One of the biggest threats to Israel’s democracy is the intense level of extremism, intolerance, and inequality pervading Israeli society today.
At UJA-Federation of New York, we hear the call and recognize the need for a platform and a process that brings together a diverse group of driven individuals who share similar values. To dream big, shatter stereotypes, challenge rhetoric, exchange ideas, share insights, and introduce new solutions to achieve sustainable change for the good of Israeli society.


That’s why we created Co.Lab – a unique platform where social leaders and changemakers from across religious, ethnic, cultural, gender and economic divides explore these differences, and create breakthrough collaborations that build social cohesion.
Co.Lab is just what it sounds like – a laboratory for social cohesion and collaboration. It is a cutting-edge incubator, a first-of-its-kind signature initiative for UJA Federation of New York in Israel.
In each Co.Lab cohort, 18 of the most promising change-makers across Israeli society develop a common vision and language that challenge this divisiveness.to start a sea change.
Imagine a Haredi leader joining forces with the chair of Israel’s LGBTQ association, or a Jewish educator developing joint initiatives with the Arab leader of the largest organization working with Bedouins in the Negev. No need to imagine – it’s actually happening. Countless such connections are underway that would otherwise never happen. And, a new language has been born – a language that is shifting the way we think, the way we speak, and ultimately, in the way we act.
Co.Lab is a unified voice for the passionate center or moderate middle – introducing meaningful solutions that will make a real difference in the future. One that represents a collective movement exponentially greater than the sum of its parts. Whether this means reimagined policies and practices, not-yet-imagined leadership ventures, or new definitions of community, we look forward to seeing how these unlimited possibilities unfold in the future.




Kher Albaz

Co- Executive Director of the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation – Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development.

“Co. Lab is a platform bringing together people from different backgrounds, granting them the opportunity to find common ground, teaching how to communicate, collaborate and understand each other. It is a platform for strengthening each participant’s personal identity. We, as Co. Lab members, are faced with the question of our place and impact on society – that’s the question from which we conceive feasible Ideas.”

Itay Yavin

Regional Director for Haifa and northern Israel at the Hartman Institute Be’eri Program. He is also co-founder and director of Be’eri 's "Min HaBe'erot" program.

“Co.Lab for me is hope for a better society, the opportunity to meet meaningful people, and a deep and enriching personal experience.”

Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch

Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary Bet Midrash, engaging future Masorti rabbis, educators, and activists intensively in the study of Jewish sources

“Co. Lab means being able to confuse and be confused : To be confused because no one fits the pattern in which I attempt to embed them; and to confuse because I am a conservative Rabbi – neither religious nor secular. Co. Lab offers me the opportunity to imagine a different kind of Israel, and understand what is required to achieve it.”

Danny Gal

CEO of Kav Mashve, an organization that promotes equal employment opportunities for Arab academics within the Israeli business sector

“For me, Co. Lab is the space I needed to deepen my understanding and empathy for people in Israeli society very different from me. The intensive process and the deep listening practiced in Co. Lab, enabled me to go beyond the typical intellectual disputes with ideological opponents and understand the deep fears and concerns behind their positions. Using this knowledge, I hope to build more bridges and find creative ways to connect the un-connectable.”

Rabbi Ilay Ofran

Rabbi of the “Kvutzat Yavneh” Kibbutz since 2009 and teaches in various educational institutions. In addition, as a Rabbi and a psychologist, he focuses on promoting healthy sexuality within the religious society

“Co. Lab for me, is the conflict and its resolution. It is the full complexity of things, together with the solution.”

Shoshi Shpiegel

Works at the Ministry of Education, where she is in charge of all informal education activities for the religious education system throughout Israel

“To quote Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “The whole world is a very narrow bridge,” and that is what Co. Lab is for me- a bridge to the different worlds and beliefs within Israeli society. Co. Lab creates a “spiritual movement” of connectivity, and has awoken in me a yearning to connect.”

Ran Juhl

Head of the community development department at the Israel Association of Community Centers (IACC).

“For me, Co. Lab is a core of extremely high potential currently at the starting line of a very long journey.”

Riki Siton

Heads the “Chevruta” Project, encouraging ties between Haredi and secular Israelis – two very disconnected sectors within Israeli society

“Co. Lab means meeting Israelis I have previously never had the opportunity to meet elsewhere, and exposure to the pains of other sectors in society previously completely alien to me.
Co. Lab is a place of learning, inspection, reflection and dreaming – a place of encouragement and hope. At times, it is a place of frustration and despair. Sometimes a melting pot, sometimes a pressure cooker, in which many different high quality ingredients are slowly stewing on a small fire. After six months, something good must come out of it.”

Pnina Tamano-Shata

Lawyer, journalist, and politician, former Knesset member, and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset until 2015

“With Co.Lab, I embarked on this fascinating journey with the finest partners for dialogue, activism, and love of humanity that Israeli society has to offer. Co. Lab is all of us, brothers and sisters; different from one another, sitting together in unity, finding common denominators, learning from one another, trying new things and guided by the belief that only through mutual respect and mutual responsibility can we make a change.”

Sigal Peretz-Yahalomi

CEO of the Association for the Habilitation of the Intellectually Disabled (AKIM), serving 34,000 children, adults, and their families

“AKIM Israel’s slogan is “An inclusive society is a strong society.” Until now, we have been dealing with this issue day by day from the point of view of people with disabilities. Thanks to Co. Lab, we will act to include socially excluded groups. The concept of social cohesion has always been part of AKIM’s agenda, but now it will be a part of our activity.”

Nawa Jahshan-Batshoun

Organizational consultant currently part of the leadership team of the "Collective Impact" initiative.

“For me, Co. Lab is a space offering wide opportunities for connections between diverse people with different identities. It is a space that creates optimal conditions for meaningful, cross-sectoral action. This space is a power-multiplier, and has the potential for deep and wide impact. It gave me space where I could think out of the box, and beyond what I love doing every day.”

Dr. Nevo Shimon Vaknin

Head of the new BINA Secular Yeshiva in Be’er Sheva

“For me, Co. Lab means looking at the real problems faced by Israeli society today and trying to find meaningful solutions to the root of these problems, rather than focusing on the symptoms they create, thereby finding only temporary answers, and transferring real, unsolved issues to future generations.”

Moshe (Kinley) Tur-Paz

Director of the Ministry of Education’s Jerusalem District and heads the Jerusalem Municipality Education Department .

“For me, Co. Lab creates connections between people already active at the heart of Israel’s social activism arena. Collaboration between a Bedouin CEO of an association from the Negev, a senior official from the Ministry of Education, the head of a Haredi organization for meeting Haredi and secular Israelis face to face, and the rabbi of a religious Kibbutz – all prominent social leaders in their prime aspiring to repair the world (Tikun Olam) – is something I have never before encountered. It’s not just talk, it is real practice and objectives.”

Dr. Merav Even Chen-Solomon

Manager at the Oranim College Shdemot Center. A leadership Center for the development of local communities in Israel

“Co. Lab is for me the creaking sound of the door opening while everything is still unexpected, threatening yet promising. The opportunity to transform my openness- perceived as something negative in my natural environment- into a clear talent and advantage.”

Chen Arieli

Co-Chair of the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, a nonprofit organization representing the LGBT community in Israel.

“Co. Lab is an opportunity for creating breakthroughs in the sphere of non-conventional interpersonal relationships and connections. More than anything, Co. Lab gives us all the chance to step out of our comfort zones, come up with breakthrough ideas and promote fundamental change. The web of professional connections, friendships and ties established here, will endure long after we cross the finish line.”

Yoni Tshuna

CEO of Matzmichim Center, the Israeli Violence Reduction Organization, providing teachers and students with tools for coping with violence, and creating a safer school environment.

“For me, Co.Lab is a greenhouse for inter-sectoral collaborations, increasing the efficiency of social activism while emphasizing inter-sectoral connections.”

Lia Nirgad

Founder and Chair of the Social Guard (in Hebrew: Hamishmar Hahevrati) an organization striving to change the relationship between Parliament and the Israeli people

“Co. Lab for me is an adventure. A constant challenge. It has played on all my deepest emotions about my country: the fear, the responsibility, the frustration – and above all,, the love. It has reconnected me to my parents’ ardent commitment to Zionism. It has rekindled my hope for a better future, and my faith in the people who live here. “

Laila Srour-Hashivon

Director of the Ofek program at Ma'ase Center, offering young Arab adults an opportunity to volunteer for a year of service in their communities

“For me, Co. Lab represents a microcosm of Israeli society. The group dynamic fills me with great hope. It shows that we can still live in this country together without invalidating one another, allowing each other to feel proud of who we are without feeling apologetic about it.”

Amitai Porat

Amitai Porat, 45, is the General Manager of The Religious Kibbutz Movement. Previously, Amitai was director of the Social Department of the Religious Kibbutz Movement, and Education coordinator of the Religious Kibbutz Movement. Amitai was the founder of the pre military Mechina, Jonathan and was the Mechina’s manager. Amitai also served as the community manager and secretary general for Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, He was also a high school teacher and educator as well as a Judaism teacher. Amitai received his MA and BA in Bible Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Amitai served as company commander (major) in a commando unit in the IDF.

Amnon Rabinovitz

Amnon Rabinovitz, 33, is the Principal of Ziv & Marks Junior High School. He is the founder of Israel’s New Teacher Movement, a movement of teachers from different parts of Israeli society wishing to form educational interactions amongst teachers.
Amnon also served as the CEO of ‘Wake-Up Jerusalem’, a social movement aimed at fostering the city’s pluralistic character, and currently serves as a board member of a few non-profit organizations and initiatives. Amnon has a BA in political science and philosophy, and an MA in the honors program for Public Policy, both from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

Assia Istoshina

Assia Istoshina, 46, is a researcher and coordinator for the Women’s Security Index (WSI) at Isha Le’ Isha. Assia is a Russian speaking journalist, researcher, group facilitator and activist with an MA in Conflict Resolution. Assia initiated and presented the TV program “Parashat Ha-Shavua”, has facilitated dialogue groups between Palestinians and Jews, and has co-founded FORA, the first Russian speaking women’s movement in Israel. Assia has created and facilitated Kushiya: a unique Beit Midrash for Russian speaking women: secular, religious and newly converted to Judaism.

Adv. Janet Shalom

Adv. Janet Shalom, 34, is a Regional Commissioner of Jerusalem and the South, in the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) of the Ministry of Labor and welfare. She holds an LLB degree from the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University and was a cadet in the student Excellence program “Atidim – Cadets for Public Sector”. Janet began as a legal intern at the Deputy Attorney General’s office. From 2009-2015 Janet worked as an Adv. In the National EEOC, which is a government body enforcing equal opportunities in the labor market.

Zhava Harel

Zhava Harel, 62, Is the Director of Education in Beer-Sheba, and is responsible for the entire education system in the city – formal and informal. Prior to this, Zehava was a supervisor in the Ministry of Education, overseeing the educational authorities in Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi. Zehava has worked as head of content and programs as well as the director of the Provincial Training Centre at the Ministry of Education. Between the years 1990-1994, Zehava founded and developed a unique educational initiative which became a model for dealing with teenage drop outs, gaining her a national education award. Zehava received her MA in Management and Education from Ben Gurion University.

Zohar Yonai Dvora

Zohar Yonai Dvora, 32, is the director and co-founder of the Lod Program Made in Israel, which is a homegrown social enterprise in Lod. Prior to founding the program in 2011, Zohar worked for the Shacharut association for the advancement of equality, society and culture. Zohar graduated from a mediation and community dialogue program, is a member of Shekhenim – an urban Arab-Jewish leadership initiative and has years of experience in leading and facilitating community study groups. Zohar received her B.Ed. in Community, Social, and Multidisciplinary Education as part of an Honors Program for education professionals in Oranim College.

Yair Kochav

Yair Kochav, 33, is the Owner, Founder and Artistic Director of Tahrir – Mizrachi Culture Bar in the Machane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem. It is a for- profit social entrepreneurship that combines his business experience and artistic skills. Yair is a Musician, Paytan (Hazan), social entrepreneur. Yair studied the basic roots of music and piyut since childhood in synagogue, in educational institutes such as the Renanot Institute of Hazanut, the Centre for Middle Eastern Classical Music and under numerous prominent mentors in the field. In addition, Yair has gained work experience in different management roles in commercial business, including an event dedicated to Ethiopian prayer and tradition with Jewish Ethiopian Rabbis, musicians and activists; a Kurdish music and dance party; Russian poetry night and more.

Dr. Yasir Hujeirat

Dr. Yasir Hujeirat, 51, is the CEO of Alfanar company (Ltd.pbc), a company dedicated to the employment of Arabs in Israel. Between 2008-2013, Yasir was the Mayor of Bir al-Maksur, and in 2014 served as a Director in the government company Hakfar Hayrok where he remains an active board member. Yasir received his Doctorate degree in genetics at the Hebrew University. His post-doctoral research specialized in the genetics of breast cancer at the Technicon in Haifa and the Imperial Cancer research foundation Institute in England. During 2014-2015 Yasir was responsible for planning the construction of a laboratory genetics chips at the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa. Throughout the years, Yasir has held many leadership roles as well as extensive teaching experience in nursing departments at Emek Yzrael Academic College and Nazareth EMMS Hospital, and was an associate lecturer at the Technion Faculty pf Biology

Yossi Bar

Yossi Bar, 38, is the Deputy CEO of Tsohar Ha Lev chain which cares for those with special needs. This chain operates 15 centers nationwide, employing more than one thousand staff tending to 1300 residents with special needs. Yossi has held this position for the past 17 years. During this time Yossi established academic classes for Bachelor’s studies for the ultra-orthodox with Oranim College, and is currently setting up classes for master’s studies for the ultra orthodox as well. Yossi is a senior certified teacher from Ahia College. Yossi received his B.Ed. at the Oranim College and studied Yeshiva Education in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Yotam Tolub

Yotam Tolub, 37, is the Executive Director of Bizchut – the Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities. Yotam is an Israeli disability rights lawyer specializing in legal capacity and the right to autonomy. Prior to his current position as executive director, Yotam worked as a legal counsel for Bizchut. Yotam is an international expert in the field of disability rights and has presented in many international conferences. He has trained hundreds of lawyers, social workers, family members and people with disabilities from Israel and abroad on different disability rights issues. Yotam’s work has led to major changes in Israeli law, and he has successfully litigated in cases of discrimination. Yotam is an Israeli author and has published two bestselling novels. He was awarded the Minister of Education’s prize for best author.

Yael Nazri

Yael Nazri, 47, is a Nationwide Educational Youth Inspector for informal educational programs in local community centers, with the Department Social-communal affairs, for the Ministry of Education. In addition, Yael is the HR Inspector for Educators in Uniform – teachers and soldiers. Yael has served in a variety of key positions in schools and local agencies. Yael is provided both training and consultation services for community and national coordinators, accompanying local inspectors to oversee regional summer camps. Yael has coordinated “The Summer Project” of the Ministry of Education and two other projects: “Kids and Youth Cities” and “Youth Choose Values”.

Maha Abu Katesh

Maha Abu Katesh, 46, is the director of the Department of Education in the Arab education department of the Jerusalem municipality. Prior to this position, Maha was head principal at Mukkaber high school, an organizational consultant for Mosaica, head principal at the Kol Israel Haverim School for the Deaf, following working there for five years as vice principal. Prior to that Maha was Director of an educational treatment center, a lecturer at the David Yalin College and a facilitator for a mixed group of Arab and Jewish teenagers at Neve Shalom. Maha has also founded and coordinated an educational center in Abu Gosh. Maha has a MA in Hearing impairments from Tel Aviv University, as well as a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Michel Ben Shitrit

Michel Ben Shitrit, 50, has been the director of the Department for Children and Youth at the IACC (Israel Association of Community Centers), since 2014. Prior to this position, Michel has worked for the IACC since 1998 as a director of the community center in the local authority Shlomi, provincial advisor- northern province, director of the children and youth discipline, and director of the community center in the local authority of Mitzpe Ramon. Michel also worked as an intra-organizational trainer for new managers, as well as senior management “Gevanim” training development, and Coach. Prior to that, Michel was the Director of the Department of Children and Youth at the Mitzpe Ramon municipality, and has worked as the southern manager for the Jewish Agency.

Professor Amit Schejter

Professor Amit Schejter, 55, is head of the Department of Communication Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Visiting Professor at Penn State University, where he serves as co-director of the Institute for Information Policy. He is the author or editor of 6 books and more than 60 journal articles, law reviews and book chapters and is founding co-editor of the Journal of Information Policy. Professor Schejter has held senior executive positions in the media and telecommunications industry in Israel, and has chaired and participated in task forces and committees counseling the Knesset and the government.

Faigy Cohen

Faigy Cohen, 39, works as a Superintendent in the ultra-Orthodox district of the Ministry of Education. As a Superintendent she is responsible for 30 ultra-Orthodox girls’ elementary schools. Faigy is also in charge of implementing programs of students’ excellence and technological innovation in the ultra-Orthodox education system. Faigy has attained a Bachelor degree in special education and educational counseling, followed by a Master degree in conflict management and resolution program at Ben-Gurion University. Faigy is an advocate for social entrepreneurship within the ultra-Orthodox community and the importance of a shared society in Israel, alongside with her husband Rabbi Bezalel Cohen. She is a mother of 6, ages 7-18, born and raised Jerusalemite.

Shlomi Ravitsky Tur Paz

Shlomit Ravitsky Tur Paz, 43, is the Executive-Director of Beit Elul that uses the common language of Jewish texts to promote pluralistic dialogue between Jewish Israelis from all denominations and backgrounds and enhances Jewish Identity. After receiving her L.L.M. and L.L.B from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shlomit decided to turn back to the world of Jewish-Renewal. Shlomit co-founded and co-managed the Itim Center–Resources and Advocacy for Jewish Life, and has also founded and managed She’arim – a pluralistic beit-midrash at Yeshivat Ma’aleh-Gilboa, worked with the Ministry of Education to train educators on Judaism and Israeli culture. Shlomit serves as the Chairperson of the Jerusalem forum for Jewish renewal organizations, Rashut HaRabim, and sits on the Board of Directors of Panim, the national umbrella forum. Shlomit leaves on a Kibbutz near Jerusaem with her husband and 5 children.

Shelly Gottfried

Dr. Shelly Gottfried, 37, is the CEO of “The New Public”, and a lecturer and researcher at Beit Berl Academic College and CITYPERC, London. Shelly worked as an intelligence analyst, and was an energy trader and the head of energy desk at Futures First (formerly Matrix Capital Markets Trading and Investments). Shelly received her PhD in International Political Economy from City University London, her MA in EU Studies from University of Rome “LA SAPIENZA” and her MA Philosophy and BA in Economics and Philosophy from Tel Aviv University. Shelly conducted several researches, presented in conferences around the world, and has received several scholarships and awards. Shelly has taught courses including, International Political Economy, Crony Capitalism, Organizational Power, Theories of Global Politics and more.

Rita Brudnik

Rita Brudnik, 36, Is the head of the secular Yeshiva Bina. Rita holds a B.Ed. in Youth Advancement and Special Education from Beit Berl College, and has worked for five years in the public sector with youth-at-risk and immigrant youth advancement. Rita is a graduate of the “Gvanim Olim” leadership program, which aims to enhance pluralistic Jewish identity among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. She is also the co-founder and leader of “Fishka”- a young, Russian speaking community in Israel. The community is a hub for many social and cultural initiatives in Tel Aviv, and is a volunteer based organization. Rita is a member of the ROI community and alumni of the Alma program.

Tomer Avital

Tomer Avital, 33, is an investigative journalist who is pursuing transparency in the political system. After leading the successful crowd-funded campaign: 100 Days of Transparency, Tomer now tracks politicians through creative means. In 2016, Tomer was awarded the DIGIT Prize for Excellence in Online Journalism, and was ranked one of 100 most influential people in Israeli media. Tomer has raised funds to support the first-ever public lobbyist, authored a suspense novel set inside the Israeli Parliament, and has produced comical clips uncovering the political decision-making process. Tomer is currently co establishing the Israeli Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Anat Rosilio – Adler

Anat is the VP of The Ideological Center of the Berl Katznelson Foundation. Prior to this position, Anat served as the project manager of the Foundation, and initiated leading initiatives: The Hate Report – a technological platform monitoring hate discourse on the web; the “Beeri Program for Critical Thinking” for students in the peripheral areas, and has established an Annual conference for social entrepreneurs. Before her work at the foundation, Anat was a campaign manager in the social arena, and journalist who co–led the “Strollers walk” – a national protests march for Free Education, which succeeded in expanding the Law to age 3. Anat has a BA in Political Science from Tel-Aviv University, and is currently working on her MA in Democracy Studies.

Asaf Shneor

Asaf is the Strategy and Partnerships Manager of the Social Department at the Jerusalem municipality, responsible for developing and implementing the city’s policy in creating a sense of community within each neighborhood. Prior to this position, Asaf managed a community center in one of Jerusalem’s most complex neighborhoods, and founded a Center for Youth Leadership. Asaf has a BA in Education, a teaching diploma in Talmud and biblical studies, an MA in organizational consultancy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has completed a director course.

Bat Galim Shaer

Bat Galim is an Educator and Public Figure, working in the public sphere. She has been an educator for over twenty years in various institutions, teaching students in both religious and secular schools and has worked with new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia. Bat Galim has a BA in Political Science and in Jewish History from Bar Ilan University, a teaching certificate in Social Sciences from the Midrasha and an MA in Educational Administration. She is an alumni the Herzog College which focuses on issues of polarization and extremism and methods to create a common language of tolerance, cooperation and dialogue.

Chavy Erenfeld

Chavy is the founder, owner and CEO of Erenfeld Education Ltd. a company dedicated to making higher education accessible to the ultra-orthodox sector. To date Chavi has helped close to 2000 Haredi students join academic programs. Prior to this, Chavy worked in education as a visiting officer, and was a project coordinator at Friends of Nava organization, helping victims of terror and bereaved families in Israel. Chavy has a BA in Leadership and Management of Educational Systems from Bar-Ilan University, and an MA in Counseling and Organizational Development. Chavy was the Winner of the Keren Shemesh Prize of 2015, Bank Hapoalim & Yedioth Achronot Social Business prize for 2016, and the YBI International Award for 2016.

Adv. David (Dresilid) Abate

David is the Cheif of Staff at the IACC Israel Association of Community Centers Ltd. Before working with the CEO of the IACC, David was an Attorney at a private Law firm, specializing in commercial litigation. Prior to his work as an attorney, David worked in education and managed a program for Ethiopian youth for the Bnei Akiva youth movement. David has a LLB from the college of management Academic Studies, and a MBA from Tel Aviv University.

Dror Hamawi

Dror is the Education Director, at Masa Israeli, a position he has held for the past 11 years. Prior to his is work at Masa Israeli, and since his release from the army, Dror has worked in education. Dror began as a guide in the Eilat Mountains, and was the education manager of El Artzi, a tour educational center in Eilat. Dror received his BA and MA in Israel studies from Bar Ilan University.

Eliad Melamed

Eliad is the Co-founder, CFO, VP Business and Social Development at EretzIr (formerly “Tor HaMidbar”), where he oversees the activities of 27 communities in 17 cities. Together they comprise a diverse network which includes religious, secular, Bedouin, Arab and new immigrant communities. Prior to his work at Tor Hamidbar, Eliad established various programs in the field of shared society, and has participated, led and coordinated programs, focusing on local activities in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the periphery, as well as coordinating emergency relief activities in the Negev and the establishment of the national council of mission-driven communities. Eliad has studied group facilitation, and community development.

Eti Meller

Eti is the Director of Employment Programs at the JDC Israel’s Tevet, a partnership between JDC Israel and the Israeli government. In her current position, Eti develops and manages social services enhancing vocational integration for the ultra-Orthodox community. Eti has worked for the JDC since 2004. Prior to her work at the JDC Eti was a pioneer in the field of employment development for the ultra-orthodox community and has established Gisha – the first employment bureau in the ultra-orthodox sector. Eti is a certified management engineer and holds a BA in education, a BED and a MA in Organizational Consult.

Rabi Gabi Cohen

Gabi is the Director of Pedagogic Centers and Head of Educational Counseling in the Bnei Yosef – Ma’ayan_HaChinuch Education Network. Gabi serves as an officer in reserves in charge of the Haredi population in the IDF Home Front Command. Gabi has extensive experience in formal and informal education, focusing on holistic ways to support communities and institutions. Gabi holds a BED, a MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is an alumni of Mandel Mandel Leadership Institute.

Hagit Molgan Hammel

Hagit is the Community Development Director, of The Masorti Movement, overseeing communities all over Israel, and focusing on developing the communities into becoming a center where everyone can experience and celebrate their Judaism. Prior to this position, Hagit has led a process of building a shared youth community center for youth from kibbutzim and surrounding villages. Hagit has a BA in education, and a MA in Organization Development and Consulting.

Idan Hail

Idan is a Social Entrepreneur, and the founder of Insight Sparks, a social venture, aimed at reducing racism and discrimination among children, by building innovative, scientifically-proven games & workshops. Idan is an experienced Product Manager, and has conceptualized, designed and managed innovative software products in various domains, such as Diagnostic Imaging (Healthcare), Tourism, Social networks, Corporate solutions, etc. Idan co-founded “Bekivun Haruach” (voluntarily), an award-winning social project, which aims to reduces prejudice of psychiatrically disabled people. Idan holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) with honors, in Brain Science, from Bar-Ilan University, and graduated the Social Program accelerator, 8200 unit alumni.

Adv. Inbar Yehezkeli Balilius

Inbar is a Senior Adviser to the Minister of Finance, at the Ministry of Finance. As such, Inbar is responsible to advise the Minister on Social issues, and to provide strategic, policy and regulation counselling. As a senior adviser, Inbar has led reforms in education, health, welfare and employment. Prior to this position, Inbar served as the Senior Professional Consultant to the Minister of Welfare and Social Services. In previous years, Inbar worked as the legal counsel and the head of the Legal Department at the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. Inbar holds a LLM from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a LLB, specializing in human rights.

Lena Russovsk

Lena is an Anchor and Editor for Russian and Cultural channels, in the Radio Division of KAN – Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. Lena works both at REKA, the Russian-speaking radio, and the Hebrew channel KAN Tarbut, dedicated to Israeli culture. Prior to becoming a radio journalist, and during her MA in Gender studies at Tel Aviv University, Lena was a research assistant, and founded and directed the “Boltai” initiative – designed to bring together new immigrants and veteran immigrants through the method of language exchange. Prior to her social work, Lena led a successful career in the Israeli biotech industry, and in her last position she was the director of international clinical studies at a leading Israeli pharmaceutical company. Lena holds a BA in Life Sciences and Medicine. Lena is an Anchor and Editor for Russian and Cultural channels, in the Radio Division of KAN – Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. Lena works both at REKA, the Russian-speaking radio, and the Hebrew channel KAN Tarbut, dedicated to Israeli culture. Prior to becoming a radio journalist, and during her MA in Gender studies at Tel Aviv University, Lena was a research assistant, and founded and directed the “Boltai” initiative – designed to bring together new immigrants and veteran immigrants through the method of language exchange. Prior to her social work, Lena led a successful career in the Israeli biotech industry, and in her last position she was the director of international clinical studies at a leading Israeli pharmaceutical company. Lena holds a BA in Life Sciences and Medicine.

Michal Halamish

Michal is the R&D Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), where she has worked since 2011. Prior to this position, Michal worked as a software developer at Amdocs, in Israel and on-site in Colorado. In 2015 Michal founded Hakvutza, a non-profit, online crowdfunding platform that connects donors directly with welfare cases, via their case workers. Michal also serves as CEO and manage a team of 7 volunteers. Michal holds a BS from Bar Ilan University in Computers and Mathematics and a BA in Psychology.

Mison Ria

Mison is the Chair of, M.A.A. Muntada Almoaielt Alohidat, and directs a school of teachers at Majerd Alkrom. Prior to this position, she was a lecturer in education for children with special needs, and an advisor for the Ministry of Education. Mison holds an MA in leadership from Haifa University, has participated in an Arab-Jewish Leadership Course in CMU, and is currently a PHD Student in Gender Studies.

Dr. Moshe Leiba

Moshe is the Acting Deputy Director General for Education and Chief Innovation Officer in Education at Holon Municipality. Moshe is also in charge of all non-formal education in the city. Prior to this position, Moshe was an ICT and Pedagogical Innovation superintendent at the Ministry of Education, a Lecturer and Researcher at Tel Aviv University, Levinsky Teachers’ College, and European ICT research programs (FP7, FP6, Erasmus). Moshe received his B.Sc.TE, School of Electrical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, holds a Teaching Certificate, a MA (Magna cum Laude) and a PhD in Education from Tel Aviv University.

Dr. Rodayna Badir

Rodayna is an Academic Coordinator for Arab MA students at Bar Ilan University, responsible for 70 students every year. Prior to this position Rodayna worked at the Ministry of Education as a regional administrative tutor, and as a coordinator for hospitalized children and families at the Schneider Hospital for children. Rodayna holds a PHD from Bar Ilan University in Sociology and Education, and her academic work examines the integration of the Arab traditional society in the modern Israeli society, focusing mostly on the influence of women empowerment values. Rodayna has published researches on multicultural relations between Jews and Arabs, and attends academic conferences in this field.

Shmuel Shattah

Shmuel is the Executive Director at Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah, in his current position, he oversees all programs and activities. Shmuel has a BA in education and logistics and BA in public management. He worked as Rabbi-Teacher and as Vice Principal, in Amit Technological High School, near Bar-Ilan University. Shmuel served as an envoy in Chicago and as a parliamentary assistant in the Knesset.

Uri Keidar

Uri is the Executive Director of Israel Hofsheet – Be Free Israel, the biggest grassroots movement in Israel in the field of religion & state. Prior to this position, he was a Program Manager and the Interim Director of J Street’s Israeli office. Uri served as the elected chairperson of the young branch of the Israeli Labor Party between 2014 and 2016. He worked for the national kibbutzim movement as assistant to the General Secretary, and was the elected chairperson of Ben Gurion University’s Student Union while he was studying for his BA in Political Science and Communications. Uri Served in the IDF as a tank commander, where he won a certificate of excellence from the commander of the Gaza division commander during Independence Day 2004. He still serves in a combat unit as part of the reserve forces.

Adv. Yaqub Ibrahim

Yaqub is the Arab Communication Spokesperson for the Abraham Fund initiative, and works to advance equality between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. Prior to this position, Yaqub was a reporter for the Knesset Channel. Before his work as a reporter, Yaqub worked in education and coordinated between the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and High schools in Abu Gosh. Yaqub is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit NGO Salametcom, providing assistance for children who are hospitalized in Israeli hospitals. Yaqub holds a LLB in law, LLM in Law, and a BA in Journalism from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

New York Task Force

Michael F. Rosenbaum

New York Task force

Michael F. Rosenbaum is Chair of UJA’s Strengthening Israeli Civil Society Committee, which is part of the Commission on the Jewish People (COJP). He is also a member of COJP’s Steering Committee and Cabinet, and a member of the Board of Directors of UJA Federation.  He was a member of various COJP Task Forces over the past several years.   Michael is a corporate and securities attorney, having served most recently as Managing Director and General Counsel of Citigroup’s Global Investment Management and Private Banking sector, and he is currently engaged in private investing and consulting.  Michael and his wife Beverly live in Scarsdale, New York, and have a son who recently completed medical school at Ben Gurion University in Israel and is now a resident at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, and a daughter who recently made aliyah.

Susan Lax

Chair, New York Task Force

Susan Lax is a spiritual counselor and reiki practitioner living in New York. Originally from a kibbutz in Israel, Susan and her husband, Steven, now live in New York.While Susan studied Jewish spirituality and spiritual counseling. Her work eventually expanded and evolved beyond the Jewish world, leading her to focus on working with women whose lives have been affected by trauma and illness. Much of her work focuses on end of life care and living with cancer. Susan is the author of “Morning Inspiration: A daily e-mail for your soul.” Today, Susan and Steven are the sole owners of Naot Footwear Worldwide and have three daughters, two son-in-laws and two grandchildren. Susan is a member of the UJA Shituf Committee and chair of the New York task force for Co.Lab.

Marcia Riklis

New York Task force

After selling her hair-care business, Jose Eber Inc, in 1994, Marcia Riklis turned her fulltime attention to philanthropy. Initially working directly with victims of violence at the Montefiore Child Protection Center (now known as the Butler Center), Marcia then became a founding member of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, and joined the board of the New York Legal Assistance Group. She also serves on the boards of the Israel Policy Forum (as well as on the Executive Committee), the Institute for National Security Studies (an Israeli think-tank), and Earthjustice (a national not-for-profit law firm serving environmental needs). She conceived of and sponsored a graduate-level textbook called Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East, written by an Israeli, a Palestinian, and an Egyptian. Marcia’s involvement with UJA-Federation initially began with the Women’s Campaign and over the years has evolved to include her participation in Planned Giving and Endowments, the Caring Commission and Caring Cabinet. Most recently she served as the co-Chair of the General Campaign from 2011-2013. Marcia is currently a member of UJA-Federation’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors and sits on the Finance Committee, the Commission on Jewish Identity & Renewal’s Israel Task Force, the Campaign Steering Committee and Priorities Cabinet. Additionally, Marcia is the Chair of the Shituf committee, which is working on cross-commission initiatives to strengthen Israeli society and position Israel as an inclusive and diverse Jewish state long into the future.

Jack M. Gorman

New York Task force

Jack M. Gorman, M.D. founded Franklin Behavioral Healthcare Consultants in 2010. He is currently CEO and Chief Scientific Officer. Franklin Behavioral Healthcare Consultants provides expert guidance to biotech companies and to health care organizations in order to improve the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of mental health care.
Before founding Franklin Behavioral Healthcare Consultants, Dr. Gorman was Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice-President of both Comprehensive NeuroScience Inc and Care Management Technologies Inc. In those positions he used his two decades of experience in neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychopharmacology to help develop new programs in behavioral health care management and CNS drug development.
Dr. Gorman was a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, received his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and received residency and fellowship training in the Department of Psychiatry of Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute program. He was on the faculty of Columbia University from 1981 to 2002, becoming Lieber Professor, Vice-chair for Research, Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology, and Director of the Lieber Center for Schizophrenia Research. He then became Klingenstein Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Professor of Neuroscience of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Gorman was elected a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, authored or co-authored more than 400 scientific articles and chapters, and was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for his research from 1981 until 2006. He won numerous awards for his research and service to psychiatry from organizations like the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and Society for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is one of the most frequently cited authors in the psychiatry and neuroscience literatures.
Dr. Gorman is co-editor of the textbooks Treatments that Work, now in its fourth edition, and Comprehensive Textbook of AIDS Psychiatry, with its second edition now in preparation, and author of the popular book The Essential Guide to Psychiatric Drugs, which appeared in its fourth edition in 2007. His newest book, authored with his daughter, Dr. Sara Gorman, Denying To the Grave, on the reasons behind denial of scientific medical evidence, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. His expertise is in behavioral healthcare management and improvement, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and clinical and basic neuroscience. He is currently working on a new book, tentatively titled The Science of Experience: Neuroscience at the Interface of Mind and Brain.
Dr. Gorman has been married for 40 years to New York City psychiatrist Dr. Lauren Kantor Gorman and is the father of two daughters, Dr. Rachel Moster and Dr. Sara Gorman, and one granddaughter, Hannah Beth Moster. He currently devotes substantial time to work with philanthropic organizations.

Israeli Task Force

Kher Albaz

Israeli Task Force

Prof. Yaara Bar-On

Israeli Task force

Prof. Bar-On holds a Ph.D in history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before participating in the Mandel School for Educational Leadership program, Yaara was a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. After completion of the program Prof. Bar-On headed the Kremnitzer Shenhar Report Implementation Committee of the Ministry of Education. She was responsible for the budgetary and pedagogical aspects of the committee, which included management of the educational staff, national projects, teacher training programs, and curricular material for schools. In 2004, Prof. Bar-On was named the Deputy President for Academic Affairs at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. In this capacity she was responsible for academic and administrative development which included planning, implementation, and supervision of curricula; developing a community of students; generating interaction between departments and developing multidisciplinary programs. She also served as a professor in the Department of History of Culture and Society at the Bezalel Academy. In addition, she taught research methods and academic writing in the MA program for Industrial Design and served as a supervisor for final projects. Currently, Prof. Bar-On serves as the President of the Oranim Academic College of Education.

Rabbi Avraham Yisrael Gelis

Israeli Task force

Got his rabbinical diploma in 1973 from Hevron Yeshiva. Rabbi Yisrael is the Founder and head editor of “Yated neeman” newspaper, “Erev Shabbat” newspaper (“Jerusalem Post” publication), and Movie Editing & advising channel 1&2 Israeli TV. Author of: the carta guidebook of the holy places, “Hod V’Hadar” on synagogues in Israel, “The Chevron Yishiva” Rabbi Yisrael has frequent performances in radio programs: “Reshet bet”, “Kol Chia”, “Moreshet” and advice for foreign T.V. for Judaism programs: South America’ Germany, Central Europe, BBC’ South Korea, etc. Rabbi Yisrael performed on story teller’s festival, “Ha’haan” Jerusalem, “Jerusalem’s theater” “Rabin Center” and strongly connected to rabbi’s from all religious circles, Members of Israeli K’nesset”‘ Ministers, Rabbi’s abroad Europe. Rabbi Yisrael serves as a member of “Yad Ben Zvi”, Jerusalem municipality, film school “ma’aleh” board of filming.

Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair

Israeli Task force

Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair has recently finished her term in the Israeli government as the National Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The EEOC is a government body enforcing equal opportunities in the labor market on many grounds of discrimination. EEOC has authority by law to investigate discrimination claims, file law suits and promote awareness to equality.
Prior to being appointed to establish and create the new government Equality Commission in Israel, she served as Head of the Legal Department and as Executive Director of the Israel Women’s Network, Israel’s foremost advocacy group for women. Tziona started her legal career as a prosecuting attorney at the District Attorney’s office in Tel-Aviv.
Tziona also teaches at Tel-Aviv University – courses on Equality and Diversity in the Workplace and starting this year – Adaptive Leadership.
She is currently working with organizations to enhance and implement the framework she learned at Harvard of Adaptive Leadership.
During her career Koenig-Yair has published many editorials in leading newspapers in Israel on the various aspects of equality in the workforce.
In her national and international work, Ms. Koenig-Yair is committed to promoting equality and is concerned with strengthening and supporting the promotion of equality both from a legal perspective and a public one.
In 2011 Ms. Koenig-Yair  was selected as one of one hundred most influential people of “The Marker” for 2011, due to her work in promoting and implementing equality in the labor market in Israel.

She holds an LLB degree from the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University and an MPA degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (Wexner Fellow). Ms. Koenig-Yair passed the Israeli Bar Exam in 1996.

Oded Gera

Chair of Israeli Task force

Oded is currently Global Senior Advisor to Rothschild &Co, former Chairman of RCF , Rothschild Israel. Oded is an extremely accomplished entrepreneur who has dedicated himself to the advancement of business, the environment and culture in Israel. Oded is the founder of the International Board of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, a trustee of the Alliance of Religions for Conservation and President Europe of Mutual Art. Previously Oded was founder and owner of the Oded Gera fashion house, which became a household name in Israel. In 1993 he was appointed CEO of The Israel Jewellery Exchange, which was subsequently bought by a public company in 1996. Recent deals include Apax Partners’ acquisition of Psagot Investment House, Altice‘s acquisition of a stake in Hot Telecommunications, Thales acquisition of CMT Medical and Delek RE’s acquisition of RoadChef in the UK and the recent sale of Keter Plastic. Oded served as an advisor to the board of Robeco in relation to their fund management business.

Co.Lab 02 Team

Roi Mekler

Founding Director

Roi is the head of Co.Lab, a UJA Federation of NY flagship initiative in Israel. Roi is also the
founding director of ACDF, Alumni Communities Directors Forum, and of Midrasha LeMaase – an
educational enterprise for Mechinot (pre-army preparatory) graduates, encouraging participants to
get involved with tackling national and Jewish issues. In addition, he lectures in pre-army
preparatory academies for social leadership, where he teaches courses on law and Israeli society.
Roi was a program director at the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance, where he
established government networks that bring together senior leaders for social empowerment, and
managed and convened governors’ forums. Before that, Roi was the educational manager at
MiBereshit Foundation for Jewish Renaissance. Roi is the VP of the Audit Committee at the MASA
Israeli. Roi Learned at the Excellence MA Program and Law Faculty of the Hebrew University and
serves (now in reserve duty) in the IDF Combat Rescue Unit 669.

Hagit Sachar-Paraira

(MSW) - Facilitator Co-Leader

Hagit is an Organizational, Trainer and Group Consultant at the business, public and 3rd sector,
lecturer at the Haifa University, Oranim College and The program of Organizational Consultation &
development: A PsychoanalyticSystemic Approach; Former director of capacity building at Shatil,
PHD student in Gender Studies, Bar Ilan University.

Tamar Gibli


Tamar is the Coordinator of Co.Lab, a UJA Federation of NY flagship initiative in Israel. Tamar
recently completed her M.A. in Political Communication at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
Following her B.A. in History and Political Science from Tel Aviv University, and the TEACH FOR
ALL program, Tamar has worked both in the formal & informal Education field. Tamar is a History
and Civics teacher and has managed several social and leadership projects for youth and students
from Israel and over seas. In her previous position, Tamar managed a Young Judea volunteer
program in Israel.