Mattan Berner-Kadish: Takoma Park, MD, USA
Mattan is a senior at the University of Maryland studying government and politics. He grew up at URJ Camp Harlam and was a staff member for 3 summers. He also participated in the Israeli Reform Movement’s Mechina in Jaffa, volunteering with youth in South Tel Aviv, and working in various day camps. Most recently he staffed the Camp Harlam NFTY in Israel trip for 2 summers and works part time at the Religious Action Center. The project he plans to work on throughout the fellowship is to engage his community in leading various discussions about Israel and fostering relationships with the country. He wants to help the youth and leaders of his community feel confident speaking about Israel, criticizing it when they feel it is necessary, and working to support and improve the country.
Liora Bernstein: Boynton Beach, FL, USA
Liora Bernstein is originally from Boynton Beach, FL, and currently attends George Washington University in DC. She is a senior majoring in communication and minoring in Judaic studies. She grew up attending and working at URJ Eisner Camp. She is also a participant in HUC’s Founder’s Fellowship and spent the past spring semester in Jerusalem as part of cohort 4 of the Nachshon Project. Liora has been very active in the GW Hillel and is currently the President of the Jewish Students Association, overseeing an executive board of eight people and trying to ensure that they provide engaging programs and welcoming spaces for the Jewish students on campus. Her project proposal is to work with young adults on her campus to explore the question “What does it mean to be a Jew?” through grappling with difficult questions and by engaging them to think deeply about their Jewish identity.
Rotem Bin Livni: Haifa, Israel
Rotem is currently studying for a BA in history of Jewish people at University of Haifa. She works for the Reform Movement in Israel as the founder and organizer of Tlamim in Haifa – a Reform Jewish community for young people. She is responsible for national events on holidays, as well as local Kabbalat Shabbat and other programming. She has taken part in the youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHalomed and the Mechina Zirei Kayitz. She also took part in a delegation for the Center for Humanistic Education that brings together Jews and Arabs from Israel. She is currently part of the young adult labor party and a leader for the political cell at her university. Her project idea is to grow Tlamim Haifa by bringing in new people, developing new programming (with topics such as women and feminism in Judaism), and engaging with music as a way of connecting more deeply.
Laure Jeanneau: Tel Aviv, Israel
Laura grew up in Paris and moved to Tel Aviv almost three years ago. She discovered the Reform movement thanks to the community of Pauline Bebe, the first woman rabbi in France. She is now a proud member of Kehilat HaLev, a small and dynamic Reform community in Israel. Laura is also participating in the activities of Tlamim Tel Aviv and teaching the Parsha of the week during Kabbalat Shabbat. Laura is an alum of Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv, where she learned a lot about social justice and co-existence. She is currently working as a web journalist for the international TV channel i24NEWS. Thanks to her job, she gets the chance to be out in the field pretty often and cover core culture and society topics. Her project proposal is to create a matching program for Olim (new immigrants to Israel) with “adoptive” families from the progressive Jewish community. She intends to create a guide for Olim and a mechanism to find places to be for Shabbat, the holidays, and other meaningful events in Israel.
Beckie Hamroff: New York, NY, USA
Beckie recently started a job at NYU’s Bronfman center, where she works on the Summer Excelerator. Beckie graduated from New York University with a BA in Global Liberal Studies and minors in Spanish and Multi-faith Leadership. There, she helped re-create the Progressive community and was involved in various Multi-faith communities. She spent the entirety of her Junior year in Madrid, Spain, where she worked at a governmental center for refugee resettlement. Most recently, Beckie held an Assistant Program Manager position at NECHAMA – a Jewish Response to Disaster and was an Operations Coordinator at JDC Entwine. She is proud to be a Child Advocate for The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Beckie is an alum of URJ Eisner Camp and currently sits on the Young Adult Steering Committee. She is also a NFTY NAR and NFTY in Israel alum. Beckie enjoys watching foreign films, yoga, and traveling.
Rebeca Orantes: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Rebeca is currently studying animation in her last year of college. She is an active member, leader, and cantor of her Reform synagogue: Asociación Judía Reformista de Guatemala, Adat Israel. She has used her animation skills to teach kids from her congregation about Jewish holidays through drawing and arts. She is also the weekly prayer and song leader for Shabbat each week. She has attended different Jewish programs around North America for learning and connection, including Camp Gesher in Toronto, Brandeis College Institute, HUC’s weekend’s seminars and the URJ’s Biennal in 2017. Her project idea is to engage her Jewish community by developing activities, music, education and traditions to connect more with Jewish culture, to create a safe environment to talk about Jewish themes, and to participate in healthy activities that can help connect the community more deeply.
Lior Regev: Haifa, Israel
Lior is currently studying Jewish history at University of Haifa.He helped start and, is actively a part of, the young-adult Reform Tlamim community in Haifa. He currently works part-time guiding school seminars and hikes, alongside his studies. He participated in Zirei Kayitz, a Reform Mechina for after army young adults to develop a more caring and civil society. He is also actively involved in Shchenuta, a young adult volunteering organization for developing the Hadar neighborhood in Haifa. The project he plans to work on throughout the fellowship is to expand Tlamim Haifa and help this group create their own unique culture and tradition.
Samuel Rheins: Englewood, Colorado, USA
In 2017, Sam graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in history. Sam grew up at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) and was a staff member for 4 summers. Sam also staffed the GUCI NFTY in Israel trip last summer. Last year he had the fortune of being a MASA Israel Government Fellow through the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, which allowed him to intern in The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and to learn with the other fellows at the Begin Center. He is currently studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. His project proposal is to help make the NFTY in Israel education stronger by producing brochures, pamphlets, and videos, that cover different topics that NFTY in Israel trips go over. The goal of the educational materials is to teach the campers before they come to Israel some basics in order to enhance the level of discussion and understanding about Israel during the trips.
Maria Seifert: Essen, Germany
Maria, known as Mascha, is from Germany, where she studies business and economics. She has been involved with Netzer Germany for 10 years and is currently working for Netzer Germany as a Co-Mazkira of the organization. She is also an active member of Tamar Germany, the Reform young adult group in Germany. She is passionate about Jewish music and the project she plans to work on throughout the fellowship is to create a weekend seminar of Jewish music, historic roots and modern interpretation of Progressive Judaism for Netzer teens and Tamar young adults. Her goal for the seminar is to connect young adults with Jewish music by showing how Jewish music has developed over time, how different styles were created and, especially, how it is being interpreted in Progressive Judaism today.
Ezequiel Strajm: Jerusalem, Israel
Ezequiel has been a Madrich for Netzer Argentina and worked at summer camps in Barcelona and Panama. He has also participated in a six-month training program in Non-Formal Education and Community Leadership in Jerusalem as part of Shnat Netzer. After Shnat Nezter, he made aliyah to Israel from his home in Argentina. He has been a madrich for Macabi Buenos Aires, and is currently involved in and helps coordinate Tlamim Jerusalem, the Reform young adult movement in Israel. He currently works for Israel Experience doing the logistics for delegations coming to Israel invited from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His project proposal is to create programming for the shlichim who returning to Israel after their shlichut after exposure to Jewish life around the world.
Maksymilian Wudecki: Konstancin-Jeziorna, Poland
Maks is a lawyer, who specializes in franchising. He also writes business and political articles for newspapers and portals. He is actively involved in the Reform Movement, where he organizes workshops for young Polish politicians to teach them about counteracting antisemitism. Before the Polish-Israeli diplomatic crisis, he also organized a charity event in his congregation to commemorate people who saved Jews during the war and helped children from orphanages. His project proposal is to create an educational project in Polish schools, based off the workshops he organized for politicians, in order to fight current antisemitism in Poland. In the future he hopes to also cooperate with local administration (schools, town authorities, etc.) to organize cleaning, renovation and security of Jewish cemeteries that were vandalized.
Sofiia Yukhymova: Odessa, Ukraine
Sofiia is currently a student at Odessa National University, studying English and Italian. She is also enrolled in a distance learning bachelor program for plastic arts at Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne. She lived and studied economics in France for a year, studying French at school that provided her the opportunity her to work at the French Cultural Center “Alliance Française d’Odessa” as a cultural assistant. She has been a Madricha with the Netzer Olami movement since 2015 (working at summer and winter local and international camps, and volunteering at the Shirat-ha-Yam congregation). Most recently she has been selected to represent Netzer Ukraine at Veidah Olamit 2018 and voted to become the Vaad representative. Her project proposal is to establish a “clever reading book club” to create warm, deep and passionate discussion within the Jewish community. She would like to expand the book club to include small group discussions around world Jewry and create a series of Jewish podcasts based urgent topics in the Russian speaking Jewish community.