Rachael (she/her) joined JQY in 2013 and became its Deputy Director in 2016. As JQY’s new Executive Director, Rachael is committed to ensuring that the voices of female-identifying and LGBTQ individuals in the Orthodox Jewish community are heard and celebrated. During her time at JQY she has devoted herself to creating more inclusive spaces for individuals of all gender identities. (Today, more than half of the participants in weekly JQY’s Drop-in Centers identify as other than cisgender gay men.)
Rachael received her B.A. in Studio Art from Yeshiva University, where she served as Stern student body president and helped orchestrate the participation of Stern students in the groundbreaking 2009 Yeshiva University panel “Being Gay in the Modern Orthodox World.” The event, which was organized by JQY, is credited with having inspired a 2010 Statement of Principles calling for the acceptance of gay people in the Orthodox community and signed by over 200 Orthodox Rabbis. Upon graduating, Rachael was named one of Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellows in University and Community Leadership. She subsequently earned her MSW in Community Organizing from Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva and her MFA from Parsons School of Design in Systems Design for Social Change. Meanwhile, a lifelong Jewish camper, Rachael served as Division Head, Program Director, and finally Director of Operations at Camp Nesher.
Rachael is a Wexner Field Fellow, an ROI Community Member, and an Eighteen:22 Fellow (a global network of emerging and established Jewish LGBTQ leaders), two initiatives of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. She is a Ruskay Institute alum of the UJA-Federation of New York and, in 2017, was named one of The Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36. Rachael lives in Washington Heights where she helped found The Beis Community, an inclusive and intentional Orthodox community that challenges routine Orthodoxy.
As a visual artist, Rachael can be found painting MonsterHearts, fantastical creatures that address taboos and reduce stigma and biases, and donning her trademark rainbow Converse shoes.
Mordechai Levovitz was the LGBTQ Coordinator for the United Nations NGO Committee for Human Rights. Through his work at the United Nations, Mordechai has spearheaded programs intended to promote awareness and increase dialogue about international LGBTQ issues, focusing on Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. He also developed local programming for the UN that was focused on LGBTQ issues in the United States. Prior to his work at the UN, Mordechai served as a group facilitator and youth leader at the Youth Enrichment Service (YES) program at the LGBTQ Community Center in Manhattan, an after school drop-in program for LGBTQ teens predominantly from inner-city communities.
In his work with JQY, Mordechai spearheaded the Yeshiva University Gay Panel, the Orthodox "It Gets Better" video, and over 50 LGBTQ panels in the Orthodox community. He has lectured at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. He has also lead sessions at The National Union of Jewish LGBTQ Students (NUJLS), LIMMUD, and multiple Orthodox synagogues on helping LGBTQ Jews in the Orthodox world. Mordechai grew up in a 'black-hat' yeshivish rabbinic family, attended Yeshiva Derech Ayson of Far Rockaway, Israeli yeshivas Gush & Shaalvim, YU Yeshiva College and Stony Brook School of Medicine.
David (he/him) is incredibly honored to join the JQY team! He has worked in the Jewish communal sector for more than 20 years in a variety of roles. David is passionate about building inclusive, vibrant Jewish communities. He is also a self-proclaimed systems and operations guru. David loves creating efficiencies so that organizations can best achieve their mission and goals.
Dr. Novich (he/him) is excited to join the JQY team! Dr. Novich has years of experience practicing in different clinical settings and with different populations and has also worked in the queer space as an author and advocate. He looks forward to helping JQY members improve their mental health by promoting awareness and teaching skills, all with a good dose of humor.
Gila (she/her) is so excited to move into a full time role at JQY as the Teen & Community Program Manager. Previously, Gila was a Drop-in Center admin and Resident Baker here at JQY. She received her B.A. in Fine Art from Yeshiva University and subsequently attended The Institute of Culinary Education with a focus in Pastry & Baking Arts. In her free time, Gila loves to road trip around the USA and visit as many obscure tourist attractions as possible.
Maris (she/her) has spent her career so far in Jewish nonprofits and synagogues and most recently worked on creating more LGBTQ+ inclusivity in life cycle rituals. She is so excited to join the JQY team!
Beth Weiss (they/them) recently graduated from Yeshiva University with a degree in Elementary Education. During their time at Yeshiva University, Beth served as the Vice President of the YU Pride Alliance. Outside of the Pride Alliance, Beth was one of four panelists in the 2020 “Being LGBTQ+ in an Orthodox World” panel hosted by Yeshiva University Psychology Professor, Dr. Jenny Isaacs.
In addition to their work in LGBTQ+ advocacy, Beth has been immersed in and devoted to theater their entire life, running musical theater programming and camps in Denver, Colorado, where they grew up. In YU, Beth served two years on the Stern College Dramatics Society board as a member and as the Vice President.
Beth hopes to continue creating spaces full of pride, community, and dialogue so that everyone feels the acceptance, safety, and love they undoubtedly deserve.
Josh Zimmerman obtained his Master in Social Work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, with a concentration in Group Work. Josh is passionate about supporting and counseling families and youth, through which he utilizes a Strength Based Approach, advocacy and problem solving skills. Through assessments and engagement, Josh focuses on useful relationship-building techniques, coping mechanisms and self-discovery. As an active member of JQY's Young Adult programs and living in the NYC queer community, Josh joined the Drop-in Center team with the hope of giving back to the next generation of LGBTQ youth and young adults. Josh currently serves as a medical social worker in Rogosin Institute West Side Dialysis.
Tali hales from Brooklyn and spent the better part of her adult life in Israel. She returned to NYC to pursue her MSW and is passionate about many aspects of her work. When not at JQY she spends her time doing all things outdoors, eating and sleeping.
Ari Shane Weitz is a graduate of Lander College for Men with a B.A. in psychology. Ari has worked in education, advertising and marketing, talent and management, and currently in operations and event production. He started working with JQY in 2015 helping with the start of the drop-in center. After getting engaged in 2018, harsh criticism from the Orthodox Jewish community led him to write “Is Our Happiness Not Worth A ‘Mazal Tov’?” for the Jewish Week, as well as a follow-up article “One Year ‘Out’: Finding Acceptance, Encouraging Support.” He is active on social media with his husband, promoting a positive look into a same-sex Jewish marriage as well as LGBTQ activism. He works for the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center as the operations and event manager.
Denah Emerson is a Drop-in Center admin and a graphic designer here at JQY. She received her B.A. in Art and English Communications from Yeshiva University, where she worked as the canvassing committee, ensuring fair and entertaining election processes for all. She subsequently earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Design and Technology from Parsons The New School for Design, focusing her research on digital immortality. Denah works as an artist, graphic designer, editor, and research and marketing specialist. She also works in informal education, running programs for high school students every summer. Denah embraces millennial digital nomadism as a wandering writer, performer, dance fitness instructor, financial advisor, life coach, and certified bartender. Denah is clearly a jack of all trades, master of none.
Sara Glass, Ph.D., LCSW, is the clinical director of Soul Wellness NYC in Midtown West, Manhattan, where she leads a team of clinicians who work together to implement cutting-edge therapeutic treatment in a warm and supportive environment. She completed her Ph.D. in psychology at Capella University, where she published research on the objectification of women in popular media. She has also authored a book chapter on treating the conflict between religion and LGBTQ identities as it presents in the psychotherapy arena. Glass has completed post-graduate training in EMDR, Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Collaborative Divorce. Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS), Art Therapy, and Sand Play Therapy. She has supervised graduate students, along with treating children and families for more than 15 years. For more info, visit drsaraglass.com.
Alexandra Lustig-Elgrably is an Associate General Counsel at Pretium Partners. She was previously an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton and Kirkland & Ellis, where her practice focused on advising sponsors of, and investors in, private equity funds. Before attending law school, Alexandra worked for a nonprofit serving individuals with developmental disabilities. She remains dedicated to supporting organizations working to tackle our community's greatest challenges.
Mordy Walfish is Chief Operating Officer of Leading Edge, the Alliance for Excellence in Jewish Leadership. Previously, he served as Vice President for Programs at Repair the World. As a Wexner Graduate Fellow, he completed an MPA in non-profit management from NYU. Mordy is the winner of the 2015 JPRO Network Young Professional Award and is a Schusterman Fellow. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Alan is Vice President, Assessment and Intervention at Amplify Education, focusing on the development of early literacy across the US. He recently completed a two year stint on Amplify's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council helping the company thread the needle on queer representation in national curricula. Previously he served as the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School in Brooklyn, NY. He holds an MS in Computer Science from New York University and rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's RIETS.
Nathaniel Goldman is a CPA serving as the Director of Finance at the American Friends of Rambam Medical Center. Prior to joining AFORAM he worked in private client services at PwC. He received his BS in Accountancy at Oglethorpe University, and his MS in Nonprofit Management at Columbia University. Nathaniel is active in the Jewish community and currently serves as president of AJC’s Global ACCESS Board.
Josh (he/him) is a product designer, currently leading design and research for Google Photos. Previously he’s designed digital products at YouTube, Thumbtack, Apple, and Sony Music Entertainment. He graduated with a B.A. in art history from UCLA, where he also served as design editor and editor-in-chief for the UCLA queer newsmagazine. Outside of work he’s been involved in volunteering and fundraising for several LGBTQ+ organizations, and a long-time participant in AIDS/LifeCycle. Born in Salt Lake City to Belarusian Jewish refugees and coming out early as a teenager, he was drawn to JQY’s mission of helping youth with intersectional queer identities.
Chen Kelfman Knahan joined the board of JQY in 2021, being drawn to JQY’s mission and array of programs targeted at uplifting and improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community. Chen is originally from Israel, and is a licensed attorney both in Israel and New York. Chen practiced International Human Rights Law in the Human Rights Foundation and the Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal, and corporate law for large Israeli corporations, prior to moving to California where he works for a tech startup.
Jessica is a fierce advocate for equity across professional spaces - without exception. Her specialty is operations and HR. She is the Head of HR at The Juilliard School and has worked as the COO in an educational access organization for underprivileged, high-achieving students. She has also worked in Jewish professional spaces, from camps, to synagogues, to the US's largest Jewish professional educators organization. She earned an MBA in Nonprofit Management and a Masters in Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University, and a BS in Communication from Boston University. Jessica is married to Isaac and has twin boys, Asher and David. She lives in Maplewood, NJ.
Duvi Stahler is an award-winning marketing and communications specialist and the founder & CEO of Dryve Marketing, which specializes in start-ups and non-profits. He was previously the marketing director for an International non-profit organization, serving 20,000 members in six countries. He holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and is pursuing a master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from NYU. He’s also a playwright, performer, and avid tennis player.
Natasha has long been interested in efforts to help foster safety for all Jewish youth, especially in Orthodox spaces. In addition to her work on the JQY board, Natasha has served on several other boards for Jewish groups in her community. Natasha earned her BA in religious studies from the University of South Florida and her MSW from Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and also holds a certificate in Jewish communal service. She works as a social worker at a Chicago-based not for profit, where she assists families and individuals in need relating to finances, housing, health, and other challenges.
Shimmy Feintuch, LCSW CASAC-G is a New York City-based psychotherapist whose practice focuses on issues of addiction and relationships. He is a professor at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and lectures widely on emotional wellness, mindfulness, and the intersection of LGBTQ+ issues and traditional religious values. Before joining the JQY board, Shimmy served as President of the Board at The Beis Community, an intentional and welcoming space in New York City. Shimmy brings a spirit of allyship to his work on the board, and he is committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ issues, especially in Orthodox Jewish spaces.
Tova Harris (they/them) is from the northern Long Island. In working towards Biracial and Multiracial Identity Development and Resilience for Jews of Color and beyond, they are the founder of a Medium blog called “Racial Relativism,” that offers an online platform for the posting of short stories, photos, videos, artwork, and narratives of any kind. Tova is also an electric violinist in a reggae band. They love to cook, sing, and walk through Central Park. Tova has a background in Psychology and is going back to school for their MSW.