Board of Trustees

Robert Bernstein

is a partner in Holland & Knight’s New York office and a member of the firm’s Construction Industry Practice Group. Rob focuses his practice on real estate development and construction in both domestic and international markets. Rob regularly represents clients in construction transactions, complex commercial litigation, New York Labor Law litigation, and he provides project advice in connection with ongoing development projects. Rob is a regular speaker on real estate, construction and human rights issues, and is the Co-Chair of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Law Committee. Rob is a proud Shefa parent and lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and three children.

Ariela Dubler

is the Head of School at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School. Prior to assuming that role, she was the George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia Law School, where she teaches and writes about Constitutional Law and Family Law. She serves on the board of trustees of the Heschel School, Goddard-Riverside Community Center, Mechon Hadar, and Moving Traditions. Ariela received her B.A. from Harvard College and her J.D. from Yale University Law School.

Jeff Feig

is an investor in New York with a background in Macro Investing and running sales and trading businesses. Jeff has been a backer of the Shefa School from before the school was launched. He is on the boards of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the weekly publication The Jewish Week and was a the trustee of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun from 2005 to 2011. Jeff participated in the Jewish Week’s Conversation in 2014 and is a Wexner Heritage Fellow. He is married to Michelle, and they have three boys, one of whom is an alumnus of the Shefa School.

Robert D. Frost

is a founder and co-managing principal of Signature Urban Properties, a real estate investment company specializing in transformative development in the New York metropolitan area. He is also President of Signature Partners, LLC a commercial real estate brokerage firm and was previously an investment banker in the Real Estate, Gaming, Leisure and Lodging Group of Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. Robert holds an A.B. in Government from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. Robert is the President of The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation and lives in Manhattan with his wife, Navah, and their four children.

Maya Kadar Kovalsky

serves as Chief Culture Officer at BrainPOP, a trusted learning resource covering all core subjects, reaching millions of learners around the world. Her role focuses on increasing the company’s capacity for professional growth, building community, and continuing to make BrainPOP an inspiring place to come to work every day. She previously served as Senior Vice President of BrainPOP ESL, a proficiency-based English language learning program for all ages. Maya’s philanthropic work as Vice President and Board Member of The Naomi Prawer Kadar Foundation likewise aims to impact the world through education. She also sits on the boards of the Joint Distribution committee (JDC) and American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU). Maya received her MFA in film production from Tel Aviv University and her BA in film studies, art history, and visual art from Barnard College, Columbia University. She lives in Tenafly, NJ with her husband Gil and their three children – Eden, Alma and Adam.

Joshua Kazam

is a co-founder and Partner of Two River, where he has served as partner since its inception in 2004. Joshua is a co-founder and director of both Allogene Therapeutics. Inc. (ALLO) and Kronos Bio. He is a co-founder and partner of Vida Ventures, LLC, a life science investment firm, and was a co-founder and director of Kite Pharma, Inc., where he served on the Board of Directors from inception until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences, Inc. in 2017. Joshua also serves as a director of several privately held companies including IconOVir, Inc, Hubble Contacts, ByHeart Inc, and Breakthrough Properties, LLC. Joshua is a member of the Wharton School’s Undergraduate Executive Board and serves on the Board of the Desert Flower Foundation. Joshua also serves on the Board of Directors for City Meals on Wheels. He received his B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Rabbi Joy Levitt

is the Executive Director at The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Prior to coming to the JCC, she served as a congregational rabbi on Long Island and in New Jersey for twenty years. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, followed by a Master’s degree from New York University, and a rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Most recently, she founded the Jewish Journey Project, an initiative designed to revolutionize Jewish education for children. As a lay leader, she serves on the boards of Avodah: The Jewish Corps for Service and The Shefa School, a Jewish community day school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Joy is married to Michael Strassfeld, also a rabbi, with whom she co-authored A Night of Questions: a Passover Haggadah and together, they have five children.

Avner Mendelson

is President & CEO of Bank Leumi USA. Avner has been with the Leumi Group since 2007 and was named President and Chief Executive Officer in September 2013. During his tenure, he served as Head of Group Strategy and International Operations as well as Chief of Staff. He has also served on Leumi’s US Board of Directors since 2012. Prior to joining the Leumi Group, Avner was a Senior Consultant with McKinsey & Company in London. Before that, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces for three years. Avner earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves on both the Northeast Regional Board and the Board of Regents for the American Friends of The Hebrew University.

Dana Raucher

is the Executive Director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, where she manages the Foundation’s grants portfolio. Ms. Raucher serves on the boards or committees of various non-profits, including the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel, 70 Faces Media and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked at the Israeli law firm Shiboleth, Yisraeli, Roberts, Zisman & Co. in Tel Aviv and is a member of the Israel Bar Association. Ms. Raucher is a graduate of Columbia University and of the Buchmann Law School at Tel Aviv University. Born in Israel, she currently lives in New York with her husband Yossi and their children. Dana’s son Eitan is a student at The Shefa School.

Judy Rosenberg (Treasurer)

earned a B.S. in Finance from Lehigh University and an MBA from Columbia University. She was formerly a Managing Director at Bear Stearns where she spent twenty years. She currently serves as a trustee on the board of The Winston School of Short Hills, an independent school for children with language based learning issues. Judy is Treasurer of the board of the Golda Och Academy, (formerly Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union). She serves as Chair of the Teacher’s Retirement Fund at Golda Och Academy and as a trustee on the Golda Och Academy Endowment Board. Previously, Judy was Vice-Chairman of the board of Saint Barnabas Hospice and Palliative Care Center, trustee of Jespy House and trustee and Treasurer of Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds. She resides in NJ with her husband, Randy and three sons.

Howard Salzberg

earned a B.S. in Political Science from Brandeis University. He is currently the owner and director of Camp Modin, the oldest continuously operating Jewish summer camps in the United States. He also serves on the Board of Advisors to Camp America, a cultural exchange program that places thousands of international students in jobs at American summer camps. As the parent of a child with language-based learning difficulties, Howard had first-hand knowledge of the need for a Jewish Day School that offered an alternative approach to learning. Howard, his wife and their team have been working behind the scenes since its inception to help make Shefa a reality. Howard current lives in Maine with his wife Lisa and their son.

Joshua Schwalbe

is a Senior Vice President at ACREP and has over 19 years of commercial real estate experience including acquisitions, asset management, advisory and brokerage. Prior to joining ACREP, Mr. Schwalbe oversaw acquisitions at Blackpoint Partners, where he was responsible for sourcing, underwriting and managing value-add investments in retail, office, multifamily and hotel assets nationwide. Mr. Schwalbe graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics and History from Brandeis University and holds an M.B.A. in Real Estate and Finance from Columbia Business School. Josh lives in New Jersey and is a proud parent of a current Shefa middle school student.

Simon Shemia (Board Chair)

is currently CEO of Home Health Holdings, a company that owns and operates home care companies in the North East. He has spent the last two decades as an entrepreneur in various industries, after receiving his B.S. from Brooklyn College. Simon is a proud Shefa parent who appreciates the incredible impact that the school has on its students, their families, and the Jewish Day School community. Simon currently resides on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife, Sara, and their three children.

Amy L. Verschleiser (Secretary)

earned a B.A. in Child Study from Tufts University and her M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College. She taught 1st grade at the Birch Wathen Lenox School and did admissions screening. Amy has served on the board of Shalva and was the Fundraising Chair of the UJA Women’s Division and the Chair of the UJA King David Society and the UJA Family Division. She currently volunteers at Harlem Village Academies, where she works one-on-one with students and mentors a book group. Her four children attend The Heschel School.

Debra Wasserman

is President of Steel Wheels Consulting, LLC – an executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in capacity building, leadership development, and strategic planning. With over 25 years of experience as a senior professional, she is a recognized expert in team building, organizational and human resource development, and program implementation. Debra is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also a board member of Project Kesher and The JCC in Manhattan and is Co-President of the Parent Association at the Saul and Carol Zabar Nursery School at the JCC and is Vice President of the Parent Association at Rodeph Sholom School. Debra is the Chair of the Center of Family Life at the JCC in Manhattan. Debra has an M.P.A. from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan. She resides in Manhattan with her husband, Jason, and their two children.

Justin Zises

currently is an independent equity and options broker. Prior to that he was Head of Institutional Sales at Lazard. Before that, he was a partner at Associated Capital, an investment partnership. Justin started his career on Wall Street as an analyst at Wertheim Schroeder Investment Services, after receiving a BA from Hobart College in English literature and religious studies. He is a trustee of the Natan Fund, and he lives in Manhattan with his wife, Amy, and their three children.