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National Staff

Mike Wise | Co-CEO

Prior to founding Honeymoon Israel, Mike served as CEO/Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo. Mike has served CEO of the JCC’s of Greater Atlanta, and was the CEO of the Jewish Community Board of Akron, OH for 17 years. While in Akron he led the complete restructuring of the Jewish communal system, now a national model for small and intermediate communities. Mike grew up in Minnesota earning his BS from the University of Minnesota and a Masters of Social Work from The University at Buffalo.  
 

Avi Rubel | Co-CEO

Before co-founding Honeymoon Israel, Avi was the founding North American Director of Masa Israel Journey, bringing more than 10,000 North Americans to Israel annually. Avi has lived in Israel for several years and also spent more than a decade working on Jewish community development in the former Soviet Union with Hillel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Avi served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Kyrgyzstan. Avi earned a BA from Binghamton University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
 

Rachel Zieleniec | Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Rachel Zieleniec is the VP of Marketing and Communications for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining the team, Rachel worked in philanthropy as a Program Associate for The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and for the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation in Washington, DC. In these roles, she supported and managed a number of grant making initiatives, helping award millions of dollars to local nonprofits. Following college, Rachel volunteered in Israel for a year with Yahel, an educational service learning organization, and was a member of its first cohort of participants. After her time in Israel, Rachel joined Yahel as a staff member to help grow the organization and manage digital media and recruitment for its programs. Originally from Cleveland, OH, Rachel earned a Bachelors in Journalism and Public Relations and certificate in Global Leadership from Ohio University.

Sheila Katz Cohen | Vice President, Finance

Sheila is the VP, Finance for Honeymoon Israel.  Prior to joining Jewish Federation of Greater where she was the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Sheila spent the majority of her career in accounting and financial leadership roles in the for-profit world.  She enjoys playing tennis, practicing yoga and going on outdoor adventures with her husband and two teenage sons.  Sheila is a CPA and earned her BS in Management from the A.B. Freeman School of Business of Tulane University in New Orleans.

Deb Fink | Vice President, Experiential Jewish Education

Deb is a veteran Jewish educator who has led innovative initiatives for young adults, teens and families at summer camps, day schools, synagogues, JCCs, central agencies, Jewish startups and peer trips to Israel and other countries. She is passionate about promoting inclusion in the Jewish community as well as empowering modern Jews to embrace the beauty of our tradition in ways that are personally meaningful to them. Deb studied at Yad VaShem as a Tauber Holocaust Fellow, Melitz Center for Jewish Zionist Education, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and The Institute for Jewish Spirituality. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and M.Ed. in Counseling from University of Maryland’s School of Education. After three years in Israel, Deb settled in the San Francisco Bay Area where she currently lives with her husband and two children.

Mikelle Belfore | Operations Manager

Mikelle is the Operations Manager for Honeymoon Israel. Her prior work includes Director of Business Development for a technology company, adjunct professor at Paradise Valley Community College, and Director of Admissions and Licensed Professional Counselor for a non-profit organization.  Mikelle earned a BS in Psychology from The University of Arizona and a Masters in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University.  Mikelle and her husband, who were enthusiastic participants in the inaugural Honeymoon Israel trip from Phoenix, reside there with their two toddler children. 

Jennifer Jalowiec | Database Manager

Jennifer Jalowiec is the Database Manger for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining the team, Jennifer worked as the Operations Manager for Hillel at Arizona State University and started, and continues to run, her own business consulting with non-profits/small businesses. Jennifer is passionate about Israel. She has travelled there 5 times and recently lived and studied in Jerusalem for three months. Jennifer earned a BA in Communication from The University of Arizona and a Masters in Public Administration from Arizona State University. 

Shaina Kass | Communications Manager

Shaina Kass is the Communications Manager for Honeymoon Israel. Before joining the team, Shaina worked as a Marketing Associate for American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina and did freelance photography, design and marketing in Cleveland, Ohio, where she is originally from. Shaina has also worked with several organizations doing community management and donor engagement. She earned a B.S. in Communication and a B.S. in Visual Communication from Ohio University. 

Local Staff

Chloe Nassau | Regional Director, East Coast / New York City, Director of Community Engagement

Chloe Markowitz Nassau brings a wealth of expertise in community organizing, international service learning and non-profit management to her work as NYC Director of Community Engagement for Honeymoon Israel. Chloe joins the Honeymoon Israel team after four years as the Youth Program Director at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Before which she gained a B.A. in International Relations from Boston University and a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College. Chloe served as a Jewish Service Corps Fellow in Turkey with the JDC, as well as a Volunteer Corps participant in Thailand and Group Leader in Nicaragua with American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Chloe has visited Israel over 25 times and speaks Hebrew and Spanish. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Jenn Green | Regional Director, West Coast / Los Angeles, Director of Community Engagement

Jenn joins the team in partnership with NuRoots to build an inclusive and meaningful community for couples in Los Angeles. Jenn has worked as an advocate for youth in foster care and on probation in South LA, and currently serves as a volunteer CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate). She has been a teacher and community organizer across the globe, and her passions have taken her from the townships of South Africa to the villas of Argentina and the southern tip of South Korea.

Zach Pellish | Director, One Trip Cities

Originally from the Chicagoland area, Zach graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in History. It was during college while living in Jerusalem and working at The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response that Zach’s passion for Israel developed. Since then, Zach has worked as the North American Operations Manager for Shorashim, helping to oversee the organization’s Birthright Israel trips. Zach joined the Honeymoon Israel team after serving as the Michigan Associate Director at AIPAC. He currently lives in Old Town with his wife, with whom he loves to travel, read, and explore the city.

Lisa Motenko | SF Bay Area, Director of Community Engagement

A native Californian, Lisa graduated from UCLA with degrees in Psychology and Hebrew and received her Masters from Middlebury College in Spanish. During her 20's she spent time living in Spain and working as the Program Director at Berkeley Hillel. Most recently, Lisa spent time studying at Pardes in Israel and working for The Kitchen, a religious start-up in San Francisco.  Lisa is addicted to cheese but also loves dancing, trail running, biking, playing guitar, speaking Spanish, and spending time outdoors with her husband and dog.  She is thrilled to continue building community in the Bay Area.

Andrea Deck | Washington DC, Director of Community Engagement

Originally from the DC area, Andrea joins the team after kicking off her career in the Jewish community with Federations across the world, most recently as the Senior Associate in Community Planning and Impact with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. She holds an MSW from Columbia University, an MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a BA from Franklin & Marshall College. Andrea loves dancing, knitting, and trying new things! 

Hannah Spinrad | Atlanta, Director of Community Engagement

Before joining the HMI team, Hannah worked in the Development Department for the Jewish Federations of Boston, Miami, and most recently as the Senior Development Officer in Women's Philanthropy in Atlanta. Hannah graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in International Studies and minors in Spanish and Jewish Studies. Hannah earned her MBA and MA in Jewish Professional Leadership from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University. She is an alumna of the Jewish Federations of North America FEREP Program. Hannah is so excited to be able to combine her love of travel with building community in the Jewish South with Honeymoon Israel. 

Lara Sparks | Colorado, Director of Community Engagement

Lara joins the team in partnership with MazelTogether to support the creation of an organic community for couples in both Denver and Boulder.  Before joining the team, she spent the first 12 years of her career fulfilling her passion for Jewish education as a Day School teacher in both Denver and Saint Louis.  Lara loves to create art, plan parties, dance and she’s always up for eating sushi. She lives in Boulder with her husband, Mike and their dog Hank. 

Bryanne Mahoney Bowen | Boston, Director of Community Engagement

Bryanne Mahoney joins Honeymoon Israel as the Boston Director of Community Engagement. Bryanne is passionate about creating strong, inclusive, inspiring spaces for couples and families in the Boston community. Prior to joining the team, Bryanne worked as a Jewish professional and nonprofit fundraiser at the JCRC of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), the Jewish Federation of Boston and most recently at Enroot, an education nonprofit that works to advance immigrant rights in the greater Boston community. Bryanne is a proud double Husky, with a Master's and Bachelor's Degree in History from Northeastern University. As the child of an interfaith household and one half of an interfaith couple, Bryanne is excited about trips, tools, and resources that spark conversation between couples, their families and the community. Bryanne currently lives in Cambridge with her husband. 

Lauren Sabloff | Montreal, Director of Community Engagement

Lauren Sabloff joins the team in partnership with Federation CJA to help launch and build the Montreal Honeymoon Israel community. Lauren is from Montreal, Quebec, and is a graduate from the John Molson School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She found her passion and footing for Jewish community work after a several year career in the fashion world. Outside of work, Lauren’s biggest passion includes anything and everything food related. She is the go-to resource for restaurant recommendations, the unofficial creative director and the behind-the-scenes sous-chef for her boyfriend’s popular food blog, Food Guy Montreal. 

Samia Mansour | Cleveland, Director of Community Engagement

Samia Mansour joins the Honeymoon Israel team in partnership with jHUB, an organization that works to connect interfaith couples and families to Jewish life in greater Cleveland. Previously Samia worked as Assistant Director of Oberlin College Hillel. She graduated with a BA in Religion from Oberlin College and received her Master's Degree in Social Work with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University. Samia currently lives in Cleveland with her partner and in her spare time loves cooking, traveling, and going on runs through Cleveland's many parks.

Rachel Kitt | San Diego, Director of Community Engagement

Rachel joins the team in partnership with the Leichtag Foundation, collaborating to create Jewish community by igniting and inspiring vibrant Jewish life in San Diego. Born and raised in Northern California, Rachel has become a southern California local after living in San Diego for the past 12+ years. Rachel currently is a high school religious school teacher, Jewish preschool volunteer and previously worked at the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. She is also a prenatal and postpartum certified fitness instructor with FIT4MOM where she loves to create community for new moms. Rachel enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters, gluten-free baking and running half marathons.

Stephanie Goldfarb | Chicago, Director of Community Engagement

Stephanie Goldfarb is a veteran Jewish community professional specializing in experiential Jewish education. Goldfarb holds Masters Degrees in both Gender Studies and Clinical Social Work from Loyola University, as well as a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University. She is dedicated to providing high-quality, unique, and immersive learning experiences for people of all ages in Chicago. Stephanie is also an accomplished chef and in her spare time she can be seen competing on (and winning) national cooking shows. She also operates frequent pop-up dinners (a nod to her passion for the intersections of Judaism and food) from which she donates all of the proceeds to Chicago-based non-profits.


Board of Directors 

Joe Kanfer, Chairman
Barrett Cohn, Scenic Advisement

Avraham Infeld, Chair of the Advisory Board
Karyn Cohen Leviton, One8 Foundation
Melissa Bordy​, Held Properties, Inc.
Sarah Schaaf, Honeymoon Israel alumna
Robert Brook, MD, VP Rand Corporation (former)
Jordy Linkow, Honeymoon Israel alum


Advisory Board

Avraham Infeld, Honeymoon Israel Advisory Board Chair 
Esther Abramowitz
Maggie Bar Tura, Consultant
Jodi Bromberg, InterfaithFamily
Scott Copeland, Onward Israel
Allan Finkelstein, JCC Association (President Emeritus)
Alan Gill, Joint Distribution Committee (Executive Vice President Emeritus)
Felicia Herman, Natan Fund
Netaly Ophir-Flint, Reut Institute
Ted Sasson, Brandeis University
Barry Shrage, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston
Rabbi Susan Silverman

 

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