work includes the V Foundation for Cancer Research, Co-Chair of the UJA Sports for Youth Initiative, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, the executive committee of the Jacksonville Chamber, Maccabi USA and a founding member of the board of Women in America. She has also been a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices, a Hall of Fame collegiate and professional athlete and a recipient of the March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award. She enjoys speaking on leadership, change and gender equity. She is a mom of twin sons and two step children.
Eddy CurryRead more
Eddy Curry is a former NBA star and champion who played for the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and the New York Knicks. He currently works for the NBA’s Financial Literacy Program mentoring and guiding young NBA players. Eddy is a sought-after motivational speaker and sports technology consultant. He is currently finishing his degree in sports management. He lives with his wife, Patrice, and their family in Houston, Texas.
Tamir GoodmanRead more
Tamir Goodman, dubbed “The Jewish Jordan” by the media, made history as the first Jewish athlete to play D-I college and professional basketball while wearing a yarmulke on the court, and without playing on Shabbat. The media was there to document every twist and turn of Tamir’s career with features in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, and on ESPN, CNN, Fox and more. Tamir is currently the director of sports relations at Fabric, and the founder of the game-changing Aviv anti-microbial basketball net. Thousands of youth and adults from around the world have participated in his basketball clinics where he fuses inspiring messages of coexistence and Jewish values with top-level basketball training. Tamir has collaborated with the PJ Library on a soon-to-be released children's book. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and five children.
Sharon ZeeviRead more
Sharon Zeevi is a former professional basketball player who played on the Israel Women's Natioanl Team for 11 years, beginning at the age of 17. She currently works at the Israel Football Association as the Head of Grassroots and Child Safeguarding. She lectures and consults on a variety of specialties such as women in sports, child safeguarding, and women's leadership.
Rachel FishRead more
Dr. Rachel Fish is the co-founder of Boundless, a think-action tank partnering with community leaders to revitalize Israel education and take bold collective action to combat Jew hatred. Boundless's goal is to identify system wide challenges impacting the Jewish communal ecosystem as it relates to combatting Jew hatred and educating about Israel. Boundless is addressing systems level challenges focusing on four pillars: weaponization of language; building a repository of data; catalyzing collaborations; and enhancing literacy about Israel and Jew hatred.
Dr. Fish is a celebrated academic with 20 years of experience in the fields of Israeli history, Zionist thought, and Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized for her teaching prowess and pedagogical approaches, Dr. Fish has published extensively and is frequently called upon to advise on community interventions to reclaim an Israel discourse that is nuanced and complex while remaining accessible to a broad audience. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University.
Previously, Dr. Fish was the founding executive director of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, which was established to catalyze dynamic new solutions to stop the age-old hatred advanced by those who seek the elimination of Judaism and the Jewish people and the modern movement to destroy the world’s only Jewish State. Prior to that, Dr. Fish was Senior Advisor and Resident Scholar of Jewish/Israel Philanthropy at the Paul E. Singer Foundation in New York City. She worked closely with grantees to support them and provided framing around their educational content and programming. Dr. Fish served as the executive director for the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University where she trained the next generation of scholars and Jewish communal professionals in Israel Studies.
Dr. Fish completed her doctoral degree in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University. Her dissertation, “Configurations of Bi-nationalism: The Transformation of Bi-nationalism in Palestine/Israel 1920’s-Present,” examines the history of the idea of bi-nationalism and alternative visions for constructing the State of Israel. In 2015 Dr. Fish held the Rohr Visiting Professorship at Harvard University, where she lectured on modern Israel and received the Derek Bok Certificate of Teaching Excellence. She is co-editor, with Ilan Troen, of the book Essential Israel: Essays for the Twenty-First Century.
Shay CharkaRead more
Shay Charka was born in Israel in 1967. He is a cartoonist, caricaturist, illustrator, and comics artist. He works for Makor Rishon, which publishes weekly his drawings and caricatures. He has been published 15 comics albums, and also illustrates books for a wide range of authors that publish in various publishing houses. Shay creates puppets and figures for television programs and advertisements. He lives in Zufim, Israel. He is married and has four children.
Kfir DamariRead more
Kfir Damari is an Israeli entrepreneur, engineer, researcher, lecturer, and communications and information security expert. Kfir began his study of software back in elementary school, and at age 11 he had already written his first computer virus. Kfir served as an officer in an elite technology unit in the IDF Intelligence Corps in the field of cyber. He earned a BS and MS in Communication Systems Engineering from Ben Gurion University. Damari is also the founder of the Tabookey and Metapacket information security companies, which supply information security services and protect organizational groups from spyware and targeted attacks through the cloud. Before establishing SpaceIL, Kfir managed several research and development groups at various companies and was a lecturer at Ben Gurion and Tel Aviv Universities and at the Academic Management College.
Eliaz CohenRead more
Born in 1972 to a pluralistic religious family, Eliaz Cohen was named after his uncle, Eliezer Feldman, who was killed in the Sinai Campaign of 1956. In 1979, his family moved to Elkana in Samaria, where he grew up. Growing up both as part of a bereaved family and being neighbors to Palestinian villages influenced his world view, both features that find expression in his work. Eliaz studied in the B'nei Akiva Yeshivot, and served in the armored division of the Israeli army. In 1994, he began to publish his writings in various magazines and newspapers, starting with prose writings which were followed by poetry.
He is an editor of the poetry journal Mashiv Haru'ach and the author of six published collections of poetry. Additionally, a Hebrew-English bilingual edition of his poetry was published in 2010 by Toby Press, and a collection of his poetry has been translated to French by Levant Publishing House.
He was the recipient of the Prime Minister Award for Literature in 2006.
In recent years, Eliaz has stood out as a social activist dealing with issues such as religion and state, narrowing socio-economic gaps, and the sanctity of life. During 2009 he was one of founders of Yerushalom, a movement for dialogue and peace between Palastinians and Israeli settlers, thet led to the founding of the Roots Center in 2014. Another initiative he is leading is Light Tag- against the Jewish vandalism and hateful attacks that go under the name "Price Tag," and the new peace initiative "A Land for All - 2 States, 1 Homeland."
Eliaz is a member of Kibbutz Kfar-Etzion, along with his wife and four children.
Khaled Abu Awwad
Khaled Abu AwwadRead more
Khaled is among the foremost figures in the Palestinian community working toward peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. He has been a part of the founding of three groundbreaking organizations, has been awarded various international prizes for his projects including the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the promotion of nonviolence and tolerance in 2011, and was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in 2010 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.
Khaled's family has been greatly affected by the conflict, which has shaped his beliefs and actions. His mother and his brother Ali were jailed during the First Intifada for extended periods, and Khaled himself spent a total of 18 months in confinement. In 2000, his brother Youssuf was killed by Israeli soldiers, two years later another brother, Said, died ten days after being wounded, and his son Muayyad was seriously wounded and left handicapped. In 2009 his son Muhanad was arrested and jailed for several years. Muhanad was jailed again at the end of 2015 and was released in July 2017.
With everything that he has faced, Khaled remains dedicated to nonviolence and communication: “To anyone who says that it is only by war or by force or by eradicating the other side that rights can be won or dreams achieved, I say, 'That is not so.' For one side cannot eradicate the other. We cannot kill their dreams and they are unable to kill ours. We must divide this place among us all and live in peace or all of us will live in hell.”
Shelley KedarRead more
Shelley Kedar is the director of Connecting the Jewish People Unit at the Jewish Agency for Israel, one of the three key missions called for by the Jewish Agency’s vision. Connecting the Jewish people mission focuses on four key strategies in which it holds a unique competitive advantage: partnerships, immersive experiences, peoplehood and pluralism, and emissaries (Shlichim).
Kedar previously served as the founding director of The Adelson Shlichut Institute chaired by Natan Sharansky, within the Jewish Agency, responsible for developing and implementing content and training for all shlichim worldwide. She served as the Director of the Jewish Agency Israel Fellows program and senior representative to Hillel. Kedar was Hillel International’s first VP of Israel Education and Engagement and oversaw the creation of an Israel Action Program that strengthens and supports Hillel’s Israel related programming on campus. Shelley Kedar served as Director of the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies at Beit Hatfutsot, was the Director of Professional Development at the Leo Baeck Education Center and the Jewish Agency for Israel educational emissary to Liberal Judaism in Great Britain.
Kedar earned a BA in Political Science, Media and Jewish Studies and an MA in Leadership and Informal Education Institutions Management at Bar Ilan University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
Shelley lives in Moshav Tzur Moshe with her husband, Architect and Urban planner Dr. Boaz Kedar, their three children Eliav, Aya and Eldad and Shooli their dog.
Zohar RavivRead more
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).
Raviv plays a central role in shaping Birthright Israel’s educational philosophy, language, and pedagogy, and is a leading voice in some of the global paradigm shifts concerning contemporary Jewish identity, Israel-world Jewry relations, and the overall mandate of Jewish education in the 21st century.
David BryfmanRead more
Dr. David Bryfman is the 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.
Keren FraimanRead more
Keren E. Fraiman is Spertus Institute's Dean and Chief Academic Officer. She also holds a faculty appointment as Associate Professor of Israel Studies. Her research focuses on Israel and conflict education, addressing the complexities associated with teaching about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jewish educational settings. She previously served as Director of Research and Evaluation at The iCenter, where she continues to serve on the faculty of the iFellows Masters Concentration in Israel Education program and the Certificate in Experiential Israel Education.
In January 2020, Dr. Fraiman was selected for the prestigious Wexner Field Fellowship, presented by the Wexner Foundation in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation.
She received 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. Her work has been supported by the US Institute of Peace, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism, and the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism.
A former Schusterman Israel Scholar, Dr. Fraiman has worked at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis, served as an officer in the IDF, and led trips to Israel as a facilitator both for Encounter and Birthright Israel.
Barry ChazanRead more
Dr. Barry Chazan is an internationally acclaimed Jewish educator and pioneer in the field of Israel education. He is professor emeritus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University. Barry is the founding international director of education at Taglit-Birthright Israel. His books and articles deal with moral development and education, philosophy of Jewish education, informal education, and Israel and Jewish education. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards for his pioneering work in the Field of Jewish Education.
Robbie GringrasRead more
Robbie Gringras is a British-born Israeli educator, performer, and writer living in the Galilee. He is currently co-director of For the Sake of Argument, and co-author of Stories for the Sake of Argument with Abi Dauber Sterne. Robbie coined the phrase “Hugging and Wrestling with Israel," created and drives the 4HQ System of Israel Education, and consults and teaches internationally on Israel Education after having been the Creative Director of Makom at the Jewish Agency. Robbie has also worked in professional theater for over 30 years. In 1991 he co-founded his own physical story theater company called Besht Tellers – performing on London’s West End and throughout the world. Since making aliya, he has taught at Israel’s main theater schools, directed several plays, and his self-written solo shows perform throughout the world in English, Hebrew, and Spanish. He’s married to Dorit, a magical stained-glass artist, and they have two kids.
Efrat CohenRead more
Born in 1974 to a scholarly family from Jerusalem, Efrat studied at the religious feminist Pelech Girls High School. After completing her military service, she spent three years studying at the Midreshet Lindenbaum seminary (originally named Michlelet Bruria). She continued her studies as part of the first cohort of the Beit Morasha seminary for women. Efrat is an educator by trade, and has spent years teaching in Nativ, the IDF's conversion program.
Efrat specializes in creating and maintaining communities. Since 1997, she's been part of Mashiv HaRuach, and now heads the organization. She is married to Eliaz Cohen, and has four children. She is a member of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion.
Michal Peles-AlmagorRead more
Bio Coming Soon
Andrew ErgasRead more
Rabbi Andrew Ergas is the Chief Executive Officer of Hebrew at the Center. Bringing over twenty-five years of involvement in Jewish education and leadership, Rabbi Andrew Ergas has served as executive director of JCC’s, of ARZA, and Jewish residential and day camps. Andrew also served for seven years as Head of School at Beit Rabban Day School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, as a Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Youth Division, and as an educator and trainer in Israel for Melitz, the Machon l’Madrichim Chutz l’Aretz, and the EIE/Heller High School.
Liron Lavi Turkenich
Liron Lavi TurkenichRead more
Liron Lavi Turkenich is a multi-passionate design entrepreneur and a typeface designer based in Israel. She holds a BA in Visual Communications from Shenkar College in Tel Aviv and an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, UK.
Liron designs custom multilingual typefaces for international companies, specializing in Hebrew. She is the founder of Aravrit, a new hybrid writing system that merges Hebrew and Arabic, and has received wide recognition for its ingenuity and scope. Additionally, she writes on productivity, activeness, and running multiple projects on Visual Poductivity.
Liron has several years' experience organizing and curating an international typeface conference. Asking questions is her superpower used for interviewing designers, teaching, and researching Hebrew typefaces. She is running the Mentorship program on the global Alphabettes network and is very involved in the typeface design community.
Liron loves traveling, sharing her knowledge and experiences in lectures and workshops around the world. She never stops her search for the finest coffee and gets excited by typographic treasures in dusty archives.
Yaron WaksmanRead more
Yaron is the founder and CEO of Hagal Sheli, a non-profit organization which uses surfing as an educational tool and provides at-risk youth with the chance to ‘ride the wave’ and succeed. By facing the unique forces of the sea and overcoming the challenge of surfing the participants are instilled with the self-confidence and sense of achievement necessary to propel them through equivalent life challenges.
Hagal Sheli operates various programs for teenagers between the ages of 13-18 from all walks of Israeli society – Jews, Muslims and Christians; secular and non-secular; immigrants; and boys and girls alike.
Leon Wiener Dow
Leon Wiener DowRead more
Leon Wiener Dow is a rabbi, a scholar of Judaic studies, an educator, and a writer. He is the creator and host of Pod Drash, the head of the beit midrash at Kolot, and teaches at Bina’s Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv.
Leon received his BA from Princeton University, his MA in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, his private rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Professor David Hartman ז”ל, and his PhD in philosophy from Bar Ilan University. His book U’vlekhtekha Va’derekh (Hebrew) constructs an approach to halakha based on the thought of Franz Rosenzweig. In his newest book, The Going, he offers a meditation on Jewish law.
Leon lives in Jerusalem with his wife and their five children.
Joel ChasnoffRead more
Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian and author of four books, including the newly released Israel 201. In it, Joel and his co-author Benji Lovitt pull back the curtain to unveil a more comprehensive portrait of Israel that extends beyond the typical “101” Israel narrative. In the words of former prime minister Ehud Barak, “This wonderful book will show you the Israel you didn’t know you didn’t know!”
Throughout 2023, Joel is touring North America with Israel 75 Live, a celebration of all things Israel that includes comedy, text study, a cooking workshop, and meaningful conversations about the biggest questions facing Israel today.
A Chicago native and former Lone Soldier in the IDF, Joel has performed his unique brand of clean, Israel-positive comedy for more than 1,000 Jewish communities in 10 countries. His other books include the bestselling memoir The 188th Crybaby Brigade about his experience as a tank gunner in the Israeli army, the cookbook Balaboosta, co-written with Israeli chef Einat Admony, and Essential Tennis with coach Ian Westermann. Joel is the author of a weekly newsletter called “Hebrew Is Magic,” about the hidden life-lessons embedded in Hebrew words. (You can sign up on his website.)
Joel now lives in Ra’anana, Israel with his wife and kids. Visit him at joelchasnoff.com, or the official website of his new book, israel201.com.
Jon Adam Ross
Jon Adam RossRead more
Jon Adam Ross is a founding artist of The In[HEIR]itance Project, a national arts organization that creates space for communities to navigate challenging civic conversations through collaborative theater projects inspired by inherited texts, cultures, histories, traditions, customs, and beliefs. Jon has spent 20 years making art with communities around the country as an actor, playwright, and teaching artist. He has served as a teaching artist at Union Theological Seminary, The Jewish Theological Seminary, and many other religious and educational institutions and is a longtime consultant for The iCenter. Jon was a Spielberg Fellow in Jewish Theater Education with the Foundation for Jewish Camp and received a Fellowship from the Covenant Foundation to create the In[HEIR]itance Project in 2015. As an actor, Jon has performed in over 90 cities around the globe. His stage credits include: a dog, a 2,000-year-old bird, an elderly Orthodox Jew, a spurned housewife, a horse, a British naval officer in 1700’s Jamaica, a goat, Jesus Christ, a lawyer, a hapless police chief, and a cyclops. Jon holds a BFA in Acting from NYU/Tisch.
Ben JacobsRead more
Benjamin M. Jacobs, associate research professor at The George Washington University, has spent most of his career preparing social studies teachers and Jewish educators for school and non-school settings, and consulting with various Jewish education agencies (including Taglit-Birthright Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education) on curriculum, teaching, and research. His scholarship focuses on the history and theory of social education, Jewish education, and teacher education on the American scene. Ben directs the Master’s Program in Experiential Jewish Education and The iCenter Graduate Programs in Israel Education at GW. He is co-chair of the Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) advisory board, and co-chair of the RootOne education committee.
Karen BrunwasserRead more
Karen Brunwasser is a co-founder and the current Chief Strategy Officer of Mekudeshet, an award-winning culture NGO that creates original art and music to bridge divides in Jerusalem. She is also a writer and narrator for Mekudeshet’s popular Dissolving Boundaries doco-theatrical productions, and part of the senior team at FeelBeit, an Israeli-Palestinian culture house on the seam line between East and West Jerusalem. Karen lectures frequently on Jerusalem’s civic renaissance, and leads arts and activism tours for VIP guests to the city. Originally from Philadelphia, Karen holds a BA in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and Islam from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the Spring 2023 semester, she will be a Bamah Visiting Artist at the University of MD, College Park, and teach a course on arts and culture as the vanguard of social change in Jerusalem.
Benji DavisRead more
Benji Davis is an educator and researcher specializing in Israel education. The founding director of IMPACT Israel Education, he and his team are experts in developing Israel education content and providing seminars, courses, and tours for Jewish teens and young adults on short- and long-term Israel programs. He is currently a doctoral student in Education at the University of Haifa, researching the wisdom of practice of Israel educators in Jewish high schools to develop a theory of pedagogical content knowledge for the field. His recent article co-authored with Dr. Hanan Alexander, "Israel Education: A Philosophical Analysis," is the featured piece of a special issue of the Journal of Jewish Education devoted to the philosophies of Israel education. Benji holds a BA in Middle East Studies & History (Summa Cum Laude & Phi Beta Kappa) from the George Washington University and an MA in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University. Originally from Los Angeles, Benji made Aliyah in 2009 and lives in Jerusalem with his wife Rachel and daughters Maia and Ella.
Noam WeissmanRead more
Dr. Noam Weissman is Executive Vice President of OpenDor Media, where he spearheads the organization’s educational vision and leads content creation. OpenDor Media educates, entertains and engages a global audience of millions by producing and distributing Jewish and Israel content. Noam leads a team of producers and educators for the Unpacked brand which reaches millions of young Jews each year with articles, videos and social media content.. He is also the host of the popular Unpacked podcasts “Unpacking Israeli History” and “The Power Of” as well as the YouTube channel, Today Unpacked.
Noam completed his doctoral dissertation in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, with a focus on curriculum design. His dissertation, entitled “Approaching Israel Education,” argues for a new vision in learning about the modern State of Israel, focusing on Zionist identity development, narrative formation and the ability to have a mature and loving relationship with Israel without sacrificing empathy.
Before completing his dissertation, Noam graduated Summa Cum Laude from Yeshiva University with a degree in history, concentrating on Middle Eastern studies, and received a Master’s degree in Jewish education from the Azrieli Graduate School, where he was a Legacy Heritage Fellow.
Prior to joining OpenDor Media, Noam served as the principal of Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles where he also taught a range of subjects, including Talmud, Tanakh, Jewish philosophy and Israel Education. He is also the founder of LaHaV, a curriculum that enables teachers to collaborate across different disciplines and empowers students to find meaning in their Jewish learning.
Noam is married to Raizie Erreich and they are the proud parents of three incredible children, Eyal, Liana and Nissa.
Jonathan KesslerRead more
Jonathan Kessler is the founder and CEO of Heart of a Nation, an NGO launched in 2021 to empower American, Israeli, and Palestinian change makers committed to improving the political culture of their own societies. For 18 years he was a member of AIPAC’s senior staff, directing their leadership development efforts and responsible for strategic forecasting and special initiatives. Previously, he served as executive director of the Center for Middle East Peace, executive editor of Middle East Insight magazine and president of Kessler Associates, a consulting firm specializing in Middle East public diplomacy. Jonathan has appeared as an analyst for MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN and Voice of America. He has spoken before audiences in all 50 states, Canada, England and Australia, and has led numerous leadership missions to Israel and the Arab world.