Rishon LeZion Fellows
Rose Fried is a California native, with the last decade spent in Oakland, CA. She holds a BA in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and a minor in Mexican American Studies and earned her Masters degree in 2014 in International and Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Human Rights Education completing her thesis titled, “Refugee Youth: Trauma and School as a Home for Healing”.
The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Rose has spent her career working with refugees and survivors of trauma. She began her career at the International Rescue Committee in refugee resettlement, and most recently spent over two years working for the U.S. Refugee Foster Care Program with unaccompanied refugee minors. She also has experience as a Clinical Supervisor working with children on the autism spectrum as well as with gang-impacted youth and young adults. Rose’s passion for human rights and social justice has led her to this exciting opportunity with Yahel. She is an avid scuba diver and an active member of the Chabad community in Oakland. She is proud of her Jewish identity and excited to experience all the chaggim in Israel, improve her Hebrew, immerse in Israeli culture, and dive again in the Red Sea.
Rachel Goldstein comes from Connecticut. She has a background in social work, focusing on addiction counseling in adolescents as well as elder care of patients with dementia. She is currently studying to get her Emergency Medical Technician certification, and plans on joining the volunteer EMS department in her town. Rachel plans on continuing her education with a focus on addiction and family counseling. At the moment, she works as a bartender and waitress. During the summer months, she teaches swim lessons to children ranging in ages from 13 months to 16 years old. She also has her Registered Behavior Technician certification, and she used her knowledge to teach swim lessons to children with developmental disabilities.
Leora Herman is a native of Tenafly, New Jersey and graduated from the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she studied psychology and modern Jewish studies. In college, she served on the board of Columbia-Barnard Hillel’s mental health awareness group, working to de-stigmatize mental illness in the Jewish community on campus. Since graduating, she has worked as a journalist in the fashion industry, writing for New York Magazine and numerous e-commerce fashion retailers. She has since decided to make a career change and use her background in psychology and passion for mental health awareness to pursue a degree in social work upon completing the Yahel fellowship. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her two dogs, searching for the best pizza in NYC, hip-hop dance, and art. Leora is looking forward to learning about grassroots social change and how she can utilize her skills to empower different communities in Israel and around the world.
Alan David Poch was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a recent graduate from Universidad de Buenos Aires, with a degree in Philosophy. He works as a teacher in two high schools and is also developing a project called "Philosophical couching" in a private clinic. His studies are very wide, including anthropology, ethics, esthetics and animal philosophy. Working with teenagers and adults in both informal and formal educational capacities is a true passion of Alan’s and something he desires to continue. In his spare time, you can find Alan reading philosophy, literature, playing guitar and going out with friends.
Adam Samohyl grew up in South Bohemia, Czech Republic. He is a student of social work, he has been working with blind children, children in foster care and Roma minority in Czechia and in Slovakia. He spent 5 months working in an excluded area in Eastern Slovakia trying to understand another lifestyle. He likes exploring other cultures and he is very grateful that he could spend one of his social work practises teaching one month in Nepal where he met many interesting people and a buffalo. He likes to travel with his scout group around Czechia and also to foreign countries. He would like to show them Israel too.
Amanda Silverstein is a recent graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Public Policy and a minor in Theatre. She began her undergraduate experience studying to be a performer, and later realized her passion for education and social justice. Combining her interests, Amanda spent a summer in Israel as a counselor at Beit Noar, where she worked with the children of refugee families in South Tel Aviv. She has also worked at several theater camps and continues to explore how music and theater can be used as forms of expression and social advocacy. While at Penn State, Amanda was a founding member of Rebuild-U, an organization that connects students to hands-on service projects in the local community. She helped organize an annual Rebuild-U volunteer service trip to Roatan, Honduras, where she used her Spanish language skills to support various projects within the community. Amanda is excited to return to Israel with Yahel and continue working towards new forms of sustainable change
Julieta Strugo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but has been living in Canada since she was 6 years old. Julieta is a recent graduate of York University in Toronto, with a degree in Psychology with a certificate in Spanish proficiency. Throughout her degree she focused on social psychology, and specifically in interpersonal relationships. Her senior thesis (and later published paper) looked at how people’s motivations for using the dating app, Tinder, was associated with people’s dating success.
Julieta plans to go back to school next year for her master’s degree in Social Work and hopes to work with immigrant couples and families in the future.
Hannah Winkelman grew up in Seattle and went to college at Tufts University in Boston. While at Tufts, she studied Religion and English, focusing on the history of early Christianity. She wrote her senior honors thesis on early Christian conceptions of hell and what they revealed about their authors’ ideas of justice and social control. After graduating in 2018, she moved to Philadelphia, volunteering as a counselor at a rape crisis center and preparing for law school. She hopes to eventually work as a human rights lawyer. In her free time, she likes to play guitar, hike, watch movies and read modern classics.
Tasha Fox grew up in Xenia, OH and started traveling internationally at the age of 17. She was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Belgium after high school and went on to study at Wright State University where she earned her BA in French and MBA in International Business. During her time at WSU she had the opportunity to study abroad in Tanzania, China, France, and Spain where she grew her love for languages and foreign culture. In 2015 she volunteered with Project Harmony Israel at the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem and has been drawn to Israel ever since. After graduating, she spent a year teaching English in Madrid, Spain where she also began studying Hebrew. Tasha has a long history of working with children and a strong interest in conflict resolution and mediation. She hopes her time as a Yahel fellow will provide her with insight on where her skills will be most useful in the field and the opportunity to learn more about responsibly promoting social change.
Emily O'Connell is originally from the United States and recently completed her Master of Public Health at the University of Haifa. She formerly attained a Bachelor of Science in General Microbiology at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. She then pursued a Master of Science in Applied and Environmental Microbiology at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where she grew increasingly fond of epidemiology and its relevance to clinical microbiology. Emily has several academic interests, including a passion for both language learning and Middle Eastern studies. Because of this, she was able to continue her education in Israel on a David L. Boren Fellowship to simultaneously study Modern Standard Arabic and the Global Health Leadership and Administration graduate program at the University of Haifa. Moving forward, Emily is eager to use the skills and knowledge she gained from her public health studies on a Yahel Social Change Fellowship, where she intends to actively work towards closing the gap of social inequalities that exist among underserved communities within Israel.
Lily Ongkiko is a proud Chicago native who recently graduated Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. While at Wheaton, Lily studied Political Science and Philosophy, but through her experiences studying under international professors and attending the University of Haifa in the Fall of 2018, Lily discovered a passion for social justice and universal human rights. A nanny while not studying, Lily enjoys spending her time educating and working with children; she believes that true social change will begin with the youngest of generations. When not working, Lily enjoys travelling, both nationally and internationally. As a lifelong athlete and exercise fanatic, Lily hopes to share her proactive perspectives with young students in Lod. Through both physical and mental exercise and most importantly, through teamwork, trust, and communication, Lily is excited to expand her own perspectives while helping to enrich the civic community in Lod.
Heidi Sandomir was born and raised in New York. She graduated from the University at Albany in 2016, receiving a B.S. in Business Administration, concentration in Marketing, and Communications. On her college campus Heidi was involved with Aish HaTorah, and through Aish Heidi attended a Jewish educational course and was gifted a two-week learning trip in Jerusalem in the spring of 2016. Before this, Birthright was Heidi’s first introduction to Israel, and the experience was so impactful she has returned as a staff member with Sachlav|IsraelontheHouse. Heidi worked for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for two years, in the Trial Division and in the Hate Crimes Unit. She will be pursuing her J.D. at the conclusion of the Yahel Fellowship and looks to practice Civil Rights or Human Rights law. Heidi continues to enthusiastically expand her knowledge and appreciation of Israeli culture.
Dana Schmerzler is an artist from Brooklyn, New York. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and minor in Psychology from SUNY New Paltz. Her senior thesis examined the influence of religion and childhood trauma by exploring her grandmother’s journey during the Holocaust paralleled with her own childhood experiences. Throughout college, Dana worked with various underprivileged groups. She tutored at the local juvenile detention center, volunteered for an arts-therapy program and worked with developmentally disabled adults for three years. Since college she has focused on pursuing her art career, working for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Edwynn Houk Gallery. She has always been interested in social justice issues and empowering people through art and creativity. As a Yahel Fellow, Dana hopes to learn how to best help minority groups and create real lasting change.
Ariel Solomianski is a human being born in Buenos Aires, dedicated to explore and better understand his own humanity, and humanity as a whole in the process. Committed to this task, he started travelling 2 years ago, leaving his comfort zone behind, exploring the wide spectrum of opportunities the universe offers to be human, learning about the diverse realities we each perceive, and finding the powerful and subtle familiarities there are in each of them. Embracing the social aspects of human nature, and motivated by the understanding of the oneness that envelops the whole of humanity and the universe, he always seeks for any opportunity to help others do the same, in whatever manner each finds, and share all possible growth with any willing fellow. At the present this brought him to Yahel, where he expects to find, additionally to all the aforementioned, the joy and fulfillment of helping those who reach out for help, learn from and grow with them in a symbiotic exchange, and learn about ways of boosting human development in an organized formal environment. All this while, at the same time, learning about, and experiencing life in the modern ways and in the modern nation of his ancestors.
Claire Trilling is a recent graduate of Tufts University, where she received her degree in International Relations and Anthropology. Throughout college, Claire was engaged in advocacy around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a leader with Tufts’ J Street U chapter. She traveled to Israel/Palestine on an interfaith trip as a Tufts Hillel Visions of Peace Fellow, and returned to the initiative as an intern, where she designed a course aimed at exploring perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Claire also studied Arabic and spent a semester abroad in Amman, Jordan.
During her college years, Claire interned at the Middle East Institute and the Albert Einstein Institution, where she developed a deep interest in nonviolent resistance movements and the potential for grassroots social and political change, particularly in the Middle East. She is excited to continue exploring these interests and expanding her knowledge of the region during her time on Yahel.
Maya Vizel-Schwartz grew up in South Florida alongside her two siblings to an American dad and a Danish mom. She moved to Denmark in 2015 to attend Roskilde University where she recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in International Studies and Social Science. She is passionate about social research and is interested in further exploring the nexus of socio-cultural and urban complexities. She has conducted research in the Lower East Side in New York and Cape Town, South Africa after receiving two travel grants from Roskilde University and has conducted a total of 6 research projects throughout her undergraduate career. Academia aside, she has also volunteered at a volunteer-driven, non-profit cafe in Copenhagen, working first as a barista and bartender, then volunteer trainer, then team member on a project to start a cafe in Kigali, Rwanda. More recently, she interned at an NGO in Copenhagen called Crossing Borders, where she worked in the European Projects division researching grants, project writing, managing the blog, and collaborating on the various cross-cultural events. She also participated in a workshop back in February 2019 where she received a certificate in Storytelling and Intercultural Communication. In her free time, she enjoys dancing ballet and tap, working on a hypothetical time-travel novel, and painting.
Naomi Wolfe hails from Toronto, Canada, where she lives with her family, two cats, and too many plants. She recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Women and Gender Studies, and has a personal passion for social justice work in the Jewish Community. During her time at school, Naomi helped organize and facilitate Hillel U of T's "Rainbow Jews"--a discussion space for queer Jews on campus. She hopes to continue this queer community-building in organized Jewish spaces. She is also looking forward to exploring her options for graduate programs in the 2020-2021 year. With eyes towards the University of Toronto's Masters of Social Justice Education, she looks forward to seeing how the next 9-months inform her experiences and perspectives in grassrooots activism and education.