Dynamic, Diverse,
& Richly Beautiful:
 World Jewry
 & Peoplehood

Above: First- and second-year Hornstein students participate annually in the Kraft Seminar in Israel. They are pictured here in the Old City of Jerusalem in late 2015. Seminars such as this and the Seminar in the Former Soviet Union provide students with a solid foundation of knowledge about Jewish life in Israel and in communities around the world. 

In This Newsletter

Kraft Seminar
in Israel

FSU Seminar

Starr Seminar
in New York City

Alumni Profiles:

Student Profile:
Alyssa Bogdanow

Alumni Contributor:
A Fresh Look at
"Let My People Go..."
by Zohar Raviv




Kraft Seminar in Israel 2016 photo collage

Starr Seminar in New York City 2016, photo collage

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Hornstein Program's impact in the world of Jewish communal service

Impact Newsletter | March 2016

Hornstein students, Kraft Seminar in Israel 2016

Studies & Reflections
 on World Jewry

Ellen Smith
From the Director:

Welcome to this issue of Impact, and a tour of the world through the learning and experiences of our Hornstein students, faculty, and alumni.

Throughout our history, Jewish people have been among the most ethnically and geographically diverse communities on the planet. That diversity is increasingly reflected in our Hornstein students, who come to us from Israel, Canada, Russia and Eastern Europe; from France, Argentina, Columbia, and Australia. The learning they gain from one another is among the most consequential they gain at Hornstein, seeding true commitments to Jewish peoplehood and community.

As Jews in the 21st century increasingly concentrate in the United States and Israel, Hornstein understands it is critical that our students graduate with knowledge, direct experience, and personal commitment to global Jewry abroad, and in our own communities. Hornstein prepares students through classroom seminars on Israel; three immersive travel seminars (to Israel, New York City, and Former Soviet Union countries); and Hebrew language instruction.

All these experiences are indeed transformative, as you will read in student and alumni articles in this issue. We hope their words and their work impact you as well. 


Ellen Smith

P.S. Please help us recruit the Hornstein Class of 2018! If you know someone ready for a Hornstein education, tell them about the program. Send them our special application waiver fee code so they can save $75! 


Three on-the-ground, immersive Hornstein Program seminars provide students with opportunities to learn about Jewish history and modern Jewish life in communities around the world.

Myra Kraft Seminar in Israel

"Each time I go to Israel, it feels like I'm going home," said second-year student Joel Abramson MA/MBA'16 to his Facebook friends as he departed for Tel Aviv for the Hornstein Program's annual Seminar in Israel.

Highlights of this year's seminar include visits with Col. (Res.) Dr. Danny Tirza, the IDF's chief architect of Israel's security barrier, Israeli Knesset Member Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), and Roots / Shorashim, a network of local Palestinians and Israelis working to foster "understanding, nonviolence, and transformation."

"For the Hornstein program, it is of paramount importance that our students, citizens of the Jewish world, be immersed in educating themselves about Israel and the Jewish people," says Professor Rachel Fish, the seminar's lead faculty.

“In preparation for the study tour Hornstein students are immersed in educational content that relies upon historical scaffolding in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the realities and challenges Israel encounters as the laboratory of the Jewish people. This laboratory was and remains, the only place where Jews can wrestle with the challenges of living as the majority population while maintaining responsibility for a citizenry that is not homogeneous,” she says.  

Continue reading>

See photos from the Kraft Seminar on our Facebook page>


Hornstein students visit Fania Brantsovsky, FSU Seminar 2016

Seminar in the Former Soviet Union:
Vilnius, Lithuania & Minsk, Belarus

"Belarus and Lithuania share a history, but their present and future are a study in contrast," writes Professor Amy L. Sales, faculty member who led this year's Hornstein-BGI FSU Seminar. Students learned about contemporary Jewish life in the two cities of Minsk and Vilnius, situated just under 120 miles from one another, by comparing and contrasting their histories and their current sociopolitical and economic states, and by observing, listening, and interacting with the Jewish communities there.   

"[At the JDC campus in Minsk,] we sang happy birthday to a group of teens with special needs, we eavesdropped on a Holocaust survivor retelling his story, and we watched as little children played and learned at school. Teens and young professionals also use the campus as a place to meet and plan events, and praised the campus for its ability to bring the community together," recalls Joel Abramson MA/MBA'16, who carries a used food stamp card from the FSU in his wallet.

The card is a reminder to Joel. "This direct service to the Jewish community in need is precisely why I strive to become a Jewish professional. Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh. We are responsible for all of the Jewish community, and it is our responsibility to ensure they are receiving the support and care they need, whether in our hometowns or around the world."

"The trip was replete with stories—of heroes, of the children of Righteous Gentiles, of young adults and aging citizens," says Professor Sales. "Fania Brantsovsky, a 93-year-old survivor, told us how she made her way out of the Vilnius ghetto and into the countryside where she joined the partisans. Amir Maimon, the first ambassador from Israel to Lithuania, told us the story of his first year on the job and how he began to talk about Jewish issues “slowly, softly,” including the disrepair of Jewish cemeteries."

"The trip embraced a special pedagogy, a mix of stories, conversations, and simply being in these places," she says. "The experience provoked our intellects and emotions and expanded our understanding." 

In "Reflecting on Jewish Life in Vilnius and Minsk," students and faculty reflect on their experience in short essays on topics that include Jewish life, Jewish identity, collective memory, and more.

Read student and faculty essays>


Starr Seminar in New York City

Starr Seminar in New York City provides first-year students with an opportunity to meet executives and staff from both longstanding and start-up Jewish nonprofits as well as learn about the organizations' inner workings. This is the professional world in which our students have committed to working.

In February of 2016, over the course of four days, students visited 14 organizations:
(in alphabetical order) 

  • American Jewish Committee 
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 
  • Bikkurim
  • Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters
  • Footsteps
  • Foundation for Jewish Camp
  • Hazon 
  • JCC Association of North America
  • Jewish Education Project 
  • Leading Edge
  • The Maimondes Fund 
  • Shalom Hartman Institute 
  • Repair the World 
  • Union for Reform Judaism

Starr Seminar is the experiential learning component of Organizational Behavior in Jewish Nonprofits, a core Hornstein Program class taught by Professor Mark Rosen. 

Says Prof. Rosen, "Students always tell me that Starr Seminar is a highlight of their two years in the program. Regardless of their prior knowledge of the Jewish nonprofit world, they come away with a real appreciation for the variety of Jewish organizations and the challenges they face. The experience reinforces what is learned in coursework and provides students with a context for subsequent career choices. The week is simultaneously stimulating, fun, and illuminating. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—there is no other program anywhere else in the Jewish world where one can visit 14 organizations in four days, meet top leaders, and acquire inside information."

More than half of the organizations that students visited have an international/global aspect.

See photos from Starr Seminar on our Facebook page>

We asked the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership community about the state of World Jewry and found some common themes interweaving

and resolute dedication
to Jewish Peoplehood.

Alumni Profile

Linda Levi 

on Her Sense of Peoplehood
 & Three Decades at JDC as a
 Jewish Professional Leader 

Linda Levi

"I HAD TWO DREAMS when I completed the Hornstein Program,” recalls Linda Levi MA'72, Assistant Executive Vice President for Global Archives for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). “One was to work for 'the Joint' and the other was to make aliyah to Israel.” She’s done both.

After completing her degree at Hornstein, Linda made aliyah and took work at JDC-Eshel, a partnership between the Joint and the Israeli government that plans and develops services for elderly Israelis.

A first-generation American Jewish child of European immigrant parents, Linda was raised to feel a powerful connection to Israel and her extended family around the world. “Israel has always been important in my life and I’ve always had a feeling of responsibility for my fellow Jews.”

This sense of connection and commitment to World Jewry found an outlet at the Joint. “The Joint is the organization that demonstrates this commitment to Jewish Peoplehood in its day-to-day work,” she says. “It does this in very meaningful ways and in such immediate ways.” When she returned...

Continue reading>

Read more
  In Her Own Words:
  An Interview with Linda Levi> 

Alumni Profile

Ariel Libhaber 

on His Jewish Journey,
 Doing it All,
 & Keeping it Real 

Ariel Libhaber

MY WORK IS ALIGNED "with my life journey and Jewish journey. World Jewry is in my DNA," says Ariel Libhaber MA/MBA’08, Director of the Boston-Haifa Connection at Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). Born in Argentina, raised and educated there and in Israel and South Africa, Ariel emigrated to the United States in 2005. He settled in Boston, attracted by its multiculturalism, old-world charm, and world-class institutions.

Trained as a sociologist, he found work at the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University where he learned about and was invited to join the Hornstein Program.

This was a turning point for Ariel. Equipped with an expanding and “empowering set of tools and insight” into the Jewish world of nonprofits, he did his fieldwork at CJP where he began testing and applying his new knowledge. His focus was on a strategic plan for their Israel and Overseas programs and Boston-Haifa Connection. After he graduated, CJP hired him to keep working on the project. Today Ariel is...

Continue reading> 

Read more
  In His Own Words:
  An Interview with Ariel Libhaber>

Alumni Profile

Yana Tolmacheva

on Integrating Diversity
  into Jewish Identity
  & World Jewry  

Yana Tolmacheva

"WHEN WE ENCOUNTER and engage with the diversity in World Jewry, when we embrace it as the rich, full thing that it is, we also address and embrace the diversity of who we are as individuals," says Yana Tolmacheva MA/MBA'13.

Engaging young people in the Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ) communities of North America and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to create meaningful Jewish experiences is Yana’s focus as Director of Russian Speaking Jewish (RSJ) Programming for Moishe House. She loves her job.

Born in Russia, Yana immigrated to New York City in 1992. Yana’s parents insisted they speak only Russian at home. As a child...

Continue reading>

Read more
  In Her Own Words:
  An Interview with Yana Tolmacheva>

Student Profile

Alyssa Bogdanow

on the Impact of Travel
  & Relationship-Building
  on Her Jewish Identity 

Alyssa Bogdanow

AT THE AGE OF FOUR, Alyssa's parents took her and her two brothers to Israel. “I think it was very important to my parents that we all experienced Israel for ourselves from an early age,” says Alyssa Bogdanow MA/MPP'16. “They didn’t want Israel to be an abstraction that we talked about at home or at synagogue or in Hebrew school, but a real place that we could visualize. So for example, when we learned about Masada in religious school, we better understood its significance because we'd been there."

That was the first of many trips Alyssa made, some with her parents, others with her grandparents. Wherever she traveled, she sought to understand and experience the local Jewish life.

Her first experience working in the Jewish community was in Warsaw one summer while she was in college. "I have a very..."

Continue reading>

Read more
  In Her Own Words:
  An Interview with Alyssa Bogdanow

Alumni Guest Contributor

Zohar Raviv 

A Fresh View of
 "Let My People Go..." 

Zohar Raviv

THERE IS ONE ELEMENT concerning the reciprocal relationship between Israeli and World Jewry that calls out for discourse. It is, namely the profound ignorance that exists on both sides regarding the richness, vitality, diversity and the splendid contribution each community potentially has to offer the other as part of a global Jewish world, its discourse and quest for a sense of collectivity.

As an Israeli educator of Judaism who has been fortunate enough to be himself educated in multiple settings worldwide, I can attest to the great need to thoughtfully standardize and systemize infrastructures that may allow each community better exposure to the other(s). While there are surely multiple venues to explore this paradigm, I’d like to offer as a tangible example the role of the shaliach/shlichah (emissary). On two occasions I...

Continue reading>


Hornstein Alumni Reunion
South Florida!

Hornstein alumni in southern Florida gathered together on March 8, 2016 at the SoHo Kosher Asian Bar & Grill in Aventura. Elliot Karp MA'80, president of the former Hornstein Alumni Association, organized and hosted the evening's events.

"We wanted very much to be updated on the activities of the Hornstein Program," says Elliot, who urged a faculty member to attend. Happily, David Mersky was able to continue his travels from Charleston on to Florida. Says David, "It is always wonderful to gather with Hornstein alumni across the generations. Shared memories of Bernie Reisman and Lown 202 as well as continued concern for the development of the best professional leadership for the Jewish community animated a lively conversation that went on nearly past closing."

Hornstein alumni reunion, south Florida, Mar 8, 2016

Pictured above, from left: Conrad Koller MA'77, Mark Weinberg MA'77, Adam Kolett MA/MBA'09, Elliot Karp MA'80, Bruce Yudewitz MA'76, and Hornstein faculty David Mersky, who attended the event.

Adam Kolett MA/MBA'09, the alumni spokesperson in this group for the current dual-degree program, says, "It was powerful to take a few hours to gather with fellow Hornsteinim. Our field is changing so rapidly that this evening with fellow alumni—our graduation dates spanning well over 30 years—provided both a sense of comfort in the impact our field is having as well as urgency that we must continue to develop new approaches to engage and educate future Jewish leaders."   

Thank you Elliot for making this alumni reunion a reality!

If you are an alumnus living in the South Florida area, please let us know! We want to be able to include you on our growing list of FL-area alumni with the hopes of sponsoring future programs. Contact the Hornstein Program or Elliot Karp directly.

If you'd like to organize an alumni reunion in your area, let us know. We're happy to provide assistance. 

Hornstein Alumni Lunch Meet+Greet
 FJC Leaders Assembly

This year Professor Joseph Reimer hosted a lunch meeting for Hornstein alumni attending the Foundation for Jewish Camp's Leaders Assembly. "I enjoyed seeing how many Hornstein alumni attend the Assembly and how attached they remain to the Hornstein Program," says Prof. Reimer. "It was a joy to see alumni talking with students and current students talking with prospective students. It felt like an active network of support."

During the Assembly, first-year Hornstein student Josh Satok joined a panel discussion with two UJA Federation of Toronto staff and two camp directors, including award-winning Amy Skopp Cooper MA'88, National Associate Director, National Ramah Commission of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Panelists discussed day camp-overnight camp partnerships and best practice recommendations for the field following a report Josh prepared for UJA Toronto.

“It was exciting to get to present my findings at FJC's Leaders Assembly and even more exciting to have Amy join us on the panel to share her insights and perspectives from Ramah," says Josh. "I'd gotten to speak with her over the course of my research. She is an inspiring leader in the field of Jewish camp. It was great for me to see attendees' genuine interest and watch as light bulbs went off in their brains! Hopefully the project and our conversation at Leader's can result in a positive impact at day camps and overnight camps across North America."

Dan Lange MA/MBA'13, Associate Director of Camping, Union for Reform Judaism, was also in attendance but is not pictured. 

Professor Reimer, Amy, Dan, and Erica were featured in the Fall 2015 issue of Impact.

Hornsteinim gather for lunch, FJC Leaders Assembly 2016

Front seated, from left: Caitlin Qunn MA/MA'11, Erica Goldman MA/MBA'16, David Korenthal MA/MBA'16, Hershel Singer (Class of 2018 new student!) Back standing, from left: Rose Levenson (Class of 2018 new student!), Evan Taksar MA/MA'15, Simon Klarfeld MA'94, Josh Satok MA/MBA'17, Edana Appel MA/MBA'15, Professor Joseph Reimer, Josh Sternberg MA/MBA'09, Aliza Goodman MA/MBA'09.

Hornstein Alumni
 + Student Dinner, NYC!

Each year, Prof. Rosen invites recent Hornstein alumni living in and around New York City to join students for dinner one evening during Starr Seminar. This year, Jessica Levine Rothbart MA/MBA'10 and first-year student Mollie Feldman MA/MA'17 planned the evening's events. The intent of this get-together is to strengthen the Hornstein alumni network and provide current students with an opportunity to meet recent graduates so first-year students can learn about their career paths.

Hornstein alumni dinner with students, Starr Seminar 2016

Top photo, from left, back row: Daniel Lange MA/MBA'13, Jason Pressberg MA/MBA'14 , Noah Zaves MA/MBA'14, Professor Mark Rosen, Isaac Rothbart MA/MBA'09, James Taber MA/MBA'11, Rebecca Shapiro Ruberg BA/MA'11, Noam Gilboord MA/MA'10; front row, left: Elisheva Massel MA/MBA'14, Yana Tolmacheva MA/MBA'13, Jessica Levine Rothbart MA/MBA'10.

Hornstein alumni and student dinner, Starr Seminar 2016

Top left photo, from left: James Taber MA/MA'11 and Melanie Phillips MA/MBA'17. Middle left photo, from left: Leo Fuhrman MA/MBA'17 and Jessica Levine Rothbart MA/MBA'10. Bottom left photo, from left: Cara Gold MA/MBA'17 and Noam Gilboord MA/MA'10. Photo right, from left: Chen Arad MA/MBA'17 and Rebecca Shapiro Ruberg BA/MA'11.

If you would like to join us at Starr Seminar next February, we'd love to hear from you! 

Connect with Your
Hornstein Alumni Network

Here's how!

Brandeis Hornstein Facebook top banner

Facebook: Brandeis Hornstein

Join our private Facebook group page, Brandeis Hornstein. Benefits are similar to those below. (To join, look us up and ask to join.)

HornsteinAlumni Google Group

Google Group: HornsteinAlumni

Subscribe to the new HornsteinAlumni Google Group email listserv created by David Manchester MA/MBA '15. Benefits include opportunities to:

  • Ask career-related questions or provide answers
  • Find out if alumni live in your area or locations you are traveling to and establish relationships
  • Talk with your peers about issues of concern and interest

To manage and personalize your Google Group settings,
go to https://groups.google.com/forum/#!myforums and change your setting from "all emails" to one of the following:

  • No emails
  • Abridged Emails (Daily summary with the beginning of emails.  This is like the eJewishPhilanthropy morning email)
  • Daily Digest (Daily email with the full content of 25 messages.  If there are more than 25 messages you will get more than 1 email)
  • All emails (Delivers each email in real time when it is sent by the user)

We hope you'll take advantage of these virtual meeting places for Hornstein alumni and appreciate your participation!

More #HornsteinAlumni News

Jonathan Boiskin MA'95
Noam Gilboord


Hornstein faculty Dr. Matt Boxer recently released the findings of a new Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies demographic study of the Jewish population in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. He and Matthew Brookner MA/MPP'13 presented the findings to the community in late February. 

"Newcomers account for a quarter of Jewish Nashville, survey finds," by TGregory, The Jewish Observer.

Professor Jonathan D. Sarna somehow finds time to write in spite of a very full schedule of teaching and lectures around the country and in Canada.

"Subversive Jews and American Culture: Notes on the Leonard Milberg Collection of Early American Judaica." In "By Dawn's Early Light," eds. Adam D. Mendelsohn, Shari Rabin, and Heather S. Nathans. 189-204. Princeton: Princeton University Library, 2016.

Hornstein Program

Wednesday, March 30, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Community Time

Panel Discussion: Men As Allies

Hornstein Gender Initiative presents their second panel of the year. A diverse group of Boston-area Jewish professionals will bring their perspective on what it means to work with men as allies, or be a male ally in the work for gender equity.

The panel will include:

  • Daniel Bahner, National Manager of Education and Training, Keshet
  • Jeremy Burton, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Marshall Einhorn, Executive Director, Brown RISD Hillel
  • Gail Twersky Reimer, Founding Executive Director, Jewish Women's Archive

Wednesday, April 6, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Hornstein Gender Initiative: 
Guest speaker: Joanna Ware, Boston Director of Keshet. Joanna will speak about LGBTQ intersections with work for gender equity and what the Jewish professional landscape looks like in term of LGBTQ equity. 

Wednesday, April 13, 12:00 - 2:00 pm
Hornstein Community Time

Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Annual Presentation of the Hornstein Graduating Students' Culminating Projects

Sunday, May 22, 2016, 2:00 pm
Hornstein Commencement

This issue of Impact was conceptualized and produced by
Claire Pavlik Purgus, program manager at the Hornstein Program, who also conducted the interviews. Articles not otherwise signed were written by Claire.

Send questions or comments about the contents of this newsletter to hornstein@brandeis.edu. 

If you're a Hornstein graduate, use this form to update us of your news. We look forward to hearing from you.

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