Meet the Yahel Team

Dana Talmi
Executive Director

Born in England and raised in the Netherlands and Israel, Dana has over 15 years of experience working in the fields of experiential education and service learning. She started her career as a tour-guide in Israel in Hebrew, English and Dutch. After working for several years as a tour guide throughout Israel, Dana moved to the United States and continued her involvement in Jewish education. She was an educator at the Teva Learning Alliance and a teacher at the Florence Melton School. In 2002, Dana led her first service learning trip to Honduras and the Ukraine with American Jewish World Service (AJWS). For the next few years, she continued leading service learning programs for Jewish college students. In 2005, she joined the AJWS staff and was responsible for hiring, training and managing group leaders for service-learning trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2007 Dana returned to Israel with her family and soon after, founded Yahel – Israel Service Learning. Dana holds a B.A. in Israel studies from Bar-Ilan University and an M.S.W. with a focus on community organizing and group work from the University of North Carolina. Dana loves living in Zichron Ya’akov with her husband and three children. She currently serves on the board of Atzum – Justice Works as well as the Keshet Pluralistic and Democratic School in Zichron Yaakov.

Boyanna Grubeshich
Director of Operations and Projects

Boyanna is originally from Bosnia and Hercegovina and currently lives in Tel Aviv. For the past 10 years, she has been involved in community mobilizing and development. During this period she has initiated and implemented numerous programs addressing issues of identity, peoplehood, belonging, and self-determination. Boyanna has guided grassroots projects that reinforce individual leadership and self-sustainable community-building, underscored by a strong sense of change and civil activism. Boyanna has been involved in the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation/JDC International Jewish Summer Camp in Eastern Hungary as a unit head in educational program development. She served as an Israel Hillel Fellow at Baruch College, in NY from 2009 to 2011 and work for Hillel Israel until 2015. She has been involved in a Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative in Europe, Schusterman Connection Points and professional development programs in the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies initiated by Nadav Foundation. Boyanna holds a BA in Jewish philosophy and Multidisciplinary Arts Program at Tel Aviv University and is currently working on her M.A in the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at Haifa University. 

Tamara Gottlieb
Director of Development

Tamara has been involved in informal education and social-change work for over ten years. After spending several years leading educational programs for youth students and adults from English speaking countries in Israel, Tamara became involved in Jewish-Arab dialogue work, facilitating Israeli-Palestinian encounter groups at YMCA Jerusalem and Givat Haviva. In 2011 Tamara started working as a project manager at Appleseeds Academy, managing technology-based educational programs in disadvantaged communities in Israel. Tamara holds a B.A. in Middle East Studies from Ben Gurion University and an M.A. in Middle East Studies from Hebrew University where she focused her thesis on Religious Zionism. Tamara also holds a group facilitation certificate from Kollot Banegev at Sapir College. Born in New York and raised in Jerusalem, she now lives in the Western Negev with her husband and three children.

Maya Opedisno
Director of Finance

Maya graduated from the Faculty of Economics academic track and Accounting (B.A) at Ruppin College, with honors. Maya provides several Economics and Accounting services to governmental bodies and business companies in Israel. Maya lives in Karkur, is married with four children and loves to dance.

Dvir Fruchter
Yahel Social Change Fellowship City Coordinator in Lod

Born and raised in Shoham, a small city about ten minutes from Lod, Dvir served as a commander in the Givati Infantry unit of the Israel Defence Forces. Upon finishing his army service, Dvir volunteered for a year with the Jewish community in schools and community projects in Australia, through Torah MiZion. Dvir has a passion for logistics and community service- a student of logistics and management at Bar Ilan University, he has also previously worked as a coordinator for Birthright through Masa Jewish Journey and Diller Fellows. Currently Dvir is living in Lod as a member of the Ayalim student community and is very happy to be getting involved with the community through the student union and Yahel.

Devon Spitzer
Director of Outreach 

Devon hails from San Francisco and has a long history of involvement in community service. Devon earned her B.A. from Franklin and Marshall college in Sociology with a concentration in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Devon has a love and appreciation for international education, studying Immigration and Migration in Copenhagen, Denmark and Multiculturalism and Diversity in a post-Apartheid context with the School for International Training in Cape Town, South Africa. Devon is energetic about many social justice causes, but most passionate about women’s health in medical systems. Prior to working at Yahel Israel, Devon interned at Shalom Bayit, a Bay Area-based domestic violence intervention and prevention nonprofit and worked in resource development for the Israeli Planned Parenthood. Devon is interested in getting her MA in International Development and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies to work in women’s healthcare internationally. An alumna of the Yahel Social Change Fellowship 2015-2016, she is very excited to now be a part of the Yahel team!

Miriam Aniel
Summer Educational Staff

Born in Los Angeles and raised in North Carolina, Miriam believes in the power of people to transform their communities - and communities to transform their people. Passionate about community-building and education, Yahel is a natural home for her values! Miriam holds a BA in Art History from Columbia University and a BA in Jewish Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; she brings her love of culture, stories, and creation to her work as an educator. She is an alumna of the 2015-2016 Yahel Fellowship cohort, where she served in the beautiful neighborhood of Ramat Eliyahu, Rishon Letzion. Sine 2016, Miriam has worked for Yahel as an educator, leading short-term summer programming across the country. In 2019, Miriam will pursue her Master’s degree in Social Innovation Design, where she will use intentional design practices to deepen her work. She splits her time between Israel and Richmond, VA where she is involved in community and education work (and the search for the best ice cream in town!). 

Yohannes Azanaw
Yahel Social Change Fellowship City Coordinator in Rishon LeZion

Yohannes Azanaw moved to Israel from Ethiopia with his family when he was six years old and has been working to make Israel a more equal society since. In 2009, Yohannes opened the first dark-skinned talent agency in Israel, which has worked with Ethiopian stars such as musician Ester Rada. Yohannes has recently spent a lot of time traveling in Ethiopia as he is working on writing a book documenting the early roots of music in Ethiopia until 1980. Yohannes is passionate about social change and very excited to work with Yahel fellows in Ramat Eliyahu. 

Derek Leif
Summer Educational Staff

Derek has been working with Yahel since 2015 and believes deeply in the organization's mission, its staff and all of its participants.  Prior to his work with Yahel, he was involved with community engagement and education for several years, first as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in the Community Youth Development program, followed by his work as a mathematics instructor at King's Academy in Madaba, Jordan.   

Derek is currently pursuing a dual degree in public policy and North African and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan.  Before that, he graduated from Haverford College in 2008 where he majored in history and minored in economics.

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Tiferet Bassel
Director of the Yahel Social Change Fellowship

Tiferet Bassel was born to American immigrants to Israel and raised in Jerusalem. She currently resides in Jaffa with her partner and their giant brown dog, Miso. Tiferet holds a BA in Eastern Asian and Interdisciplinary studies from Tel Aviv University and a MA in Cultural Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Prior to working at Yahel she has taught Hebrew extensively, coordinated Israel discovery trips and conducted academic research in Cultural Studies with a particular focus on postcolonialism and conflicting narratives of world history. In addition, she has worked at an antiques auction house, researching and writing about artefacts important to Jewish culture and Israeli history. As a very curious person, she is constantly driven to explore radical ideas and social movements, ask challenging questions and help other pursue their own inquiries. Tiferet is passionate about people and change and is thrilled to be involved in the Yahel Social Change Fellowship.

Inbal Samin
Consultant and Special Projects

Born in Jerusalem and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Inbal has been involved in community work and education since 2005. She previously worked at the New Israel Fund in New York, and spent a year in Senegal with the grassroots education NGO Tostan.  She then led educational and service learning programs in West Africa and Nicaragua for Where There Be Dragons and the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), before moving to Israel in 2010.  Since 2011, she has been part of the team at Yahel-Israel Service Learning -- leading short-term programs, serving as the Director of the Yahel Social Change Program (2011-2014), and consulting for organizations including Masa and Tlalim on curriculum development and staff training. From 2015-2016, she served as Community Coordinator for UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) in Israel, helping Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers access their rights. She currently works as a community manager at the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and is studying towards a Masters in Social Work at the University of Haifa.



Yahel Israel

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