Board of Directors
Sarah Gribetz, Co-Chair
Sarah Gribetz is an educator who has worked in both general and Judaic studies. Sarah has
taught at the Dalton School, was one of the founding teachers at the Heschel School, was
Director of Lifelong Learning at the Park Avenue Synagogue and mentored both principals and
teachers in her work as an Academic Coach at CUNY. Sarah currently works as a private
educator and tutor.
Sarah has served on the board of GPM since its inception in 2012 and is currently co-chair of
the board. She was drawn to GPM because its mission aligned with her commitment to social
justice based on the Jewish value of helping those in need regardless of their race, nationality,
or creed. Sarah holds a B.A. in Government from Smith College, an M.A. in Education from
Stanford University and was a fellow at the Senior Educators’ Program at the Hebrew University
in Jerusalem. A native New Yorker, she resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Molly Pollak, Co-Chair
Molly Pollak fell in love with Hindi film. She traveled to India to see all the places she had seen on screen and she fell in love with India. While there, Molly visited the Gabriel Project Mumbai and fell in love with the work they are doing. Then, she went back and volunteered at the Gabriel Project school and realized that she had to do more.
Molly Pollak developed and teaches the pedagogy curriculum at Yeshivat Maharat. Molly taught English at the Dalton School, Ma’ayanot and SAR High School. She has done teacher training and mentoring at Dalton, Ma’ayanot, YCT and Drisha and Drisha’s Ha-Sha’ar program. She taught a seminar on teaching methods for the Beit Midrash fellows at SAR, and co-presented workshop on “Alternative methods of teaching Tanach.” She has done extensive work on using technology in the classroom. Molly holds a BA in English from Barnard College, a masters in English from Columbia University and is ABD from New York University.
Valerie Gerstein, Vice-Chair
While on a study mission to India with Jewish Federations of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet, Valerie was introduced to the Gabriel Project Mumbai and immediately felt empowered by Jacob Sztokman’s vision and the work in the slums of Mumbai. Upon returning home her to her family, Valerie’s stories about the slums became her children’s stories and when Liza became interested in helping the children she had heard about and saw in photos, their family’s commitment to GPM deepened and Liza became the GPM Youth Ambassador to the board, Valerie joined her in supporting this mission.
Valerie’s leadership at UJA-Federation of New York spans many of the lifecycle stages and aspects of the organization. Valerie currently serves on the Center for Youth Philanthropy committee and the Global Jewish Safety Net Committee providing emergency as well as strategic support to communities around the world. Within UJA’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal, Valerie joined the inaugural group of the Beginning Jewish Families Task Force. Valerie serves on the boards of Hazon, The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Center for Pastoral Education and NYU’s Bronfman Center/Hillel. Valerie lives in NYC with her husband and two daughters, Mia and Liza.
Audrey Axelrod Trachtman is currently the President of AMIT Children, an educational network in Israel that serves over 40,000 students and provides opportunities for success for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. She previously held the positions of Treasurer and Vice President of Strategic Planning.
Professionally, Audrey retired as Vice President of Finance and Strategic Planning for Philip Morris and General Foods Latin America.
She served as Treasurer, Vice President of Advocacy and Programming and Conference Chair for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA). Audrey has also served on the Board of her local synagogue and is a founder of the Kol Echad partnership minyan in New Rochelle.
Audrey is a recipient of the YWCA Women of Achievement Award. She is a CPA and received an MBA from the Wharton School.
Alan Goldman JD
Alan helped create the Gabriel Project Mumbai as a nonprofit organization in early 2012. Since then, he has served as a Board member. He is thrilled to be a part of Gabriel Project Mumbai's life-changing work.
Alan has spent most of his career in the nonprofit sector, focusing on fundraising. He is currently Associate Director of Gift Planning at Oberlin College. A native of Brooklyn, NY - long before it was hip - he has lived in suburban Cleveland since 1996. He has a BA in Political Science from Columbia, an MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and a JD from Case Western Reserve.
His greatest joys are his wife Sara, his three sons, and his grandchildren.
Hanna Rothstein, PhD
Hannah heard about Gabriel Project Mumbai several years ago when its director gave a presentation at her synagogue. She was bowled over by GPM's passionate commitment to bettering the lives of children and families from under-resourced communities in Maharashtra and by the organizations life-changing impact.
Hannah, who holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology is Professor Emerita of Management at Baruch College. In addition to her work for GPM, she volunteers as a crisis counselor at a suicide prevention hotline and serves on the board of directors of Refa'enu, which runs support groups for individuals and families dealing with mood disorders. She lives in Manhattan.
Debra Waldoks is a lecturer at the international nutrition program at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she teaches Maternal & Child Nutrition, as well as Evidence Analysis in Nutrition. She prepares her students to apply their newly acquired knowledge to nutrition challenges in their home countries, often including India. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia University and completed her nutrition training at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She is a US Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist.
A former New Yorker, Debra currently lives with her husband and four children in Modiin, Israel & is the founder of Checkbox Health Ltd., which helps clients reverse their health conditions (pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure) and find their natural weight. She counsels clients all over the world via online coaching and her private app.
Debra launched her career in education as a Teach For America corps member in Charlotte, North Carolina. After completing her master’s in education, Debra put her degree to use supporting education initiatives in communities spanning India, East Africa, and Israel. In 2016, Debra joined the consulting team of Strategic Education, Inc as a Senior Business Associate where she oversaw corporate social responsibility initiatives, training and development programs for Fortune 1000 companies, and led the successful development, launch, and operations of SEI's youth coding division called Generation Code. Debra also spent six years as Deputy Director of TALMA: The Israel Program For Excellence in English, an Israeli education non-profit that brings quality English education to underserved communities in Israel. Today, Debra is based in NYC where she serves as Director of Partnerships for Hebrew Public, a diverse-by-design charter school network focused on developing students into socially aware and involved global citizens.
Debra jumped at the opportunity to bring her background in teaching to Gabriel Project Mumbai's Eat2Learn initiative. The experience of teaching in Kalwa provided Debra with her own education on the beauty and complexity of life in India's underserved communities, the resilience and generosity of the human spirit, and the importance of community-led development. It was a life-changing experience that served as a catalyst to a career focused on social justice, equity, and crating pathways of opportunity for marginalized populations.
Debra holds a BA in Political Science and International Studies from UConn and a Master of Arts in Teaching from The Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte.
Josh originally volunteered with Gabriel Project Mumbai in 2019, where he was inspired by the people he met and the positive impact of GPM. During his two weeks in Kavla slum and Ashte village, Josh met with several of the micro-enterprises, taught in schools, and worked on the farms. Through these experiences, he felt compelled to stay involved and help advance GPM's mission to lift up under-served communities in India through a holistic and sustainable approach. Josh's first visit to India was actually one year prior, during his study abroad experience with Semester at Sea. He was immediately drawn to the paradoxical beauty and chaos throughout the country and wanted to develop a closer relationship with its rich history, people, and culture.
Josh currently works in Digital and Product Strategy at JPMorgan Chase on their Global Markets Innovation team. Based out of New York City, Josh is responsible for catalyzing innovation across the Markets organization within the Corporate and Investment bank. Previously, he worked at Ernst & Young as a Business Consultant in Technology Risk. Josh received both his Master's degree in Information Systems and Operations Management and his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. As a student, Josh served as the President of the Jewish Student Union, as well as a Senator for UF's Student Government. Josh is an alum of Birthright Excel and Onward Israel and has continued to stay involved in these organizations. Josh chairs the Marketing & Engagement committee for GPM.
Ari Marder fell in love with India and international development work while teaching with Gabriel Project Mumbai in the summer of 2016. His later experiences in international development (including social impact evaluation for a Ghanian NGO) reinforced that passion, as well as a belief in GPM's holistic approach to empowering those living in extreme poverty. Now professionally focused on environmental sustainability, Ari is thrilled to support GPM and its important work by serving on the board's partnerships committee.
Ari is Commercial Manager at BeZero Carbon and cofounder of the OpenAir Collective, a volunteer organization using research and policy to grow the carbon removal industry. He previously served as Vice President of Business Development at Formation Health and Head of Carbon Removals at Antenna Group, and he has spoken at conferences around the world. Ari was a finalist for the 2018 Leonard & Tobee Kaplan Award for International Development and Global Service, received the 2017 Steven Gladstein Memorial Award for Service to the Jewish People, and has been awarded three U.S. President's Volunteer Service gold medals from the U.S. Government. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yeshiva University with a B.A. in psychology (minors in business and theater) and an A.A. in Judaic Studies.
Rohit was born in the United States but has immense passion and love for India because he spent a large part of his childhood there. He travels often to India to visit family and friends. Rohit likes to support and help initiatives that provide sustainable futures for vulnerable populations within India. Rohit believes that GPM has the appropriate tenets in place to support sustainable futures for people living in underserved communities and he is excited to assist in any way he can.
Rohit is an Immigration Attorney working at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, Frankel & LLP in New York City. He received a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. Currently living in Brooklyn, Rohit takes part in the South Asian Board Association serving as the Immigration Section Co-Chair.
Jesse Ilan Kornbluth Is a documentary photographer based at the International Center of Photography in New York City. He has worked with startups and NGOs across Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and India. He spent five years working in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. He was a GPM volunteer in 2014 and returned to India in January 2022 on a grant from the Olam Foundation to document GPM’s work Mumbai and Mokhada (check out the album here).
Jesse earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a concentration in global health at Boston University and a master’s degree in international administration at the University of Miami, where he received the Award of Academic Merit. In addition to GPM, he serves on the University of Miami College of Arts and Science's International Advisory Council and served on the advisory board of the Sundara Fund. He is an avid runner, backpacker, dog-lover, and road-tripper. His documentary photography and writing has been featured by VICE News, the Brookings Institution, Huffington Post, the ACLU, and many more. You can view his work here.
As a Manager of Finance at the Rockefeller Foundation, Dan's focus is on financial reporting, budgeting and planning. He manages the budget and spending for multiple programmatic areas and has executed various work and operating models within India. With a major focus in development of the Global South, Daniel is impressed with the growth potential of GPM.
Dan has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Michigan State University and a Masters in Accounting from the University of Miami. He is a licensed CPA in New York and currently lives in Cortlandt Manor, NY.
GPM is proud of initiating 'Youth Ambassadors" to our board. This role encourages young passionate people to be involved with the work done behind the scenes in creating impactful and development initiatives. Youth Ambassadors to the GPM Board are instilled with the love of service and the importance of working hard to make a difference.
Liza Gerstein has been advocating for the children in the slums and rural villages since her mother returned from a Jewish Leadership study mission in India. The weekend after she learned about GPM, Liza requested her friends, who were celebrating her 8th birthday, donate to help children in India. In addition to the gifts of her generous friends, Liza and her sister, Mia donated to GPM following the flooding in Mumbai during the summer of 2017. Liza has a pen pal named Monika in the Ashte Village where GPM operates. They send mail and gifts to each other and often talk live on video calls learning about each other’s lives. Liza and her friends have donated the funds to ensure that Monika can attend a boarding school as her parents migrate for work for multiple months throughout the year. Liza looks forward to meeting Monika in person one day!
Liza attends the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City.
Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, not far from the Kalwa District in which GPM works. Clarence grew up in Mumbai before emigrating with his family to the USA at age 16 years old.
Clarence Sundram is a lawyer who is a nationally recognized expert on conditions in institutions and community programs for persons with mental disabilities. The report he made to the Governor of New York recommended sweeping reforms in the system for prevention, reporting, investigating and responding to such incidents in New York. Governor Cuomo proposed and the legislature unanimously adopted The Protection of People with Special Needs Act, implementing the key recommendations of the report, in 2012. Clarence participated in international efforts to reform mental health services in Argentina, Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, the Russian Federation and Uruguay as a member of the Board of Disability Rights International and as a consultant to UNICEF and WHO. He has testified by invitation before both Houses of the US Congress and before legislative committees in New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington, DC regarding legislation dealing with abuse, neglect and exploitation. He has published numerous articles in legal and other professional journals, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences.
Clarence resides in Albany, New York and is passionate about creating opportunities for girls in developing countries to access education and for several years has been supporting NGO projects in India to advance this goal. GPM’s work aligns closely with his interests to help people out of poverty.
Julie is the founder and director of the Consortium for Israel and the Asylum Seekers. She worked extensively in the field of education in Boston and Washington, DC before moving to Tel Aviv with her family in 2011. In her role as the spouse of the US Ambassador, she engaged with educational, medical, and philanthropic institutions around Israel, highlighting the partnerships between the United States and Israel, and supporting programs to engage minority communities, promote women’s health, advance religious pluralism, and support educational, cultural, and humanitarian programs. Over the past eight years, Julie has worked with NGOs and other partners on projects to improve conditions in childcare facilities, provide humanitarian support, and advocate for the needs of the asylum-seeking community and . She created the Consortium for Israel and the Asylum Seekers in order to bring attention to the issue of supporting the African asylum-seeking community in Israel and to facilitate the involvement of volunteers, donors, and communities in Israel and abroad. She is an Advisory Board member of the Kuchinate African Women's Collective.
Julie lives outside Tel Aviv with her husband and three daughters.
Mandie is the CEO of UJIA (UK) and brings with her more than two decades of programme and management experience strengthening Jewish communities, vulnerable populations around the world, and building ties to Israel and Israeli innovations for humanitarian ends. Previously she was the Executive Director of the JDC’s disaster response and international development arm.
Mandie holds a BA from University College London and an MSc from The New School in International Affairs with a specialisation in development economics.
Mandie is a British-born Israeli who currently lives in London with her family.
In 2003, Joseph Gitler founded Leket Israel –The National Food Bank as a one-man volunteer operation to respond to the paradox of growing hunger and poverty in Israel on the one hand and significant food waste on the other. Today, Joseph’s operation has grown to become the only food rescue and resource organization in Israel. Leket Israel supplies surplus food and nutritional support to over 200 non-profit organizations serving more than 175,000 people in Israel weekly. Joseph has worked to expand the scope of Leket Israel’s capabilities. Today, Leket thrives with the assistance of 105 employees, 12 delivery vehicles and tens of thousands of volunteers – a direct result of Joseph’s dedication.
Joseph received the coveted Presidential Award for Volunteerism from former President Shimon Peres, accepted the Ruppin Academic Center’s 2017 Honorary Fellowship, received the 2018 Cohon Award, was named the 2018 Man of the Year by the Ra’anana Rotary, was awarded Beit Hapalmach’s 2016 Yigal Alon Prize, and was selected to deliver a 2017 JedX talk and a 2015 ELI talk. He is a recipient of the Inaugural 2014 Bonei Zion Prize and named one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world. Most recently, Joseph was selected to receive the 2018 Compassion Award for Children and Youth at Risk. Joseph Gitler was on a panel with Jacob Sztokman, the founder of GPM, and he was so impressed by the work GPM does, the type of funds required and how much smaller amounts translate into so much assistance in India compared to in Israel.
Joseph received his juris doctor degree from Fordham University. He also has a bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University. He resides in Ra’anana, Israel with his wife and their five children.
Peter Geffen is the founder of The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in NYC, former Director of the Israel Experience Program for the CRB Foundation and one of the most respected Israel education specialists in the world. He has been a social activist since serving as a civil rights worker for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965-66 and has been deeply involved in Arab-Jewish co-existence work since the early 1960's. Peter served as Executive Director of The Center for Jewish History from 2003-2005.
He has designed and conducted international travel programs for teenagers and adults since 1969 including the Kivunim summer teachers' programs that have served over 1500 participants between 1999 and 2015. Peter was the recipient of the Covenant Award in 2012, the highest recognition given to a Jewish educator. He lives in New York City with his wife Susie Kessler and has six children.
Scott was initially inspired to get involved with the Gabriel Project Mumbai due to its combination of applying Jewish precepts such as Tikkun Olam to areas of dire need together with its incredible and measurable on the ground impact in India. GPM appealed to him as a true practical expression of making the world a better place. Also, after working in the field of Holocaust memory for 30 years he was aware of the historical import and potent power of personal stories, and knew there were inspiring stories in India waiting to be told as well. He sees GPM as a vehicle for bringing these stories to light.
Scott Miller was a founding staff member at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he worked for 30 years (1989-2019), and is the co-author (with Sarah Ogilvie) of Refuge Denied – The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust. Scott managed and was spokesperson for the Holocaust Museum’s Rescue the Evidence initiative – the program to build the collection of record on the Holocaust through the acquisition of primary source and original research materials. In this capacity Scott was appointed, in 2001, the Director of the Benjamin and Vladka Meed Registry of Holocaust Survivors – the Holocaust Museum’s names-information and tracing center. In 2006, Scott assumed his latest position as Director of Curatorial Affairs, overseeing the museum’s archival, artifact, photo, film, music and oral history collections. In addition to Refuge Denied – The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust, publications include “Teaching About Denial of the Holocaust,” in Journal of Social Education, (Vol. 59, Oct. 1995) and, co-edited with Randolph Braham The Nazis’ Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary.
Scott has an MA in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary, did extensive graduate course work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has a BA in History from Columbia University. Scott lived in Israel for six years in the 1980s (in Jerusalem, studying at the Hebrew University and teaching at Young Judea Year Course; on Kibbutz Sa’ad as a volunteer; and in the development town Hazor HaGlilit teaching high school English.) In 1982, Scott went to the Soviet Union to visit and bring Hebrew language materials to refusnicks. Scott also worked for seven summers on the staff of Camp Ramah. Scott is a native New Yorker; currently lives in Washington, DC.
Dr. Shlomi Ravid
Shlomi strongly believes that every Jew today should embrace a project of Tikkun Olam that expresses our commitment to all of human kind. To Shlomi, GPM is a current expression of Jewish destiny.
Shlomi is the founding director of the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education, an organization dedicated to exploring the meaning of Jewish Peoplehood today and to nurturing Jewish collective consciousness. It is the culmination of over thirty years of working with Jewish communities throughout the world. His PhD is from Tel Aviv University and focused on the relations between norms and values in social systems. Shlomi live on Kibbutz Glil-Yam with his wife Linda, their four children, and two grandchildren.
Aviva Fisher Rosenberg JD, Board Chair Emeritus
Aviva has been working as a lawyer for the last 20 years, specializing in health care law. She has lived throughout the United States and made strong connection to the Jewish communal organizations in all locations. She is passionate about international health and development work. Aviva joined the GPM board after visiting our development initiatives in India.
Aviva is co-founder and co-president of Gaucher Community Alliance, a non-profit patient advocacy organization for rare disease. Through her work with the Gaucher community she is the first American to be appointed to the Board of the International Gaucher Alliance. She is past chair of the Weschler Leadership Program for Pittsburgh Jewish Federation and current chair of the Israel Scholarship Committee. She has served on her synagogue Board in Pittsburgh. Aviva lives with her husband, three boys and two dogs in Squirrel Hill.
Gladys Delman Teitel
In January 2014, Gladys traveled to India with her oldest daughter and husband to celebrate her daughter's Bat Mitzvah. While there, they volunteered with GPM as part of the trip and came home inspired by the life changing work that GPM is doing. Since then, Gladys and her husband have travelled to India twice, with two more of their children (they hope to take their youngest son to India as well) on their Bnei Mitzvah trips to volunteer with GPM. Since Gladys' maternal family hails from the Bene Israel Jewish community of Mumbai, these trips have been a very special chance to explore family roots in India with her children. It has also been so meaningful to be involved, even in some small way, with the life changing work that GPM is doing in Kalwa and the villages. Gladys joined the GPM board in 2015 and is now involved with the Youth and Outreach Committee.
Gladys is a graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in Islamic/Middle Eastern Studies and Journalism. She is also a graduate of Touro Law Center. As a law student, Gladys spent three summers with Touro in India, studying International Human Rights Law, Comparative Law and Religion and traveling throughout India and Southeast Asia. Gladys has seen first hand the immense challenges that children face in India's slums and is honored to join with GPM. Gladys lives in Stamford, CT with her husband and four children.
Lenore grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and one of her first childhood memories was watching retrospective footage of the civil rights struggles. This began her longing for the world to be a kind place for everyone. With a BA in psychology from UGA, Lenore earned her MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, with a certificate in Jewish Communal Service. She lived in Israel for five years where she practiced Social Work with vulnerable populations.
While raising her five children in Stamford CT, Lenore focused on different volunteer opportunities in her community. Her husband Ilan is a doctor who spent six months in an AIDS mission in Africa that sparked Lenore’s interest in literacy promotion, leading her to volunteer with SHINE and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Currently Lenore coordinates over 100 volunteers in a literacy program at the Stamford Public Elementary Schools with over 100 volunteers and she also works for the Friendship Circle of Stamford, an organization that runs programs for children with special needs and their families. GPM has spoken to her heart since the day “I heard of the wonderful things the organization is doing”.
Mr. Micah Joseph, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Mumbai was the Director of Administration & Quality at Dr. Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, a Charitable Trust. Micah is also past Vice President of the Association of Hospitals in India and a qualified ISO and NABH Quality Auditor. Micah is an active member of the local Jewish community in Mumbai and was honorary Chairman of the AJJDC and Chairman of the local JCC. Micah is involved in local grass root social justice organizations and active in synagogue, organizational and Jewish communal life in Mumbai.
Elise is an experienced nonprofit, Israel programming and development professional. She worked at Taglit-birthright israel during the project's early years and later as Israel Experience, Missions and Communications Representative at the Israel office of the United Jewish Israel Appeal of Great Britain. At the UJIA, she was responsible for short and long-term Israel Experience programs, as well as donor missions and public relations. Currently, she is a fundraising manager at Orr Shalom for Children and Youth at Risk, a leading Israeli non-profit. Elise strongly believes in creating meaningful, hands-on Jewish engagements for youth and adults through the "voluntourism" community experience.
Elise has a BA in French and Spanish from Leeds University, and an MA in Specialized Translation from the University of Westminster, London. Elise was born in Manchester, UK and moved to Israel in 1998. She lives in Modiin with her family where she is active in community life.
Dr. Chaim Trachtman
Dr. Trachtman is the Director of Pediatric Nephrology at New York University Langone Medical Center and a Professor of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine. His professional memberships include the American Society of Nephrology and the Society for Pediatric Research and he serves as an ad hoc reviewer for many professional journals. He is the recipient of research grant awards, the principal investigator in numerous NIDDK- and industry-sponsored clinical studies and the author of multiple articles, chapters and abstracts. Dr. Trachtman serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the National Kidney Foundation serving Greater New York and is a Fellow of the National Kidney Foundation.
Dr. Jack Zeller
Dr Jack A Zeller is retired Pathologist and former director of Laboratories at the Washington DC Veterans Administration hospital center. Dr Zeller is the founder and Past President of Kulanu Inc which is a Jewish large volunteer organization dedicated to supporting emerging and forgotten Jewish communities. Now living in Israel, Dr Zeller was a long standing member of the social action committee of his synagogue at Tifereth Israel in Washington DC. Dr Zeller remains actively involved in Kulanu which works almost exclusively in third world countries. Both Dr Zeller and his wife Dr Diane Zeller became board members of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews in 1985 prior to originating Kulanu in 1993.
Rachel Karlin is a seasoned technical writer who devotes her free time to volunteer at soup kitchens, teen shelters and environmental causes. Rachel has successfully balanced her professional life in the high-tech industry with her dedication and passion for advancing social justice issues. At her current position in a multinational hi-tech company she is an ambassador for the community relations projects and strives to spread awareness about volunteering opportunities to other hi-tech employees. She has an MA from Wayne State University in Technical Communication and an MA from Bar Ilan University in Creative Writing. Recently she joined Gabriel Project Mumbai as Director of Alumni Relations and is a source of great guidance as the latest member of the Gabriel Project Mumbai Advisory Committee.
Professor Avner de-Shalit was a member of Kibbutz Samar in the Aravah Valley until age 27 and worked in agriculture and music, after which he earned his B.A. from the Hebrew University’s Political Science department. He received his Doctorate from Oxford University (1990). He was chair of the Political Science department, was one of the founders of the Political Science Philosophy and Economics (PPE) program at the Hebrew University, and served as the head of the program for two years, and served as Dean of the Faculty for Social Sciences.
From 2012-2015 Avner was the head of the Glocal International Development Program at Hebrew University. He is a recipient of the Rothschild Prize for Social Sciences (2014) and winner of the ‘Best political theory paper in the Journal of Politics’ for 2015-2016. His most recently published books include “The Spirit of the Cities” (with Daniel Bell) published by Princeton University Press and “Disadvantage” (with John Wolf) published by the Oxford University Press.
Naomi Ackerman is an experienced actress, consultant, and facilitator. She creates curriculums that use drama techniques to deal with social, gender, and educational issues, as well as exploring identity and promoting tolerance and dialogue between diverse participants. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Advot Project uses theater for transformation, and works with disadvantaged youth to explore healthy relationships, improve communication skills, nurture personal growth, improve their self-esteem, and transform their lives for the better.
Naomi served two years in the Israeli Defense Forces and received a BA in Education and Theatre from Hebrew University, as well as a Special-Ed Teaching Credential from the David Yellin Teachers Seminar. She has participated in various multinational theater productions. She is a founding member of “View Points” – an Arab-Jewish dialogue theater produced by the Shimon Peres Center for Peace. Naomi wrote, directed, and performs the acclaimed one-woman show “Flowers Aren’t Enough,” which deals with the issue of domestic violence, and has been featured over 1,900 times globally, including at the United Nations’ Commission for the Status of Woman (CSW). Naomi is a recipient of the KCET-Link Local Hero 2014 Award, the 2016 International Woman Achievers Community leadership award, and the 2018 Covenant Award.
Shulie Madnick was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Ashdod to Bene Israeli Indian Jewish parents from Mumbai. She traveled to India in 2016 to explore her Indian Jewish heritage and other Indian Jewish communities and Jewish life in Mumbai and India. Shulie is a professional journalist, food and travel writer, speaker, cooking teacher and photographer. She writes about food, culture, and history. Shulie has been published in The Washington Post, The Forward, Haaretz, The Washington Jewish Week, Asian Jewish Life, and more. Some of Shulie's articles were syndicated in The Chicago Tribune and other national and local newspapers. She launched "Beyond the Bagel," a podcast exploring the vast Jewish and Israeli identities through food and food culture. Her collection of Jewish India photography is in the Beit Hatfutzot library archives in Tel Aviv.
Shulie was introduced to the Gabriel Project Mumbai through the JDC and JDC Entwine. She witnessed firsthand the dire socio-economic injustices endured by the population in the slums and villages and the urgent need to provide any aid and relief possible. On her visit to the villages south of Mumbai, where the first Bene Israeli families settled, she visited and brought some school supplies to a 'Children's Village' not far from Alibag. The fact that the kids living in the slums and in poverty in India have no access to education during the pandemic is inconceivable and unconscionable. Shulie believes in what the Gabriel Project Mumbai is doing to support these children's educational and health needs, short and long term. Shulie lives with her husband, Jonathan, just outside DC. Their son lives in Israel.
Robert is an attorney at Lowenstein Sandler LLP who advises clients on the international, federal, and state and local aspects of business transactions. His extensive practice focuses primarily on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, private equity investments, investment fund formations, restructurings, and bankruptcies.
In addition to his tax practice, Robert also advises various non-profit clients on issues relating to obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status. While in college, Robert spent a summer volunteering with the Jaffa Institute in Israel, a non-profit, multi-service social agency formed to assist the city of Jaffa's severely disadvantaged children and their families.
Robert has a BA in International Trade and Geography from the University at Buffalo, and a JD from Fordham University's School of Law. Robert was born and raised in New York. Above all, Robert is passionate about ensuring that all children have access to adequate nutrition, healthcare, and education.
Rachelle and Alan Laytner
Alan and Rachelle are inspired by the work of GPM - of giving back to vulnerable communities through providing access to quality education, healthcare and nutrition to young people in India.
Rachelle serves as the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Human Resources for Mélange Home and Laytner’s Linen & Home, a retail store founded by Alan’s parents sixty years ago on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She holds a BA from Barnard College and a Master’s of Museum Education from Bank Street.
Alan is the CEO of Mélange Home and Laytner’s Linen & Home. He serves on the boards of Dorot and the Hebrew Free Loan Society and he holds a BFA from City College and attended Columbia University for a Master of Fine Arts. Additionally, Alan has worked extensively in India over the past twenty years, sourcing textiles for his New York based importing company Mélange Home.
They live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and enjoy spending time with Rachelle’s parents, their three daughters and grandson.
Moshe Shek, the founder of the famous "Moshe's" cafe-restaurant chain in India, has generously opened his teaching kitchen school, 'A World Away', to the women of the GPM women's empowerment group. Mr. Shek and his staff gave cooking lessons to the sixteen women from Kalwa who produce and deliver hundreds of meals to children in school every day, in order to help them improve their techniques and learn from one of the most successful chefs in the country.
Moshe was a contributor in the Gabriel Project Mumbai cookbook, Masala Mamas. Moshe became an entrepreneur after gaining experience at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel & the Tel Aviv Hilton. In 2017, Moshe opened his state-of-the-art kitchen and an organic garden at Alibaug, India. Moshe’s next project is bringing back the Jews of India, focusing on Jewish peoplehood and the upkeep of Jewish establishments.
Jeffrey is a dual Israeli/US citizen, currently residing in Denver, CO with his wife and 4 children. Mr. Loewenthal is a serial entrepreneur who has worked with several start-ups as well as consulted for more established organizations. Mr. Loewenthal is a Founding Board Member of PORAT (People for Orthodox Renaissance And Torah) and is also Chairman of the Board of his own companies that operate BrightStar Care and Meineke Franchises.
Rabbi Leon Morris is the President of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He moved to Israel from the US in 2014, after serving as the rabbi of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, NY. Leon was the founding director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El (now the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center) in Manhattan. Before coming to Pardes, he served as a Vice President for Israel Programs at the Shalom Hartman Institute and was a faculty member at Hebrew Union College. Originally from Connellsville, PA, Leon earned a BA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1990, and was ordained from Hebrew Union College in 1997.
Thirty years ago Leon spent a year in Mumbai as a Jewish Service Corps volunteer with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He states that “It was the most meaningful and transformative year of my life, and reinforced my desire to become a rabbi and to focus on Jewish education. While my focus then was on Mumbai's Jewish community, I struggled daily with the inability to address the vast poverty I saw everywhere in this "Maximum City." I returned to Mumbai many times. In my last visit there, leading a group of young leaders from Jewish federations, I was deeply inspired by the work of GPM.”
Carmi Abramowitz was on the GPM Board from its inception in 2012 till the end of 2020 and is a senior project manager with over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, software development, and engineering. His has worked on large projects with Fortune 50 companies such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, as well as projects with other organizations. Carmi holds a BA in Psychology and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
Over the years Carmi has been involved in helping to promote various causes ranging from the Chazon Yeshaya soup kitchens and vocational training programs in Israel, to Soviet Jewry, to lobbying senators and representatives in the USA. For the past 5 years Carmi has served on the Board of Education at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ, where he has headed the Hebrew language committee. He is a member of the Youth Committee at his local synagogue, and resides with his family in the United States in Bergenfield, NJ.
An advocate of the "Tipping Point" philosophy, Carmi believes that small changes can have a big impact.
Adrian Sackson has been involved in a number of international volunteer programs in a variety of capacities. In 2009-2010, Adrian lived in India, where he volunteered for a local grass-roots human rights organisation in the state of Gujarat. Adrian has also worked as a group leader for short-term educational volunteer programs in Ghana, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. His first international volunteer experience was as an English teacher in Vietnam.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Adrian received his B.A. in philosophy and Judaic studies at Monash University. After moving to Israel in 2005, Adrian worked for three years as an educator at the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad in Jerusalem. He holds an M.A. in Jewish philosophy from Tel Aviv University, and has studied at a variety of institutions, including the Shalom Hartman Institute, the Pardes Institute, and Yeshivat Ma'aleh Gilboa. Adrian speaks a little Hindi and Gujarati, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy at New York University.
Fern owned a boutique in New York City called Rosebud where she exclusively sold Israeli designer clothing and contemporary objects in Soho from 2003 to 2013 then Madison Avenue from 2013 to 2018. She went on to lead Rosebud fashion tours in Israel and Rosebud food tours in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY. Before owning her own business, Fern was a buyer at Macy's then at Associated Dry Goods where she was also a merchandise manager for the designer fashion department. For many years, she volunteered at the Conservative Synagogue of Fifth Avenue where her family are members.
Fern was born in Queens, NY and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Fern, her husband and son all live in Greenwich Village.
Having completed a Philosophy Degree at the University of Manchester, UK, where he focused largely on the Indian Philosophy modules, All for the Kids Founder and Director, Bradley Cohen, lived in Asia for 6 years, including a year in India and Nepal. He spent much time volunteering in orphanages, most prominently in Bihar – India’s poorest state. He knows the local culture and has close contacts with local people running social justice projects.
Bradley volunteered in an orphanage in Malawi, Africa and has raised money and awareness for children’s charities in Africa and Israel. Bradley has experience running volunteer service programs in the developing world. He lives in Jerusalem with his family.