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Senior Staff

Dr. Zach Lasker – Executive Director

Zach has worked extensively in the areas of social impact and faith as a leader, educator, and community organizer. Professional accomplishments include Executive Director at The Open Temple, Camp Director of Camp Ramah in California, and Camp Bob Waldorf, Executive Director of the Pico-Union Project, and Director of Melton Research & Education Projects at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Zach has also served as a Clinical Lecturer in Education at the American Jewish University where he mentored graduate students in areas of administrative leadership and teaching.

As a volunteer, Zach has taken action with Showing Up for Racial Justice around issues of jail reform and voting rights as well as projects to support those who are unhoused. Zach earned a doctorate in education leadership from UCLA, a Masters in Education at the AJU, and a B.A. in Sociology and Judaic Studies from UC San Diego.

In 2016 Zach became a 500-hour certified yoga instructor through YogaWorks as part of his research around how the pedagogy of yoga could enhance Jewish practice and make it more accessible and teaches workshops in this area.

Throughout his career, he has also written and spoken on issues of leadership, experiential education, and inclusion. Zach’s articles and interviews have been featured in publications such as The Washington Post, LA Yoga, and the Jewish Journal. Other passions include family and friends, cooking, running, braving the roads as a bike commuter, and sampling green tea.

Hannah Bennett – Head of School, Briskin Elementary School

Dr. Hannah Bennett, Head of School. Dr. Hannah Bennett is a twenty-year elementary school educator who just completed her first year as Head of School of Briskin Elementary School. Nothing like running an elementary school remotely from her garage during a global pandemic in her first year as head to test her moxie! Before her role as Head of School, Hannah served as Principal of Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School (now Briskin Elementary School) since 2013. During her tenure as Principal at TIOH, Hannah spearheaded the creation and implementation of the school’s advanced technology program; implemented the school’s reaccreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) by developing Student Support Services protocols and articulating curriculum. Hannah has applied new protocols to advance faculty- and grade-level team meetings as impactful professional development experiences. Most recently, she led the school’s adoption and implementation of Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER program, an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools. Hannah resides in the San Fernando Valley with her partner, Shira Brown, their children, Charlie and Gabriel ). She enjoys hiking with her family and their dog, Poppy, sampling various ice cream at local creameries around Los Angeles, and exploring the state (country coming soon!) in their RV.

Jessy Lichter Maret – Director, Bay-Nimoy ECC

A native of Boston, Jessy brings warmth, enthusiasm, experience, and research-based expertise to her role as the Bay-Nimoy Early Childhood Center’s Director.  Jessy holds a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and special education and early childhood education teaching licenses.  Prior to her tenure at TIOH,  Jessy served as an adjunct professor at Simmons University in Boston and mentor for a graduate-level teaching program.  Jessy believes that integrating parents and children into the foundational family learning experiences at the nursery school level will set a lifelong tone for prioritizing education as a family, and is committed to creating a warm, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate education that is grounded in Jewish values and social justice for all students at the BNECC.

Sarah Escobar – Director, Religious School

Sarah received her Masters of Arts in Education from Loyola Marymount University in 2010 and has been dedicated to Jewish education for the past fifteen years. Over the past ten years, she has worked at Temple Israel of Hollywood in a variety of roles: piloting TIOH’s Transitional Kindergarten, teaching second grade in the Day School, teaching K-2 in Shabbaton, working as the Curriculum Coordinator for the K-6 Religious School, and most recently is working as the Director of the Religious School and Teen Program. As Director, Sarah leads our K-6 Traditional Religious School and 7th-12th grade Teen Program. Sarah provides the vision for our schools, develops curricula, designs social justice trips, facilitates professional development, and supervises Family Education Programming. She has been the touchpoint for Religious School and Teen Program parents and is the mastermind behind our newly designed Teen Program. Sarah believes in a Constructivist Approach to student learning in classrooms. She is passionate about creating life-long learners who thrive socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

As a leader, Sarah aims to shape creative innovators, critical thinkers, and problem solvers who can make informed Jewish choices, forge Jewish identities, and make positive contributions to the world. In addition to working with children, Sarah has helped shape future educators, by teaching Jewish Educators across Los Angeles and at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s DeLeT program. Sarah’s innovation and constant experimentation have led to much of the success of the programs she oversees.

Professional Staff

Adam Rosenberg-Wolf – Community Relations Associate

Adam graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Video Studies with an Electronic Time-Based Art minor from Purdue University. Before joining TIOH, he worked in Search Engine Optimization helping providers and medical practices transition into the digital age. Adam recently joined TIOH, with a passion to help others and to create an inclusive environment. Outside of work, you can find Adam at art-house film theaters around the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, catching a concert or two, or even writing music in his studio at home. A native Angeleno, Adam enjoys exploring the city and finding new restaurants to try in his free time.

Alex Kojfman – Director of Communications

Alex graduated with an Honors Bachelor degree in Marketing from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution from Tel Aviv University. He has worked in the Jewish community for over 15 years and is grateful to continue his experience with the fantastic and creative community here at Temple Israel.

He has spent over 20 years producing and performing stand-up comedy, now focusing on learning more about cooking and food. He and his wife Julie are Executive Members at Costco and have two beautiful and adorable children.

Audrey Gallant – Religious School Office Manager

Audrey graduated from Quinsigamond Community College in Massachusetts with a Liberal Arts degree and began her career in the entertainment industry, working in music, talent, and production. From there, she moved into recruiting in the IT sales world. When the dot-com bubble went bust in 2000, Audrey started in a temporary position at Temple Israel of Hollywood. She hasn’t looked back – falling in love with the TIOH community and the non-profit world.

As a former competitive swimmer, she takes a great interest in physical health and has been a distance runner for over 30 years.  Whenever surf is up, she can be found at the ocean body-surfing and boogie boarding.

David Wolinsky – Finance Director

Prior to taking on this role, David worked in a variety of financial leadership positions as corporate controller, division controller and as a financial analyst in privately held companies involved in media, real estate and e-commerce. In addition, he has experience working for several non-profits as a consultant. He began his career as a CPA for KPMG in Denver, Colorado. Temple accounting has never been dull for David starting with the fiscal challenges of the 2008-09 crisis, then the purchase and implementation of cutting-edge accounting software, and eventually assembling a great and loyal accounting team who care about their jobs and the Temple. David discovered Temple Israel of Hollywood many years ago when he was invited to a TIOH High Holiday service by a friend and congregant who ran a social service agency for homeless families called Beyond Shelter. Rabbi John Rosove’s sermon and that amazing sanctuary were impressive at that time and when an opportunity came to work there, David welcomed the challenge and is still excited about all the positive changes to the Temple and community to come.

Deanne Kaner – Spiritual Care Office Manager

California born and Arizona raised, Deanne landed back in Los Angeles after graduating from the University of Arizona. Deanne filled her resume with nine years of work in the film and television industry before finding her way to TIOH. It’s no surprise that Deanne’s compassion towards the Jewish community has now become her full-time priority. Deanne grew up as an active member of Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, AZ and spent her high school and college summers as a camp counselor at Scottsdale’s Jewish Community Center.

In her spare time, Deanne daydreams about rescuing as many dogs as her heart desires; in reality, she goes on the hunt for the next LA food craze.

 

Debra MacRae – Accounts Payable

Debra received her BFA at Boston Conservatory of Music. Previous experience in accounting was with a Technological R & D company.  Joining a non-profit community was a wonderful change to a place more concerned with people than things. Debra loves the social awareness and humanitarian work the Temple is involved in and is proud to be a part of this community.

Diana Wyenn – Artistic Director

Inspired by how we can utilize art and artistic practices to share, illuminate, and challenge culture, Diana curates and produces TIOH Arts & Culture, our robust series of performing, media, and visual art. She received her a degree from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and continues to work as a director and choreographer of theater, opera, and media projects for organizations, including Center Theatre Group, the LA Phil, NY Phil, Grand Performances, SummerStage, Lincoln Center, and more. Born and based in Los Angeles, she now lives with her partner Laban, who is a pro-skateboarder turned music video director, and their pup Remy.

Dorothy Davis – Senior Accountant

Dorothy joined the TIOH family in 2012 and instantly knew she found a home. Having been in accounting since her early days at Cal-State LA, education and children have always been her passion. Family is very important to Dorothy, being a mother of four – daughter, son, and two stepdaughters, and now her greatest joy, her granddaughter. When Dorothy is not at the temple, you can find her digging in her vegetable and rose gardens with her two English bulldogs by her side. It is such a joy to sit above the temple and hear the young voices sharing God’s beautiful music. Dorothy takes comfort knowing  she is serving such a tremendous Temple and playing a small part in making a difference in our community. When you call the accounting department, don’t be afraid to ask her any questions or, more importantly, share how Temple Israel of Hollywood has played a part in your lives.

Ellie Buckland – Director, Human Resources

Evelyn Ma – Development Associate

Evelyn graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Asian American Studies with an Education Studies minor from UCLA. (Go Bruins!) Before TIOH, she worked on a CA State Assembly Campaign in Orange County as well as educational outreach and community service projects in the Greater Los Angeles Area. She joined TIOH in January 2019, drawn towards the community and how it exemplified Tikkun Olam. Her hobbies include going to the gym, watching history documentaries, exploring Los Angeles and spending time with family.

Fred Vaysman – Facilities

James Schmidt – Information & Media Technology Support

James studied Information Systems at California State University, Northridge. He has maintained the IT and A/V infrastructure of non-profit religious organizations for more than ten years. Before joining TIOH full-time in 2019, he spent four years as the principal sound technician for our religious, school, and arts events. When he isn’t nodding along to the groove behind the sound console, you’ll find him spending time with his beloved rescue great golden dane, Brody.

John Chavez – Director of Operations and Security

Leia Grossman – Director of Community Engagement

As an educator, facilitator, and advocate, Leia has focused her career on the transformative growth of others. With social justice as the driving force, she has spent most of her professional life working at UNICEF, UN Women and UNHCR. She has experience in staff development, coordinating and managing programs and communities of practice, knowledge management, facilitating high-level events, and advocating for survivors of violence and people experiencing incarceration. In the Jewish world, she taught Sunday School for over a decade, worked in the preschool and after-school programs at the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst and as a partnership specialist with Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps.

Leia is passionate about forging community through arts, spiritual practices and social justice, and earned her Master’s in Arts-integrated Human Rights Education at New York University. Originally from North Carolina, she has lived and worked in Israel, Czech Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, and Germany, and moved from New York to Los Angeles in 2018. Outside of office hours, yoga, live performances, dance parties, and going on culinary adventures light her up. She also produced a short documentary about sea shanty singers in Staten Island, has published several personal essays online.

Nima Vafi – Director of Technology

Nima graduated from Cal State University Northridge with a B.S. in Information Systems with an emphasis in Business Systems. Nima is an expert system administrator with more than 15 years of IT experience specializing in the planning, implementation, management, and maintenance of Microsoft, Apple, and Google technologies, including networking, cloud architecture, project management, and budgeting.

When he’s not roaming the halls of TIOH, you can find Nima at beach, the golf course, or reading up on the newest technologies that positively impact our world and improve our daily lives.

Rachel Dubowe – Religious School & Teen Program Experiential Educator

Growing up in Southern California, Rachel was raised with a love of Jewish experiential learning and sunshine. She is an alumna of URJ Kutz Camp, URJ Camp Newman, and NFTY SOCAL. Rachel is a firm believer in the power of summer camp and credits an integral part of her Jewish identity to her URJ camp experiences. Rachel holds a B.S. in Human Development from UC Davis and earned a Master’s in Jewish Education at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College. Rachel has worked for the Builders of Jewish Education and more recently served as the NFTY SOCAL Regional Advisor and URJ CA Camps Assistant Director. From being a 2nd grader at the day school to attending many family celebrations, Rachel is no stranger to TIOH’s impressive, loving, and dedicated community. Rachel enjoys reading in the sunshine, watching the latest show that everyone is talking about, or finding the best ice cream in Los Angeles!

Ronit Menache – Briskin Elementary School Director of Administration

Ronit was born in Israel and grew up in Mexico City and moved to the United States in 1984. She went to the University of Miami and Barry University for a bachelor’s in early childhood education. Ronit then moved to Los Angeles and completed a Montessori training. She has worked in Jewish Schools across California for the past 30 years. As an administrator now, Ronit loves being involved in all aspects of this fantastic TIOH community. In her free time she enjoyed spending time with her husband, three kids, and loved ones.

Sara Guggenheim – Learning Coordinator, Bay-Nimoy ECC

Sara graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Literature & Society. She started her career as a graphic designer in Washington DC and New York. She eventually moved to Los Angeles to work for many years in entertainment marketing. Sara became a member of the TIOH community in 1998 as a parent and has considered it her second home ever since. She joined TIOH’s early education staff in 2004, enriching classroom experiences with her passion for learning, nature and art. Sara enjoys painting, reading, hiking, visiting museums, exploring Los Angeles and just being at home with her family and dogs.

Tali Mekahel – Director of Hebrew and Judaic Studies

Tali was born and raised in Israel. After serving in the Israeli army, she traveled around the U.S.A. and immigrated there when she fell in love with the Californian scenery.  Tali graduated from the American Jewish University with a B.A. in Bible and Judaic Studies and graduated with a Masters in Education in Jewish education. Over the last thirty-plus years, she has worked in various Jewish educational settings – day schools, supplementary schools, Jewish Camps, adult learning, and the Los Angeles/Tel Aviv Partnership programs. She has been a staff member at the Briskin Elementary school of TIOH since 2015.

She feels fortunate to work with excellent faculty members and colleagues and belong to such a fantastic community. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and reading Jewish-related topics.  When not planning her next travel adventure she spends time with her family, her husband Tamir, and her daughters Danielle and Leor.

Tamar Union – B’nai Mitzvah and Events Coordinator

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Tamar graduated from Manchester, England with a degree in special education. She has worked in Jewish non-profit for over 10 years and started at TIOH in November 2014. One of the things Tamar enjoys the most about being at TIOH is creating special moments for the B’nai Mitzvah families. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and relaxing at the beach.

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