Who We Are
Alumni Microgrants 2014-2015

Raffi Magarik (Summers 2008, 2011, 2013)—Minyan in Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

Raffi is helping create a traditional, egalitarian minyan in Berkeley, CA. Berkeley boasts a rich and diverse Jewish community and there is a niche for fully traditional, fully egalitarian prayer that is spirited and serious. They hope to draw together people across age brackets and observance levels to worship together, beginning with Friday night services and expanding to Saturday morning.

Raffi Magarik is a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley in English literature and Jewish studies. In addition to Yeshivat Hadar, he has learned at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa, and the Drisha Institute, and he holds a BA from Yale. He teaches for Kevah, and he has written for The New Republic, The Daily Beast, and TheAtlantic.com.


Maya Rosen (Summers 2012, 2013)—Bringing Netzizot to Israel

Internet Based

Netzitzot is a project that creates tzitzit designed for women. Their goal is to make this mitzvah as egalitarian and accessible as possible. They plan to use this grant to start up production for an Israeli market.

Maya Rosen is currently a sophomore at Princeton University. She spent a year studying at Midreshet Ein HaNatziv and the two summers studying at Yeshivat Hadar. She hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Alexandra Casser (Summer 2010, Year 2010-2011)—The Stam Scribes Website

Internet Based

The Stam Scribes website will act as a virtual storefront and as a center for referrals for scribes all over the world. The website will link far-flung congregations with their closest scribe, and contain useful information about the Jewish scribal tradition. This will provide an alternative to the exclusively Orthodox options in place now.

Alexandra Casser holds an MA in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture Studies from the Bard Graduate Center. She attended Yeshivat Hadar in 2010-2011. A New Jersey native, she works in non-profit development in Dallas, Texas. The project is co-managed with Jennifer Taylor Friedman and Rachel Salston.


Debbie Nehmad (Summer 2013, Year 2013-14)—Art Talks

New York City

Art Talks will incorporate Jewish thought and the artistic talents of their community. In a series of five monthly sessions, they will engage in open dialogue by sharing poetry, music, paintings, and more that were created in response to a prompt question given in advance. On the night of the event, they will present and discuss pieces as a way to engage in conversation about Torah, God, Jewish identity, and the many internal conflicts that can arise when one is engaged in these large, complex forces in our lives.

Debbie Nehmad graduated from CUNY Queens College with a major in psychology and a minor in music. She spent the summer of 2013 as well as the '13-'14 academic year learning full time at Yeshivat Hadar and is currently teaching limmudei kodesh to the sixth grade at SAR Academy.


Jonathan Wasserman (Summer 2013)—West Coast Campus Shabbaton

Tempe, AZ

Jonathan will run a small, informal Shabbaton that will bring Jewish student leaders from two to three West Coast campuses together in order to create a sense of community and shared purpose. It will be hosted by Arizona State University Hillel. The programming will focus on connecting and creating bonds through spending Shabbat together, and will contain a smaller learning component as well. The meeting is geared toward a small group of students who are previously interested in Jewish community building, with the hope of expanding that group and creating a larger Shabbaton with a wider reach in the following academic year.

Jonathan is a sophomore studying Computer Science at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, having grown up nearby in Scottsdale. He studied at Hadar in the summer of 2013 and at the Drisha Institute this past summer. He is an avid drummer, road cyclist, and proponent of strong campus Jewish life.


Smadar Yaniv (Summer 2010, Year 2013-14)—Learning in Oxford

Oxford, England

Jewish students come to Oxford from all over the world, and often, due to the distance from their familiar community and home, questions of identity and the meaning of being Jewish arise. Smadar is interested in addressing this need by organizing and leading six monthly sessions of study and encounter through which she also hopes to develop a sense of community among the participants.

Smadar Yaniv studied at Yeshivat Hadar from 2013-2014 as an Education Fellow and has a B.A from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Jewish studies. In the last few years she has been working as a workshop coordinator and teacher in the fields of creative writing, women empowerment and Jewish education. She recently moved to Oxford with her husband Daniel Herskowitz, also a Hadar alumnus (2013-14), where she works in Hebrew education and coordinates events and workshops.


Ruben Rais (Summers 2011, 2013)—Minyan Al-Hagag

Jaffa and South Tel Aviv, Israel

Minyan ‘al hagag is a community of learning catering to young people living in Jaffa and South Tel Aviv. Weather permitting, their learning takes place on Jaffa rooftops, thus inviting the magic of the ancient port city into the life of the community. As of now, they offer opportunities for communal learning twice a month, all of which are led by different members of the community, thus ensuring a vibrant and diverse range of topics and ideas. As the community continues to grow they will also meet for a once a month rooftop Kabbalat Shabbat, and slowly introduce prayer as another essential component of communal life.

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Ruben is currently living and working in Jaffa where he teaches and coordinates the Tikkun Olam program at BINA: The Secular Yeshiva. An alumni of the 2011 and 2013 summer programs at Hadar, Ruben holds a dual Masters degree in Education and Jewish Studies from NYU. In his spare time Ruben is an amateur DJ at a local Jaffa bar where he plays his grandfather's old salsa records.


Jen Holzer (Summer 2013) and Naama Saadan (Summer 2013)—Urban Shmitta


Urban Shmitta aims to infuse shmitta practice into daily urban life, bringing urban-dwellers together to learn with their hands, hearts, and minds the big ideas of shmitta practice and consciousness, and to share them through a blog. Participants “stop” together seven times this year to explore personal relationships to land, work, and money with study, song, and hands-on activities, and to collectively share their own lived experience of the shmitta year.

Naama Sadan was born and raised in Israel, and teaches at a high school in Yerushalayim. She is also on staff at the Havruta Beit Midrash program at Hebrew University. She loves to work every Friday at her local community garden and grow her own vegetables and herbs on the porch.

Jen Holzer was born and raised in the Garden State (New Jersey) and recently moved to Israel in time to experience her first shmitta year. She works at the intersection of environmental science and policy, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Planning at the Technion—Israel Institute for Technology.


Ben Schneider (Summer 2014)—Shabbat Afternoon Habura

Cambridge, MA

The Cambridge/Somerville Shabbat Afternoon Habura will meet throughout Spring 2015 to study portions of Midrash Halakhah that are linked to the weekly Torah portion. Through havruta study and group discussion, they aim to connect these ancient texts to our lives and build skills for further traditional text study. By forming learning connections across levels and backgrounds, they also hope that this group will lead to meaningful discussions about belief and practice.

Ben Schneider is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Harvard Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. He has spent time learning at Yeshivat Hadar, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and Penn Hillel, and he is a proud NFTY alumnus. Ben graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry.


Hadar Cohen (Summer 2012)—Shiru

New York City

Shiru is an initiative that seeks to gather fellow Jews in the New York area in song on the night before Rosh Hodesh. During Rosh Hodesh, they cultivate a communal closeness through musical celebration and reflection. Shiru hopes to create a space for individuals to appreciate the moments in Jewish life that manifest the new through time, and use the medium of music to form a more unified community.

Hadar is currently finishing her last year at Cooper Union, where she studies Electrical Engineering. She also learns Talmud part-time at Yeshivat Hadar to complement her engineering degree. Hadar is also an alumna of Midreshet Lindenbaum, a Jerusalem based learning intensive program that has tremendously impacted her thinking.


Joshua Schwartz (Summer 2008)—“Halakhah as Lived Philosophy”

Chicago, Il

Joshua will teach a class at University of Chicago Hillel. Judaism is often characterized as arcane and legalistic. The centrality of halakhah (Jewish law) within traditional Judaism has a lot to do with that. The literal meaning of the term halakhah, which means “walking” or “path” helps us re-conceive Jewish Law as not merely a theoretical discourse but rather as a practice that makes a strong claim on both our bodies and minds. This class seeks to portray Jewish law as a spiritual technology, a system that presents insights and values in ritual and legal form, to help students internalize what we practice externally.

Joshua Schwartz is a Ph.D. candidate in Jewish Studies at New York University focusing in Jewish Mysticism, in particular, the mystical nature of emotional expression in Hasidism and an adjunct professor in comparative mysticism at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Joshua has served as scholar-in-residence at the North Shore Congregation Israel and at the McGill, UChicago, Harvard, and Rutgers Hillels.


Elisheva Goldberg (Summer 2011)—Food Justice Salon

Jeruslaem, Israel

The “Food Justice Dinner Salon” will be a productive study of various stages of the Israeli food cycle, particularly during the shmitta year: from seeding to harvest, processing to distribution, to cultural assembly from kitchen to the tables where our communities gather. They will investigate specific foods and industries (olives, fish, wine) to uncover, discuss and report on how these intersect with halakhic and rabbinic realms. The concept is to create two learning experiences for each food industry—first a practical investigation via a site visit, and second, a dinner Salon in which they bring a tangible piece of the experience (edible, textual)—into a Jewish community space. This process will generate new conditions for a vibrant discourse about "Jewish" food in community, articles on the subject, and finally, a longer digital/radio piece about their experiences.

Elisheva Goldberg is a freelance writer and political analyst living in Jerusalem. She worked formerly as an editor and analyst at Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy and as assistant editor at Open Zion, a group blog on the Daily Beast's website edited by Peter Beinart.


Sarah Notis (College Winter Learning Seminar 2011)—RPI-Sage Hillel Retreat

Troy, NY

Eight members of RPI-Sage Hillel traveled to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center for their first-ever Hillel Retreat. While there, they participated in a tisch and musical davening, attended sessions on the topic of Intentional Communities, and learned about each others' backgrounds and identities.

Sarah Notis is an adventurer, ceramicist, farmer's market customer, and loon aficionado. She also studies Science, Technology, and Society at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She grew up at Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, and is now a member of RPI-Sage Hillel and a regular attendee and organizer of Jews in the Woods.


Dorit Price-Levine (Lev) (Summer 2014)—Intentional Jewish Workspace

Brooklyn, NY

This Hadar sponsored Jewish co-working space will enable Jews living in Brooklyn who work from home, and who want to be able to breathe Jewish intention into their "hol," to do so easily through their place of work. Aside from ensuring a warm, quiet, reliable workspace, this office will provide opportunities for lunch time havruta Torah study, morning egalitarian traditional davening, and speakers from the Hadar faculty. This workspace will also serve the greater community in Brooklyn, where individuals living or working nearby will be welcome to join for learning and davening.

Dorit Price-Levine (Lev) is Program Manager of Resetting the Table. She has a background in refugee and immigration law, Middle East social justice and policy work, and community mediation. Lev has lived and worked extensively in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. Aside from her work on the ground, Lev also worked on Middle East policy in Washington, DC at J Street and the Middle East Institute. Lev holds a J.D. from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.


Jon Leiner (Year 2013-2014)—Original Music Recording Project

New York City

On a recent trip to the Cairo Geniza, Jon discovered a box of old cassette tapes with strange labels—"Yohanan ben Zakkai Live," "Malakh interview pt.3," "Alkabetz stereo demos #5," and more. Needless to say the sound quality of the tapes are challenging to the modern ear. He has begun to re-record some of these songs and looks forward to sharing the music.

Jon Leiner lives in New York. His ancestors come from Poland. Jon learned at Hadar from 2013-2014 and currently works for Hazon helping make the world more sustainable, communal, and delicious.


"Havruta for Life"—Hadar Alumni's new social experiment!

Internet Based

This is for Hadarniks who feel limited when looking for a partner for life. If you're looking for someone who cares about both Jewish and egalitarian values this is for you. Not everyone can afford living in NYC or Katamon, which makes finding true love (yeah... we believe it exists) not an easy task at all. How does it work? It’s not what you think… stay tuned for more details in the next few weeks.

[email protected]


Helen Bennett (Summer 2011) and Julie Aronowitz (Summer 2011)—Shmitta in Boston

Brookline, MA

In honor of the shmitta year, the biblical year of release, Helen Bennett and Julie Aronowitz (Summer 2011) are leading a project to integrate shmitta principles into the fabric of the Moishe Kavod House community during 5775. The community, a progressive Jewish young adult community based in Boston and already focused on social justice, building intentional Jewish community, and chesed, will take on learning together and sharing skills with one another on the shmita themes of economic justice and the redistribution of wealth, food, agriculture, and building a sustainable food system, and community commons, among others. A key component of the project will include engaging other community members with less experience learning to be partners in owning and co-creating the modules and areas of focus, so some of the project is still unfolding, however areas of focus will include a basic understanding of shmitta and yovel, and a focus on food, farming, and food systems based out of various pieces from Torah, Mishnah Sh'vi'it, and Hilkhot Shmitta V'Yovel from Rambam. Likely components include pieces around shmita as a model for self care, which will likely include learning from Masekhet Shabbat, and a connection to our social justice work, potentially including the piece from Bava Batra on who we count as our community, and our obligations to them.

Julie Aronowitz is an organizer with Brockton Interfaith Community, a local affiliate of the national congregation based community organizing network PICO. In addition to learning at Hadar, Julie is an alumna of the JOIN for Justice organizing fellowship, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. In her spare time she runs small experiments in building the kind of community she wants to live in at the Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice House does yoga, and wonders about God. This winter, she's studying in chevruta on The concept of Tochecha, tentatively translated as "rebuke for the sake of heaven".

Helen Bennett is an organizer, trainer, and network weaver at JOIN for Justice. As an alumna of the JOIN for Justice organizing fellowship, the Adamah Fellowship, and as a member of the ROI community, Helen is passionate about what brings people together. After studying at Hadar, Helen was a long-time Resident Organizer at the Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice House where she now holds the post of Spirituality Chair on the Community Board and gets to explore what it means to build the spiritually/Jewishly grounded and social justice based Jewish community that she wants to be a part of. Helen is also a co-organizer of the Lefty Jew Shabbaton, likes to brew kombucha, and is a member of the Time Trade Circle.


Tehila Levy (Summer 2012, Years 2011-12, 2012-13)—Tefillah skill-based workshops


Tehila will run a series of skill-based workshops that aim to enhance the knowledge of lay people and encourage people to take a role in leading and running tefillah. Topics will include: How to choose tunes for tefillah; How to lead a group in singing; Better and faster ways of learning leyning; How to be a gabbai; and How to assist a ba'al koreh during keri'at haTorah. The project is aimed towards egalitarian minyanim in Jerusalem.

Tehila Levy lives in Jerusalem and divides her time between Torah (both as a student and as a teacher), Tefillah (for she has a davening soul) and Math (as a teacher and an enthusiast).


Dorielle Parker (Summer 2012, Year 2012-13)—Jerusalem Ink Tank

Jerusalem, Israel

The Jerusalem Ink Tank is a collective space for Torah learning and artistic exploration based in the Holy City. Through study of the Hebrew letters combined with practicing the ancient art of Sofrut, we will uncover, (re)discover and access the building blocks of creation. We aspire to bring together all lovers of creativity and Torah and, together, make art that serves to inspire and remind.

Dorielle Parker is a lover of all things creative and inspirational. She spends her days in the Pardes beit midrash in Southern Jerusalem, earning a Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew College through the Pardes Day School Educators Program. She lives in a cozy studio apartment in the whimsical neighborhood of Nachlaot with Joshua Fleet, her husband and partner in creative-crime.


Eric Lawrence (Summer 2012, 2013 Year 2013-2014)—Connect To Your Roots

Internet Based

"Connect To Your Roots" is an internet-based platform with the educational objective of promoting Jewish language literacy through accessible and highly entertaining channels. The website will be home to multi-media "Pop-Linguistics" content, which will teach about Jewish Language through videos, animation and more. The premier video, entitled “Connect To Your Roots”, will focus on the triliteral Hebrew root system and draws on the audience’s intuitive knowledge of English to explain how root-words are the building blocks of language.

Eric Lawrence is an alumnus of the the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. As a Hebrew Language Fellow, he received his BAs in Rabbinic Literature, Yiddish Language and Linguistics, and received his MA from JTS in Bible and Semitic Languages. Eric is spending the academic year in Israel at Yeshivat Ma'ale Gilboa before starting Rabbinical School next year at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.


Ross Weissman (Year 2010-11)—Jewish Thought and Education

Cambridge, MA

Ross Weissman will teach a series of shiurim on the intersection of Jewish Thought and Education. Through the use of biblical, Rabbinic and Hasidic sources, he will explore the role of teacher and student in the Jewish religious context. The shiurim are intended for Jewish students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and other Harvard graduate students and young adults in the Boston area.

Ross is currently a master’s candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was a member of the 2010- 2011 cohort at Yeshivat Hadar and has previously studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. This coming winter he will begin working as a researcher, exploring conceptions of sex and gender based violence in religious communities.


Sygall Steinberg (Summer 2013)—The Israeli Hupa and Kiddushin website

Internet Based/Israel

The Israeli Hupa and Kiddushin website will be an accessible database for a wide range of Jewish marriage possibilities. If a couple chooses to marry within the boundaries of the law, that is through the Chief Rabbinate, or on their own, they will have an easy way to be aware of their rights as well as their halakhic obligations and options. Just as a couple chooses their caterer, they should be aware of the options they have in the hupa and actively choose their ceremony, from a place of knowledge. This website will empower Jewish couples in Israel to find relevance for their lives in the traditional hupa and kiddushin through creating a vibrant Jewish ceremony—and life.

Sygall Steinberg is head of the community-based Beit Midrash "Beit Prat" in Tel Aviv. She studied Hebrew language and Jewish studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as and has a teachers permit in civics.


Beverly Lerner (Summer 2007)—Makom Community Family Shabbat Resources

Philadelphia, PA

Makom Community families are already accustomed to coming together to celebrate Shabbat. Our parents love that at each family-centered Shabbat celebration, we study some text together at an adult level and then they interpret that idea in a way that resonates for their family. Thanks to our microgrant from Hadar, we're taking that a step farther and creating materials to bring those conversations home. We'll also include these materials in the curriculum materials that we're preparing to share with similar programs around the country.

Beverly is an innovative and passionate Jewish educational leader who believes that each person constructs meaning in his or her life based on his or her experiences. Makom Community is built around creating learning experiences for families and children that are both joyous and meaningful. Beverly received a B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland (UMD). While she was at UMD, she researched Israeli Education at Israel's National Library in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Education Archives on an Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Scholarship for Research in Israel. Beverly was also a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar (summer '07). Beverly received her M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania in Jewish Education. In the last ten years directing synagogue schools at Congregation Shaare Tikvah in Upper Marlboro, MD and Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, NJ, and working at Barrack Hebrew Academy, Beverly has developed over forty new curricula for students and families of all ages.


Naomi Klionsky (Summer 2012, CWLS 2014)—Passover Kitchen

St. Paul, Minnesota

Last year, Naomi piloted a project to make kosher-for-Passover food available for the Macalester community. She will use the Hadar Microgrant funding to purchase materials to begin Macalester's permanent KP collection. The Macalester KP kitchen team learned much from supporting institutions and from sharing experiences with other small campus DIY-observant communities, and hopes to continue the conversation of how to make small liberal arts colleges and halachic Judaism fit together more soundly.

Naomi Klionsky is a sophomore at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota where she enjoys studying Geography, theoretical winter biking, and hosting Shabbat meals at the Veggie Coop. Originally from Hyde Park in Chicago, she has spent institutional Torah-learning time at Hadar, Yeshivat Bina in Tel Aviv, Midreshet Hashiluv in the Golan, Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, and SVARA in Chicago, and aspires to explore many more batei midrash.

Executive Seminar
Interested in immersing yourself in Jewish text study with adults of all ages and backgrounds from around the country? Looking to integrate with the dynamic, cutting-edge community at Yeshivat Hadar? Join Hadar for a week of exciting, fulfilling, and meaningful learning on July 7 - 11, 2019