Gazala Halabi is the most well-known female Druze chef and entrepreneur in New York. She grew with six siblings in Daliat el-Carmel, Israel’s largest Druze village, where her family operates a restaurant and her grandmother owns a spice shop.
Halabi’s business career began with a home-based catering company and a few years later expanded to two restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side. Her restaurants feature typical Druze dishes as well as traditional Middle Eastern and Israeli fare, and she is widely recognized as “the chef who introduced Druze Israeli cuisine to NYC.”
ModeratorMa’Abarot: The Israeli Transit Camps
Shy Ashkenazi, born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, is the Senior Community Shaliach for the Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia through The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Shy has been working in Israel and Jewish education for the past 14 years, holds a B.A in Education and Theater from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and in now pursuing a master’s degree in Israel Education in GW university.
Coming from the world of performing arts, Shy uses cinema and music as key texts for an opening to Israeli society and its history.
At present, Noa Bab is leading the Israeli mission to Washington DC as their senior shlicha leading a group pf 13 shichim working in micro-communities. She plays a key part in building and developing the DMV region community’s relationship with Israel.
In addition Noa has 12+ years of experience in both tech and nonprofit sectors, having worked at the Edmond De Rothschild Foundation, eBay, other tech startups, and served as digital and tech mentor to a variety of companies from start-ups to global corporations.
Noa is also a social entrepreneur, and co-founder of a leading social media job search platform in Israel that has over 90,000 followers (the largest of its kind in Israel). The Dana and Noa Make My Career nonprofit startup, offers daily job postings as well as a series of offline career development workshops with dozens of organizations throughout the country. Thousands have already found their jobs via this initiative and tens of thousands have stated that it positively affected their career paths.
Noa holds a Master Of Liberal Arts from Hebrew University’s Interdisciplinary Revivim Honors Program. She also graduated executive programs from Princeton University, MIT Cambridge, and the ROI Schusterman global change maker program.
Jean-Pierre Barda is a Swedish and Israeli singer, actor, make-up artist and hairdresser of French/Algerian Jewish descent. He is one of the founding members of the pop group Army of Lovers.
Dr. LaNitra M. Berger
Dr. LaNitra M. Berger is an award-winning scholar, educator, and social justice advocate working towards making higher education accessible to low-income, first-generation, and minority students. Her scholarly interests are in art and social activism in the African and Jewish diasporas. For over 15 years, her work as an educator focuses on creating and expanding education abroad opportunities for underrepresented students, particularly in international education. As a social justice advocate, she supports student activism by teaching, advising, speaking, and supporting students. LaNitra is the author of Exploring Education Abroad: A Guide for Racial and Ethnic Minority Participants (NAFSA, 2016) and the monograph, Irma Stern and the Racial Paradox of South African Modern Art: Audacities of Color (Bloomsbury, November 2020). She is also the editor of Social Justice and International Education: Research, Practice, and Perspectives (NAFSA, 2020).
Arik Bernstein has been a leading force in the Israeli film industry for the past 15 years. With over a decade of production experience and expertise as a CEO and producer of Matar Production (a former company owned by Bernstein), he founded Alma Films in 2003. He has initiated and overseen numerous productions: documentaries, documentary series and drama series, most of which as international co-productions. These films and programs have been screened in major film and television festivals worldwide, and were awarded many Israeli and international prizes.
Dr. Marc Dollinger
Dr. Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. He has served as research fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion as well as the Andrew W. Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow and Lecturer in the Humanities at Bryn Mawr College, where he coordinated the program in Jewish Studies. Professor Dollinger is author of four scholarly books in American Jewish history, most recently Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance in the 1960s.
Marnie Fienberg has been on a long journey from victim to Activist. Since her mother-in law, Joyce Fienberg, was murdered at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, she has switched careers from business consulting for the Federal government to focus on social action – fighting hate and anti-semitism at the grass-roots level. Her goal is to help others proactively push back on anti-Semitism, building bridges of understanding in their own corner of the world Marnie is also trained facilitator.
Her nonprofit, co-founded with Lauren Kline, puts out a weekly newsletter, Take Action, helping all individuals directly recognize and push back on anti-Semitism in their own neighborhoods, workplaces and online. Annually, the 2 for Seder encourages Jewish participants to invite 2 new acquaintances of another faith to join their Passover seder, pushing back on hate with love and matzah.
DirectorArmy of Lovers in the Holy Land
Asaf Galay explores Jewish and Israeli cultural history in a variety of visual media. He has curated museum exhibits on Jewish fashion designers, the Dreyfus Affair, and the late singer Amy Winehouse.
In film, he has traced the history of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, analyzed Israeli humor, and examined the life and legacy of Zionist hero Joseph Trumpeldor. A self-described Yiddish activist, Galay has shown several film at recent Washington Jewish Film Festivals, including The Search for an Israeli Superhero, and The Muses of Bashevis Singer.
DirectorThe Rabbi Goes West
Amy Geller‘s award-winning productions—PBS’s The War That Made America (2005), For the Love of Movies (2009), and The Guys Next Door (2016, WJFF)—have been broadcast and screened at prestigious film festivals around the world. She served as the Artistic Director of the Boston Jewish Film Festival and teaches production courses at Boston University.
Martin Goldsmith is the author of Alex’s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance, the story of his grandfather and uncle, who were two of the more than 900 passengers on the ill-fated Jewish refugee ship St. Louis in 1939, and his own six-week journey in their footsteps in 2011. His first book, The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany, told the riveting story of the Jewish Kulturbund, an all-Jewish performing arts ensemble maintained by the Nazis between 1933 and 1941, an ensemble that included Mr. Goldsmith’s parents. The Inextinguishable Symphony is the basis of the acclaimed 2019 film Winter Journey, co-written by Mr. Goldsmith, directed by Anders Ostergaard, and starring Bruno Ganz.
Martin Goldsmith has been a classical music radio programmer and presenter for forty-nine years. He semi-retired two years ago from Sirius XM Satellite Radio in Washington, DC, where he now hosts music programs on weekend afternoons. He was the company’s initial Director of classical music programming, beginning in 2000. For ten years, from 1989 to 1999, he served as the host of “Performance Today,” National Public Radio’s daily classical music program. During Mr. Goldsmith’s tenure as host, PT won the coveted Peabody Award for broadcasting.
Beth Elise Hawk
Beth Elise Hawk executive produced the MTV television series Eye Candy, based on the book by best-selling author, R. L. Stine. She produced the award-winning feature documentary, Fan-Demanium, and co-produced the feature documentary, I’m Rick James. Breaking Bread is Beth’s directorial debut.
Before making the jump to the creative side, Beth was a Business and Legal Affairs executive at Walt Disney Studios in its feature film department, where she oversaw projects for its Hollywood Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone labels, including such productions as High Fidelity and Mystery, Alaska. She received her Juris Doctor degree from N.Y.U. School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University.
DirectorLove & Stuff
Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to take the dark worlds of chemical exposure, heedless corporate behavior and environmental injustice and make them personal, highly-charged and entertaining. Three of her films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with national broadcasts on PBS (POV), HBO and The Sundance Channel. In addition to THE UPRISING OF ’34 (co-directed with George Stoney), her films include the Sundance award-winning and 2X Emmy nominated film BLUE VINYL (co-directed with Daniel B. Gold and co-produced with Julie Parker Benello) and its Peabody Award-winning nominated prequel A HEALTHY BABY GIRL, as well as EVERYTHING’S COOL, also co-directed with Gold.
Nelly Kafsky is a producer and actress, known for A Model Employee (2002), Free Zone (2006) and Victor Young Perez (2013).
ModeratorAn Irrepressible Woman
Daniel Lee is a historian of the Second World War and a specialist in the history of Jews in France and North Africa during the Holocaust. He is a senior lecturer in modern history at Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of The SS Officer’s Armchair: Uncovering the Hidden Life of a Nazi (2020) and Pétain’s Jewish Children (2014). As a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker, Lee is a regular broadcaster on radio. He lives in north London.
DirectorThou Shalt Not Hate
Mauro Mancini (1978) debuted in 2005 with the short film Our Secret, which was awarded several prizes. In 2009, Mancini wrote and directed two segments of the collective film Feisbum! In 2017 he wrote and directed the mini-series 4NNA quella che (non) sei and Teddy.
His feature-length directorial debut, Thou Shalt Not Hate, world premiered at the Venice International Critics Film Week.
Dani Menkin is an Ophir-winning (Israeli Academy Award) filmmaker for 39 Pounds of Love. The film, written, produced, and directed by him sold to HBO and was short listed for the Oscars. His award-winning film, Dolphin Boy was sold to over 20 countries around the globe and was recently bought by Disney for adaptation. Menkin wrote, produced and directed the award winning film Je T’aime I Love you Terminal, and is also a creative partner on the Israeli cult indie film Wisdom of the Pretzel. Menkin is a speaker and film juror at International Festivals around the world as well as a film professor in universities and colleges in Israel and US.
Udi Nir is a writer, director and producer. Before turning to arts, he worked for Amnesty International and other human rights organisations. He studied playwriting in Tel Aviv-Yafo. He created and directed several stage shows for events and theatres in Israel. He also worked as a producer and head producer at Clipa Theatre in Tel Aviv-Yafo.
DirectorThe Rabbi Goes West
Gerry Peary is the writer-director of two acclaimed feature documentaries, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009) and Archie’s Betty (2015) both of which played at film festivals, museums, universities, and were televised on WGBH-Boston. He was a veteran film critic for The Boston Phoenix and acted in the 2013 feature film, Computer Chess, which premiered at Sundance. Currently, he writes reviews for the website, The Arts Fuse and is the programmer of the Boston University Cinematheque.
Sara Polon graduated from University of Pennsylvania where she studied history.
Her career path then took many meandering twists and turns including working at an Internet start up, leading tours through the Middle East, and several years as a stand-up comic in New York.
In 2008, after reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, she founded Soupergirl along with her mom, Marilyn Polon (aka Soupermom /Chief Anxiety Officer). Sourcing seasonally from local farmers, the company makes a wide variety of healthy, kosher, all-natural, vegan soups that can be found all over the east coast. You can find Soupergirl products at the company’s two DC area retail locations, Whole Foods stores from Kentucky through Virginia, Giant, Lidl, Wegmans, Peapod and Costco Warehouse from Massachusetts down to Washington, DC. The company also ships soup nationwide via their Souper Meals program.
Soupergirl has received national press, and has been featured in such publications as the Washington Post, Food and Wine, O Magazine, and more. The soup duo was most recently seen on ABC’s Shark Tank, NBC’s Today Show, and CBS’ The Dish.
Ruthy Pribar graduated with honors from Sam Spiegel Film School in 2012. Her short films Last Calls and The Caregiver screened and awarded at numerous festivals worldwide. Asia, which was chosen for Cannes Festival Residency Program, is her first feature film.
ModeratorThe Art of Waiting
Wendy Revel is the president and executive director of The backStorygroup, a non-profit organization which connects American and Israeli film and film music professionals and students for the purpose of expanding the perception of Israel to include its dynamic and kaleidoscopic culture. Prior to that, she was the executive director of CINE, a film and television competitions group, where she created a film scoring competition. Her earlier career includes stints on Capitol Hill, where she was staff director to then-Rep. Ben Jones (D-Ga), and as a trial lawyer in Georgia. Wendy is delighted to be a member of the Bender JCC’s Arts & Ideas Committee.
Rabbi David Saperstein
Designated by Newsweek Magazine as the most influential rabbi in America and by the Washington Post as the “quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,” for 40 years as Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi David Saperstein represented to Congress and the Administration, the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry. Under Rabbi Saperstein, writes J.J. Goldberg in his book Jewish Power, the Religious Action Center “has become one of the most powerful Jewish bodies in Washington, second only to AIPAC.” From 2015-2017, Rabbi Saperstein served as the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, carrying out his responsibilities as the country’s chief diplomat on religious freedom issues.
ModeratorLove & Stuff
Dava Schub joined the Edlavitch DCJCC as its Chief Executive Officer on September 1, 2020. Dava has been working and leading in JCCs over the past 25 years. She joins the EDCJCC from the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan where she was the Chief Program Officer leading and helping to set the vision of the JCC’s programs, including the Nursery School, Camp, Center for Family Life, Special Needs, Arts & Ideas, Film, Jewish Living, and Israel. Under Dava’s leadership, JCC Manhattan purchased and launched Camp Settoga, opened the doors to JCC Harlem, and developed Centers for Social Responsibility and Modern Aging. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. In addition to her professional capacities, Dava has served as the co-chair of the BJ/SPSA homeless shelter in NYC and has volunteered at One Heartland, a camp for children and families living with HIV/AIDS, for more than a decade. Dava is the mom to a pretty awesome 9 year old girl who now (virtually) attends Lafayette Elementary School here in DC.
DirectorThe Art of Waiting
Born in Israel in 1974, Erez Tadmor is a writer and director from Tel-Aviv, Israel. He graduated from Camera Obscura Film School Tel -Aviv). The Art of Waiting is his latest full-length film.