Program Fellows: Cohort 1, 2014/15
Avraham Asaban is 32 and lives in Jerusalem with his wife Ronit and three children. He heads the intergroup dialogue department at Sheatufim (the umbrella organization for Israeli NGOs); previously, he was deputy director of the Jewish Statesmanship Center and held posts at various government ministries. Avraham is the founder of MAAS, an organization to help young Israelis serve in positions of influence, and serves on the organization’s board. He is currently writing his doctoral thesis on the identities of graduates of Israeli public leadership programs, and he also consults for leadership programs on a volunteer basis. Avraham also maintains a blog, One Israeli Man.
Avraham Kroizer is 36 years old from Moshav Matityahu, where he lives with his wife and three children. He has studied at Yeshivat Or Elhanan and at the Mir Yeshiva. He currently serves as an advisor on Haredi issues to Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, runs a strategic consulting and public relations firm, and lectures on the makeup and consumer and media habits of Haredi society. He runs HaMahadura [The Edition], the first Haredi school for media, founded a beit midrash for Torah-based leadership, and is a community activist who works with Haredi dropouts. As part of his civilian service, Avraham promoted academic and vocational courses for Haredim and identifying the needs of Haredi students on behalf of universities and foundations. He believes in dialogue and that everyone can a place in society while retaining his or her identity; he is interested in helping others develop their Jewish identity, and he strives to improve the services citizens receive through public service.
Edi Zansker is 32 years old; he was born in Ukraine and now hails from Beer Sheva. He is now completing a term as director of Morashteinu [Our Heritage], an organization that promotes democracy, human rights, peace, and social justice among Russian speakers in Israel and encourages participation by Russian-speakers in Israeli public life. He is currently active in the Labor Party, where he is helping establish a cadre of Russian speakers. Previously, he was active in the Sapir College student union and was a soccer referee.
Odelia Fittoussi is 37 years old and lives in Hibat Zion. She is a member of the advisory committee to the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Commission, a member of the forum of organizations to implement the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law, and a member of the board of directors of Beit HaGalgalim [House of Wheels], which helps people with disabilities achieve a meaningful and independent life. Odelia holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s degree in art therapy. She works as a therapist at the Talpiot Children’s Village in Hadera, which assists children at risk and their families.
Rabbi David Menachem is 34 and is the rabbi of the Mishkan Yosef Synagogue and Rasko neighborhood in Jerusalem. He is a musician and paytan [liturgical poet] as well as a peace activist as part of many interreligious groups. He helped establish the Introduction to Piyut website and was one of the first teachers of piyut as part of the Singing Communities project. He taught piyut to some of the greatest Israeli singers as part of a joint project with the Hillel house in Jerusalem. David is also a member of the Planning and Budgeting Committee at the Council for Higher Education, which helps make higher education accessible to the Haredi community.
Huda Abu Obaid is 26 and lives with her family in Laqiya, a village in the Negev. She heads the Yasmin al-Negev organization for women’s and family health. This past year, she helped found a youth movement to oppose the Prawer Plan to regulate Bedouin settlement of the Negev while she worked at Sidra, an organization to promote the status of Negev Bedouin women.
Yehuda Morgenstern is 31 from Haifa and holds a B.Sc. in industrial engineering from the Technion. He has worked for many years in developing education and employment in the Haredi community and is a researcher and collaborator at the Technion’s Samuel Neaman Institute, where is part of the research group on Haredi society. He helped found the Issachar and Zebulon organization to spearhead change in the Haredi community on issues such as military service and employment. He was a member of the third cohort of the President’s Youth Forum selected by then-President Shimon Peres.
Carmen Elmakiyes Amos is 35 and lives in Tel Aviv where she is a project director at Ahoti for Women in Israel as well as a medical clown, moviemaker, and artist. She helped found the Mizrahi protest group “Lo Nehamdim/Lo Nehmadot” [We Are not Nice], a group of activists from underprivileged neighborhoods who aim to bring the truth about the situation in these neighborhoods and the periphery to public awareness. She runs a women’s group as part of the “On Racism and Sexism” project and is often called upon by various Knesset committees to represent underprivileged groups.
Miri Shalem, 45, lives with her husband and four children in Beit Shemesh, and she currently runs the Institute for Zionist Strategies. Miri ran the Ramat Beit Shemesh community center until recently, and she founded and runs the local women’s council. She is an activist for social change, and among her projects are the Beit Shemesh women’s protest dance, Women Dance for Change, and a center to advise women. She held a senior position on the campaign staff of Eli Cohen, the non-Haredi candidate for mayor, during the two rounds of the 2013 mayoral election and the appeal between them. She is a recipient of the Begin Prize and the Yaari Prize for her social-change work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a master’s degree in gender studies.
Roni Tzuberi is 39 and lives in Jerusalem with his wife and daughter. He has been an advisor to MK Zeev Elkin in his various positions, as a parliamentary aide and chief of staff. He was previously chair of the union of parliamentary aides and worked to improve his colleagues’ working conditions. He grew up in Mevo Horon in the religious Zionist movement, studied political science and international relations, and gained experience through Likud political campaigns and a course in Berlin through the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. However, his most important lesson in democracy came from his parents during the evacuation of Yamit, when he was in first grade, where he learned the limits of political campaigns and the appropriate attitude towards the government and country.
Roi Grufi 31; he is originally from Nes Tsiona but now lives in Jerusalem and is married to Hillel. He works at Ir Amim after serving as Director of Policy Advocacy at B’Tselem. Roi is a social and political activist in Jerusalem, a board member of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, and a member of the Labor Party’s young guard. He is a graduate of the Paths to Peace program at New York University, which provides leadership training and tools to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology and political science and is currently completing a master’s degree in sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Racheli Ibenboim is 29, a resident of Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, and mother to Itay and Avi. She founded and runs the Movilot [Leading Women] program for Haredi women and is a social activist in the Haredi community. She headed Meir Panim, participated in the Kriat Kivun program for public service, and was a member of the President’s Youth Forum.
Riki Kohan Benlulu, 38, lives in Jerusalem’s Katamonim neighborhood, where she is a major activist in “Lo Nehamdim/Lo Nehmadot” [We Are not Nice] and an active member of Ahoti for Women in Israel. She is active in promoting social and economic change, distributive justice, and welfare policies that work for the citizens’ benefit. She is active in the campaigns for public housing (which includes lobbying work in the Knesset), combating violence against women, and keeping children in disadvantaged homes rather than institutionalizing them.
Sagit Deri is 34; she lives in Beit Shemesh and has two sons. She is a lawyer at the veteran Jerusalem firm Mordoch-Schumer. Sagit is active in the HaBayit HaYehudi party and she founded and headed the party’s women’s forum. She is a member of the part’s constitution committee and helped draft the party’s new constitution. Sagit is dedicated to advancing the Mizrahi community in Israel, and she lectures on Mizrahi culture, Judaism, and women’s issues. She is also a longtime activist in Beit Shemesh social and political campaigns.
Tamar Feldman is 37 and lives in Tel Aviv with her partner. She heads the Human Rights in the Occupied Territories Department at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). She has led prominent legal and public campaigns, including the successful fight to publish documents regarding the closure policy on the Gaza Strip and the ongoing campaign to prevent the eviction of hundreds of Palestinians from their houses and land in the South Hebron Hills. She is also active in several organizations that promote women’s rights, including the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel in Tel Aviv, where she volunteered on the helpline and served on the board of directors. Feldman graduated from Tel-Aviv University with a bachelor’s degree in law and the women’s and gender studies program and has a master’s degree in international law from New York University (NYU). She wholeheartedly believes in the values of justice, freedom, and equality, and she is committed to using these values to effect social change and combat oppression of any kind.