Profile of OTZMA 2012-2013 Participants
Currently, OTZMA XXVII (2012-2013) has 22 participants from 16 different communities across North America. The group is extremely diverse coming from many different backgrounds.
Hannah Braunstein (Boston, Mass)
Hannah Braunstein is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut with a dual degree in Psychology and Human Development/Family Studies. In particular, Hannah is interested in public policy and poverty. At UConn, Hannah was a sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi and served as the Vice
President of New Member Education and Vice President of Finance. As the child of parents who lived in Israel, Hannah asked, begged, and pleaded each year to be taken there. At 16, she went on her first trip to Israel, and fell in love with the country. She is excited to spend the next year in Israel, learning Hebrew and volunteering. Hannah's favorite things are hiking, biking, and laughing.
Rachel Craig (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Rachel Craig recently graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in anthropology and a minor in political science. During her time in St. Louis, she was active in raising awareness and funds to combat Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She was also a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi
and participated in the Maimonides Leadership Fellowship. Rachel is excited for the opportunity to spend a year exploring Israel and giving back to the community.
Aimee Flood (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Aimee Flood graduated from the University of Michigan in April 2012 with a bachelors degree in Nursing. During her senior year in college she worked with a number of Nurse Midwives and plans to get her masters in Nursing when she returns from the Otzma program. She worked for two
summers at Camp Young Judea Sprout Lake, where she gained a new perspective on Israel and became interested in the possibility of making Aliyah. She loves hiking and traveling and is looking forward to learning Hebrew, meeting new people and exploring Israel in the coming year!
Rachel Frank (New Haven, Connecticut)
Rachel Frank is from Bethany CT, a small town outside of New Haven. She is a recent graduate from American University in Washington D.C. with a degree in Sociology and International Relations. After spending a semester abroad in Prague on a Jewish Studies program she realized a desire to be more connected to her Jewish roots. After this year on OTZMA she has plans to return to school and earn a Masters of Social Work in hopes of working with women, children and other at risk
populations. Rachel is excited to devote her time and energy in the coming year to the realm of social services, volunteer work and to the
people and places of Israel.
Sara Fruman (Denver, Colorado)
Sara Fruman grew up in the suburbs of New York City and moved to the beautiful Boulder, Colorado in 2008 to study at the University of Colorado. In December 2011, she obtained a degree in journalism and got a job in public relations. Sara is a proud Zionist and Jew and cannot wait to spend the next year in Israel. She is active and loves to spend her time skiing, hiking and practicing yoga. She also is passionate about live music.
Jordan Gray (Boston, Mass)
Jordan Gray a recent graduate from the University of Rochester with a BA in Economics and a minor in Film and Media Studies. Jordan attended the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston for 9 years and spent 6 summers at Camp Micah in Bridgeton, ME. Although she's been to Israel several times on organized as well as family trips, Jordan is really looking forward to spending a longer period of time there in what she believes will be a very meaningful and memorable experience.
Mark Hendel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Marc Hendel recently graduated from Washington University in St. Louis where he majored in Mathematics and History. He is passionate about Israel, running, and sharing his love of Judaism with the children at URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp. As an undergraduate, he founded and directed the Take Steps for Kids 5K supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. In Israel, he hopes to continue creating enduring
relationships among diverse groups of children by sharing his love of sport and the outdoors.
Shayna Hodkin (New York, New York)
Shayna Hodkin is from New York and has the Mets/Giants/Islanders gear to prove it. After graduating with a BA in English from the University of Maryland in May 2011, she spent a year registering voters and living the live music dream. During college, Shayna spent a semester at the University of Haifa, where she perfected the Israeli "ehhhhh" and developed a passion for hummus abu gosh. While participating on OTZMA Classic, Shayna is looking forward to ten months of tikkun olam, traveling, and iced tea with lemon and nana.
Eric Katz (Los Angeles, California)
Eric Katz was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and is a Spring 2012 graduate from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. Upon starting his college years at UC Berkeley, he was immediately thrown into the community of Berkeley Hillel and soon introduced to the Jewish fraternity on campus, Alpha Epsilon Pi, where he became a brother. His Jewish identity became an unexpectedly prominent part of his college experience. In his senior year at Berkeley, Eric became a part of the Olive Tree Initiative on campus, an organization that works to provide a multi-perspective education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to counteract the growing hostility on college campuses surrounding the issue. As a part of the program, he will be attending a three week trip in July 2012 to Washington DC, Israel, and the Palestinian territories to engage with the leaders and residents of the regions on the matters and implications of the conflict. He is eager to return to Israel for an
extended stay through the Otzma program!
Rachel Kosberg (Jupiter, Florida)
Rachel Kosberg is a media communications studies major at Florida State University who has decided to take a year off to travel, learn,
explore, grow and connect with Israel. She went on Birthright in 2010
and felt an overwhelming connection to the state of Israel and has been trying to get back ever since. Rachel enjoys traveling, country music, puppies, witty people, spontaneity and trying new things.
Stephanie Lees (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Stephanie Lees graduated Cum Laude from the University of Florida in 2011 with a BA in Linguistics. She also has a certification in Paralegal Studies from the University of Miami. While at UF, Stephanie worked as a Resident Assistant and was an active member of the leadership honorary, Florida Blue Key. Stephanie is grateful for the opportunity to return to Israel. She fell in love with the country and culture when she extended her birthright trip to teach English to Israeli high schoolers at a summer camp. While Stephanie will miss her family and her puppy; she is very much looking forward to all of the blessings, adventure, and memories that participating on OTZMA 27 will
Jennifer Maggin (New York, New York)
Jenn Maggin is unbelievably excited to be a part of OTZMA 27! In May 2011 she graduated from University at Buffalo with a B.A. in English, and in June 2012 she completed an M.A. in English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She’s a half-marathon runner, a camp counselor, a creative writer, and an ice cream lover. Some of her favorite experiences include going to Israel on Birthright, singing in her temple’s choir, celebrating Shabbat with the Temple Beth Sholom nursery school children, and volunteering with her community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Jenn’s dream is to attend Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and become a reform rabbi. She can’t wait to spend the year doing tikkun olam, learning Hebrew, exploring her Jewish identity, and making a meaningful contribution to the one and only Israel.
Aviva Mandell (Metrowest, New Jersey)
Aviva Mandell (New Jersey) graduated in May with a BA in English/creative writing from Binghamton University. This will be her ninth trip to Israel, including a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University in Spring 2011. She currently works as a secretary in the emergency room even though she doesn't have any medical-field aspirations. She loves writing short fiction. This past winter, she went on JNF's alternative spring break, where she realized she wanted to spend a longer time volunteering in Israel. She's really excited to return to Israel with Otzma!
Maximilian Marine (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Maximilian Marine (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Maximilian Marine is proud to be Jewish. He is privileged to have had access to a wealth of resources growing up that most people on Earth have never encountered. As he traveled to Spain, Israel, London, and India, and interned at five different businesses during his tenure at Temple University, he also served as President of Rho Epsilon, the student professional real estate organization, and founded J.O.B., the Jewish Organization for Business, partnering with Temple's Hillel. With a concentration in Finance, Real Estate, and Risk Management and Insurance, Max was poised to take on the world of business by storm. However, the more he meditated and contemplated his current situation, the more he felt a connection to Judaism, the Land of Israel, and an obligation to give back. Max cannot wait to learn to speak Hebrew, connect with other people who are passionate about Judaism, and help those who are less fortunate. OTZMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jonathan Miniello (Miami, Florida) Jonathan Miniello is 23 years old and speaks Italian. He loves eating pasta, sushi, and tasty food. Jonathan recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with my Honors B.A in Political Science and minors in Judaic Studies and Psychology. He spends his free time competing in chess tournaments, volunteering in his community, and reading non-fiction books. After Jonathan is done with Otzma he hopes to get his Ph.D. in Middle Eastern History or International Affairs and eventually work in the foreign policy field.
Maximilian Marine is proud to be Jewish. He is privileged to have had access to a wealth of resources growing up that most people on Earth have never encountered. As he traveled to Spain, Israel, London, and India, and interned at five different businesses during his tenure at Temple University, he also served as President of Rho Epsilon, the student professional real estate organization, and founded J.O.B., the
Jewish Organization for Business, partnering with Temple's Hillel. With a concentration in Finance, Real Estate, and Risk Management and Insurance, Max was poised to take on the world of business by storm. However, the more he meditated and contemplated his current situation, the more he felt a connection to Judaism, the Land of Israel, and an obligation to give back. Max cannot wait to learn to speak Hebrew, connect with other people who are passionate about Judaism, and help
those who are less fortunate. OTZMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jonathan Miniello (Miami, Florida)
Jonathan Miniello is 23 years old and speaks Italian. He loves eating pasta, sushi, and tasty food. Jonathan recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with my Honors B.A in Political Science and minors in Judaic Studies and Psychology. He spends his free time competing in chess tournaments, volunteering in his community, and reading non-fiction books. After Jonathan is done with Otzma he hopes to get his Ph.D. in Middle Eastern History or International Affairs and eventually work in the foreign policy field.
Elizabeth Moser (Atlanta, Georgia)
Elizabeth Moser graduated from the University of Georgia in 2010 with a BS in Forestry. After graduation, she moved to State College, PA to work for Penn State Hillel, where she spent an amazing two years working with students, exploring her own Jewish identity along with theirs. After participating on a Birthright trip and staffing four, she realized that she wanted a more in-depth Israel experience, and is excited to spend this year on OTZMA. Elizabeth is excited to learn Hebrew, explore the outdoors, play some frisbee, and meet new people.
Elyssa Rosenbaum (Syracuse, New York)
Elyssa Rosenbaum was born and raised in Syracuse, New York and graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Media Arts and Design in 2009. During college she was on the Varsity Gymnastics team, an active member of Hillel and staffed several Birthright trips. Elyssa always wanted to spend an extended period of time in Israel and is so excited she's finally making it happen! Elyssa is now the Social Media and Communications Coordinator for a furniture company an avid workout-aholic. She loves to run and generally be active – if it’s an adventure she's up for it. Elyssa is currently training for her first half-iron distance triathlon, a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run!
Leon Slavkin (Denver, Colorado)
Leon Slavkin is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder 2008, with a BS is Aerospace Engineering. After graduating college he spent several years in TX, CO and FL, working on NASA programs building and testing interplanetary spacecraft. Leon is an avid rock climber, cyclist and soccer goalie, and spends every moment of free time he can in flip flops. He is also an Alum of Birthright, Livnot and JNF Alternative Spring Break, and is excited at the opportunity to return to Israel and once again give back to the community.
Hannah Stein (Boston, Mass)
Hannah Stein is a recent graduate of Skidmore College. She majored in psychology, and minored in French as well as Gender Studies. After spending the spring of her junior year in Haifa, she knew that she had to return to Israel as soon as she finished college. She found OTZMA, and decided it was the perfect program for her. She is excited to meet a new group of people who love Israel as much as she does, continue to work on her Hebrew and intern at an Israeli organization. Hannah is hoping to work with children or families during her stay in Israel.
Jennifer Stern (New York, New York)
Jennifer Stern is a free-spirit and natural born healer who pursued her
passion for helping others with a Masters in Social Welfare from Stony Brook University in May of 2010. Since then, Jennifer has become a Licensed Master of Social Work and has worked in the fields of addiction, children's mental health, adolescence, and grief/bereavement. Jennifer takes pride in her fun-filled life which includes frequent singing performances, drum circles, trance dance events, Reiki circles, and spiritual gatherings. Jennifer experienced a life changing trip with Birthright in January of 2010 and has since then looked forward to 10 months in Israel where she will learn more about her culture and herself. Participating in OTZMA will be an opportunity to further explore the questions and answers unfolding which continue to direct Jennifer on her path towards making a profound and lasing difference in this world.
**Not pictured - Pnina Berk, Isabel Barr