Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is the Executive Director of the Jewish Outreach Institute, the only national independent organization dedicated to bringing Judaism to interfaith families and the unaffiliated. He was recently named as one of the 50 Leading Rabbis in North America by Newsweek. Formerly, he served as vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, the premier adult Jewish learning and Jewish leadership program in North America. Previously, he was national Dean of Adult Jewish Learning and Living of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he served on the faculty and administration for 15 years following his tenure at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT. A leader in the development of innovative Jewish education, particularly for adults, he has shaped training programs for clergy of all faiths, especially in the area of pastoral care and counseling in the Jewish community. He has done pioneering work in the area of Jewish Twelve Step spirituality, as well as Jewish Gerontology. Rabbi Olitzky also is a partner with the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health at HUC-JIR and serves as a consultant to Capstone Press. He is a contributing editor for Shma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility and is also the author of many books and articles in a variety of fields. His opinion pieces are published in leading publications throughout North America and in Israel. Among his most recent publications are: The Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal, with Dan Judson (Jewish Lights); new annotated translations with commentary of Proverbs ; Kohelet; Jonah, Ruth. Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and Song of Songs with Leonard Kravitz (URJ Press); Making a Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage: The Jewish Outreach Institute Guide to Opportunities, Challenges, and Resources with Joan Peterson Littman; Introducing My Faith and Community: The Jewish Outreach Institute Guidefor the Christian in an Interfaith Relationship ; and Jewish Ritual: A Brief Introduction for Christians and Jewish Holidays: A Brief Introduction for Christians (both with Dan Judson).

You can contact Rabbi Olitzky by sending him an email at kolitzky[at]joi.org.

 

Jamie Allen Black Is JOI's Director of Strategic Initiatives. Jamie is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with funders and donors who are committed to supporting the work of bringing Judaism to unaffiliated and disenfranchised individuals and families. Prior to joining JOI, Jamie was the Director of Development Communication and Training at Hadassah, where she was charged with training dozens of Board members and volunteers in fundraising principles and understanding their financial responsibilities to the organization's mission. Jamie majored in American history at New York University and was the recipient of the University's 2010 Bert Lawson Alumni Award for Humanitarianism. She is an enthusiastic and active volunteer, primarily with A More Perfect Union, an organization she co-founded that serves women-at-risk who are recovering from domestic violence, homelessness, and/or drug and alcohol addiction. Jamie’s background is in the performing arts and she sings with the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus.

You can contact Jamie by sending her an email at jblack[at]joi.org.


Ivana Bradanovic is JOI's Office Manager, responsible for daily management and maintenance of the JOI office including interfacing with vendors, telephone and office reception, administrative assistance to the JOI board of directors and executive director. Prior to joining JOI she worked as a framer at a small business called MAPS. She is a graduate of SUNY at Purchase and The Fine Arts Academy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. In her spare time she enjoys riding her bike, painting, baking and knitting.

You can contact Ivana by sending her an email at ibradanovic[at]joi.org.


Heather Chait is JO's Executive Assistant for Strategic and Programmatic Initiatives, responsible for assisting the JOI team in program scheduling and support aspects in fundraising and development. Before joining JOI, Heather worked at the Posen Foundation in Manhattan where she created and maintained several websites and also supervised the Grants program at participating universities. Born in South Africa, Heather graduated with a BA in English Literature from the University of Cape Town and then moved to Israel where she was a reporter for The Jerusalem Post. In her spare time, somewhat curtailed by her two rambunctious sons, Heather enjoys biking, playing tennis, and devouring the latest Hebrew fiction.



You can contact Heather by sending her an email at hchait[at]joi.org.


Menachem Ejdelman is JOI's Tehnology Manager, and manages all of the data at JOI. He spent his formative years in both Washington Heights, NY and Riverdale in the Bronx. After graduating Rutgers University with a degree in psychology and music, Menachem spent a year in Jerusalem, learning at both the Conservative Yeshiva, and at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Learning. After that, he worked at Yugntruf-Youths for Yiddish, an organization founded by his grandfather. A native Yiddish speaker himself, he ran Yiddish conferences at universities around the country, and organized smaller Yiddish-speaking events around New York City. Since then, he ventured into the IT/data management world and has worked for The Birthright Israel Foundation, The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, The Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Montefiore Medical Center. He currently lives in Manhattan, and sings in the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus, an all-Yiddish choir. He also enjoys soccer, swimming, nature, math, smoked salmon, and music theory.

You can contact Menachem by sending him an email at medjelman[at]joi.org.




Paul Golin
is JOI's Associate Executive Director, responsible together with the Executive Director for budget, development, board stewardship, strategic planning, and the day-to-day operations of the organization. He is also charged with overseeing all marketing, communications and public relations, and devising advocacy campaigns and program proposals. He previously served as JOI's Director of Communications and Strategic Planning. He is a frequent writer and speaker on Jewish outreach and co-authored with Rabbi Olitzky the books 20 Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren To Do (And Not Do) To Nurture Jewish Identity In Their Grandchildren (2007) and How to Raise Jewish Children...Even When You’re Not Jewish Yourself (2010). Prior to joining JOI, Paul worked at the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation as Program Associate for Information Technology. Paul has a background in media, having worked at HBO Studio Productions as a Client Services Coordinator and then as Director of Research/Educational Writer at a startup CD-ROM games company called Wanderlust Interactive. He majored in Communications and Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

You can contact Paul by sending him an email at pgolin[at]joi.org.


Caren Heller is JOI's Big Tent Judaism Concierge for Middlesex County, NJ. Caren will partner with organizations throughout the Jewish community in Middlesex County, NJ to develop and implement programs that welcome anyone who might find interest and meaning in Jewish life, regardless of affiliation or family structure. Caren served as the Director of Student Life at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, CA. She currently teaches dance to children of all ages and performs with the Parparim Dance Ensemble. A native of New Jersey, Caren has worked at Camp Ramah for many summers, and earned her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University and a masters at Columbia University's Teachers College. While at Rutgers, Caren was very active in Hillel and has continued her involvement as an alumna. She is very excited to join the JOI team and looks forward to helping the less-engaged and interfaith families of Middlesex County find a place in their local Jewish community. 

You can contact Caren by sending her an email at cheller[at]joi.org.


Nikita Kaganovich is JOI’s Grant Writer. Nikita is responsible for researching grant opportunities, writing grant proposals and related reports, and assisting in development efforts. Prior to joining JOI, Nikita was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, where he taught English as a foreign language, and organized summer camps, leadership trainings, teacher trainings, and several cross-cultural educational programs addressing pressing yet often ignored local issues such as xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and HIV/AIDS. Nikita also wrote several grants in support of his own efforts as well the efforts of surrounding volunteers and non-governmental organizations. He holds a BA in History from Temple University, and after graduating, completed one year of AmeriCorps service, running youth and community outreach programs in West Philadelphia High School. In his spare time he enjoys taking week/month long bicycle trips, bicycle repair/maintenance, marathon running, camping, and hiking.

You can contact Nikita by sending him an email at nkaganovich[at]joi.org


Amanda Kaletsky is JOI's Big Tent Judaism Field Staff Manager. She manages JOI's staff on the ground, including the Big Tent Judaism Concierges in Middlesex County, NJ and Chicago, IL, and is also charged with overseeing the implementation of JOI's Public Space Judaism programs in communities across North America. Amanda previously served as JOI's Communications Manager. Originally from Bethany, CT, Amanda is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she received a BA in Music with a Concentration in Music Management, as well as minors in Philosophy and Jewish Studies. While a student there, Amanda was interim program director at the Kristol Center for Jewish Life and founding co-coordinator of the center’s Freshman Fest program. Before coming to JOI, Amanda was the Assistant Managing Director of Bethwood Suzuki Music School, and continues to enjoy performing professionally, performing the national anthem for several major sports teams including the New York Islanders.


You can contact Amanda by sending her an email at akaletsky[at]joi.org


Alyssa Latala is Big Tent Judaism Coordinator for Chicago. She partners with the Chicago Jewish community to create and implement low barrier, welcoming programs that serve all those who might find interest and meaning in Jewish life regardless of affiliation or family structure. Prior to joining JOI, Alyssa was the Associate Director at Creative Management Services, a consulting firm that provides a full range of services to charitable organizations and professional societies. She also served as Marketing Communications Manager for the James R. Jordan Foundation and as Campaign Associate for the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Alyssa is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she majored in Speech Communication and Spanish. Mom to two young boys, Alyssa enjoys musical theater, cooking, and a good book, which she attempts to enjoy in her spare time.

You can contact Alyssa by sending her an email at alatala[at]joi.org



Elise Cohen Passy is JOI's Big Tent Judaism Coordinator for Houston, TX. Elise will partner with organizations throughout the Jewish community in Houston to develop and implement programs that welcome anyone who might find interest and meaning in Jewish life, regardless of affiliation or family structure. Elise has served in a variety of capacities throughout the Jewish Community of Houston as well as Chicago,IL and Stamford, CT. Growing up in Houston, Elise is a graduate of Stratford High School and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin and a masters at the American Jewish University. She is married and the mother of three children, and is involved in Girl Scouts. She is very excited to join the JOI team and looks forward to helping the less-engaged and interfaith families of Houston find a place in their local Jewish community. (Photo credit: Mark Nathan)

You can contact Elise by sending her an email at epassy[at]joi.org

Rabbi Robin Podolsky is JOI's LGBT Interfaith Parents Circle Coordinator in Los Angeles, California. She is responsible for helping organize and implement the LGBT Interfaith Parents Circle, which consists of free educational and support programs designed primarily for the parent who isn't Jewish in an interfaith LGBT couple, raising, or considering raising, Jewish children. Rabbi Podolsky earned her rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion, California and holds an MA in Judaic Studies from the Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She received her BA with Honors in English from Pitzer College. She serves as a guest lecturer at Hebrew Union College/University of Southern California, teaching Jewish thought to both rabbinical students and university students and as an Educator at Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock. Before becoming a rabbi, she was Press Secretary for California State Senator Sheila Kuehl. As a journalist, she has published writing in the LA Times, The Jewish Journal of Southern California (where she writes the Erev Rav blog), and other publications. She is very happy to have been born and raised in Los Angeles, California.

You can contact Robin by sending her an email at rpodolsky[at]joi.org.



Zohar Rotem
 is JOI's Manager of Research and Evaluation. He is responsible for coordinating and leading JOI’s research and evaluation initiatives. Zohar holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research, and a Bachelor’s in Special Education from the University of Haifa. His doctoral dissertation looks at issues of identity among Jewish and Palestinian preschoolers in Israel. Prior to joining JOI, he worked as a Hebrew school teacher, a research and evaluation assistant at JESNA, and as a market research analyst for an industrial design firm in Connecticut. Zohar enjoys making meaning out of data. His other passions include hiking, urban gardening, biking, foraging, and cooking.


You can contact Zohar by sending him an email at zrotem[at]joi.org.

Sarah Sechan is one of JOI's Program Associates. She is responsible for guiding and supporting current and potential program operators to implement JOI initiatives. Originally from Highland Park, IL, Sarah received a BA in Anthropology from Columbia University and a BA in Jewish Music from Albert List College at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Recently, Sarah graduated from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, with a MA in Jewish Experiential Education and a Certificate in Israel Education. An avid amateur French horn player, Sarah participated in several music ensembles at Columbia and co-founded the Columbia Festival of Winds, an annual music festival benefiting inner-city music education. Prior to JOI, Sarah worked at a variety of NYC Hebrew schools and Jewish nonprofits. In her free time, Sarah plays French horn with the Manhattan Wind Ensemble and the Columbia Summer Winds, recently staffed her first Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, and enjoys the occasional weekend getaway from NYC.

You can contact Sarah by sending her an email at ssechan [at] joi.org

Katie Singh is one of JOI’s program associates, and is responsible for supporting current and potential JOI programs. Originally from Austin, TX, Katie is a graduate of Northwestern University with a BA in political science and a minor in global health studies. She was drawn to JOI based on her personal background growing up in an interfaith Jewish family, and is a strong proponent of building a more inclusive Jewish community. Katie has a background in community organizing around politics and global public health, and she has spent time working on public health projects in Chicago, India, and Chile. She has also worked on several political campaigns. In her spare time, she enjoys tacos, television, and Texas politics.

You can contact Katie by sending her an email at KSingh[at]JOI.org



Eva Stern is JOI's Senior Director of Training. In this capacity, Eva trains, coaches, and consults with professionals and volunteer leaders from hundreds of Jewish organizations throughout North America (including Federations, synagogues, and JCC’s), to help them better find, welcome, and engage thousands of unaffiliated Jews and intermarried families in Jewish life. Eva addresses venues across the continent, leading informative, motivating, and interactive workshops and training sessions on creating more inclusive and welcoming Jewish communities. She also develops educational curricula, creative outreach programs, and other materials for Jewish communal professionals engaged in outreach. Eva conducts environmental research scans on numerous Jewish organizations and communities, helping them to maximize their potential to reach out and welcome in. Eva holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Prior to JOI, she taught in an innovative Informal Jewish Education program outside of Boston. Eva is deeply involved in Jewish life as a volunteer leader as well, having worked hard to create and nurture a vibrant synagogue community of young adults in their twenties and thirties in New York’s East Village. She is a recipient of the 2010 Young Professional Award of the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America.

You can contact Eva by sending her an email at estern[at]joi.org.

Alex Zaprudsky is JOI's Communications Associate. Zaprudsky is originally from Iowa, but now resides in New York City. He graduated from The University of Iowa with a degree in Communication Studies where he participated in the Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter and worked as a research fellow for the Communication Studies department. In 2013 Zaprudsky moved to Tel Aviv, Israel, to participate in a five-month career program called Career Israel where he worked at EatWith (a quickly-growing Israeli startup company). After returning to the United States Zaprudsky had a new-found desire to work in a Jewish environment. Alex's interests include photography, travel, circus, fitness, and cooking. His cooking and photography have been featured in several food blogs, websites, and publications internationally.

You can contact Alex by sending him an email at AZaprudsky[at]JOI.org

 

 



Alan Stricoff
has 28 years of experience as an accountant and a chief financial officer. For the last 9 years he has been a self-employed "free lance" CFO/Comptroller and consultant for not-for profit organizations. Alan has an MBA in finance from Baruch College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

You can contact Alan by sending him an email at alanstricoff[at]yahoo.com.