Students

Each year, 10 to 15 qualified future Jewish professionals from all backgrounds are chosen to enroll in the Hornstein Program. A typical student has strong academic qualifications and several years of work experience in organizations such as Jewish camps, museums, Hillels and Jewish education; federations and JCCs; fundraising, community relations and start-ups; and work in overseas Jewish communities.

Some students are experienced professionals in other fields who are searching for meaningful work that brings their personal and professional identities closer together. No matter what their background, our students chose the Hornstein Program to become critically informed, highly skilled professionals committed to shaping the future of the Jewish community.

The diversity of a typical class adds to its intellectual and professional excitement. Because graduates will be working in an increasingly diverse Jewish community, they confront tough questions about pluralism, tolerance and inclusion in their training. The educational experience at the Hornstein Program presents "living models" of good professional practice.

First-Year Student Profiles

Second-Year Student Profiles

First-year Students

Photo of Joel AbramsonJoel Abramson (MA/MBA), originally from Longwood, Florida, attended Kent State University where he studied Communication and Theatre. He has spent his last three years living in Nashville, Tennessee working for the Jewish Federation of Nashville. As the Community Engagement Associate, it was Joel’s responsibility to network with the young professional community as well as provide opportunities for leadership development and philanthropy. While working with the Federation, he rebranded the cohort to become ’NowGen Nashville,’ and developed a network of more than 600 young professionals who participated in over 150 programs a year. Highlights include Mitzvah Madness, a month-long community service initiative, and the Purim Masquerade, which raised $17,000. Joel enjoys network weaving and extols community cohesion. He is recently married to Felicia Abramson, whom he met at a Hillel Shabbat dinner.

Photo of Alyssa BogdanowAlyssa Bogdanow (MA/MPP) was born and raised in Lexington MA.  She graduated with honors from Wesleyan University in 2011 where she utilized her double major in Anthropology and Religious Studies for a cross-disciplinary senior thesis that explored the anthropological aspects of religious conversion. Most recently, Alyssa served as a Goldman Bridge Fellow in the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Washington Regional Office. In this capacity, she oversaw ACCESS DC, AJC's young professionals initiative in Washington, focusing specifically on strengthening relationships with religious and ethnic partners, developing advocacy opportunities with younger members of the diplomatic community, and building a base of committed Jewish leaders. Prior to joining AJC, she worked for Israel Outdoors, where she facilitated the registration and pre-trip preparation process for Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. She previously served as the NFTY Assistant Coordinator of Finance and Event Logistics at the Union for Reform Judaism. In the summer of 2010, she was an AJC Goldman Fellow in Warsaw, Poland, where she worked with Forum for Dialogue Among Nations, a non-profit that fosters Polish-Jewish dialogue and reduces anti-Semitism in Poland. Alyssa is extremely excited to join the Hornstein community and is eager to study the intersection of social policy, program management, and leadership development through a Jewish lens.

Photo of Zachary BronsteinZachary Bronstein (MA/MBA) was born and raised in northern New Jersey. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Political Science and Public Policy from George Washington University (GWU) in 2012. While at GWU, Zach served as a program assistant for Jews United For Justice, a non-profit dedicated to promoting Jewish values in the greater DC community. Upon graduating, Zach returned to his summer camp of 12 years, the Union for Reform Judaism’s Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where he has served as Program Developer and Director of the Counselor in Training (Machon) program. Concurrently, Zach has also served as the Director of Youth Engagement for Temple Beth Abraham in Tarrytown, New York; a Marketing Consultant helping to launch multiple new product lines for a beverage alcohol distributor in New Jersey; and as a private tutor for high school students. Zach is passionate about his work in the Jewish community and looks forward to using his skills to work with Jewish youth to enhance their experience and help them to explore their unique Jewish identity.

Photo of Rachel EisenRachel Eisen (MA/MA) grew up in New York and Maryland, and graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Jewish Studies and History, earning departmental honors in Jewish Studies and the Sherman Book Prize for Distinguished Accomplishment in Jewish Studies. She was active in the Vassar Jewish Union, serving in various student leadership roles, including president and co-editor of the Jewish culture magazine. She worked both as a Jewish educator at a local synagogue and as a public school Holocaust educator through the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Rachel has spent the past three years at Brown RISD Hillel as the Senior Engagement Associate, meeting one-on-one with Jewish students, building community relationships, and supervising student leadership. During her time in Providence, she also served on the board of a new Jewish young professionals initiative, (401)j, and organized a Rosh Chodesh women's group. Rachel is excited to expand her knowledge of Jewish organizations in order to continue building and improving the Jewish community's educational models and community engagement strategies.

Photo of Erica GoldmanErica Goldman (MA/MBA) grew up in Levittown, NY, and Coral Springs, FL. After receiving her BA in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from Brandeis University, Erica went on to work in software development in the Boston area until the summer of 2004, which she spent as Director of Dance at Camp Alonim in Los Angeles. That began an incredible new career of teaching Israeli dance full-time, both in the US and internationally, always returning to camp for the summer. In 2011 Erica joined the Global Jewish Education department at New Community Jewish High School in Los Angeles and has helped coordinate and implement both their three-week and three-month exchange programs with Tel Aviv high schools. Erica is also the Goodman Educator for Camp Alonim, working to expand and improve Israel education at camp as part of the FJC and the iCenter’s Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel History.

Photo of Alena GomulinaAlena Gomulina (MA/MBA) was born in Russia, raised in Brooklyn, and is an active member of the Russian-speaking Jewish community in NYC. Growing up at the Marks JCH (a JCC in South Brooklyn) fostered her passion for work with Russian-speaking youth, and combined with a BS in Public Affairs from Baruch College, where she was involved with Hillel and BARS (Baruch Association for Russian Students), laid the foundation for a career as a Jewish Professional. As a JCCA Merrin Teen Fellow and former camp Madricha, she considers her biggest accomplishment to be igniting the spark of Judaism in the heart and mind of the youth in her community. She is most recently a recipient of a Wexner Graduate Fellowship.  Alena has volunteered in Jewish communities in the Former Soviet Union and in Russian-speaking communities in Israel, running cultural programs in camps, coordinating holiday celebrations, and even teaching dance. Alena is an avid NY sports fan, an artist, and an amateur graphic designer.

Photo of Ari HausmanAri Hausman (MA/MBA) is from Concord, MA and is an alum of both Gann Academy and Ramah Palmer, the two institutions to which he attributes much of his interest in working in the Jewish field. He is particularly interested in the widespread implementation of pluralism as well as southern Jewish communities.  In Spring of 2012, he graduated from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and in Judaic Studies. Upon the completion of his studies, he spent two years living and working in Greensboro, NC where he founded the alumni association at the American Hebrew Academy and taught music at Bna'i Shalom Day School. While at Brandeis, Ari will be working at Temple Emunah in Lexington as the USY advisor and Madrich Ruchani for the Hebrew School.  Ari loves a cappella, ultimate Frisbee, and dabbles in music recording and production.

Photo of David KorenthalDavid Korenthal (MA/MBA) is from Chicago, Illinois, and graduated in 2010 with a BA in History from Ithaca College. Upon graduation, David spent time living in Cairo, Egypt, and then spent a year living, working, and volunteering in Israel as a fellow on OTZMA 26. For the past two years, David has worked as the Engagement Associate at UChicago Hillel. He also served on the Masa Alumni Committee of Chicago. David spent 14 summers as a camper, counselor, and unit head at Camp Interlaken JCC in Eagle River, Wisconsin. He is excited to be part of the Hornstein program's cohort of future Jewish leaders.

Photo of Eric MaurerEric Maurer (MA/MA) is a Jewish professional and educator from the Greater Boston Area. While earning his BA in Judaic Studies from the University of Hartford, Eric served on the Hartford Hillel board as well as president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the première Jewish fraternity.  During his studies, Eric interned for the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT), advocating for the interests of Connecticut’s Jewish community.  He also worked as a religious school teacher and as a docent for the Sherman Museum of Jewish Civilization.  Eric was recognized for his work at the University, being honored both as the Jerome E. Caplan Scholar of the Year and as a Fishman Fellow in American Jewish History and Jewish Communal Leadership.  Eric continued his passion towards education and Jewish communal work after graduation, working as a full-time Synagogue Educator at Temple Emunah in Lexington, MA.  Eric is eager to integrate the study of Jewish history and culture into the realm of Jewish communal service.

Photo of Teri McGuireTeri McGuire (MA/MA) is originally from New City, NY, a suburb of New York City. The granddaughter of two Holocaust survivors, she was raised to take pride in her Judaism and contribute strongly to the community around her. Teri strengthened her Jewish identity through her involvement in United Synagogue Youth (USY) where she gained an informal Jewish education and important leadership skills. Her involvement in USY inspired her to spend a year studying and volunteering in Israel after graduating from high school. Following her gap year program, The Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel, she enrolled at Binghamton University and earned a B.A. in Judaic Studies. Teri is excited to enroll at Brandeis in hopes of gaining the skills and knowledge needed to give her the ability to work in the Jewish not-for-profit world and give back to the Jewish community.

Photo of Sara MillerSara Miller (BA/MBA) is excited to return to Brandeis University, where she received a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies with minors in Music, Religious Studies, and Hebrew: Language and Literature. While at Brandeis, Sara participated in the Hillel community, running Hillel Orientation for new students, performing onstage with the Hillel Theater Group, and coordinating the Brandeis Reform Chavurah (BaRuCH), for which she was awarded the Brandeis Student Life Award. She also served the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) department as an Undergraduate Departmental Representative (UDR). Sara spent a semester abroad in the spring of her junior year at the University of Haifa’s International School, and has spent summers as a music specialist at the JCC day camp in Northern VA, interning at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and working for BIMA at Brandeis University, an arts program for Jewish high school students. Raised in northern Virginia, Sara was active at her synagogue and with the pluralistic youth group BBYO.  Most recently Sara spent three years as the Senior Israel Engagement Fellow at Brown RISD Hillel, where she engaged with students in Providence through Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, advised the pro-Israel groups under the Hillel umbrella, and mentored leaders of the Reform community. At Hornstein (and after!) she is looking forward to deepening her knowledge of the Jewish professional world through a multiplicity of lenses.

Photo of Naomi RosenfeldNaomi Rosenfeld (MA/MBA) was born in Toronto, Ontario, and graduated first in her program from Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario, with a BScH (psychology) in 2013. While Naomi was involved in many extra-curricular activities during her undergraduate career, it was her work as chair of Holocaust Education Week that ultimately lead to her receiving the highest non-academic, non-athletic honour bestowed upon any Queen’s student. Prior to beginning the Hornstein/Heller program as one of the Jewish Federations of North America's FEREP scholars, Naomi was the Director of Jewish Student Life in Atlantic Canada on behalf of Hillel where she, as a lone professional, spearheaded innovative Jewish programming on more than seven university campuses spanning across 4 different provinces and a landmass larger than the state of California. Alongside her penchant for the Jewish community, Naomi is also passionate about fitness – instructing several group fitness classes per week in her spare time.



Second-year Students

Photo of Edana AppelEdana Appel (MA/MBA) is from El Paso, Texas and graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies and Women's and Gender studies with a minor in Hebrew Language and Literature from Brandeis University. Upon graduation she received the Rachel Oliveri Prize for her outstanding work in the Women's and Gender studies department and the Student Life Award. Edana has worked as the assistant director at two different Jewish overnight camps, Camp Young Judaea –West and Camp Livingston. During her years at Camp Livingston, she was chosen to participate in the JCC Association’s Merrin Teen Professional Fellowship Program as well as the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Yitro Leadership Program. Most recently, Edana worked at Camp Interlaken JCC where she was the Chizuk Fellow. Her excitement about returning to Brandeis is only bolstered by the fact that she was chosen as a JCC Association Graduate Scholar and the JFEW/Brandeis Scholar Graduate Student Mentor. She looks forward to a future of working for the Jewish community where she can create innovative Jewish and Israel experiences, build environments for personal growth, and conceive new means of leadership development.

Photo of David BigioDavid Bigio (MA/MBA) was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, where he was director of the local youth movement, Atid Tnuat Noar, running activities, camps, training new madrichim, and participating in informal education training programs with Hanoar Hatzioni across Latin America. David earned a B.A. in Intercultural Business Administration from the Lauder Business School in Vienna, Austria. In college, David volunteered at the European “Maccabi Games 2011” and served as a student representative for ECJS in Austria. Additionally, David has worked in an online focused marketing agency as a campaign specialist for Latin American countries. After graduating, David returned to Colombia and worked as a local representative for Israel Soul Train, a non-profit organization that strengthens small Jewish communities around the world. He was responsible for running programs for local Jewish students and coordinating artistic events for the community. Simultaneously, he was involved in the for-profit sector, working as a sales manager for a leather company. David is excited to be part of the Brandeis community, and hopes to incorporate business practices into his work in the Jewish community.

Photo of Eli CohnEli Cohn (MA/MA) was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He went to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy. While in school Eli helped found the Greater Portland Hillel and served as its first president. After graduation, Eli spent a year in Israel on the OTZMA program, where he volunteered, worked, and traveled throughout the country. For the past two years Eli has worked as the Coordinator for Israel Engagement for the Hillel at Brandeis University. He also serves on the committee for ReachOut, an organization committed to engaging Jewish young adults in community service. The product of a lifetime of Jewish camping, youth groups, Hillel, and more, Eli has special interests in Jewish education, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood.

Photo of Meredith GrabekMeredith Grabek (MA/MBA), originally from Paxton, Massachusetts, attended the University of Delaware where she studied sociology and art history. In 2008 she moved to New Orleans as a Corps Member with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps where she studied social justice in the community and served elderly, disabled, low income clients as the Intake Assistant with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, a project of the Preservation Resource Center (PRC). Meredith is glad to have remained in New Orleans following her AVODAH year.  She worked as the Development and Next Gen Manager with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans where she assisted with the Federation's Annual Campaign and collaborated with colleagues and lay leaders to develop a re-energized Jewish Next Gen program called JNOLA: Your Hub for Next Gen Jewish Life. The experience allowed Meredith the opportunity to network among the local and international Jewish community. Meredith is eager to explore the intersection of social justice and Judaism through the Hornstein/Heller program.

Photo of Joe HyamsJoe Hyams (MA/MBA) was born in the U.K., where he pursued an unusual undergraduate mix of Jewish Studies and Photography. His love of teaching, creativity and an interest in Media, combined to earn him key roles at some of London’s longest established Advertising Agencies. Joe’s affinity with Israel, and ad-campaign experience earned him an invitation to join the Tel Aviv office of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising as a Strategic Planner for major international clients including P&G. Connecting his media know-how to a desire to improve Israel’s image abroad, Joe made Aliyah, joining HonestReporting.com in 2005, where he continues to lead the organizations efforts to ensure fair media coverage for Israel. At Hornstein, Joe looks forward to augmenting his experience with the finest tools and mentoring to help meet the increasingly professional standards demanded of the NGO community. Joe feels strongly that his work in the field of not-for-profit best practice, and effective cause-driven communications are assets to be developed, nurtured and made accessible to every facet of Jewish Leadership.

Photo of Heather KufertHeather Kufert (MA/MA), who grew up in Charlotte, NC, began shaping her Jewish identity through the lens of the URJ's youth movement and camping system. At Florida State University, she studied elementary education, while becoming deeply involved with FSU Hillel. Inspired to work in the Jewish community, Heather has spent the last five years as Program Director at Temple Israel in Tallahassee, Florida, where she created and developed innovative programs for all ages including a Jewish 20s and 30s group, and frequently led services as Cantorial Soloist the past two years. Meanwhile, she served on the board of the Holocaust Education Resource Council, where she co-founded a successful interfaith Holocaust book club. Heather is a recipient of the Jewish Community Center Association Graduate Scholarship, and plans to work at a JCC after graduating from Hornstein.

Photo of Beth LeschBeth Lesch (MA/MBA) grew up in Long Island, NY and received her B.A. in History from Yale University in 2009, with a focus on modern Jewish history. Upon graduation, she was a Jewish Organizing Fellow with JOIN for Justice. She worked for over two years as a Synagogue Organizer for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston where she trained Jewish adults and teenagers to design and implement political campaigns and to become leaders in their synagogues. In 2011, she moved to Jerusalem to pursue full-time Torah study at Midreshet Rachel v'Chaya and at Nishmat, where she fell in love with the study of halacha and Talmud. She is passionate about expanding resources for Torah study across denominations. In addition to her studies at Brandeis, Beth is the Executive Director of Ma'ayan: Torah Study from the Sources. Beth is very excited to be a part of the Hornstein program, to learn from teachers and peers who share her aspiration to strengthen the Jewish community. She lives with her husband Charlie in Brookline.

Photo of David ManchesterDavid Manchester (MA/MPP) grew up in Scarsdale, NY and received a B.A. in International Relations from American University. After college, David worked as a legislative assistant in Hadassah's Washington Action Office and then as an operations analyst at Blackboard, Inc. where he honed his skills in quantitative metrics and evaluation. He currently serves as a research analyst at Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies working on a socio-demographic study to predict the population of the American Jewish community. David is also the VP of the Board of Directors of American University Hillel and has served on the Advisory Board of the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, Birthright Israel NEXT DC, and Young Leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. In 2012, David was chosen for the Washington Jewish Week’s Minyan List composed of the 10 most interesting Jews in the DC area. Upon graduating, David looks forward to working with Jewish organizations to evaluate the impact of their work and promote the use of research to track trends, needs, and desires of different Jewish communities.

Photo of Evan TaksarEvan Taksar (MA/MA) grew up in Los Angeles, California. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a minor in Jewish Studies. At CU Boulder, Evan served as a board member of the CU Hillel and was active in the Program in Jewish Studies. She spent her senior year as the Development Intern at the Boulder Jewish Community Center. Evan has spent the past 15 summers at Camp JCA Shalom Malibu, 7 as a camper, and 8 in various staff and administrative positions. She considers her time spent at camp to be the most defining Jewish experience of her life, both personally and professionally. After graduating college, Evan has continued to be engaged with the Jewish community, most recently as a youth director and as a Jewish educator. In her spare time, Evan enjoys cooking, live music, reading and going on adventures. Evan is excited to attend the Hornstein/NEJS program and continue her work within the Jewish communal world.

Photo of Sabrina TaranSabrina Taran (MA/MBA) comes from Montreal, Quebec. She graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in Jewish Studies and a concentration in Education. During her time at McGill, Sabrina had the opportunity to deepen her appreciation for the Yiddish language, having assisted on a research and translation project on Yiddish poetry, and was the recipient of the Sarah Rozenfeld Prize for Yiddish. She is also a graduate of the Uriel Weinreich Summer Yiddish Program at YIVO in New York and worked as a translator and archivist for the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre Archive in Montreal. Sabrina has a passion for Jewish education, and has experience as an educator in both the Jewish day school system and in after-school supplemental programming. During her final undergraduate year, Sabrina was a student intern for the Bronfman Israel Experience Centre where she worked on the March of the Living program and was hired as the Program Associate upon graduating. Sabrina hopes to develop creative approaches to informal and experiential Jewish learning while engaging individuals in communal involvement.

Photo of Nathan VaughnNathan Vaughan (MA/MPP) is a Jewish professional and experiential educator, hailing from small-town southern Kentucky.  A 2009 graduate of the University of Louisville with a self designed B.A. in Middle Eastern Affairs, Nathan has worked in a variety of Jewish communities and organizations. Immediately after college, Nathan joined the faculty of the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, NC as a Teaching Fellow and Media Specialist. In 2011, Nathan moved to the Greater Boston area and began work as a Development Associate for Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston. Most recently, Nathan joined the staff of URJ Camp Harlam, working to build a Jewishly engaged outdoor education program. Nathan is passionate about college basketball, engaging children in Judaism through nature, and great music.

Photo of Aaron WeinbergAaron Weinberg (BA/MA), originally from the Chicago area, participated in American University’s Washington Semester in the Fall of 2012. There he studied communal change and political speechwriting, while working as a D.C. Jewish Outreach Fellow on President Obama’s re-election campaign. Aaron spent the spring 2013 semester studying Jewish education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, he co-chaired Ta Shema, J Street U’s on-the-ground educational initiative, planning trips to parts of Israel and the West Bank often unseen on Israel educational experiences. In summer 2013 Aaron worked as an iEngage Intern and research assistant to Gil Troy at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Aaron has participated in Machon Kaplan at the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (RAC), been a Madrich (counselor) on the Eisendrath International Exchange, and interned at J Street and the iCenter.  Before college, Aaron participated in Kivunim: New Directions—a Jerusalem-based program that studies and travels to Jewish communities around the world. Aaron was a student delegate to the first Conference on the Holocaust in the Arab World and is an alumnus of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship.