Our team

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Elana Rivel

Chief Executive Officer

Elana Rivel

Chief Executive Officer

Elana Rivel is an experienced leader of nonprofit Jewish educational organizations. Elana previously worked at JLV for over 12 years, last serving as its Associate Director.

Elana has served as a leader in Jewish nonprofit organizations ranging from Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Penn State Hillel, Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, TX, and most recently as Director of Ramah Day Camp, Philadelphia. In her tenure at JLV, she helped to develop and manage numerous innovative initiatives that became national models, such as One Book, One Jewish Community, jkidphilly and LeV: Getting to the Heart of Jewish Education.

Anna Marx

Chief Strategy Officer

Anna Marx

Chief Strategy Officer

Anna brings over 10 years of experience working in the Jewish community with a focus on bringing innovative education to families in congregations and other part-time settings. Anna holds an MPA in Nonprofit Management and an MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from NYU and a BA in Political Science from Cal Poly, San Louis Obispo. She is married to Cantor Jamie Marx and they are the proud parents of two children.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Chief Program Officer

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Chief Program Officer

Gabby is an experienced Jewish educator, having worked as an education director, curriculum writer, teacher, author and youth director/advisor in various capacities for over 20 years. At Jewish Learning Venture, she works as the Chief Program Officer. Gabby also runs an award-winning Shabbat family education program called Celebrations! at Congregation Mishkan Shalom for children with special needs and their families and directs Whole Community Inclusion at JLV. Her most recent book The Little Gate Crasher is a memoir of her Great-Uncle, who overcame society’s prejudices about dwarfism to lead a remarkable life. She’s also written The Kitchen Classroom, a children’s cookbook designed for children of all abilities. Gabby holds a B.F.A. in Theatre and Creative Writing from Emerson College and an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Robyn Cohen

Director, PJ Library in Philadelphia

Robyn Cohen

Director, PJ Library in Philadelphia

Robyn Cohen is Director, PJ Library in Philadelphia. She is also the jkidphilly program specialist for Chester County. Robyn has experience working in the Jewish community with families of young children, teens, and college students. Robyn is a psychologist and her dissertation focused on children’s bedtime habits and routine. She and her husband are the proud parents of four wonderful jkids. Robyn has a B.S. in Psychology from Binghamton University, an M.A. in School Psychology, and a Ph.D. in School and Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University.

Rabbi Michelle Greenfield

Director, jkidACCESS Guides

Rabbi Michelle Greenfield

Director, jkidACCESS Guides

Rabbi Michelle Greenfield has over 15 years of experience working in Jewish Education, focusing on inclusion in congregational settings.  She has worked with families and students of all ages to create opportunities for accessible learning and meaningful community engagement.
Rabbi Michelle is 2012 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and holds a BA from Brandeis University.  She is also the Director of Family Education and Engagement at Kol Tzedek Synagogue.
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Charlie Hersh

Director, Administration

Charlie Hersh

Director, Administration

Charlie brings more than 6 years of experience working within informal Jewish education, with a focus on connecting with Jewish history and engaging in cross-cultural learning. Previously, they were a museum educator at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. They hold an M.A. in Public History and a B.A. in Religion from Temple University.

Irina Kraychik

Director, Finance & Human Resources

Irina Kraychik

Director, Finance & Human Resources

Irina has worked in the agency’s finance office for almost 15 years. She holds an honors B.S. in Management from Baltic State Technical University (Saint-Petersburg, Russia) and an M.B.A. in Finance from University of Akron. Irina and her husband are the proud parents of three children.

Lisa Litman

Director, Education and Engagement

Lisa Litman

Director, Education and Engagement

Lisa has worked with Jewish educators across North America to bring Jewish values alive through reading and play. Over the past 8 years as Director of PJ Goes to School, an initiative of PJ Library, she worked with over 500 schools and 1500 classrooms to develop materials and workshops to help educators reflect and focus on creating environments that inspire the entire family’s interest in living Jewishly.

Lisa previously worked with JCC Association as co-creator of An Ethical Start, a program to excite children, family, and staff about learning Jewish values via classical Jewish text.

Lisa is also a composer and director of musical theatre. She has a BA/BS from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Ed. from Gratz College.

Robin Matthews

Director, LGBTQ+ Engagement & Marketing/Communications

Robin Matthews

Director, LGBTQ+ Engagement & Marketing/Communications

After spending over 15 years as an English Professor, Robin joined Jewish Learning Venture so that she could contribute to enriching the lives of families in the Philadelphia Jewish community. Originally from Boston and having earned a B.A. from Wheelock College and an M.F.A. from Emerson College, Robin is a jkidphilly parent who also teaches the K-1 Bonim class at Temple Sholom in Broomall. She lives in Media with her wife and their 12-year-old son.

Alanna Raffel

Whole Community Inclusion Specialist

Alanna Raffel

Whole Community Inclusion Specialist

Alanna is an occupational therapist and accessibility consultant. She graduated from the University of Maryland with dual degrees in Psychology and Dance and from Thomas Jefferson University with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Alanna has worked as an occupational therapist in acute rehab, early intervention ages 3 to 5, outpatient, and school-based settings. Alanna has facilitated accessibility in a variety of ways including autism-friendly Broadway performances in New York City, open captioning at People’s Light in Malvern, and organizing mapping events to collect data on physical accessibility. Her company, Access Point, strives to increase inclusion in Philadelphia and beyond by advocating for access, creating solutions, and promoting awareness of accessible opportunities for people with disabilities and their friends and family.

Alyse Unterberger

Director, Special Initiatives

Alyse Unterberger

Director, Special Initiatives

Alyse comes to Jewish Learning Venture with more than 10 years of experience working to build a stronger and more engaged Jewish community. As Director of the Jewish Federation-funded Kehillah of Lower Merion, she worked with the rabbis, education directors, lay leaders and volunteers from the synagogues and other Jewish religious organizations to create community–wide educational and holiday programming and children and young family-oriented events. Alyse also brings 6 years of grant-writing and management experience from her work as Director of Grant Development and Compliance with the School District of Philadelphia. She holds a B.A.in Russian Language and Literature and an M.A. in Russian Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Julia Weekes

Director, Education Innovation Lab and Director jkidphilly, POC Engagement

Julia Weekes

Director, Education Innovation Lab and Director jkidphilly, POC Engagement

Julia Weekes is an educational management leader, educator, and artist. Julia has over thirty years of experience in leadership and management, professional development, arts education, integrated curriculum development, early childhood education, project-based learning, cooperative learning, and progressive education practices. She also has decades of experience in family engagement through her various roles in school, institutional, and community-based education.

Julia is a Philadelphia-area native and resides in the Mt. Airy section. She is the mother of two Black biracial teenage sons, Judah and Isaiah. Julia has been a congregational school teacher at Mishkan Shalom for over ten years. She has integrated her secular education knowledge and training into her congregational education role, creating classroom communities that focus on kindness, creativity, and collaboration.

Our board & trustees

officers

  • Marcy Bacine

    President

  • Nathan Relles

    VP, Governance and Leadership, Secretary

  • Amy Falk Russell

    VP, Programming

  • Julie Meyers

    VP, Institutional Advancement

  • Jeff Hurok

    Treasurer

  • Walter Ferst*

    Immediate Past President

Board

Jaime Bassman
Richard Busis
Martin Cohen
Kareen Hartwig
Andy Kind-Rubin
Jonathon Levine

Debbie Rosenthal
Dan Segal*
Graciela Slesaransky-Poe, PhD
David Smith*
Elana Weinstein

trustees

Judge Harold Berger
Jon Broder*
Steve Chopnick
Lowell Dubrow*
Michael Dvorak
Carol Einhorn*
Joel Goldhammer
Lewis Grafman*
Rabbi Cynthia Kravitz

Marilyn Kutler
Jonathan Levin*
Shelley Menkowitz
Michael Paul
Hershel Richman*
Steve Schwartz
Rabbi Margot Stein
Sherrie Willner

* Past President

Shomrim

Visionaries

Levine & Sons | Rachel and Jonathon Levine
Mary & Nathan Relles
Janet and Steve Schwartz
Rabbis Margot Stein and Myriam Klotz
The Allen A. Stein Family Foundation

Champions

Marcy and Dan Bacine
Jaime and Barak Bassman
Judge Harold Berger
Joy Bernstein and Jonathan Broder
Amy Falk and Mitch Russell
Dr. Julie and Alan Gubernick
Valerie and Dr. Andrew Kind-Rubin
Julie Meyers and David Piver
Linda Schwartz Satlow and Family

Advocates

Judy Beck and Richard Busis
Lisa and Ephraim Dardashti
Carol Einhorn and Jules Einhorn, z”l
Walter B. Ferst
Goldsteins’, Rosenberg’s, Raphael-Sacks, Inc.
Kareen and Robert Hartwig
Michele and Robert Levin
Susan and Michael Paul
Sheila and Dan Segal
Gayle and David Smith
Sherrie Willner

Mission and Vision

Vision

Jewish Learning Venture envisions individuals and families engaged in dynamic, connected Jewish life in Greater Philadelphia and beyond.

Mission

Jewish Learning Venture inspires and empowers people to make Jewish life, learning, and community relevant and meaningful.

Wildly Important Goal

Jewish Learning Venture will empower families raising children from birth through high school to make Judaism more meaningful and relevant for themselves. Our innovative programs will guide families and leaders of Jewish organizations to see Judaism as a means to a thriving life.

Innovation

Innovations Reports
Jewish Learning Venture’s annual Innovations Report is a journey through the Agency’s accomplishments each year, as well as an evolving vision of future endeavors. Each report highlights the leadership we have taken in the community to strengthen Jewish institutions and support Jewish families, our organizational effectiveness in providing successful programming and making meaningful connections, the impact our Agency has had on individuals and organizations, and the innovations we have introduced while developing new models of Jewish education and outreach.

We look forward to harnessing the momentum of the past as we venture forward into the community with new ideas, enthusiasm, and daring.

Learn more about our accomplishments in this interactive report

Previous Innovations Report

Accomplishments

“Lev: Getting to the Heart of Jewish Education”
Through this initiative, Jewish Learning Venture developed a change methodology for congregational education. Through this process we identified five high-impact models of Jewish education.

Harold and Renee Berger Synagogue Network for Engaging Families
Over 30 congregations have worked within this program to develop and implement new initiatives to engage families with young children. Read about these models.

jkidphilly Parent Ambassadors
We launched the Parent Ambassador intiative to empower parents to become engagement leaders among their peers. This work has been generously supported by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and Sherrie Savett. Read more about the Parent Ambassadors.