Rachael 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 an ROI Community Member and an Eighteen:22 Fellow (a global network of emerging and established Jewish LGBTQ leaders), both initiatives of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. She is a Ruskay Institute Fellow 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.
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.
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 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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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.