Hornstein Students

            Our students are experienced professionals who are searching for meaningful work...

  ...and choose Hornstein to become critically informed, highly skilled professionals committed to shaping the future of the Jewish community. 

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.

Meet Our Current Hornstein Students!

Class of 2018 | Class of 2019Hornstein Alumni

Class of 2018

Deryn Rae Harbin

Deryn Rae Harbin (MA/MBA) is a violinist and Jewish community organizer. A New York native turned Florida transplant, Deryn graduated with a dual BA in Music and Business from Florida State University in 2010. Having learned to read music before she could read words, a passion for creative expression developed early on. As a lifelong musician, Deryn's practice has led her to a variety of careers, from founding a student nonprofit music organization, to volunteering in Dresden, Germany as a teaching-artist, and later to Tel Aviv, Israel where she became active in nurturing Jewish identity and leadership. Prior to beginning at Horstein, she served two and a half years as the Director of Registration for a Birthright Israel trip organizer in Haifa, where she facilitated the first journey to Israel of many American Jewish youths. During her first year of graduate studies, Deryn served as the part-time Engagement and Programming Assistant and IACT Coordinator at Wellesley College Hillel. Today, Deryn is the Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Epstein Hillel School, the Jewish day school in Marblehead where she completed her summer fieldwork. Deryn is excited to announce that she has accepted a full-time development position at the school following graduation in May 2018. Learn more about Deryn's musical career at her website. 

Gabrielle Hersch

Gabrielle Hersch (BA/MA) is originally from Fort Myers, Florida where she developed a passion for cultures and traditions that led her to her undergraduate studies at Brandeis University. A graduate of the Brandeis Undergraduate Class of 2017 with majors in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and Anthropology, and minors in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies and Religious Studies, Gabi was awarded magna cum laude with honors in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, as well as the Rose and Joseph Weissman Prize in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Through her time at Brandeis, Gabi worked at URJ Camp Coleman as Ropes Course Director, served as a Brandeis Bridges Fellow and club president, became a Social Justice World of Work Fellow during her summer internship at the American Jewish World Service where she worked in the Office of the President, served as a coordinator for the Brandeis Waltham Group, "Service Without Borders," and studied abroad in Morocco in a program about "Migration and Transnational Identity." Gabi was also an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for Brandeis' Religious Studies department, where she was awarded the UDR Recognition Prize. Gabi is a proud Collegiate Leadership Internship Program (CLIP) alumnus, and is thrilled to be a part of the 2018 Hornstein cohort to continue learning and exploring the Jewish nonprofit landscape.

Dalia Krusner

Dalia Krusner (MA/MBA), originally from Toronto, Ontario, graduated with High Distinction from the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies at the University of Toronto. She grew up in the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, and attended its summer camp in Ontario, Camp Shomria, for 15 years. Her involvement at camp gave her a strong foundation in Jewish experiential education, which she transferred to her position as Youth Leadership Manager at Ve’ahavta, a Jewish charitable social service organization. In recent years, Dalia has combined her background in Conflict Studies with her love of camp as Director of Heart to Heart, a program that brings Jewish and Arab Israeli teens to Camp Shomria every summer for dialogue programming. Dalia is proud to be an award recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship / Davidson Scholars Program and excited to join the Hornstein community. 

Rose Levenson

Rose Levenson (MA/MBA) is a south Central Pennsylvania native, hailing from the sweet town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts with a degree in Psychology and Education. Through a process of self-directed learning and progressive education, Rose found the bridge between her academic work and her passion: overnight Jewish summer camp. After six years working at URJ Crane Lake Camp, Rose is overjoyed to pursue degrees that will deepen her understanding of the field of Jewish Professional Leadership as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar. 

Jacob Markey

Jacob Markey (MA/MPP) is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the last few years, his journey has taken him to a wide array of places. He spent ten months in Israel as a volunteer in the Otzma program, and was previously the Coordinator for Israel Engagement at the Hillel at Brandeis. Most recently, he worked for the Union for Reform Judaism as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the NFTY-EIE High School in Israel.

Kayla Reisman

Kayla Reisman (MA/MBA) is the product of several Jewish Day Schools in Baltimore, Maryland, where she grew up. After high school, Kayla spent a year on the Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel, and graduated from Dickinson College magna cum laude with a degree in Judaic Studies, Sociology and a certificate in Jewish education. From there, she worked for Hillel at Ithaca College from 2014-2016 as the Senior Engagement Associate and Director of Jewish Student Life. Kayla brings to Hornstein many years of experience in Jewish Experiential Education and Jewish Communal Service, and looks forward to continuing at Hornstein in the footsteps of her grandfather, Bernard Reisman, founding director of the Hornstein Program.

Mikhael Reuven

Mikhael Reuven (MA/MA) was born and raised in London, England, and studied for his M.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Mikhael is a graduate of the Liberal Zionist youth movement LJY-Netzer, for whom he worked after graduating, and an active volunteer for Limmud, for whom he currently co-chairs the publications team. Since making aliyah to Israel, he has spent time learning Hebrew at ulpan, studying Jewish text at the Conservative Yeshiva, tour guiding for NFTY, and volunteering as a goat farmer on Kibbutz Neot Semadar.

Jenni Richton

Jenni Richton (MA/MBA) comes to Brandeis after eight years as a Jewish communal professional in Boston and New York. Most recently, she was the director of the Eser program at Hebrew College where she led the growth and expansion Eser, a young adult Jewish learning program. Prior to Hebrew College, Jenni was the Director of Professional Development and Evaluation at NCSY, where she founded a leadership development program and created operational guidelines for organizational standards. Jenni earned her B.A. with honors from Stern College. She is most passionate about bringing different communities of people together to participate in meaningful Jewish experiences.

Herschel Singer

Herschel Singer (MA/MBA), originally from Albany, NY, is a magna cum laude graduate from the Yeshiva University Honors Program, where he majored in Psychology and minored in Business Management. For his senior honors thesis, he developed and ran a survey to quantitatively assess the efficiency of Jewish camp at fostering lasting Jewish values. Herschel’s excitement and dedication to the Jewish non-profit world stem from his experiences at Camp Yavneh, a pluralistic camp in New Hampshire at which he spent 14 summers as a camper, counselor, unit head, assistant head of boys, and in a custom built position, Head of Experience. While at Yeshiva, he was a statistics peer tutor, as well as a tutor for Washington Heights public school students both in and out of their classrooms. He has also worked with the Foundation for Jewish Camp, as well the Mannis Foundation, where he had the chance to be part of a collaborative partnership with the Society for American Baseball Research. This past summer, Herschel worked at Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, where he helped to develop and build a system of program evaluation. When he can find time, Herschel loves to go snowboarding and long-distance running, but usually not on the same day.

Joanna Spyra

Joanna Spyra (MA/MA) was born and raised in Poland. She graduated from Jagiellonian University and Cracow University of Economics where she completed two Master’s theses entitled "The image of the JCC as a Jewish Organisation in the US and in Poland—A Comparative Study of JCC Manhattan and JCC Kraków” and "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” While at college Joanna earned academic scholarships to study abroad in Seville (Universidad Pablo de Olavide), Chicago (Roosevelt University) and New York City (Columbia University). Before coming to Brandeis, Joanna worked at the JCC Kraków where she helped enrich cultural and educational programing and coordinated JCC Global international environmental project, Adam Adamah, between three Jewish communities: Milwaukee, Kraków, and Jerusalem. She also has work experiences as an intern in the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Polish Tourism Organization in Berlin. Joanna is interested in studying the contrasts between American and European Jewry. She speaks fluent Polish, Spanish, and English and has growing language skills in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. In her free time Joanna enjoys dancing flamenco and traveling abroad.

Class of 2019

Leslie Black

Leslie Black (MA/MBA) is originally from Natick, Massachusetts and considers herself a product of the Boston Jewish community. Leslie attended Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston and then went to high school at the Maimonides School. After a year in Israel, she attended New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch School of Hospitality, Sports, and Tourism Management. Upon graduation, Leslie decided that fundraising would be the perfect way to meld her passions for working with people and giving back. She spent a year building a network of young women in Brooklyn at UJA-Federation of New York and then made her way to Westchester Day School where she reignited an interest for giving in the day school community. Leslie loves the diversity that Judaism allows and hopes to one day teach children the importance of working together in order to create an even stronger, more effective Jewish community.

Tali Fleitman Soffer

Tali Fleitman Soffer (MA/MBA) is both Mexican and Israeli. She was born in Mexico City and lived in Israel for the last years of her high school education. Tali attended Brandeis University, where she completed her BA in Health: Science, Society and Policy and minored in Economics and French. Tali is interested in the intersection of public health, research, and the Jewish community. Her professional background is in the non-profit sector and in academic research, where she has played a key role in community outreach by bringing people together from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to facilitate research strategies that focus on the needs of the community. In addition to her experience with different communities, Tali believes that communication is the path to mutual understanding. She speaks Spanish, Hebrew, French, and Mandarin. Tali is very excited to join the Hornstein Program where she is looking forward to furthering her understanding of the Jewish community. She hopes to use her public health and research background to focus on issues that relate to the Jewish communities in the United States and abroad. 

Katie Goldig

Katie Goldig (MA/MBA) is from Montreal, Quebec, where she found her passion for Jewish communal work. She is a graduate of McGill University in Psychology, with minors in Behavioural Science and Anthropology. Katie worked at Camp Kinneret-Biluim in Quebec for seven summers as a counsellor and was the program director at the camp in her final year. Katie’s camp experience solidified her commitment to working in the Jewish community. After graduating, Katie moved to Israel and completed an internship abroad on a Masa Israel Journey program where she worked at the Jaffa Institute in South Tel Aviv with young girls from underprivileged communities. In recent years, Katie has worked at Montreal’s Federation CJA, in the Israel Experience Department for Birthright, and as the first Masa Israel Journey representative in her city. She also worked for one year as the Engagement Coordinator at Hillel Montreal at McGill University. Katie has a true passion for informal and experiential Jewish education and she is thrilled to continue her career in the Jewish professional world 

Jonathan Marx

Jonathan Marx (MA/MBA) is originally from Chevy Chase, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C. He recently graduated from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut with a degree in Political Science. For his senior thesis, Jonathan explored the relationship between Israel's center-right establishment and the extreme Kahanist movement. Jonathan has spent the past eleven summers as a camper, counselor, and senior staff member at Camp Havaya (formerly known as Camp JRF), the flagship camp of the Reconstructionist movement. He is a proud member of the inaugural cohort of the Nachshon Project Graduate Fellowship, which works to develop and grow Jewish professional leaders throughout their undergraduate and graduate school tenure. Jonathan is excited to learn alongside passionate future Jewish leaders and to develop new skills and perspectives which allow him to build, develop, and bring together a variety of Jewish communities. 

Josh Mellits

Josh Mellits (MA/MBA), Philadelphia born and raised, has cherished the vibrant Jewish community throughout his life, formed by his day school education, USY and Camp Ramah in the Poconos. He earned a broadcast journalism degree with honors from Boston University while practically living at the Hillel House on campus. For the past six years, he has worked in the development department of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, heading donor engagement and fundraising events from the headquarters of the leading media-monitoring nonprofit organization. He currently sings in a postgraduate Jewish a cappella group, enjoys trivia and board games, and despite being a Philadelphia sports fan, remains an optimist at heart. Josh is thrilled for the opportunity to learn managerial and leadership skills through a Jewish lens from the students and faculty at Hornstein, in order to make a meaningful impact in the community that cared for and inspired him.


Jonathan Wertheim

Jonathan Wertheim (MA/MBA) aspires to understand the Jewish community and its philanthropic priorities in order to better support innovative agencies that engage Jewish youth and young adults. In the role of Development and Operations Associate at Hillel at Virginia Tech, Jonathan spent the past two years in southwest Virginia, where he learned firsthand the challenge of articulating Hillel at Virginia Tech’s mission and impact to stakeholders. During his tenure, he coordinated Hillel at Virginia Tech’s mail campaigns and grant submissions, served as de-facto office manager handling all matters related to administration, information technology, and building operations, and assisted his Director in day-to-day agency management. Prior to his employment, Jonathan graduated after three years of study from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Francophone Studies. Jonathan has enjoyed the challenge of learning new languages ever since he achieved fluency in French as a high school student in New York; he has developed proficiencies in German and Modern Hebrew. 


Hornstein students at orientation 2017 in front of Lown, Brandeis campus

Hornstein students pause for a photo in front of Lown, home of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, as they head out for a tour of the Brandeis campus. (Orientation 2017.)