Our team

Anna Marx

Acting Co-Executive Director

Anna Marx

Acting Co-Executive Director

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. In addition to her work at Jewish Learning Venture, Anna also serves as the Project Director of Shinui: The Network for Innovation in Part-Time Jewish Education.  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

Acting Co-Executive Director

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Acting Co-Executive Director

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 Acting Co-Executive Director. 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.

Charlie Hersh

Administrative Assistant

Charlie Hersh

Administrative Assistant

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, Marketing and Communications

Robin Matthews

Director, Marketing and 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 11-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.

Mikey Hess Webber

Jewish Education & Engagement Rabbinic Intern

Mikey Hess Webber

Jewish Education & Engagement Rabbinic Intern

Mikey Hess Webber is a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA.  She is in her fifth and final year of study and will be ordained this May.
For over a decade, Mikey has worked in congregations as a b’mitzvah tutor, Family Programming Director, Hebrew School and Confirmation teacher and, most recently, as a Teen Programming Director.  Currently, along with her studies at RRC and her work with JLV, she is the Student Rabbi at Columbia Jewish Congregation in Columbia, MD.
Mikey’s relationship with Jewish Learning Venture began in 2016 when she served for two years as the Rabbinic Intern for Whole Community Inclusion. Now, she is excited to return and is very much looking forward to jumping into the work of making the work of Ed. Directors more connective and, hopefully, a little easier during this unprecedented year.
Mikey lives in Baltimore, MD with her wonderful husband, Scott, and their two cats, Reuben and Ziggy.

Our board & trustees

officers

  • Walter Ferst

    President

  • Richard Busis

    VP, Governance and Leadership, Secretary

  • Amy Falk Russell

    VP, Programming

  • Marcy Bacine

    VP, Institutional Advancement

  • Jeff Hurok

    Treasurer

  • Michael Paul

    Immediate Past President

Board

  • Jaime Bassman

  • Martin Cohen

  • Kareen Hartwig

  • Andy Kind-Rubin

  • Bill Kramer

  • Jonathon Levine

  • Julie Meyers

  • Nathan Relles

  • Debbie Rosenthal

  • Steve Schwartz

  • Dan Segal*

  • David Smith*

  • Elana Weinstein

trustees

  • Judge Harold Berger

  • Jon Broder*

  • Steve Chopnick

  • Lowell Dubrow*

  • Michael Dvorak

  • Carol Einhorn*

  • Vicki Erlbaum

  • Joel Goldhammer

  • Lewis Grafman*

  • Randi Grauman*

  • Samuel Karsch*

  • Rabbi Cynthia Kravitz

  • Marilyn Kutler

  • Jonathan Levin*

  • Shelley Menkowitz

  • Rabbi Andrea Merow

  • Glenn Paskow

  • Hershel Richman*

  • Rachel Saifer Goldman

  • Rabbi Margot Stein

  • Sherrie Willner

  • * Past President

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.