Welcoming the 2016 Masa-Hillel Fellows



February 2, 2016

We are so excited to welcome our third cohort of Masa-Hillel Fellows. The fellowship is a six-month professional development seminar designed to prepare current Masa Israel participants for Hillel work. Through Hillel’s partnership with Masa, Hillel provides a Fellowship experience for current Masa participants who were at the Masa Israel Leadership Summit in November. The goal of the Masa-Hillel Fellowship is to build a talent pipeline and populate Hillel’s professional cohort with talented individuals and budding leaders who are actively exploring Israel and reinforcing their Jewish and Israel connections. Learn more about the Fellowship and the 2014 and 2015 cohort’s on our blog.

Dustin Atlas is a learner, listener,  designer, and  teacher. He grew up in San Diego and spent his  summers in Seattle at Sephardic Adventure Camp where he worked as a counselor for four years. In 2010, he moved to New York City to pursue his architecture education at The Cooper Union. Dustin received his Bachelor of Architecture in 2015. Through this education, Dustin learned to think through making: to grapple with ideas through the act of drawing, building, and writing. During his studies, Dustin also worked at the Jewish Community Center for three years as a teacher every Shabbat. Through the Havurah program at the JCC, Dustin learned to create a curious and safe environment for asking questions about Jewish identity. He is currently participating in Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, Be’er Sheva.

Leah Creswell was born and raised in Cave Creek, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2015 with a degree in Journalism and Communication. She enjoys volunteering throughout the world, and her passion for Israel emerged at a young age. After participating in Birthright Israel, it grew to become a large part of her identity. She is currently participating in Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, Rishon. She enjoys writing, dancing, photography, and her cat Simon. She lives by the quote, “as long as I’m alive, I’m going to live.”

Molly Fortunoff is currently a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Rishon Lezion, working with 4th to 6th grade students.  A native of New York, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics with a minor in Middle East Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Prior to spending a year in Israel, Molly spent the past two years teaching middle school math in St. Louis, Missouri through Teach for America while receiving her Masters in Education through the University of Missouri, St. Louis.  When Molly is not working as a teacher, she enjoys traveling, cheering on her college sports teams (Go Terps!), and spending time with family and friends.

Brittany Hamilton is originally from Novi, Michigan and she spent her high school years in Germany where she learned to speak fluent German. A graduate of Michigan State University, she studied Secondary Social Studies Education with a minor history. She is an alumna of TALMA, an English teaching program in Israel. Currently, Brittany lives in Petach Tikva, Israel working as an English teacher through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. As a current participant of Masa Israel, she feels a strong connection to Israel and the Jewish community. Her hobbies include running, playing tennis, traveling, reading and learning about new cultures.

Genna Kahn is a dedicated, committed and energetic recent college graduate from just outside of Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from the teacher education program at the University of Iowa. Currently she is a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Rishon Lezion. Working with others has always been something she has loved. To do so, she has traveled to Japan, Israel and around the United States. Throughout college, she committed herself to a student run organization called Dance Marathon, whose mission is to support families affected by pediatric cancer. Over the course of four years, she raised over $9,000, while serving on the leadership team and executive board. Post college she wanted to find a way to connect her love for Judaism and dedication for teaching. Genna is thrilled to be a part of the third cohort of Hillel fellows and hopes to continue learning and growing as a young Jewish professional.

Joseph Kleiman is currently living and working in Beit She’an as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow where he is striving to improve the quality of English education. He also volunteers at the Ethiopian Community Center where he improves cross cultural understanding between the Ethiopian minority and Israel society at large. Originally from the Chicago area, Joseph received his Bachelor’s degree in Community Health & Wellness. With dual passions for healthy community development and Jewish identity, he has flourished in his Beit She’an surroundings. He would like to continue his passion for community building professionally through Hillel upon his return to the United States.

Lauren Levinson is a recent graduate from Ohio University in Early Childhood Education. In her first semester at Ohio University she joined Sigma Kappa Sorority, and went on to hold leadership positions within the Panhellenic community. Lauren attended the JCC- Pittsburgh based summer camp in Morgantown, WV for many years. Having lived in a few different cities, she considers camp “home.” She enjoys cheering and gymnastics. Lauren is currently a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Netanya.

Deena Martin is currently working in Ben Shemen Youth Village as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. Deena is proudly pioneering the first year of volunteering as an English teacher in youth villages for Ma’ase Olam. Deena comes from the Metro-Detroit area where she has always been an active member in the Jewish community. Deena grew up volunteering with a number of Jewish Services projects, and later working as a Sunday school teacher. Deena was an active member in Central Michigan University Hillel when she was in college and is passionate about bringing Jewish Life to college campuses and young adults.

Sarah Nussbaum is loving living and teaching in the city of Netanya as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. Before moving to Israel, she graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a BA in Psychology. Along with being an active member of her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, she was also very active in the Jewish community at UT. She served on the board of the White Rose Society, a Holocaust and genocide awareness group, along with weekly baking for Challah for Hunger. She always had a deep love for Judaism and an unwavering support for Israel. It wasn’t until after going on Birthright with UT Hillel, that she realized she needed to get back to Israel as soon as she could. Sarah feels like Judaism and Israel have given and continue to give her so much meaning to life. She is excited to continue working on how she can give back to them.

Fallon Renard graduated in 2015 from San Francisco State University, with a degree in Liberal Studies and a Jewish Studies minor. Since her early teens, she has been active in the Jewish community. She has a love for working with children and peers. She attended and worked at camp JCA Shalom and took on roles in BBYO. In college she was an active leader and member of Lambda Chi Mu a local Jewish sorority, and an Engagement Intern at San Francisco Hillel. In 2014, she attended BCI where she connected with Judaism in new ways, and a community that lives all around the world. She loves thinking outside the box, and doing things in a fun and creative way! Currently she is a participant on WUJS interning at CityKids, an English based school.

Rachael Seiden is a University of Georgia graduate with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Her love for Judaism began at a young age due to the traditions she experienced with her family. Even after her Bat Mitzvah, she continued to learn about Judaism and grow as a young Jewish adult in her community. She went to a Jewish sleep-away camp, worked in her Sunday School, was a counselor at her JCC, the president of her high school’s Jewish Student Union, and went on to play a large part in Hillel as well. Teaching English in Israel is a dream come true for Rachael and she can’t imagine a better post-college experience.

Melissa Shandling is a motivated and enthusiastic Chicagoan living in Israel for a year as an Israel Teaching Fellow. She teaches at Reim School in Ashdod and gets to spend her days with young, bright, amazing students. Melissa’s biggest passions in life are cooking, traveling and music. Her Jewish identity started to come to the forefront after she got the amazing opportunity to go on Birthright Israel. Since her return, she has continued to develop her knowledge and passion for Judaism which got her to where she is today. It has always been her biggest goal to make a positive impact on people’s lives. She aspires to bring her experience from living in Israel back to the States to inspire other young Jewish people to be active in the Jewish culture.

Aaron Sklar is currently living in Netanya as an Israel Teaching Fellow. He is a bright young adult with leadership experience in the Jewish community. As an alumnus of Chicagoland Jewish High School, Aaron has a well-founded Jewish background with a strong understanding of the importance of Jewish community.  He held many leadership positions in his youth group, United Synagogue Youth, eventually becoming chapter President and regional Vice President. He also worked as a staff member for four summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin as an informal Jewish educator, senior counselor, and Jewish studies teacher.  He received his degree in Jewish Studies from Indiana University where he was able to find Jewish communities through Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Aish and Hillel on campus.

Hayley Sklar is currently living and working in Petach Tikvah as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. She teaches English to elementary school students ages nine through twelve. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in English and minor in Linguistics. Having grown up in Maryland, Florida, and Chicago Hayley has deep connections to the many places she calls “home.” She considers herself an extroverted- introvert. She loves to spend time with people, but after a long week you will find her curled up with a good book and a cup of tea. She is an avid reader, hiker, and Sudoku player.