Rabbi Philip warmflash
Chief Executive Officer
Phil has led this agency in its various forms since 1993. He was the founding director of the Community Hebrew Schools, which, in 1997, became the Jewish Outreach Partnership, and, in 2009, merged to become, what is now, the Jewish Learning Venture. Phil received his B.A. at Brandeis University and M.A. and Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the recipient of the 2007 Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Program and Engagement Specialist
For the past 25 years, Ellen has worked with children, families and congregations as a Teacher, Education Director and Program Director. Her passion for Judaism, combined with her determination to engage and connect people through learning experiences, fuels her excitement to work with Jewish Learning Ventures Berger Network, PJ Goes To School and Havayah initiatives. Ellen earned a B.S. in Recreation Therapy from Temple University and an M.Ed. from Cabrini University in Elementary Education. Ellen lives in Broomall with her husband and 3 children.
Director, Educational Consultation and Support
Virginia works closely with our Education Directors by providing opportunities for them to grow as professionals through retreats, networking meetings, ongoing professional learning, special interest groups, and one-on-one coaching. She represents JLV in Shinui: the Network for Innovation in Part-Time Jewish Education and is also part of our Havayah team. Virginia has been an educational leader in two statewide projects as a Regional Mentor Coordinator with the PA Institute for Instructional Coaching and as a PDE Mentor for Classrooms for the Future. She is an instructional technology consultant for school districts and facilitates a professional learning community for future Principals on educational leadership topics.
Manager, Finance & Human Resources
Irina has worked in the agency’s finance office for over twelve 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 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.
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 10-year-old son.
Nicki has worked in the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Community for 20 years, serving as an administrator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Kehillot. Nicki holds a B.A. in Political Science from Nazareth College, Rochester, NY. Nicki and her three children live in Maple Glen and belong to Congregation Beth Or.
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.
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.
Our board & trustees
VP, Strategic Planning
Amy Falk Russell
VP, Leadership Development
Michael Paul *
Immediate Past President
Judge Harold Berger
Rabbi Cynthia Kravitz
Rabbi Andrea Merow
Rachel Saifer Goldman
Rabbi Margot Stein
* Past President
Mission and Vision
Jewish Learning Venture envisions individuals and families engaged in dynamic, connected Jewish life in Greater Philadelphia and beyond.
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.
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
“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.