During the summer and winter programs, we draw upon highly accomplished and dedicated leaders from the Jewish community. All staff have extensive experience working with youth, the Jewish community, and are all committed to social justice, Jewish values and education. We maintain at least a staff-to-participant ratio of 1:5, which enables quality supervision as well as opportunities for personal attention.
Rebecca Katz, Director of Teen Programs
A Brooklyn native, Rebecca moved to Chicago just in time for her first Midwestern winter. In May 2010, Rebecca graduated from Vassar College with a BA in American Culture, concentrating in Studio Art and History. For her junior year abroad, she studied post-conflict transformation in the Balkans. During college, Rebecca co-facilitated a weekly live youth radio program on WVKR 91.3 FM. After graduating, she worked as the head hiking counselor for an international girls leadership camp. Through these experiences, Rebecca discovered her passion for showing teens their power to create change in their communities.
We would like to introduce you to our experienced, passionate, and simply amazing summer staff who will building and guiding our Or Tzedek community.
Leiah Moser, Rabbinical Student Fellow
Leiah Moser has just finished her second year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. As a rabbi in training, she has a deep interest in finding new ways to build spiritually engaged, inclusive communities of prayer. In addition to blogging about issues of identity and gender diversity within Judaism, she is active in service leading at a number of local congregations, particularly at Dorshei Derech, the Reconstructionist minyan at Germantown Jewish Centre, and has been involved this year in Mitzvah Mensches, a service program for adults with special needs at Mishkan Shalom. She's looking forward to spending the summer in her former hometown of Chicago, and can't wait to get to know and work with this year's Or Tzedek participants!
Miriam Grossman, Summer Counselor
Miriam is finishing up her first year at Chicago Theological Seminary, studying Liberation Theology and Interfaith Engagement. Over the past year, Miriam has also been a Rabbinic intern at Mishkan, a vibrant, independent Jewish community in Chicago, and a student at SVARA, a yeshiva for “Traditionally Radical Judaism”. She is one of the founding members of Jewish Solidary in Action for Schools (JSAS) and one of the contributing authors of Mizvah Stories (Reclaiming Jewish Press) which is currently nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. Before returning to school, Miriam was the Chicago program director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and worked as a community organizer at JCUA. She can’t wait to spend the summer with all of the Or Tzedek teens!
Danny Obeler, Summer Counselor
Danny currently works as a Chicago Education Advisor at Jewish Student Connection. Originally from Buffalo Grove, Danny graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2010 with degrees in International Studies and Political Science. The previous year, Danny did AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, working at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center as the Behrend Builders and Community Service Coordinator. When not at the Jewish Service Corps, Danny plays guitar, drinks green tea, rides his newly built bicycle, and advocates for social justice issues, especially around sustainable food systems. Danny is so excited for another fun-filled and amazing Or Tzedek experience!
Eliana Fisher, Summer Intern
Eliana is a student in the double degree program with Barnard College and Columbia University and List College at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Eliana was a participant in Or Tzedek’s 2011 summer program, and a JCUA volunteer in summer of 2012. She feels that these experiences with JCUA and Or Tzedek were truly life-changing and she is really looking forward to working with Or Tzedek and JCUA again this summer.
Rachel Aaronson, Summer Intern
Rachel is currently finishing up her gap year of service with the Americorps program City Year, an education based non profit dedicated to solving our nation’s high school drop out crisis. She’s spent the year working full time as a tutor and mentor in a 6th grade language arts classroom in Orlando, making sure all of her students are given the tools necessary to succeed both in and out of the classroom. She graduated from Chicagoland Jewish High School in 2012, and will be attending Grinnell College in the fall. As an Or Tzedek alumna and an avid advocate for social change, Rachel cannot wait to return to JCUA for this summer!