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.
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.
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.
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.
Gila Romanoff (She/Her) is 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. When Gila isn’t at JQY’s Drop-In Center welcoming attendees and facilitating queer & Jewish focused baking activities, she can be found creating custom cakes and pastries at her baking studio, CakesByGigi (instagram.com/cakesbygigi). In her free time, Gila loves to road trip around the USA and visit as many obscure tourist attractions as possible.
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.
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. Gluck 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.
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.
Coming soon :)
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.
Isaac Namdar is an ENT surgeon and the managing partner in a successful practice in New York City. He is a first generation immigrant from Iran. Following his wedding to his husband Andrew, he was outed to his congregation of origin and became the center of much ongoing discussion about the crossroads of homosexuality and Sephardic Jewish traditions. He has written a book about his experiences and has lectured nationwide about growing up gay in a Sephardic community. He has served as mentor to numerous young men and women in their coming out processes. Isaac and Andrew are also on the board of Lambda Legal, Jeffery Fashion Cares in NYC, and Connecticut Cares in Westport, CT.
Bob Goldfarb is president of Jewish Creativity International, a nonprofit that works with Jewish arts and culture projects. He has long experience in media including public radio, the recording industry, and newspaper publishing. Bob is a member of the Jewish Center synagogue in Manhattan, writes book reviews for the Jewish Book Council, serves as a mentor for PresenTense, and is the men’s davening coordinator for the independent minyan Darkhei Noam.
Deena Klein is Director of Stakeholder Experiences at Hillel International, where she stewards Hillel’s Global Leadership Society, a network of lay leaders around the globe, ensuring that there is a rich and compelling menu of opportunities and benefits for a growing pool of movement-wide donors. Prior to joining Hillel, Deena was Leadership Development Director at Chabad House Bowery. She holds a BS in Management and MSW in Social Work from Yeshiva University. Deena is passionate about creating spaces for full LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish life.
George Gellis is the Managing Director of Gellis Law Group, a white-glove international law firm based in New York City. His firm concentrates on commercial and corporate transactions, international trade and cross-border transactions, technology and venture financing and investments. George comes to the JQY Board with a longstanding passion for LGBTQ rights. George is a founding trustee of No More Fear Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing comprehensive support to LGBTQ asylum seekers in this country.
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.