Professor Yaron Ayalon, Charleston
Dr. Yaron Ayalon is the Director of the Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Center/Arnold Jewish Studies Program and Associate Professor of Jewish and Middle Eastern Studies at the College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. In July 2019, Yaron took over the leadership of the Program from its founding Director, Professor Marty Perlmutter. Yaron oversees an interdisciplinary academic program that offers Jewish studies courses to a broad spectrum of students. Yaron’s teaching focii concentrate on a wide historical spectrum in Jewish, Middle Eastern and Israeli histories. Among the courses he regularly offers include the Arab-Israel Conflict, the Ottoman Empire, Jewish History, Sephardi Jewry, Jews in Arab Lands, Israeli Society and Politics, and the modern Arab world.
Before coming to the College of Charleston, Yaron taught history at Ball State (2013-2019), Emory University (2011-2013) and the University of Oklahoma (2009-2011). Yaron received his BA and MA from Tel Aviv University and earned a second MA and his Ph.D from Princeton University in 2009.
A sample of his publications include, Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire: Plague, Famine, and Other Misfortunes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014, paperback in 2017); “Individualistic or Caring? The Jewish Communities of Damascus and Aleppo in the seventeenth and eighteenth Centuries” in: Syrian Jewry: History, Culture, and Identity, 2015; and forthcoming, “Epidemics in premodern Middle Eastern society and thought,” History Compass, forthcoming in 2020. When he taught at Emory University, Yaron wrote a pre-collegiate curriculum unit for high school student, Sephardi Jewry and the Land of Israel: A Learner’s Guide, (Center for Israel Education, 2014).
Dr. Steven Bayme, Westchester
Steven Bayme served as AJC’s Director of Contemporary Jewish Life and also of AJC’s Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations from 1982 - 2020. He holds undergraduate degrees in history from Yeshiva University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Jewish history from Columbia University. He has lectured widely across the country and taught at Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, and Queens College. He currently holds the rank of Visiting Professor at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.
He has published articles on intermarriage, liberal Judaism, Jewish attitudes toward terrorism and violence, and modern Orthodoxy in America. He is especially well-know across the world for his incisive analyses of Jewish identity and Israel Jewish and diaspora Jewish relations. His published volumes include Understanding Jewish History: Texts and Commentary; Jewish Arguments and Counter-Arguments; and American Jewry’s Comfort Level. He is a Vice-President of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, has served on the faculties of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and the Nahum Goldman Fellowship. He has been on the Wexner Foundation Fellowship Committee, and was a judge for the National Jewish Book Awards. Steven’s perspective on modern Jewish history and the changing roles that Israel is playing in national identities adds highly valued context and perspective to CIE’s work with students, young adults, and a changing American Jewish community.
Marc Berman, Chicago
Lee Buckman, Jerusalem
Lee Buckman is an educational consultant (http://www.jedvision.com/) whose clients have included PEJE, the Avi Chai Foundation, Yeshiva University, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and a host of Jewish day schools in North America as well as Israeli-based non-profit organizations such as Tanach929, Mosaic United, Tzav Pius, the SonShine Foundation, and the Lookstein Center for Jewish education. In the 20 years immediately prior to making aliyah with his wife in December 2017, Lee founded a Jewish day high school in suburban Detroit, revitalized a community Orthodox elementary school in Atlanta, and launched a long-term sustainability initiative at TanenbaumCHAT, a 900-student Jewish day high school in Toronto, Ontario, that led to a double-digit annual increase in student enrollment.
Throughout his professional career in school leadership, Lee has placed Israel at the center of his educational vision. He strives to push schools to move from crisis Zionism, which focuses on Israel's role as a safe haven in times of persecution, to aspirational Zionism, which invites individuals and communities to share the dreams, aspirations, values, and hopes of the modern State of Israel.
Lee is an avid student of Zionist history and, now residing in Israel, has developed a knack for collecting stories and anecdotes from older Israelis who personally experienced the events that occurred around the founding of the State. He is also passionate about the Hebrew language as a way to connect Diaspora Jews to the culture and people of Israel. Inspired by Eliezer ben Yehudah, he and his wife raised their four sons, two of whom served in combat units in the IDF, bilingually.
Lee received his BA at the University of Michigan, an MA at the University of Minnesota, an MA and rabbinic ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Orthodox semicha in Israel. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading, writing, and marathon running.
Keith Dvorchik, Orlando
Amplify partner Keith Dvorchik is an accomplished leader and change agent who brings more than 25 years of Jewish communal leadership to Amplify Partners. Keith served as the CEO of University of Florida Hillel for 15 years, 3 years as President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle (JFGS), and 7 years as the CEO of The Roth Family JCC/Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando (JFGO)/Shalom Orlando entities.
At the University of Florida Hillel, Keith led the capital campaign to build the Norman H. Lipoff Hall. Under Keith’s leadership, JFGS and JFGO conducted community studies designed to better understand the Jewish communities and their needs. He stewarded the merger between JFGO and The Roth Family JCC, creating Shalom Orlando. Keith has successfully led strategic philanthropy, annual, capital, and planned giving campaigns.
Keith is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a BS in Accounting and master’s degree in counseling. Keith and his wife, Alison, have two adult children, Evan and Matthew.
Josh Goldstein, Cleveland
Josh Goldstein earned his BA in history magna cum laude at Emory University in 1994. He also studied American-Israeli relations at Tel Aviv University. Following college, he earned his law degree from Case Western Reserve University and was a summer clerk at the Department of Justice-Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. He practiced law for four years as a litigator/city prosecutor at Taft Stettinius and Hollister and then started a small business. In 2008, he joined CIE as one of the first members of the Board.
For ten years, Josh taught Israeli history to high schoolers at Temple Tifereth and Park Synagogue in Cleveland. He spends his free time coaching his children’s sports teams. He also served several years on Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Division.
Joshua M. Fogelson, New York City
Joshua is a Senior Partner, at Amplify Partners, bringing three decades of accomplished non-profit management from his service to national and international Jewish organizations. He has served as Executive Director for Strategic Development at the JDC, CEO of Jewish Agency International Development and Deputy National Director of the Friends of the IDF. Previously he served as CDO at the Atlanta Jewish Federation and as CEO/Executive Director of the Minneapolis and Nashville Federations.
Joshua specializes in planned giving, capital and endowment campaigns, major gift initiatives, major donor stewardship and solicitation. He has coached high performing senior professionals, designed effective national and regional staff structures, led board governance and budgeting processes, and managed lay leadership transitions. He is a frequent presenter to organizations in requiring his expertise. Having lived in Israel for 8 years, he served in the IDF, remains fluent in Hebrew and manages partnerships with US and Israel-based senior professionals.
Mauricio Friedman, Mexico City
Mauricio Friedman, Mexico City
Mauricio Friedman is the Director of Jewish Education at Hebraica University in Mexico City. He was formerly the Program Director at Keren Hayesod in Mexico City. He is graduate of Hebraica University with a BA in Education and MA in Jewish Studies. Mauricio earned a Certificate in Teaching Techniques for Jewish History from The Melton Centre at Hebrew University and earned an MA in Israel Education from George Washington University.
In his current role as Director of Jewish Education, Mauricio oversees educational design and implementation, engaging present and future teachers with Jewish and Israel content, has a superb reputation for engaging students with innovative learning. He often provides Jewish and Israel content presentations to most of the day schools and congregations in Mexico City. When he was at Keren Hayesod, Mauricio focused on the Mejanjei Israel teacher development program, empowering cohorts of K-12 faculty through Jewish literacy, leadership, and global best practices. Past endeavors include rolling out experiential learning plans for Mexican youth and hosting CIE Israel enrichment workshops as the director of Bitui, part of the Jewish Agency for Israel, as well as serving as the education officer for Mexico at the World Zionist Organization
Marc Kramer, New York
Marc Kramer is a founding partner at Rolnick Kramer Sadighi LLP in New York. Marc specializes in value-generating securities fraud litigation with a focus on class action opt-out/direct actions, bondholders\' rights, and investor appraisal rights. During a more than 30-year career, Marc has recovered over $1 billion for professional investors such as hedge funds, mutual funds and other prominent money managers.
Marc has been active in many communal and charitable organizations in both the Jewish and broader community. Most recently, he has been active with the Chabad at Emory University and Chabad at Rutgers University; currently sits as a board member of the Golda Och Academy Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey; and serves as a board member of a prominent family charitable foundation.
Marc earned his law degree from Pennsylvania State University, The Dickinson School of Law, and his B.A. from Rutgers University.
Joanna Mendelson, Los Angeles
Joanna Mendelson is the Senior Vice President, Community Engagement of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. In this role she helps convene statewide and national coalitions, expand interfaith and multi-faith community relationships, lead local, state, and federal advocacy efforts and strengthen ties to Israel.
Prior to this position at Federation, for more than two decades she worked for the ADL, most recently serving on their national team as Associate Director for the Center on Extremism, which combats extremism, terrorism and all forms of hate in the real world and online. She trained more than 12,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers, judges and public officials nationwide on extremism and domestic terrorism related issues. She is a certified subject matter expert and has provided testimony in numerous criminal cases involving extremism. In partnership with law enforcement partners, she has helped thwart potential extremist attacks against Jews and other vulnerable communities. Additionally, Ms. Mendelson authored, then testified and successfully lobbied in favor of legislation addressing paper terrorism tactics used by sovereign citizens. She frequently speaks to national and international media outlets, including CNN, the BBC and CBS. Follow her on Twitter at @jo_mendelson.
J Gregory Press, New York
J. Gregory (Gregg) Press is the president of PC 911, with over 25 years of industry experience in all facets of IT. PC 911 works with numerous not for profits and most notably in the Jewish community among them AFMDA, AMIT, URJ, ARZA, FJC, Israel Cancer Research, The Covenant Foundation and more. PC 911 specializes in CIO in box solutions, security and network consulting, helpdesk services and internal and cloud based server management. It develops websites, mobile device apps, middleware, and custom donor needs. Gregory writes and gives seminars on all aspects of web development and donor management. He has served as a volunteer web consultant to UJA funded agencies.
Elana Rickel, Palm Beach
Elana Rickel was a ten year veteran with AIPAC. She was raised in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and is an alumna of the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy. She graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. During her time at Emory, Elana interned for Dr. Ken Stein at the Center for Israel Education (CIE). After graduating, she moved to Israel for several months to participate in a study program at the Neve Yerushalayim Seminary in Jerusalem. In 2011 she moved back to Florida and began working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where she served as an Area Director until January 2022. Elana was responsible for annual development goals of over $3.5 million; donor engagement, development, and education; and event planning.
In the local Palm Beach community, Elana was a founding member of Kol Isha, the Palm Beach Jewish Federation's young women's division, and in 2019 she received the Acknowledging Your Impact Award by Women's Philanthropy. Elana completed the Palm Beach Jewish Federation's Emerging Leadership Program (ELP) in 2018, and she currently serves as Development Chair on the Executive Committee of the Mandel JCC’s Board of Directors. In 2021 she was the recipient of the Mandel JCC Steven Shapiro New Leadership Award. Elana helps lead the local pro-Israel political network in Palm Beach, which is responsible for fundraising more than half a million dollars annually for pro-Israel members of Congress and candidates running for election. She is also a member of the Palm Beach Synagogue’s Board of Directors.
Rob Rubin, Chicago
Since 1998, Rob Rubin has been the Managing Principal of the Diamond Group, an investment group that operates various companies and partnerships engaged in asset management and realestate investments. In addition to his business interests, Mr. Rubin is Vice-Chairman of the JNF Parsons Water Fund and a member of the Board of Governors of Aleh Negev, which supports facilities for developmentally disabled children and adults in Israel. Rob received his BA from Harvard College in 1978 and his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1986.
Phil Schatten, New York
Philip Schatten is the Chief Executive Officer of RAI Group, an asset based lending company. His volunteer engagement with Jewish communal organizations has stretched across a life-time.
He has served on the board of directors of UJA-Federation of New York, on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and was chair of the Russian Communities Committee, and is on the executive committee of the JCC Association of North America, and past Chair of its Finance Committee. Additionally he is the past Vice President of the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA), and the past President and Chair (serving in these positions twice) of the Board of Jewish Education of New York (Jewish Education Project). He is past President and Chair of the Westchester Day School and past President and Chair of the Edith and Carl Marks JCH of Bensonhurst, which was instrumental in the resettlement of 60,000 Russian speaking Jews in its catchment area.
Phil currently heads the micro loan Program of the Hebrew Free Loan Society of New York, which successfully has loaned over seven million dollars to Russian immigrants and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Phil is chairing a new committee to create micro loans for Eastern European Jews, building on his success with similar micro loan programs in New York, Israel, and Argentina.
Phil received his BA in Business Administration, Accounting and Finance from Pace University. He and his wife, Cheryl Fishbein, a clinical psychologist and attorney have four children and seven grandchildren.
David Schulman, Atlanta
David Schulman is a Shareholder at the Atlanta office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. His law practice encompasses a wide array of corporate services, and includes representation of publicly and privately held businesses, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and lenders in all aspects of their commercial and intellectual property transactions.
David has wide-ranging experience in structuring and negotiating complex technology, eCommerce and telecommunications transactions, outsourcing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, venture capital financings, private equity investments, strategic alliances, and joint ventures. David also advises clients on general business law matters, including entity formation, corporate governance, capitalization issues, equity compensation strategies, employment matters, and customer and vendor contracts.
David is active in a broad array of community roles, both in the Jewish and broader Atlanta community. He earned his Law Degree from Emory University School of Law and his B.A. from the Honors College of the University of Arizona.
Henry Spil, Atlanta
Henry, a Cuban native, has over 35 years of tax experience working with businesses and individuals. In 2009, Henry opened his own tax practice – Magellan Tax, LLC. For more than 15 years, Henry has been active on the Alumni Board at Emory's Goizueta Business School, headed the Safety Committee for his civic association in Brookhaven Fields, and was a board member and treasurer of his synagogue. He is an adjunct faculty at Oglethorpe University, where he teaches Income Tax and Estate Planning courses in the Certified Financial Planner program. Henry serves as a subject matter expert for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP Certification Examination. Recently, he met the requirements to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner. Mr. Spil received his Bachelor of Business Administration at Emory University. He later earned his Master of Science in Taxation from Florida International University. Henry served as CIE Treasurer from 2008 to 2018. He is CIE Treasurer.
Dr. Kenneth W. Stein, Atlanta
From 2008 to the present, Ken remains the Founding President of the Center for Israel Education (CIE) and its Chief Content Officer. At Emory University he is Professor Emeritus of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science, and Israel Studies. He came to Emory University in January 1977. In 1998, he established The Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel (ISMI) the first permanent Institute or Center in the U.S. created exclusively for the study of modern Israel. Growing from the public outreach of ISMI in the early 2000s, which initiated educator seminars and curriculum writing, CIE was established in 2008 to focus exclusively on Jewish schools and organizations independent of Emory University. Ken is the author of five books, numerous papers and more than three dozen scholarly articles. In the 1980s, he inaugurated engaging internship programs as Middle East Fellow of the Carter Center, at ISMI, and at CIE. His scholarly xpertise focuses on the origins of modern Israel, the conflict, Palestinian history, Israel education, the Arab-Israeli negotiating process and U.S.-Israeli relations. Two of his books, The Land Question in Palestine, 1917- 1939 (1984) and Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace (1999) have remained standard works in their fields. A third, The June 1967 War: How it Changed Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern History (2017) was published for adult and teen audiences. At Emory he was the recipient of awards for teaching excellence, life-long mentoring of students and for internationalizing the curriculum. Ken’s fund-raising initiatives were responsible for bringing to Emory College sixteen visiting Israeli professors in the social sciences. As CIE's chief content author, he maintains strict scholarly integrity in teaching Israel through written and digital platforms. Context, content, and perspective remain the cornerstones of excellence in Israel education. His leadership of CIE has enabled 3,100 Jewish educators and hundreds of thousands of Jewish students across North and South America so that they can deepen their knowledge of modern Israel. He continues to teach in all of CIE’s Israel learning initiatives. Ken was educated at Franklin and Marshall College (BA) and earned his advanced degrees from the University of Michigan (two MA degrees and a doctorate in Middle Eastern History). In the early 1970s, he was an advanced graduate student at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In Spring 2006, he was a visiting professor of Political Science at Brown University.
Dr. Gil Troy, Jerusalem
A distinguished scholar in North American History at McGill University, Gil Troy currently lives in Jerusalem. He is an award-winning American presidential historian and a leading Zionist activist. He wrote The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland – Then, Now, Tomorrow, which was a skillful follow-up to Arthur Hertzberg’s classic The Zionist Idea. He authored a seminal history of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s and (Patrick) Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism.
Troy is a regular commentator on the contemporary Israeli and international Jewish scene, with published essays in the American, Canadian, and Israeli media, including writing essays for the New York, The Daily Beast, and is presently writing a regular column for the Jerusalem Post. Across the world he is recognized as a careful scholar with cogent insights, and particularly dedicated to presenting Israel’s story and history with context and perspective.