Welcoming the 2017 Masa-Hillel Fellows!



April 4, 2017

We are so excited to welcome our fourth cohort of Masa-Hillel Fellows. The fellowship is a six-month professional development seminar designed to prepare current Masa 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, 2015 and 2016 cohorts on our blog.

Hannah Bloomberg grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.  She graduated with a major in Psychology and a minor in Biology, but also studied anthropology, Hebrew, and public health.  Outside of class, Hannah was involved with on-campus and community organizations, such as local synagogues, the Chi Omega Fraternity, the Ballet Performance Group, and North American Federation of Temple Youth- Northeast Lakes Region.  Through these organizations she spent her time event planning, choreographing, advising peers and students, and recruiting. She is now living in Rishon Lezion, teaching English in an elementary school as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow.  Hannah is planning to pursue a career in the Jewish professional world, and is excited for opportunities that will allow her to explore the many niches of Jewish work.  Hannah’s passions include Jewish summer camp, baking, crafting, pottery, and dance. 

Jenna Ferman is a recent college graduate from the Joint Program of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary where she studied English Literature and Bible. Originally from Philadelphia, Jenna decided to spend her first year out of college teaching English in Petach Tikvah, Israel. In addition to Israel, she has journeyed around the globe to destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Iceland, and Jordan. Jenna spent most summers of her life as a camper and then a counselor at her beloved overnight camp, Camp Nock-a-Mixon, where she was responsible for the well-being of preteen girls. Her Jewish education has been a critical part of her identity since kindergarten. She attended Jewish day school from elementary school through high school and college, and she has spent many years teaching Hebrew school in New York City. Jenna is an avid runner, yogi, Israeli-dancer, dog lover and chocoholic. 

Daniel Handelman grew up in Chicago with a well-rounded Jewish background spanning multiple denominations. Being exposed to a variety of religious beliefs, he was raised in an environment that emphasized understanding, acceptance, and a desire to understand different perspectives and beliefs. During high school, Daniel became involved in a Jewish youth group, NCSY, eventually becoming regional president, and enjoyed the opportunity to foster Jewish communal life, involvement, and learning. Due to his strong beliefs in communal responsibility and individuals’ ability to better their lives, Daniel is pursuing his Master’s degree in Social Work to enable him to make a greater difference in the community. In his free time, Daniel has run marathons, learned swing dancing, started a juggling club, and hiked the Appalachian Trail. Daniel enjoys learning from others and is excited for the opportunity to be teaching English in an Israeli public school as a Masa Israel Teaching Gellow.

Mikayla Laufer was born in Anchorage, Alaska. She attended Northern Arizona University for the five years, where she took advantage of opportunities and built relationships with new people. Mikayla came to Israel this August hoping to establish herself as a Jew, a leader, and a friend.  She is a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Ashdod. In her spare time, Mikayla loves to read, watch Major League Baseball (go Dodgers!), and help people get sorted into their Hogwarts house.

Ally Levine was born and raised in California. In May 2016 she graduated from The University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. While at KU, Ally was involved in leadership with the local Hillel chapter among her many campus activities. She spent the summer of 2015 teaching English in Carpi, Italy. Traveling and teaching are her two main passions in life, so she combined these by becoming a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Netanya, Israel.  When she is not in the classroom teaching English, you can catch her exploring her surroundings and adventuring the world. 

Samantha Miller is an educator and community-builder, a life-long learner, and an avid reader and writer. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education and English from SUNY Oneonta and recently completed a Master’s degree in Communications, Media, and Public Relations from Johns Hopkins University. In 2012, the Birthright program gave Samantha the opportunity to visit Israel for the first time and that 10-day journey convinced her that she wanted to spend more time exploring the country and her own Jewish identity. Samantha is now making that dream a reality by spending a year as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow living and working in Ashdod. She is thrilled to be part of the fourth cohort of Masa-Hillel Fellows and hopes to continue learning and growing as a young Jewish professional. Samantha loves meeting new people and undertaking new challenges, and is at her best when working to inspire others. When she is not teaching, Samantha loves to travel, listen to music, and spend time with family and friends. She tries to live every day by the motto “live the life you love, love the life you live”. 

Ilana Shtivelman was born in Israel, and has lived in Montreal, Canada, and Pennsylvania, USA. This past May, she graduated from Penn State with three Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree. Ilana speaks five languages and loves traveling and interacting with people in any capacity. She was a Resident Assistant for 2.5 years at Penn State and was an active member at Penn State Hillel, which included multiple service trips throughout the USA with Jewish organizations. She is interested in art and photography, learning about different cultures, and enriching her Jewish journey and identity through a variety of experiences and education, as well as helping others with their own journeys. She is optimistic, caring, and friendly and is excited to bring those qualities to Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Ashdod, where she is currently spending 10 months volunteering at an elementary school, teaching English. 

Katie Spector grew up in Mentor, Ohio and attended Bowling Green State University for college. She graduated with a degree in Social Work as she has a passion to help others. After graduation, Katie realized that she missed working with children, and that she wanted to transfer her efforts more towards teaching. She decided to move to Israel for the year and serve as a teacher through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. In her spare time Katie loves to make Challah, go hiking with her dog, and play with her niece.

Marla Topiol attended the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, where she was an active member in the Jewish community both on and off campus. While there, she interned in the Education Department at the National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia.) Following Charleston, Marla earned her Masters’ Degree in European Jewish History at Queen Mary University of London. It is this enthusiasm and interest in Jewish life in Israel, which has currently brought her to be a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Rehovot.

Abbie Zohn grew up in Clearwater, Florida going to a reform synagogue and spending summers at the local JCC. In high school she became involved with Young Judea and went to Israel on a summer program. This is what sparked her passion for Israel. After finishing her undergraduate education, she worked with an AmeriCorps program in Harlem, NY. After AmeriCorps, she received a Master’s of Social Work and a Master’s of Public Administration from Florida State University. She has a strong passion for social justice specifically juvenile justice and child welfare. After she went on Birthright in 2015 she knew she had to get back to Israel for an extended period of time. She is currently living in Rehovot, Israel participating in Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, teaching at a modern orthodox elementary school. She loves being around people and socializing but sometimes she prefers to spend quality time watching Netflix.