Our team

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.

A headshot of a white woman with shoulder-length grey-brown hair, wearing a vibrant turquoise scarf.

Rhona Gerber

Chief Development Officer

Rhona Gerber

Chief Development Officer

Rhona Gerber brings more than two decades of nonprofit and political fundraising expertise to her role as Chief Development Officer, recently spending six years as Development Director of CeaseFirePA, a statewide gun-violence prevention organization. Long committed to the Philadelphia Jewish community and particularly to Jewish education, Rhona was the founding chair of the BZBI preschool and was active on many committees at Kohelet Yeshiva, PJDS, JBHA, and Mekor Habracha. She is Chair of the Center City Kehillah.

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.

A close up headshot of an older white woman with short brown hair and large patterned glasses.

Suzanne Gold

jkidACCESS Guides Director

Suzanne Gold

jkidACCESS Guides Director

In addition to her work with us as the jkidACCESS Director, Suzanne Gold is the Inclusion Facilitator at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, engaging and supporting all students to participate within their sacred community; and the lead coordinator for Celebrations!@Ohev; a monthly Shabbat morning program for youth and teens with disabilities. In addition, she is a member of Ohev Shalom Inclusion B’Kvode striving to make Ohev Shalom an inclusive community for everyone.
Suzanne has presented at numerous professional development conferences, demonstrating and implementing accommodations that engage all kinds of students attending supplemental Jewish education. As a retired Master Special Education Teacher from the School District of Philadelphia, Suzanne merged her secular knowledge and experience with her passion for Jewish education.
A white non-binary person with a shaved head and in a turquoise shirt, rainbow glasses, and heart earrings stands smiling in front of a blurred green background.

char hersh

Director, Administration

char hersh

Director, Administration

char 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.

Bari Jacobson

Parent Ambassador, Lower Bucks County Area; Coordinator, Get Together Grants; Social Media Manager

Bari Jacobson

Parent Ambassador, Lower Bucks County Area; Coordinator, Get Together Grants; Social Media Manager

Bari is the Parent Ambassador for the Lower Bucks County area, Coordinator, Get Together Grant and Social Media Manager. Bari enjoys planning events, creating Jewish community, teaching, and sharing all of the wonderful opportunities Jewish Learning Venture has to offer! She and her husband have two wonderful children. Bari has a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Recreation Management.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Whole Community Inclusion Coordinator

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Whole Community Inclusion Coordinator

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 and directs Whole Community Inclusion. Gabby is a proud recipient of the 2022 Covenant Award. 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 has 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.

Headshot of Sarah Kolker in a white cowboy hat

Sarah Kolker

Director, jkid4all

Sarah Kolker

Director, jkid4all

Sarah Kolker, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Moore College of Art and Design, was born and raised in Philadelphia. She has extensive experience providing healthy creative learning environments for youth in Philadelphia, Jamaica, SF Bay Area, and New York City. Her use of art and social justice-centered educational practices have been employed by both private and public institutions. Sarah continues to teach and support community art with Mural Arts in Philadelphia, which is the nation’s largest public art program that engages the community to ignite change through mural-making.

Sarah lives in Germantown with her two children. When she is not busy supporting youth and families, she enjoys spending time in her garden or creating nourishing food in the kitchen and artwork in the studio or in the community.

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.

Robin Matthews

Director, jkidpride and Graphic Design

Robin Matthews

Director, jkidpride and Graphic Design

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 son.

Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L

Whole Community Inclusion Specialist

Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L

Whole Community Inclusion Specialist

Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L, 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

Special Projects Coordinator

Alyse Unterberger

Special Projects Coordinator

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.

A photograph of a white woman with ear-length curly brown hair and a blue top. She is smiling and standing in front of a blurry green background.

Julia Weekes

Director, Professional Learning

Julia Weekes