Meet Our Students

Lory Conte is a BBYO Program Associate for North Florida Region. Lory works directly with teens in 6-12th grade to develop innovative programs that connect teens socially, culturally, communally and intellectually to their Jewish identities. With hundreds of teens engaged throughout North Florida Region, Lory facilitates leadership development, team building and community partnerships. She serves on the Jewish Enrichment Specialist Team to provide training and resources to teens, staff, and advisors – enabling and empowering them to produce higher quality Judaic programming. One of her favorite annual events is J-Serve, a community-wide, teen-led day of service where teens all over the world join together to make their communities a better place. Lory grew up in Miami and attended Florida State University, earning a degree in English Literature. She spent five years in Austin, TX enjoying breakfast tacos and live music and eventually made her way back to Florida to work for BBYO. She is looking forward to the discussions, brainstorming and ideas with Cohort 3 and can’t wait to learn more tools for her work with Jewish teen leaders!

Mollie Feldman has been the Youth Director at Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis, MN since July 2011. Mollie oversees youth group programming for 5-12th graders, works with the teen leadership board, and coordinates several congregational-wide events throughout the year.  At Beth El, Mollie established a collaborative group for Twin Cities youth directors, to plan collaborative teen programs. Mollie graduated from Carleton College in 2011 with a BA in Philosophy. While a student at Carleton, Mollie worked as a Jewish Chaplain's associate, helping to oversee Jewish student life on campus. As a student in the HUC-JIR Certificate Program, Mollie is eager to learn more strengthening Jewish identities through joy, love, and empowerment.  Mollie's other interests include running, yoga, trying new restaurants, and blogging. 

Lillian Feldman-Hill was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She participated in the Jewish community from a very young age, including being active in her NFTY Region/Youth Group, serving as the Youth Group's Secretary-Journalist, working in the Religious School, and attending Goldman Union Camp Institute. She later attended Indiana University, Bloomington, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Telecommunications (Film and Video Game design), with minors in Hebrew language and contemporary dance. She served as a counselor at a Jewish day camp for four consecutive summers and began teaching religious school in 2010. After graduating college, Lillian moved out to Los Angeles and quickly became affiliated with Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She is their Electronic Media Coordinator, as well as the Youth Group Advisor, the MATCH program coordinator (teen philanthropy), and the 7th grade Religious School teacher. Lillian is very excited to network with fellow Jewish educators and to learn from their collective experiences.

Lindsay Ganci is the Director of Youth Engagement at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, NY, where she has been the youth professional since 2010. Over the past 3 years, Lindsay has launched two of the synagogue’s three POWTY (Port Washington Temple Youth) programs, and the synagogue now offers engaging youth programming for students in grades 4-12. She has established successful year long programs for youth such as POWTY Holiday Culinary Academy, a series of sessions that teach children and teens about Jewish cooking, cuisine and culture, and POWTY Shabbat, which offers teens unique Shabbat experiences to share with their peers each month. Lindsay has launched the synagogue’s successful teen philanthropy, teaches grades 4-12 in the synagogue’s religious school, coordinates the synagogue’s Madrichim program, and facilitates service and learning trips for our teens. When she is not working with children and teens, Lindsay loves cooking, painting, and long walks with her husband Alec and their puppy, Latke. Lindsay holds a BA in English Literature from Muhlenberg College, a MA in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is excited to soon earn a Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults from HUC-JIR! 

Amanda Greenawalt, a proud Long Island native, has worked as an educator and Youth Advisor in a variety of Reform congregations for the past fifteen years including Mastic Beach Hebrew Center, Temple Beth-El of Huntington, and Temple Chaverim.  After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2008 with a degree in Advertising and Marketing, she worked in the fields of Event Planning and Live Entertainment Marketing but couldn't ignore her passion for working with Jewish youth.  In 2011 she became part of the inspirational staff at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck as their full-time Coordinator of Membership and Development.  Last year she was thrilled to finally join their educational team and created two new junior youth groups while taking over their senior NFTY group as well.  The synergy between her Youth Director and Membership/Development positions has provided her with a unique multifaceted view of congregational life, learning and retention that continues to benefit both her and the congregation.  When she's not writing programming, building community or watching her free calendar days melt into the abyss you can find her enjoying some live music with her best friend and husband Patrick or watching TV with her Rat Terrier, Olive.   Amanda is honored to be a part of HUC-JIR’s third cohort and is looking forward to growing with others as she brings professionalism to a part of her life she was been passionate about for years. 

Spencer Hirsch is the Interim Advisor for NFTY SoCal, and also a TYG Advisor for Temple Solel, in Cardiff, CA. He grew up in San Diego, where he was deeply connected with his local TYG, NFTY SoCal and URJ Camp Newman. Spencer holds a BA in English from the University of Washington. While in Seattle, he worked for Temple Beth Am, both as a Religious School Teacher and Youth Worker. Since returning to San Diego, he has been active in the Jewish community, working in Temple Solel’s Religious School and Youth Programs. Spencer is a proud alumnus of NFTY SoCal, NFTY NW, URJ Camp Newman and URJ Kutz Camp. He is very much looking forward to enhancing his Jewish knowledge and building relationships with his Cohort as a Certificate student at HUC-JIR.

Samara Leader grew up in Carmel Valley, California, and graduated from UCLA with a major in Political Science and a minor in Jewish Studies. She started as Youth Education Program Coordinator at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California, in July 2013. In this capacity, she serves as Assistant Director of Hebrew Program, Tuesday Night Program (for 6th and 7th graders), and Connections. Now in its pilot year, Connections, is a program that aims to combine family-style learning with the social components of a chavurah. She is also a part of Camp Beth Am, Congregation Beth Am's new day camp. Prior to working at Beth Am, she served for 3 ½ years as the NFTY Central Western Regional Advisor, mentoring Jewish teen leaders and implementing weekend retreats for high school students.  She also spent many summers as a staff member at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, California, and URJ 6 Points Sports Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina. In her free time she likes to run, read, bake, hike, and travel. She is excited about learning from teachers and colleagues in the HUC-JIR Certificate Program who are equally passionate about their work with Jewish teens and young adults.

Kathy Kurzman lives in Austin, TX where she serves as the part-time Youth Director for Temple Beth Shalom and as a part-time Reading Interventionist at a local elementary school.  She was raised in both the suburbs of Detroit and Dallas and attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received a B. S. in Elementary Education.  Kathy returned to school last year as a graduate student at Texas State University where she is working towards a Master’s in Education with a focus on Talent Development.  Kathy has spent many years working with Jewish youth in various capacities; she has taught religious school, taught and was the Director of Admissions at Austin Jewish Academy, she established and served as the chair of her congregation’s Youth Committee, served as NFTY Regional Conclave Chair, and this past summer, worked as a Unit Head at URJ Greene Family Camp.  Her passion for youth, led her to the Certificate Program, and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to be learning with HUC-JIR. Kathy’s greatest pride and joy are her three sons: Jeffrey, a sophomore at Indiana University; Jake, a high school senior; and Jared, a high school sophomore.

Beth Lipschutz has been the NFTY Missouri Valley Regional Director of Youth Engagement since 2011.   She mentors the MV Regional Board as they plan programs for their peers and serve as resources to their networks.  Beth also works to build relationships with the congregations, clergy and youth workers in the region was well as the other youth movements.  She graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS in Elementary Education and spent 4 years teaching 2nd grade before attending the University of Denver where she earned her MSW.  Beth spent 6 summers on staff at Shwayder Camp in Idaho Springs, CO.  She is passionate about the inclusion of people with disabilities and has also spent several summers working with kids with autism in different camp communities.  This past summer, Beth had the honor of teaching teens who were also passionate about full inclusion at Kutz.  She also enjoys skiing, running, live music, reading, cooking and spending time in the mountains.  Beth is excited about the opportunity to learn with the amazing group of professionals that are part of the CJE.  She is looking forward to bringing new ideas to the teens and youth professionals in NFTY-MV.

Cantor Katie Oringel discovered her passion for becoming a cantor while attending URJ’s Camp Coleman. She received a B.A Degree in Music and Religion from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Katie has served many Jewish communities as a student across North America and around the world, ultimately receiving a Masters of Sacred Music and Cantorial Ordination from HUC-JIR in 2009. Katie currently serves as cantor and youth director of Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto, ON. The multi-faceted job combines her two greatest loves, Jewish music and informal education.  Katie enjoys traveling, professionally and personally around the globe, singing in some of the great concert halls, teaching about Jewish music, reveling in beautiful art and wandering the streets of cities. This passion for travel is now synthesized with her work as she oversees travel opportunities for teens in her congregation to Israel, New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., and Southern Ontario. She creates and oversees informal programming for teens in the congregation, beginning these relationships in a pre-B'nei Mitzvah Cantor's Class and preparing students to chant our sacred texts as they become B'nei Mitzvah. She is honored to play a role in the lives of young Jews as they make their way into adulthood. In her spare time she listens to country music and explores the many sides of Toronto, a city that feels like home. As a member of Cohort III, Katie is most excited to come home to HUC-JIR. She loved being a cantorial student and is excited for new topics and conversations amongst new colleagues and teachers.

Jessica Genia Simon was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland, where she began writing poetry at age seven. In high school, she won a spot on the D.C. National Youth Poetry Slam Team. Since then, she has performed and led poetry workshops on the east and west coast, as well as in Jerusalem, Israel. Her poetry has been published in New Voices: National Jewish Student Magazine and Magnolia: A Journal of Women's Socially Engaged Literature. She earned her B.A. in English and Policy Studies from Syracuse University. After graduation, Jessica taught high school English for three years at a public all-girls school in North Philadelphia as part of Teach For America and concurrently earned a M.S. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She then spent a year studying at The Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Israel. For the past four years since returning to her hometown, she has learned community organizing through the Jews United for Justice Jeremiah Fellowship, taught religious school/led services for 2-7th graders at various synagogues, took a lead role in congregation-based organizing to pass marriage equality and the DREAM act in Maryland. She currently works at the New Israel Fund as the D.C. Region Development Associate, doing donor cultivation, programs and outreach to area progressive Jews including young Jewish professionals. She also writes and performs at venues in Maryland and D.C.

Les Skolnik is the Director of Youth Engagement at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, NY.  In this capacity Les oversees all of the synagogue’s youth programming and experiential education, which includes J.tel, North Shore Synagogue’s innovative teen program, and its younger youth groups.  Les has been a Jewish youth worker and educator for the past ten years, serving congregations in Manhattan, Roslyn, and Buffalo, NY.  Les has also worked with college students as the Director of Jewish Student Life at the University of Pittsburgh. Les is a product of URJ camps and NFTY and has spent several summers in leadership positions at the URJ Kutz Camp.  Additionally Les holds a BA in History from the University at Buffalo and a Master’s degree in Inclusive Secondary Social Studies Education from Hofstra University, making him a New York State certified teacher in secondary Social Studies and Special Education.  Les enjoys live music, especially Bruce Springsteen and Phish, New York Yankees baseball, and taking road trips.

Lisa Sobel-Berlow is currently the Assistant Director for Community Learning at the Agency for Jewish Learning in Pittsburgh, PA, where she has works since 2012.  She works with the teen and adult learning programs and is helping to build the new experiential learning programs. Prior to her new position, Lisa served as the Pittsburgh Coordinator for the Diller Teen Fellows Program, and as a Hillel Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow from 2006-2008 at both the Claremont Colleges in Los Angeles, CA and Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Originally from Louisville, KY, Lisa has worked as an informal Jewish educator and Jewish communal service professional for over 7 years.  Lisa enjoys learning and teaching about Jewish-American history and the origins of traditional Jewish cuisine.  Lisa earned her B.A. in religion from Denison University in 2006. Lisa is looking forward to her studies in the Certificate Program at HUC-JIR and is hoping to develop a more meaningful and formal educational background to support her work in Jewish education.

Hannah Richman is the Assistant Director of Youth Engagement at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA.  Hannah is passionate about experiential Jewish education and building a youth culture based on meaningful relationships. Hannah studied at Brandeis University, and throughout her summers worked at the URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute and BIMA, the Brandeis Institute of Music and Art. Now in her fourth year a Youth Educator at TBE, Hannah coordinates and works with several programs for students in grades 6-12, including the TBE Camping Initiative, Shabbatonim and curriculum development for BM3T (grades 6-7), and BELCRO, a peer-to-peer teen mentoring initiative.  In addition to her work as a full time educator at TBE, Hannah is a professional painter and Hannah enjoys bringing her passion for painting and visual art into her work as a Jewish educator.

Rachel Rustin is the Director of Youth and Family Services at the Barshop Jewish Community Center in San Antonio, TX. In this role, she is also the Director of San Antonio Hillel, which provides services to students at colleges throughout the San Antonio area. At the JCC, she coordinates a variety of programs, such as youth theatre and youth educational programs, in addition to serving as the Associate Director of summer camp. Rachel is originally from Houston and has a BA in English from Rice University and a Masters in Non-Profit Management. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys biking, traveling and baking. Rachel is looking forward to learning from both the educators and peers of the Certificate program and using this learning with the teens and young adults she works with in San Antonio.

Amanda Katherine Weiss is currently the Director of Student Engagement at Oregon Hillel in Eugene Oregon where she has worked since November 2012.  She oversees, runs, and manages the Hillel Student Board, Hillel’s Peer Network Engagement Interns and the programming and engagement opportunities on campus. Prior to her current position, Amanda  served for two and a half years as the Youth Director at Temple Beth Sholom in New City, NY where she had the pleasure of facilitating the informal education of grades 4-12, including a phenomenal fundraising campaign which sent five hard-working high school students to NFTY National Convention 2013. Amanda holds a BA in Psychology and Judaic Studies from George Washington University, a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Non-profit Management from Gratz College, and an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Her hobbies include sketching, music, learning, and playing with her lab-boxer Ellie. Amanda is so excited to be a part of the Certificate Program at HUC-JIR and work with so many others in the field!