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.
Rachael holds an MSW in Community Organizing from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and an MFA from Parsons in Transdisciplinary Design – systems design for social change. In her time at WSSW, she focused on creating a database of resources for homebound Holocaust survivors in New York and facilitated the migration and implementation of a database of synagogues affiliated with the Synergy department at UJA-Federation of New York. At UJA-Federation, Rachael also trained the leaders of synagogues damaged by Hurricane Sandy in crowdfunding, allowing them to raise money quickly in their time of need.
Rachael self-identifies as a Destigmatist, using her design background to approach taboos and to reduce stigmas and biases. This expertise enables her to understand and implement change in challenging spaces. Rachael is passionate about productive discomfort, fostering connection through humor and play, making complex concepts accessible, and ensuring that the voices of female-identified and LGBTQ individuals in the Orthodox Jewish community are heard and celebrated. Rachael is continuously brainstorming ways in which to use her paintbrush, and all the other tools in her kit, to make the Jewish community more inclusive and colorful.
In addition to her education and professional experience, Rachael credits her time at Camp Nesher - a modern orthodox sleepaway camp - with some of her most important leadership skills. At camp, Rachael served as a counselor, division head, and eventually program director.
Sima Lichtschein has been involved in Jewish LGBTQ activism and advocacy for nearly a decade. By conducting research, participating in panels, leading trainings, and speaking publicly about issues pertaining to LGBTQ Jewish individuals, Sima strives to create safer and more welcoming communities through education and exposure. Sima received her Masters in Social Work from NYU Silver School of Social Work, where she served on the leadership team of the NYU Social Work LGBTQ student organization, Pride in Practice. She has implemented safe space trainings and informational sessions for the faculty of both her college and Modern Orthodox high school, fostering sensitivity and raising awareness of the challenges that LGBTQ students face there.
A certified dialogue facilitator through the CUNY Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding, Sima has a background in facilitating meaningful dialogue and difficult conversations by bringing individuals from diverse backgrounds together through open communication.
Her areas of expertise include crisis intervention, group work, and working clinically with children, teens, and young adults. Sima believes that all individuals should have the benefit of full inclusion in their communities and encourages community leaders to see that diversity only strengthens the foundation of a communal structure. By bringing her experience, warmth, and passion to her role at JQY, Sima hopes to help foster a more open and kind world for LGBTQ youth and adults.
Justin Spiro received his Masters in Social Work from New York University, with a strong focus on clinical work with adolescents and older teenagers. Justin worked as a Clinical Social Worker at Astor Services for Family and Children where he ran a satellite clinic in the Bronx - providing individual, family, and group psychotherapy to clients, ages 11 to 17. Common presenting problems in his practice included depression, anxiety, trauma, anger management, and adjustment disorders. Justin is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as well as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).
Justin has spoken on multiple panels as part of the JQY Speakers Bureau and regularly engages with Orthodox rabbis, day school administrators, school guidance counselors, and other community leaders. He is currently the school social worker at Maspeth High School in Queens.
Mordy Walfish is Vice President for Programs at Repair the World. He played a key role in the organization's redesign, launching and now running Repair's multi-site community-based service programs. He joined Repair in 2012, following four years at NYU Wagner, as the Assistant Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive. A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Mordy holds a BA in Contemporary Studies and German from King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia and an MA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University. As a Wexner Graduate Fellow, he also 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 co-authored the 2012 study on compensation patterns in the Jewish community. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Coming soon :)
Alexandra Lustig-Elgrably is an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, where her practice focuses 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.
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.
Coming soon :)
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.
Coming soon :)
Coming soon :)
Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maharat, was the first graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Upon graduation he served as the Rabbi of Kehilat Kesher: The Community Synagogue of Tenafly and Englewood for seven years. In Rabbi Fox’s tenure at Kesher, the community grew three-fold from thirty families to nearly one hundred. During that time Rabbi Fox also taught at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as well as the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Bergen County. He also served on the board of the Synagogue Leadership Initiative of the UJA of NNJ. Rabbi Fox is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and has also been a member of the faculty of the Drisha Institute, the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Westchester County, and Yeshivat Hadar.
Rachel Tessler Lopatin grew up in West Bloomfield, MI, and has a BA in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan and an MSW from Columbia University and an MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She worked as the year round Assistant Director of Camp Ramah in the Poconos and the Program Director of Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago. Rachel is married to Rabbi Asher Lopatin, who served as the Rabbi of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel in Chicago for 18 years and who is now the president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. . In Chicago, Rachel was involved in the creation of the Lakeview Mikvah and Chicago Jewish Day School. Since moving to Riverdale, Rachel has served as the “Director of Transition and Acculturation” for the Lopatin Family in addition to serving in her role as Spouse Support Liaison for YCT. The Lopatins have 4 kids – Shayna, Cara, Judah and Gideon.
Sara Farber is Litigation and Compliance Counsel for GAF Materials LLC. Prior to joining GAF, she worked as a commercial litigator in Boston and New York City, where her practice focused on product liability, franchise and class action litigation. Sara received her BA in Women's Studies and Political Science from Wellesley College, and her J.D. from Boston College Law School. She is the Treasurer and a member of the Board of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center, and a former member of the Board of The Theater Offensive, a Boston based LGBTQ focused theater. In her free time Sara enjoys travel, knitting and skiing.
Coming soon :)