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 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 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.


Second-Year Students

Photo of Lauren FredmanLauren Fredman (MA/MBA) grew up in Salt Lake City, UT and Denver, CO. After graduating from high school, she spent a year studying and volunteering in Israel through Young Judaea Year Course. Lauren earned her bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in psychology from the University of Missouri in 2009, graduating magna cum laude. In college, she served as the president of Hillel and taught at the local synagogue. Lauren has spent the past two years as an Education Fellow at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, MS. As an Education Fellow, she traveled throughout the South and served as a resource for 11 congregations by writing curricula, leading services and teacher training programs, teaching lessons, and facilitating programs in each community. Lauren is extremely excited to join the Hornstein community and is especially interested in informal education, camping, and working with underserved Jewish communities. Lauren is a recipient of the Jewish Community Center Association Graduate Scholarship and plans to work at a Jewish Community Center upon graduating from Hornstein.

Photo of Levi KerzhnerLevi Kerzhner (MA/MBA) was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. He made Aliyah with his parents and younger sister in 1990 when he was 5 years old, and has been living in Netanya, Israel since. After serving for three years in the Israeli Defense Forces as a commander in the infantry, he attended Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva where he earned a BA in Business Management and Political Science. Upon graduation, Levi accepted work at Brooklyn College Hillel in New York as an Israel Program Coordinator. Levi was the adviser of the Israel Club on campus and was in charge of bringing Israel to the Jewish students through educational, cultural and advocacy programs. Throughout Levi's two years at Brooklyn College Hillel, he worked with many students from different backgrounds and staffed two Birthright Israel trips. Levi is very passionate about the Jewish world, in general, and Israel, in particular, and strives to continue contributing to the Jewish community.

Photo of Elisheva MasselElisheva Massel (MA/MBA) emigrated from Johannesburg, South Africa to Sydney, Australia at the age of 14. She received her BA/BSW in Transgenerational Transmission of Holocaust Trauma from the University of New South Wales. Elisheva was a youth leader, Director of Education and NSW Vice President of Hineni Youth and Welfare Australia. She has also led multiple international programs in Israel, Poland, Austria and the United States, including March of the Living, AUJS Academy, Taglit Birthright, Poland Heritage Tour and AUJS Leadership Development Program. She is an avid believer in Limmud having been a volunteer and presenter at Limmud-Oz and a steering committee member for Limmud-Oz Fest. She spent her gap year in Israel on the Hineni Shnat program, is a graduate of Machon le' Madrichei Chutz La'Aretz and is a Nahum Goldmann Fellow. She spent 3 years as Education Officer at the Sydney Jewish Museum before deciding to further her studies combining her belief in Jewish community with professional training and experience. Elisheva is passionate about values education, combating racism, social entrepreneurship and global Jewish citizenship. Elisheva is a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar.

Photo of Geo PoorGeoffrey (Geo) Poor (MA/MBA) graduated from Clark University with a BA in Music and a concentration in Jewish studies. During college, he spent several summers working at Camp Ramah in Nyack, NY, and was Clark's Hillel Shabbat Chair. His Jewish studies capstone project dealt with the formation of eschatological beliefs within early Judaism.  After college, Geo worked at the Solomon Schechter Day School and UPS, and has spent the past several years working with USY.  He was raised in Virginia. Geo is very excited to be a part of the Hornstein program and to use the skills he learns here to help spread the love and knowledge of Israel throughout the American Jewish community.  In his spare time, Geo plays bass in he Celtic/Gypsy/Klezmer rock band, The Great Whiskey Rebellion, an act for which he has been awarded a (non-metaphorical) key to the (metaphorical) gates of Worcester.

Photo of Jason PressbergJason Pressberg (MA/MBA) is originally from Yorktown Heights, NY and graduated from Elon University with a BA in Religious Studies. Jason has worked for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life for the past six years, splitting time between Tulane, Harvard and Northeastern Universities. During his summers off, he has worked at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute, JDC Camp Szarvas in Hungary, and served as the boys' head counselor and sports director at independent Jewish summer camps. He has led college students on seventeen trips to Israel and alternative break experiences to New Orleans, Curaçao and Argentina. In his free time, he teaches religious school and serves as chair for Entwine, the JDC’s young adult initiative, in Boston.

Photo of Yuliya SerebryanaYuliya Serebryana (MA/MBA) was born and raised in Dnipropetrovsk,Ukraine. She earned a BA in Intercultural Business Administration at the Lauder School-Vienna International College while simultaneously working at a distance on another bachelor's degree in information technology in her hometown. Yuliya has made a valuable contribution to the daily operations of the Dnipropetrovsk JCC by preparing and implementing children's education programs, as well as their annual family camp. During her three-year stay in Austria, in addition to her studies, Yuliya performed in the Vienna Jewish Choir and interned at the Vienna Jewish Museum, where she helped catalogue rare artifacts. Additionally, during the Summer of 2011, she volunteered at the European Maccabi Games. That same year, Yuliya coordinated a concert tour around Eastern Europe for the Austrian Yiddish musician Roman Grinberg and his klezmer band. Her most challenging achievement was in the position of Venue Accreditation Assistant at UEFA EURO 2012, where she, as a part of the Kyiv Stadium team, worked on the third biggest world event – the European Football Championship. Yuliya is excited to be part of the Brandeis community.

Photo of Hannah ShermanHannah Sherman (MA/MA) was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, earning a BA in American Studies. At UC Santa Cruz, Hannah was active in Hillel and served as a Hebrew tutor. She spent three months of her senior year in college in Washington, D.C. where she was an intern for Jewish Women International, a non-profit organization working to end domestic violence. As an intern, Hannah researched and prepared information for several congressional briefings and wrote many blog posts on issues relating to Judaism and domestic violence. An avid traveler, Hannah has spent many summers abroad, including a trip to Israel in the Summer of 2011. Hannah hopes to combine her fascination with cultural arts with her love of the Jewish community, gaining experience in order to work in a Jewish cultural institution.

Photo of Dina ShvetsovaDina Shvetsov (MA/MPP) was born in Ryazan, Russia, and earned a BA and MA in Politics at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. She spent part of her childhood in Israel and considers this to be a defining experience for her personal and professional goals. Dina worked as a political analyst and policy maker on several projects in Russia and Kazakhstan in organizations such as the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Office of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, and the Institute for Regional Politics (Moscow, Russia). Working on media analysis of the Moscow Government national policy made her focus her professional goals on pursuing policy making around the issues of Jewish community, such as identification and integration of Russian-speaking Jews into the global Jewish community. She is passionate about Jewish community and hopes to dedicate her career to helping promote its social development.

Photo of Larry TobinLarry Tobin (MA/MBA) graduated from Boston University with a BA in Religion. He currently serves as a Major Gifts Officer at Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), Boston's Jewish federation. Larry joined CJP in 2008 to focus on their annual campaign fundraising efforts, specifically working with donors within the financial services industry. Larry continues to manage the Financial Services Group, and additionally focuses half of his time on CJP's Day School Initiative, Birthright Israel, and CJP's own Birthright follow-up program—IACT. Lastly, Larry focuses a great deal on high-potential younger donors and has crafted a strategic philanthropy curriculum for young major donors. Larry lives in Newton with his fiancée, Jesse. In his spare time, he sits on the development committee and chairs the alumni committee of the Rashi School, sits on BU Academy's alumni board, and serves as a mentor through YearUp. Larry is an avid Red Sox fan; he attends about 25 games per year and most of BC's basketball games.

Photo of Noah ZavesNoah Zaves (MA/MBA) is a Jewish educator from the San Francisco Bay Area, with an emphasis on informal and experiential education. He earned a BA in Jewish American History at Willamette University and has spent 15 summers at Camp Tawonga, most recently as Program Director and Jewish Educator. In his free time, Noah is a popular song leader, combining Judaism and music to create innovative adult services, and DJing at occasional weddings, bar mitzvahs, and parties. Noah is the director and lead educator of the Institute for Modern Judaism, presenting workshops on identity, culture, and leadership for teens and adults around the country. He also consults for Jewish schools and organizations, helping them make their lessons and programs more engaging and interactive. Noah is a trained facilitator of the "Living the Legacy" curriculum from the Jewish Women's Archive and, in 2007, he was a Cornerstone Fellow with the Foundation for Jewish Camp.