2021-2022 Fellows

Rishon LeZion Fellows


Jack McCormack was born in New York City and raised in Westchester, New York. The Middle of 5 boys, he grew up playing sports and camping outdoors. Jack attended the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, graduating with a B.S. in Public Relations and a Minor in Global Political Economy. While enrolled at Syracuse Jack spent a semester abroad in Hong Kong, served as a Cabinet Member of the Student Government, participated in Greek Life, and helped manage both the school's student-run PR Firm and Advertising Agency. After graduation, Jack joined a tech startup in Brooklyn that created safety wearables for the world's industrial workforce aimed at predicting and preventing musculoskeletal injuries before they occurred. Now 26, Jack is looking forward to working with Yahel to make a positive impact on the communities he will serve as well as the other fellows on the program.


Alex Peterson was raised in Snohomish, Washington. He recently earned his Master’s degree in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2014, Alex founded a non-profit in the Greater Seattle area offering weekly music lessons to children with developmental disabilities, a program that was integrated into one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest supported living agencies in 2016. In 2019, Alex was deployed to Dominica as a Global Humanitarian Fellow with IsraAID, assisting in relief efforts in the lasting aftermath of Hurricane Maria. During his undergraduate studies, Alex also conducted a research project on the relationship between the Hebrew language and political identity in Israel through a grant from the UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, an undertaking that cemented his interest in Israel. These experiences collectively led him to seek community-level service opportunities in Israel through Yahel, where he is excited to volunteer in youth empowerment projects, innovative education programs, and other organizations that work with underserved communities. In his free time, Alex enjoys writing, hiking, playing music, and fixing watches.


Alexander Bryce Horowitz grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. He completed his bachelor’s degree at The University of Kansas in Strategic Communications with a Business minor. Alexander strengthens communities through sports and positive coaching. For him, it starts with each individual’s appreciation of their unique gifts, unlocking their “own gifted genius,” as they then will benefit all others. He has seen it work for ages up through university. During the summer of 2018, Alexander worked with the London Basketball Association to make the basketball community accessible, an employment and growth opportunity for residents. For London, it is a gateway to solving social issues such as obesity, improving physical and mental health, while eliminating substance misuse, unemployment, crime, and postcode wars. The LBA objective? Bring positive social change to the most disadvantaged communities in London.  In his free time, he enjoys going to the gym, watching movies, and listening to music. After completing the Yahel Social Change, he will continue on his path of uniting communities, eliminating “division,” and facilitating positive, ongoing communication and self-respect.


Sydney Luks Sydney Luks is from Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated in May 2021 with a bachelors degree in Sociology from Eckerd College, with a focus on studying the intricacies of Human Trafficking around the world. During her sophomore year of college, Sydney participated in a Human Trafficking Field Study in the country of Cambodia where she was able to focus her passion for social justice into learning about NGOs that work to alleviate exploitation of women and children. In the summer of 2018, Sydney completed an internship at Common River NGO in Aleta Wondo, Ethiopia where she taught English to elementary aged children. That internship was Sydney’s third time traveling to Ethiopia as both of her sisters are adopted from Ethiopia and has traveled there for family trips. Sydney is an active protest attendee. During her junior year in college (2019), Sydney organized and led a  successful protest at Eckerd College with the mission of creating procedural change in the implementation of Title IX (the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination). One of the results of the initial protest was the creation of a Student Title IX Advisory Council, of which Sydney was a founding member and served as both the Head of Communications as well as the Head of Support within the council. As the Head of Support, Sydney created and co-facilitated a Healing-Centered Discussion Group with the Coordinator of Advocacy Services that focused on sexual assault survivor community healing. During her senior year, Sydney was the only student representative on the hiring committee for the new Title IX Coordinator at Eckerd College, per Sydney and her council’s recommendation to demote and rehire the Title IX Coordinator. Sydney is a passionate, dedicated budding activist with a drive to create social change through holistic, grassroots efforts. Sydney is excited to work with Yahel as this is the start of the work she hopes to do for the rest of her life.


Talia Levin is 24 years old and was born in Israel but grew up in Wisconsin. She recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a bachelors degree in Marketing.. During college, she worked for a non-profit organization called Tikkun Ha-Ir. It was through this experience that she started developing a passion for social justice and volunteer work. She also has worked in sales and marketing, which has given her great business skills. This past summer, she spent a month leading a group of American teens throughout Israel. As they immersed themselves in the culture, she realized she wanted to continue her journey in Israel. She is so excited to join this fellowship and bring all her skills and experiences with her. In her free time, she loves singing/listening to music, dancing, creating art, exploring and getting to know people. She is excited to meet everyone and begin this fellowship!


Abigail Gies was born in Canada and grew up in Upstate New York. Her childhood was spent working on her family’s small organic farm with her parents and siblings. As a young adult Abigail began volunteering with a local youth group in her community. Eventually she was given an opportunity to tour all across Canada and the United States with a travelling band, which she took! This was the beginning of Abigail’s life of traveling. In 2016 she spent 10 months in Israel working at a guest house, ultimately falling in love with learning about all the different cultures around her. In 2017 she continued to travel and explored 7 different European countries. Upon returning home she started college at Fulton Montgomery Community College and received her Associates of Science in Human Services, graduating with highest honors. For her final year at college she worked as a peer tutor for newer students in human services and sociology studies. During that time she also worked at a boy’s home within the New York State foster care system. All of her varied experiences have given Abigail a love for people of all ages. In her rare free time she enjoys reading, walking and hiking, making adorable crocheted projects, and playing the guitar. She is most looking forward to returning to work in a multicultural setting as a Yahel Fellow, as well as meeting other young professionals from all around the world


Nic Reid was born and raised in Sydney Australia and has lived there all his life. In Nic’s senior years of High School, he studied the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as Yasser Arafat in detail. This profound learning experience led to an overwhelming desire to one day visit Israel and sparked years of immersion in Israeli culture and politics. After leaving High School, Nic studied to be a Paralegal to which he worked for 3 years before engaging in his studies and work experience in Insurance. After receiving all his industry qualifications and after attaining a position in the Global risks team, Nic’s passion for applying his efforts to meaningful means of employment and living led him out of the industry and into pursing experience in the Red Cross store in the middle of the LGBT community. During his tenure, Nic had the privilege applying his diverse life experience for the purpose of befriending and supporting people from all areas of life including migrants, members of the LGBT community, current and recovering drug addicts and those with mental health issues. Understanding that his tenure would only be temporary, Nic decided to pursue a long-time goal of attaining his TESOL certification which would enable him to work anywhere in the world and being able to support people’s needs in the English language to which he has diverse experience from helping migrants, especially Latin Americans. Nic has been studying Spanish for a couple of years now and is looking forward to embracing Hebrew and Arabic, other long-term desires of his. Nic has been an avid practitioner of Krav Maga as well as other forms of martial arts training coupled with an intense passion for health, fitness and spirituality that continues to this day. Nic has a burning desire to not only visit the land he has fallen in love with but to also bring all means of helping the disadvantaged to Israel and to connect with his fellows on a fruitful level. 


Carolina Gutman was born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2020 she graduated the University of Montevideo with degrees in English-Spanish Translation and Bilingual Education. She has always had a passion for languages, especially English, and has been working as an English teacher for over four years with students from all walks of life; from third graders in a rural school to, kindergarteners at a Jewish school and teenagers preparing to sit for international exams. Carolina has found in Yahel an amazing opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, apart from the chance to connect with her Jewish heritage by being immersed in Israeli culture. She believes in the power of teaching with joy and a high regard to clear, open communication; essential tools to develop a good learning environment.

Lod Fellows


Hannah Smolar-Fourniol was born and raised in London. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with a BA in Society Culture and Media. Some of the modules she partook in Arabic language, journalism regarding the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict and her thesis was about cultural identity in second-generation immigrants. Many of those she interviewed were from Arabic and Israeli backgrounds. Additionally, Hannah also completed a foundation year in Psychotherapy and Counselling, giving her the skills to train as a mental health practitioner. Following this, she trained and worked on a helpline with victims of domestic violence. Prior to university, Hannah worked in a kindergarten with children from the ages of zero- four years old. She also worked in youth clubs with children up to the ages of 13. After Yahel Hannah hopes to train as a social worker with a main focus on families and children.


Rachael Stone grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and went down the road to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her Bachelor's degree in political science and peace, war, and defense, with a minor in Arabic. At UNC, Rachael was involved with Jewish life on campus and worked with NCPIRG to register students to vote as well as working part time at a Jewish preschool. Rachael first became intrigued by Israel and the Palestinian territories during a summer internship at a policy research center in Jerusalem in 2018. During this time, she participated in a Yahel weekend seminar in Lod and Rishon Lezion, where she was inspired by the conversations she had with community members and fellows to keep learning about the diverse populations in Israel. In 2020, Rachael was a student leader on an educational trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where she and her fellow UNC students learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from people with diverse backgrounds. After graduating from UNC in December 2020, Rachael began working full time at the preschool. In her free time, Rachael enjoys biking, gardening, listening to podcasts, and cooking, and she is excited to get to know her Yahel colleagues!

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Josh Socher was born in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania but came of age in Greenwich, Connecticut. He received a Bachelor of Arts In English from Marist College (Go Red Foxes!) in Poughkeepsie, New York with a writing concentration and a minor in psychology. His passions are economic and social justice for all people, everywhere, and he hopes to make it his life work. He is particularly interested in Arab-Jewish cooperation and coexistence, and enjoys reading the works and hearing from people from both backgrounds. At Marist, his passion was theatre, where he acted in several shows, worked in several backstage roles, and directed a monologues-based show centered around sharing students personal and intimate life experiences. During the Covid 19 pandemic, he worked as a Group leader for the Connecticut Police Reform project, which aimed to inform the public about injustices and provide suggestions to people in positions of power for improving policing in the state. His favorite things to do in his free time are watch movies, take polaroids, go on hikes, ride his bike, and, most importantly, spend time with his friends. He believes that the key to solving the world’s problems is to understand and empathize with others' views and create a mutual understanding in order to create a better world and future for our generation and the ones that come after. He couldn’t be more excited to live in the city of Lod with other changemakers.


Julia Hack (she/her) grew up in south Germany nearby Lake Constance. After High School graduation, she immersed herself in Israeli culture through volunteering in a variety of places. Her encounter with the unique educational work of youth movements in Israel inspired her for the studies of Science of Education, which she completed this year in Vienna, Austria. She engaged in the field of sex education within the Austrian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), worked in non-formal education and recently takes part in a German Teacher Training at the Goethe Institute. Last year Julia spent on qualitative research regarding educational transitions of Israeli youth between High School and professional career for the work of her bachelor thesis. Julia believes in the power and importance of non-formal education and has a special curiosity in theatre education. Within her experiences in Israel, she became fluent in the Hebrew language and is eager to develop her language skills in different contexts within the Yahel Fellowship. In her free time, she follows her passion for contemporary dance and improvisation and for Hebrew poetry. In Vienna, Julia was a member of the Liberal Jewish Community and enjoyed diving into questions of Jewish Living.


Margo Dickstein was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Growing up, she was surrounded by people from all walks of life and from diverse backgrounds within her community. She had always felt a drive from inside of herself to learn from others and understand people’s unique backgrounds and how they affected them. This propelled her to become passionate about the role of dialogue and empathy when trying to create changes in communities. During her time as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Margo participated in and eventually helped run the University’s only Muslim-Jewish dialogue group, “MuJew”. She also was a founding member and president of i-LEAD, an Israel club at the University of Michigan dedicated to creating a safe space for nuanced conversations surrounding the topic of Israel and the conflict. After an exchange semester in Paris cut short due to the pandemic, she graduated in May of 2021 with a B.A. in International Studies and Political Science. Margo is passionate about her Jewish identity and is particularly interested in the way religion and culture propel people’s political beliefs. She is excited to explore these dynamics working within the Lod community as a Yahel fellow.


Micaela Seidman was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduating from Tarbut Hebrew School, one of the oldest schools in the country providing Jewish education and teaching Jewish values, she worked for two years in its kindergarten. Micaela continued her professional career and gained more experience at the Buenos Aires Ministry of Justice and Security. She is seeking her law degree to help those most in need. She is passionate about education, Israeli history, social and community work, and conflict resolution. This led her to seek to understand more in depth the situations that the citizens of the State of Israel face in their daily lives, and how they manage to overcome the obstacles that are presented to them. She is interested in knowing better the diverse, interesting, complex and beautiful society of the country.


Kao Schwarz Temin was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. Received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of São Paulo. During his studies he was an active member/leader of teaching projects such as teaching basic finance to unschooled adults and developing the first TEDx Talks of São Paulo university. During and after graduation he worked for a Private Equity fund and a large tech company. In his free time he loves to cycle, cook, travel and read. He is very excited to embark on this journey with Yahel by learning about Israeli culture and society and helping in any way he can to create a better and more equal world.

Haifa Fellows


Natalie Hershey grew up in Lebanon, Tennessee, a small town outside of Nashville. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Cumberland University, where she majored in biology and double minored in chemistry and psychology. Her senior thesis examined the linkage between genetic trauma markers and PTSD development, drawing heavily on research conducted on descendants of Holocaust survivors. During her time at Cumberland, Natalie was an active member of student life. She founded The Kosher Phoenix, the first on-campus Jewish student organization, and was active in chapters of Best Buddies and Pride Alliance, in which she held leadership positions and managed social media. She was also active in the honor societies Beta Beta Beta,  Gamma Beta Phi, and Omicron Delta Kappa, where she was presented the Leader of the Year award. During her sophomore year,  Natalie participated in a unique servant leadership class, in which the class’s capstone involved working in rural Haiti. Natalie’s expertise in the sciences led her to be hired by the university during her freshman year as a tutor, where she specialized in biology, microbiology, history, and philosophy until graduation. She is eager to bring her experience in servant leadership and education to her work with Yahel. During her free time, Natalie enjoys photography, cooking, live entertainment, and is an avid traveler. She plans to pursue a graduate degree after her time in Israel and is excited for the opportunities and personal growth that being a fellow will provide.


Francine Levy is from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, where she studied English Literature and Anthropology. While in college, Francine represented Franklin & Marshall as a tour guide, introducing prospective students and their families to campus. Additionally, through her role as a tutor at the F&M Writing Center, Francine helped fellow students structure their ideas to complete writing assignments. In her community, Francine shared the life stories of local Nepali refugees for a non-profit’s fundraising initiative. She spent her senior year interviewing Yiddish scholars for an honors thesis on Yiddish’s historical and contemporary connections to politics, race, and sexuality. In her free time, you can find Francine on early morning runs, cheering on the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, or trying her hand at new recipes with her family and friends. She is looking forward to her work as a Yahel fellow and growing professionally, intellectually, and culturally.


Aiesha Elwakdy recently finished her degree in Religious Studies, Arabic, and SWANA studies at Franklin and Marshall college with honors, where she dedicated their time to a number of humanitarian efforts. As a research assistant, Aiesha worked with the Franklin and Marshall Global Barometer of Gay Rights to conduct research on eight years of data for over 100 countries, in an attempt to measure, track, illustrate, and analyze gay rights globally. Additionally, they have created two in-depth case studies assessing queer and trans rights throughout the United States from the years 2000, 2018, and 2020. With a passion for language, Aiesha has studied Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish. Growing up in a multi ethnic and multi religious family, Aiesha was able to channel their curiosity and academic interest as a teaching assistant for multiple undergraduate courses. Combining her personal, educational, and professional backgrounds, Aiesha chose to contribute her skills and experiences through social service learning in the diverse city of Haifa with the help of Yahel.

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