Our Team

Aliza Goodman
Aliza Goodman-hover

Aliza Goodman

Anne Lanski
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Anne Lanski

Ari Feinstein
Ari Feinstein-hover

Ari Feinstein

Ayal Weiner-Kaplow
Ayal Weiner-Kaplow-hover

Ayal Weiner-Kaplow

Cari Schulman
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Cari Schulman

Carl Schrag
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Carl Schrag

Carolyn Kraus
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Carolyn Kraus

Dan Tatar
Dan Tatar-hover

Dan Tatar

Elana Weiner-Kaplow
Elana Weiner-Kaplow-hover

Elana Weiner-Kaplow

Elisheva Lanzkron-Vachman
Elisheva Lanzkron-Vachman-hover

Elisheva Lanzkron-Vachman

Erika Vogel
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Erika Vogel

Ilana Graziel Ami
Ilana Graziel Ami-hover

Ilana Graziel Ami

Jake Shulman
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Jake Shulman

Kristy Scher
Kristy Scher-hover

Kristy Scher

Lori Sagarin
Lori Sagarin-hover

Lori Sagarin

Michael Soberman
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Michael Soberman

Mikayla Laufer
Mikayla Laufer-hover

Mikayla Laufer

Natalie Blitt
Natalie Blitt-hover

Natalie Blitt

Omer Haviv
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Omer Haviv

Or Shemer
Or Shemer-hover

Or Shemer

Rachel See
Rachel See-hover

Rachel See

Shalom Orzach
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Shalom Orzach

Yehudit Werchow
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Yehudit Werchow

Yotam Wolk
Yotam Wolk-hover

Yotam Wolk

Aliza Goodman

aliza@theicenter.org

Aliza Goodman has proudly been with The iCenter growing the field of Israel education for over 10 years. She currently leads the design and implementation of The iCenter’s professional development initiatives for Jewish educators across North America. In this role, she is building a team that experiments with ways to help educators infuse Israel throughout their settings, grounded in personal relationship building with Israel and Israelis. Most recently, her focus has been on developing criteria by which to measure success and articulating best practices in Israel education for educators in the field. Her commitment to and passion for Israel was ignited during childhood family trips to Israel from her home in Toronto. Aliza holds an MBA in Social Policy and Management and an M.A. in Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University.

Tell us about your name:

The story of my name goes something like this: I was born only a couple of weeks after Aliza Begin, Menachem Begin’s wife, passed away. My parents had yet to pick out a name they liked, and as my mom was watching the news of Aliza’s death, she decided she liked the name. That, coupled with my birthdate of November 29th, makes me destined to be in this field of work.

Israel Resource Cards

A deck of cards is one of the oldest forms of entertainment around. Hundreds of games and activities have been created using just a single deck. These cards have been used extensively across multiple educational ...


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The Story of a Vote: 11.29.1947

By capturing the personal testimonies of Jews living during the establishment of the State of Israel, Toldot Yisrael offers authentic video materials designed to enhance personal connections to Israel through momentous events in Israeli history. November 29, ...


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Anne Lanski

anne@theicenter.org

Anne Lanski currently serves as the Founding CEO of The iCenter. Israel education has been Anne’s personal and professional passion for three decades. As a pioneer in crosscultural education and teen travel to Eastern Europe and Israel, Anne is Founder and former Executive Director of Shorashim, a nationally-recognized Israel education organization. She is regarded as the seminal figure in making the “mifgash” an essential component of Israel educational programs, and is the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her pioneering work in this field. Anne received her M.A. from the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU, and is a graduate of the Senior Educator Program at the Melton Centre of Hebrew University. Anne currently resides in Chicago with her husband Barry and their three children.

Eich Atem Margishim Hayom? – Mood Posters

HOW YA DOIN? or MAH NISHMAH?  ?מה נשמע It’s one of the most basic questions people ask each other: “How are you?” “How are you feeling?” “What’s new?” It’s no different in Hebrew. It’s easy to use Modern ...


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Maps as Narratives

Every map tells a story. Whenever we choose a map, whether or not we are conscious of it, we are choosing a particular narrative and perspective. No map is perfectly accurate. Every map is the ...


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Ari enjoys having Israel at the center of his work at The iCenter. A Midwest native and a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers, Ari lived in Israel on three different year-long programs: Young Judaea Year Course, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, and at Hebrew Union College, where he earned a Masters in Jewish Education. As an educator, he experienced the impact educational travel can have during the two summers he guided high school trips through Europe and Israel. Before joining The iCenter, Ari directed the Marin/San Francisco Jewish Teen Foundation, where he learned about the power of education through Jewish philanthropy and social justice.

What’s one of your favorite books?

One of my favorite books is On the Road by Jack Kerouac. The thrill of adventure and search for meaning Kerouac writes about in some way influenced my decision to live in Israel for a year after high school. That year impacted me in so many ways, and I have Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise to thank (in part) for the inspiration.

Poster Tales For Yom Ha’atzmaut

Poster Tales is a series of Israeli-made posters that originated with the founding of the Jewish State. Each year, Israeli artists submit their posters and designs in the hope that one will be featured as ...


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Israeli ‘Mad Libs’

ISRAELI MAD LIBS®-STYLE GAMES With these Mad Libs®-style game sheets, Israel comes alive as participants get creative and take turns offering words that help shape hilarious stories. “But these are no typical Mad Libs®-style stories; ...


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Ayal Weiner-Kaplow

ayal@theicenter.org

Ayal’s passion for Israel was cultivated early on and quickly became a major guiding influence throughout his life. He has previously lived in Israel and Nepal working in youth leadership development, and has also traveled extensively internationally. He is an experienced songleader, trip leader, and facilitator who loves photography, spicy shakshuka, and being outdoors—and likes these things even more so in Hebrew and while in Israel. Ayal holds an MPA from UW-Madison as well as a BA from Brandeis University in Environmental Studies and International Studies, and a minor in Hebrew Language.

Tell us about your name:

My name, Ayal, means “deer” in Hebrew. I love that my name connects me to Israel, no matter where I am. Interestingly, Israel is the place where my name causes the most confusion, as many Israelis mix it up with a more common, similar sounding name, Eyal, which means “strength.” Also, during travel, I learned that Ayal means ‘woman’ in the Kyrgyz language!

Israel Trivia Relay Race

Make new friends and get excited about your upcoming Israel trip with an interactive trivia and riddle competition! Participants of all backgrounds will enjoy solving riddles and learning about modern and historical sites, influential people, ...


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Infusing Israel at Camp

10 WAYS TO INFUSE ISRAEL AT CAMP Camp is a natural environment for young people to explore their relationship with Israel and Israelis. The immersive experience of camp provides great opportunities to infuse Israel into ...


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Cari Schulman

cari@theicenter.org

Cari Schulman is a founding team member of The iCenter and leads teams focused on operational excellence and culture building. Her work lives at the intersection of talent, systems, vision, and values to animate an environment that is grounded in, and motivated by, relationships. Cari’s passion for Israel was cultivated in the home, where she was raised with Israel infused into everyday life. She is an Insights Discovery Practitioner, and holds an MBA from Loyola University and a BA in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

My happy place is definitely at the beach, preferably in Tel Aviv, but Lake Michigan also does the trick.

Israel Resource Cards

A deck of cards is one of the oldest forms of entertainment around. Hundreds of games and activities have been created using just a single deck. These cards have been used extensively across multiple educational ...


LEARN MORE

Golda’s Kitchen Cabinet

Whether you daydream about devouring a plate of rich, creamy hummus in the Shuk or drinking a robust cup of “upside-down coffee” at Aroma or any of many cafes, food has a prominent place in ...


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Carl Schrag

carl@theicenter.org

Carl came to the field of Israel education via his first career in Israeli journalism. During nearly 15 years living in Israel, he reported on some of the biggest—and smallest—stories unfolding in the country. After climbing the ladder at The Jerusalem Post, he served as the paper’s Editor before opting to apply the lens of journalism to help North American learners of all ages engage with Israel in multi-faceted ways. When he’s not collaborating with his iCenter colleagues to build the field of Israel education, he can be found teaching current events classes and making jam, hosting family and friends, and spending quality time with his grandson.

What's one of your favorite books?

Anything by AB Yehoshua. When I interviewed him in his Haifa writing studio many years ago, I told him I read Hebrew literature in translation, and he said it was time to try the original. He gave me a copy of The Lover, in Hebrew, and inscribed it “In hopes that you’ll read it to the end.” I did.

Encountering Israel’s Declaration of Independence

Israel’s Declaration of Independence, formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, is a rich document that enables exploration of core values and aspirations of the founders of the Jewish state in 1948. ...


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Israel Story’s Wartime Voices

WARTIME VOICES: SASHA ARIEV “Everything in this corner of the world has changed since Saturday, October 7. All around us, friends, family, colleagues, people have died. People are missing. People have been kidnapped. There’s a ...


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Carolyn Kraus

carolyn@theicenter.org

Carolyn’s passion for Israel started when she went to the University of Illinois—Chicago and has continued throughout her career in the Jewish Community. Carolyn comes to The iCenter after working at Pardes Jewish Day School in Scottsdale, Arizona, Temple Beth Israel in Skokie, IL, and the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, IL. She is fortunate to have lived and worked in Israel in addition to having visited many times. Carolyn is so excited to work at The iCenter and combine two of her passions—Israel and education.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

I am happiest when I am with family or friends. I love spending time cooking and sharing meals. One of the things I love most is travelling and can’t wait until my next trip. And as you can see from my picture, Starbucks is my drink of choice.

What Does Better Look Like?

Shark Tank is a hit ABC TV show that features a panel of five wealthy investors called “sharks” who consider offers from entrepreneurs seeking investors for their business. Based off of this hit TV show, ...


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Money Talks: The Story of Israel as Told by Banknotes

We handle money nearly every day. But how much do we really know about our banknotes? Which president is on the $50 bill? Which banknote showcases the White House? Which one includes the Statue of ...


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Dan Tatar

dan@theicenter.org

Dan Tatar has dedicated over 25 years to experiential Israel education, from facilitating teen travel to Israel to his work as the Director of Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at The iCenter. Dan’s extensive background in the field is rooted in his own transformative teen Israel experience led by his then-teacher, Anne Lanski. With a Master’s degree in Israel Education from The George Washington University and an Executive MA in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. Dan also holds a certification in Innovative Strategies from Systematic Inventive Thinking. As a former stage and television actor with a fascination for educational technology, he offers a unique perspective on Israel education. (Pronouns: he/him)

What is your favorite Hebrew word or phrase?

Chok chinuch chovah chinam (חוק חינוך חובה חינם, “compulsory free education law”). I heard it on the news once while in Israel and loved the alliteration. I love learning words, exploring sounds, and unpacking roots of words. I’ve moved from being afraid to speak if I didn’t have everything conjugated correctly to just getting it out and trying. It may not always be right, but I’m connecting and learning in the process.

Israeli Music Playlists

Music can capture a mood, express complex emotions, and make us feel like we are traveling in space and time. It’s an essential part of creating an immersive educational experience. We offer both general Israeli ...


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SpaceIL Resources

The iCenter is proud to be the North American partner of SpaceIL, whose ingenuity and perseverance made Israel the seventh country to get to the Moon, and the fourth country to reach the surface. The spacecraft, ...


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Elana Weiner-Kaplow

elana@theicenter.org

Elana is the coordinator for Chicago’s shinshinim hub, a program that brings young Israelis to North America to volunteer, teach, and enrich our Jewish communities. Growing up, she spent her summers at the URJ OSRUI summer camp, where Israel and Hebrew became a central part of her identity. Elana lived in Israel for a number of years as well, and went on to serve in the Israel Defense Force’s Education Corps. Before joining The iCenter, Elana worked as a Jewish educator with numerous organizations in Israel and the Chicagoland area, as well as in Chicago’s theatre scene as an actor and writer. Elana holds a BFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

I’m happiest experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen! I love the puzzle of figuring out complicated pastries and I’m on an ongoing mission to train for the day that The Great British Bake Off accepts American contestants.

Homemade Jam: Sounds, Stories, and Tastes of Israel

Hang out and cook with Israeli farmer and chef, Hedai Offaim, as he hosts some renowned Israeli musicians in his kitchen. Together, we will explore the flavors and soundtrack that makes us who we are. ...


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A Bit of Culture

KZAT TARBUT Our new series, Ktzat Tarbut (קצת תרבות, “A Bit of Culture”), offers entry points for exploring the exciting and vibrant world of Israeli arts and culture. Each issue considers a new theme and ...


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Elisheva Lanzkron-Vachman

elisheva@theicenter.org

Born and raised in Israel, Elisheva developed strong Jewish and Israeli identities. Elisheva got her Bachelor in Social Work from Bar Ilan University, and her Master in Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and practiced different managerial positions in various organizations in Israel such as Kesher (a center for families of children with special needs), Gvanim (a rehabilitation center for adults with mental disabilities), the JDC, and the Israeli Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Elisheva is excited to work with The iCenter as an Educational Experience Producer and combine two of her passions—Israel and high-end productions. Elisheva lives in Deerfield with her husband and their four children.

What is your favorite Hebrew quote?

I love the verse ״הודו ל-ה׳ כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו״ (“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His kindness endures forever”, Psalms 136). This optimistic verse is what my dear father always replies when asked how he is. Although he has gone through a lot in his life, he manages to remain grateful and cheerful. Following my father’s example, I try to always be grateful and maintain a positive outlook!

Poems of Belonging

Poetry can express diverse and colliding emotions that offer a lens into the tensions of everyday life and how each of us belongs to the world around us. Notions of belonging also can be intertwined ...


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Stories that Portraits Tell: Ilan Ramon

WHAT ARE WE MADE OF? Art can be a powerful tool in telling stories, sharing specific narratives and insights of a person or place. The reflections help  build awareness of not only what stories are ...


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Erika Vogel

erika@theicenter.org

Israel has been central to Erika’s identities for almost as long as she can remember. Since 2015, she’s had the good fortune of being a member of The iCenter team lending her talents to multiple facets of the organization, from publication production, to data management, financial development, and program management. Currently, Erika serves as the Program Director for The iCenter’s Graduate Degree in Israel Education in partnership with The George Washington University where she has the opportunity to work daily with the current and future movers and shapers of Israel education.

Erika has extensive nonprofit experience with expertise in the areas of strategic development, program management, and communication. Previously, she served as the Director of the Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts (AIDA) at the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. Prior, Erika served as a Program Manager at Heartland International, an international development organization and she began her career as a Research Assistant at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. She received her MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago and her BA in Middle Eastern and International Studies with a minor in Hebrew from Emory University.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

You’ll find me on the tennis court or watching competitive cooking shows on Netflix with my kids, Lucy and Milo, and husband Jon.

Voices from Within: Poetry

Our newly-published anthology of Hebrew poetry is, at its core, a book about Israel. It tells the story of Israel through the presentation of a collection of poems from the early 1900s until today. While the story of ...


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Encountering Israel’s Declaration of Independence

Israel’s Declaration of Independence, formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, is a rich document that enables exploration of core values and aspirations of the founders of the Jewish state in 1948. ...


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Ilana Graziel Ami

Ilana@theicenter.org

Originally from Belarus, Ilana grew up in Nahariya, Israel. In addition to her BA in Political Science and Education, she holds an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship from Ben-Gurion University. Ilana is extremely passionate about education and community development. With a focus on teens in Israel’s periphery, she led educational programs and teams at a variety of social organizations. In 2019, Ilana launched an initiative for empowering families with young children to reconnect with nature. Today, the community has over 7000 active members and continues to grow. Ilana is very excited to join The iCenter and inspire and connect its multiple communities of learners and change agents.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

My weekends are filled with trips, social events, and hosting gatherings with family and friends. You can often find me drinking coffee at a beautiful spot in nature. Nothing can compare to sitting by the sea and enjoying the view. I also love running on the beaches of Tel Aviv! It clears my mind and gives me so much adrenaline (I wish I could do it more!).

Amazing Israel Race

This Amazing Israel Race will take you from the beaches of Tel Aviv to the Four Quarters of Jerusalem, and across the 8,550 square miles of Israel. Individually or as a team, take on the ...


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Hebrew Slang

Hebrew is more than just a language. It’s a vibrant and effusive expression of culture, history, and identities. It’s also one of the core Aleph Bet principles, and bituyim (ביטויים), Hebrew slang, can deepen our ...


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Jake Shulman

jake@theicenter.org

Jake is excited to be a part of The iCenter, where he infuses his lively camp counselor spirit into the realm of Israel education. Within The iCenter, he holds the role of Academic Program Coordinator for the iFellows initiative and the Graduate Degree in Israel Education at the George Washington University. In this capacity, he collaborates closely with both academic programs and The iCenter’s Experience Team to craft and execute in-person experiences and contribute to the expansion of The iCenter’s academic offerings.

Most recently, Jake was the Community Experience Specialist at Hillel at Arizona State University, where he planned and executed all of Hillel’s large-scale social programs, oversaw all of their student-facing marketing, and led Birthright Israel trips. Jake was a longtime camper and staff member at Capital Camps, where he served as Sports Director and led their inaugural Israel trip. A graduate of Tulane University in International Relations, Jake is a big fan of Tulane athletics (and sports in general) and is an avid baseball player and fan.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

Being outside! Whether it’s a walk along Lake Michigan, playing softball with my team in Evanston, running through Northwestern’s campus, or tossing a football under the autumn leaves, I love the fresh air. See you under the sun!

Infusing Israel at Camp

10 WAYS TO INFUSE ISRAEL AT CAMP Camp is a natural environment for young people to explore their relationship with Israel and Israelis. The immersive experience of camp provides great opportunities to infuse Israel into ...


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Authentic Voices

At a time when we tend to consume news that is packaged, filtered, sometimes theoretical, or even hypothetical, we should take a step back. One thing that we really need, and what our learners need, ...


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Kristy Scher

kristy@theicenter.org

Kristy Scher joins The iCenter team as the graphic designer. She studied painting and sculpture at Illinois Wesleyan University where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts. Kristy then attended Rhode Island School of Design and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching that focused on art and design education. She thinks graphic design is the perfect career for her as it perfectly marries her meticulous self to her creative self.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

Kristy spends her free time with her husband, son, and dogs. Her non-creative hobbies reflect her simpler side. She is happiest when going on long walks with the family, drinking coffee, and reading.

The Piven Workshop

Hanoch Piven is a leading contemporary Israeli artist whose whimsical portraits tell stories with surprising depth and complexity. His work depicting prominent people, from Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs to Barack Obama and Saddam Hussein, ...


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Eich Atem Margishim Hayom? – Mood Posters

HOW YA DOIN? or MAH NISHMAH?  ?מה נשמע It’s one of the most basic questions people ask each other: “How are you?” “How are you feeling?” “What’s new?” It’s no different in Hebrew. It’s easy to use Modern ...


LEARN MORE

Lori Sagarin

lori@theicenter.org

Lori B Sagarin RJE has served as the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie, Illinois, since 1995. She is the former president of the National Association of Temple Educators (now ARJE), and is also the past president of the Chicago Association of Reform Jewish Educators. In addition to formerly serving on the advisory boards for NEXTBOOK and Project Esther, Lori has served on the faculty of OSRUI since 1993. Lori completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin and a Masters degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College. In 2009, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in Jewish Religious Education for 25 years of dedicated service in Jewish education.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

You can find me baking sourdough bread, throwing tennis balls to my Boston Terrier, Solomon, and reading, always reading. Looking for a good book recommendation? I am always happy to make one.

Binge Watch Israel: Humor and Satire

   Return to Binge Watch Israel Home Page  How to “Read” a TV Series HUMOR AND SATIRE IN ISRAEL For decades, Israeli humor has been compared to their coffee: strong and black. Humor and satire ...


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The Things We Carry

Many of our family traditions stay with us regardless of where we go, even as we may try to fit into new surroundings and new realities. In many ways and throughout the ages, Jews have ...


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Michael Soberman

michael@theicenter.org

Michael is a Senior Educational Consultant with The iCenter. Prior to that, Michael was the Vice President of Canada Israel Experience and Next Generation Initiatives at the Jewish Federations of Canada–UIA. In that role, Michael maximized the number of Canadian teenagers and young adults traveling to Israel on programs such as Birthright Israel, the March of the Living and high school/youth movement programs. Michael has been invited to speak all over the world on topics of the Israel experience, Birthright Israel, Israel and experiential education. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts from York University, a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto, and an Executive Master’s of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Michael is married to Rebecca, and they have a daughter named Jordyn and son named Joshua. In his spare time, Michael is studying Shotokan Karate and working towards earning his Black Belt. Stay tuned for updates.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

Outside of work, you will find me either playing or watching competitive sports. I am a student of Shotokan Karate, play in two softball leagues, pick-up basketball, and enjoy a good run in the morning. When on the couch, I am a diehard fan of the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays, and yes, the Dallas Cowboys!

Israel Resource Cards

A deck of cards is one of the oldest forms of entertainment around. Hundreds of games and activities have been created using just a single deck. These cards have been used extensively across multiple educational ...


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Values in Tension

Israeli society has undergone unprecedented turmoil this year, over the opposition to the government’s controversial proposed judicial overhaul, and then the horrific attacks by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Now, more than ever, we encourage ...


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Mikayla Laufer

mikayla@theicenter.org

Born and raised as part of the “Frozen Chosen” in Anchorage, Alaska,  Mikayla’s Jewish identity and passion for Israel were developed at home and flourished after spending a year in Ashdod as part of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. Before joining The iCenter in 2023, Mikayla worked in engagement and development at Hillel at Arizona State University and as a Hebrew / Judaics teacher at Congregation Beth Israel and Temple Emanuel in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Mikayla holds a Bachelor’s in Geology from Northern Arizona University, a Masters in Tech Management from Arizona State University, and a Masters in Israel Education from The George Washington University. At The iCenter, Mikayla pairs her passion for data-driven decision-making with her love of Israel Education by developing and implementing operational systems to further the impact of The iCenter. Mikayla lives on the beach in southern California with her pup Cookie.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I’m happiest playing with my dog Cookie, volunteering for organizations dear to my heart, and cheering on the Los Angeles Dodgers with my best friend (and iCenter colleague) Jake Shulman!

Tastes and Smells of Israel’s 76 Years

Whether you daydream about devouring a plate of rich, creamy hummus in the shuk or drinking a robust cup of “upside-down coffee” at one of many cafes, food has a prominent place in many people’s ...


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The Story of a Vote: 11.29.1947

By capturing the personal testimonies of Jews living during the establishment of the State of Israel, Toldot Yisrael offers authentic video materials designed to enhance personal connections to Israel through momentous events in Israeli history. November 29, ...


LEARN MORE

Natalie Blitt

natalie@theicenter.org

Natalie Blitt is an educator and the author of two young-adult novels and three middle-grade novels. While Natalie claims that everything she knows in life she learned as a result of reading children’s books, she does understand that there are many ways to educate and inspire connections. A graduate of McGill University, she also has a Journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax, and is now pursuing a master’s degree at The George Washington University in Israel Education. While she’ll proudly fly the Canadian flag at any opportunity, she currently lives in Skokie, IL, with her husband, Rabbi Josh Feigelson, and their three sons.

What are your secret talents?

I’m a serial crafter. At any given time, I could be sewing, knitting, embroidering, creating a mosaic, or flitting between all of them. One day I hope to get back to creating stained glass windows…

Israel Story’s Wartime Voices

WARTIME VOICES: SASHA ARIEV “Everything in this corner of the world has changed since Saturday, October 7. All around us, friends, family, colleagues, people have died. People are missing. People have been kidnapped. There’s a ...


LEARN MORE

Binge Watch Israel: Humor and Satire

   Return to Binge Watch Israel Home Page  How to “Read” a TV Series HUMOR AND SATIRE IN ISRAEL For decades, Israeli humor has been compared to their coffee: strong and black. Humor and satire ...


LEARN MORE

Omer Haviv

omer@theicenter.org

Omer was born and raised in Israel. During her military service, Omer graduated from the prestigious Israeli Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree from Haifa University. She was the first woman to serve aboard a Sa’ar 5 Class Corvette, creating the opportunity for women to serve aboard this type of vessel. Omer has a Research-Master’s degree in Policy and Management in Education from Tel Aviv University and has written pioneering research about Educational Networks in Israel. Before moving to the U.S, she managed a non-profit sailing association and received her Teaching Certificate. Omer is excited to work with The iCenter as Chicago’s Shinshinim hub coordinator, bringing young Israeli volunteers to North America to teach and enrich Jewish communities.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

The sea is my passion. When I was 10, I started sailing with my father on a little sailing boat in the Tel Aviv Marina and fell in love with the sea. Since then, I have enjoyed every water activity such as sailing, windsurfing, wave surfing, diving, and just relaxing on the fantastic beaches of Israel.

Amazing Israel Race

This Amazing Israel Race will take you from the beaches of Tel Aviv to the Four Quarters of Jerusalem, and across the 8,550 square miles of Israel. Individually or as a team, take on the ...


LEARN MORE

Hebrew Slang

Hebrew is more than just a language. It’s a vibrant and effusive expression of culture, history, and identities. It’s also one of the core Aleph Bet principles, and bituyim (ביטויים), Hebrew slang, can deepen our ...


LEARN MORE

Or Shemer

or@theicenter.org

Or grew up in Hod Hasharon in a secular Israeli home, with Iraqi and Ashkenazi Jewish traditions. She is a certified Israeli Tour Guide, has a BA in Israel Studies from the University of Haifa, and is completing her MA in Israel Education through the George Washington University and The iCenter. Before moving to the States, Or lived in Jerusalem where she was involved with several social initiatives, focusing on LGBTQ+ life and feminist culture. Prior to joining The iCenter team, Or was the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow to the University of Michigan Hillel. She lives in Ann Arbor with her wife Tilly.

Tell us about your name:

When Tilly and I got married, we merged the Hebrew letters of our previous family names (Vichnizer and Shames) and created a new name with a Hebrew meaning. Shemer (שמר) is the root of lishmor (לשמור) and leshamer (לשמר), to protect and preserve. It is also the Hebrew word for yeast, which adds a meaningful layer of nourishment and growth to our familial identity.

Israeli Music Playlists

Music can capture a mood, express complex emotions, and make us feel like we are traveling in space and time. It’s an essential part of creating an immersive educational experience. We offer both general Israeli ...


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Hamsa Aleinu: Inspirational Stories of Everyday Israelis

Building relationships with people from different backgrounds than one’s own is an essential and enriching part of life. Learning from their stories and experiences, and sharing our own, informs how we relate to the world ...


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Rachel See started realizing Israel was going to be a central part of her life after her first Israel experience at the age of eighteen. Her relationship with Israel led her to the world of Jewish education and to The iCenter as a participant in the first cohort of the Master’s Concentration in Israel Education (iFellows). Rachel holds an M.A. in Jewish Education and an M.A. in Jewish Nonprofit Management from HUC-LA, and is honored to have graduated as part of the first cohort of The iCenter’s Masters in Israel Education at The George Washington University.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

I’m happiest running, doing yoga, or hiking alongside an ocean, sea, or lake in any of three places I call home–Israel, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Homemade Jam: Sounds, Stories, and Tastes of Israel

Hang out and cook with Israeli farmer and chef, Hedai Offaim, as he hosts some renowned Israeli musicians in his kitchen. Together, we will explore the flavors and soundtrack that makes us who we are. ...


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On The Map

Knowledge and appreciation of historic and current events and their complexity are important aspects of understanding and engaging with Israel. Maps are among the most effective visual tools for introducing the history and complex reality ...


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Shalom Orzach

shalom@theicenter.org

Shalom is a senior educator with The iCenter, and serves on faculty for the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Prior, he served as the AVI CHAI Project Director for the training of staff returning to summer camps in North America, and Director of Education in the Shlichut and Israel Fellows unit for the Jewish Agency. He is a member of the International Education Committee of Taglit-Birthright, has served as a consultant for the Jim Joseph Foundation, JUF Ta’am Yisrael and the Jewish Peoplehood Committee and teaches a course in experiential education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Shalom was the Central Shaliach for USY from 1992 -1995. He was also a scholar on the prestigious Jerusalem Fellows Program, following which he was the Executive Director for Jewish Renewal at the UJIA in England. Shalom is an acclaimed public speaker on contemporary Israel who brings extensive knowledge, humor and passion. He recently served as a month-long scholar for United Synagogue in Chicago and at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. He has published articles on Israel and Jewish education in The Times of Israel and eJewishPhilanthropy, and delivered an ELI Talk.

Shalom is still in awe of the fact that we can speak about the ‘State’ of the Jews! He is the son of a Holocaust survivor who grew up in the company of aunts and uncles of the closest type albeit not family. Their experiences, Yiddish banter, humor and optimism very much shaped who he is.

Tell us about your name:

I am named after my grandfather, Sholem, who was a sofer stam, a scribe who wrote Torah scrolls. I try in different ways to sustain that beautiful tradition of ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל שימה בפיהם למען תהיה לי השירה הזאת לעד בבני ישראל: “and now, write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness for the children of Israel.” (Devarim 31:19)

What’s In a Name? (Shavuot)

Shakespeare would claim that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Does the same hold true for names in Hebrew? In Kabbalah (mysticism), the letters of a name spell out a spiritual ...


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Receiving the Torah: Contemporary Resources for Shavuot

Shavuot is also known as Chag Matan Torah, the holiday of receiving the Torah. Traditionally, the Written Law and Oral Law were seen as one, but in the modern age, the prominence of the Oral ...


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Yehudit Werchow

yehudit@theicenter.org

Rabbi Yehudit Werchow was born in Argentina and grew up in Israel. She holds a BA in Political Science and Literature from the Hebrew University and a M.A. in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York. She was ordained at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem. Previously, Yehudit served as the Director of Israel Engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) in North America, as the Jewish Agency’s Senior Shlicha for the Reform Movement in North America and the UK, and as the Director of Education for MASA.

What would be your personal motto?

A line from Meir Ariel’s song “Modeh Ani” (inspired by the liturgy for the morning blessings) states: “יִהְיֶה לָנוּ טוֹב, טוֹב מִטּוּב” which means “It will be good for us, better than good.” This line has become one of my favourite blessings.

Voices from Within: Poetry

Our newly-published anthology of Hebrew poetry is, at its core, a book about Israel. It tells the story of Israel through the presentation of a collection of poems from the early 1900s until today. While the story of ...


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Homemade Jam: Sounds, Stories, and Tastes of Israel

Hang out and cook with Israeli farmer and chef, Hedai Offaim, as he hosts some renowned Israeli musicians in his kitchen. Together, we will explore the flavors and soundtrack that makes us who we are. ...


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Yotam Wolk is the Jewish Agency Senior Shaliach (emissary) with RootOne & The iCenter. He grew up in Haifa, Israel, as the youngest of three. Upon concluding 3.5 years military service in the anti-aircraft corp as a sergeant major, Yotam spent several summers working in Jewish summer camp, as well as training other Israelis to become summer camp staff through the Jewish Agency. Yotam also served as the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow to Yale University.

Yotam holds a BA in International Affairs and Communications from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an MA in Israel Education from the George Washington University. Yotam currently resides in Chicago with his wife, Nitsan.

What are you happiest doing outside of work?

I very much like to spend my time playing, but mostly watching, all kinds of sports. I have been a supporter of Maccabi Haifa since I was young, and my favorite pastime is watching a good soccer or basketball game with friends. In my spare time, I also have my own sports podcast, giving me more opportunities to talk about my favorite thing!

Educating in a Time of Crisis

We are heartbroken and outraged by the horrific situation continuing to unfold in Israel. We grieve for all who have been killed, injured, or taken hostage, and pray for a swift end to this darkness. ...


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Israel Conversation Guide

Navigating challenging conversations around Israel isn’t a new concept, but sometimes there is a tendency to focus on the events of the day, rather than the bigger picture. How can we as educators link timely ...


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