Beynenu Alumni Updates – Summer 2017

Kol HaKavod:

  • Kol HaKavod to Gila Hoffman (Nivonim 2006) on her recent graduation from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She began her residency training in internal medicine at Beth Israel-Deaconess Boston.
  • Kol HaKavod to Amy Abrams (Nivonim 1989) on being featured on Click here to read the article.
  • Kol HaKavod to Mollie Flink (Nivonim 2002) on her new position as Director of Engagement and Student Leadership at University of Chicago Hillel.
  • Kol HaKavod to Lynnsie Balk Kantor (Nivonim 1977), who is donating a kidney to former Ramah staff member Hazzan Leon S. Lissek.  Refuah Shlema to you both!
  • Kol HaKavod to Danny Botkin (Nivonim 1995) on the Netflix release of his film “What Happened to Monday,” which he wrote and produced. Click here for more.
  • Kol HaKavod to Ariel Keren (Nivonim 1998) on his appearance in a TV commercial. Click here to see it.


  • Mazal Tov to Gila Hoffman (Nivonim 2006) on her engagement to Asaf Ben-Gai.
  • Mazal Tov to Micah Shapiro (Nivonim 2003) on his engagement to Laura Cohen.
  • Mazal Tov to Lior Schragg (Nivonim 2006) and Rebeccah Singer (Nivonim 2007) on their engagement.
  • Mazal Tov to Jessica (Margolis) Hamermesh (Nivonim 1990) on her engagement to Stefan Nathanson.
  • Mazal Tov to Elan Green (Nivonim 2004) on his engagement to Shira Dickstein.
  • Mazal Tov to Debbie Sherman (Nivonim 2005) on her engagement to Oren Rasowsky.
  • Mazal Tov to Alex Kahn (Nivonim 2007) on her engagement to Jared Kwait.
  • Mazal Tov to Ari Spector (Nivonim 2006) on his engagement to Kayla Hammes.


  • Mazal Tov to Jonah Newman (Nivonim 2005) on his marriage to Amy Krischer.
  • Mazal Tov to Robby Schy (Nivonim 2000) on his marriage to Tracy Chudnow.
  • Mazal Tov to Michelle Steiman (Nivonim 1999) on her marriage to Jordan Edelman.
  • Mazal Tov to Katie Minkus (Nivonim 2007) on her marriage to Zach Pellish.
  • Mazal Tov to Judy Shalev and Lee Bloom (both Nivonim 1977) on their marriage.
  • Mazal Tov to Rita Botbol (Nivonim 2005) and Josh Weintraub (Nivonim 2006) on their marriage.
  • Mazal Tov to Marissa Oberlander (Nivonim 2003) on her marriage to Robby Birnberg.

Birth Announcements: Welcome Nivonim 2033-34!

  • Mazal Tov to Shira and Cobi Weissbach (Nivonim 1994) on the birth of their son Asher Samuel.
  • Mazal Tov to Scott Ginsburg (Nivonim 1995) and Alison Becker Ginsburg on the birth of their daughter Barrett Claire.
  • Mazal Tov to Janna (Hoffman) (Nivonim 1999) and Bryan Villano (Nivonim 1998) on the birth of their son Gabriel.
  • Mazal Tov to Matt and Lesley (Hoffman) Goldenberg (Nivonim 1997) on the birth of their daughter Rosie Emilia.
  • Mazal Tov to Jill and Ben Rubin (Nivonim 1991) on the birth of their son Jackson Finn.
  • Mazal Tov to Henry Bernstein (Nivonim 1998) and Rabbi Lizzie Heydemann on the birth of their son Judah Lev.
  • Mazal Tov to Rachel Slutsky (Nivonim 1996) and William Kaplowitz on the birth of their daughter Shifra Bayla.
  • Mazal Tov to Rebekah (Baum) (Nivonim 1995) and Ilan Shalit on the birth of their daughter Jorgie Gabrielle.
  • Mazal Tov to Maggie (Shapiro) (Nivonim 2003) and Jesse Garfinkel on the birth of their daughter Sadie.
  • Mazal Tov to Yael and Dan Millner (Nivonim 2002) on the birth of their son.

Other Alumni Updates:

  • Rabbi Burton Cohen, Ramah Wisconsin director 1960-1974, advises alumni that collected writings of the late Professor Joseph Lukinsky, a pioneer Wisconsin staff member, have recently been published in the form of a book by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where Lukinsky was long time professor of Jewish Education. The book, titled “Maybe the Lies We Tell are Really True,” contains many of Joe’s significant educational writings as well as divrei Torah and a history of his involvement in sports.  It is available in soft cover from Amazon by clicking here.
  • Elaine Gold was a camper and staff member in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Originally from Illinois, she moved to California in 2004. After spending time teaching and going to paralegal school, she earned a M.Ed. in special education and she currently teaches children with special needs at a small private school. She has fond memories of her time at Ramah, and books in the library were donated by her family. She has a daughter who lives in Tennessee with her husband.
  • Ed Frim served as a counselor from 1977-1979 in Bogrim, Shoafim and Machon, and as programmer and teacher in the Tikvah program in 1980. For the past three years he has worked as Inclusion Specialist for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), and for the JUF/JCFS/Encompass Synagogue Inclusion Project in Chicago, helping synagogues become more inclusive of people with disabilities. As of August 1, he is the Director of Learning Enrichment at USCJ. Prior to all that, for more than 20 years he served as director of the central agencies for Jewish education in Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Toledo.
  • Valerie (Snitz) Gerstein (Nivonim 1993), from Kansas City, lives in NYC. She is on the board of Hazon, an organization that works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.  She is also on the advisory board for the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Center for Pastoral Education thinking about how we live our lives focused on what matters while we plan for end of life care for ourselves and our loved ones. She is also in the JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America) National Young Leadership Cabinet. Both of her daughters are at Ramah camps this summer (Berkshires and Nyack)!
  • Brad Gross did not finish up at Ramah, but was there for three years in the early 90’s with Valerie (Snitz) Gerstein.  Valerie and Brad reconnected while on Jewish Federation’s National Young Leadership Cabinet, and also found Jessica Margolis there too.  After leaving Ramah, Brad spent a summer in Israel with AMHSI and went back there to work for a while after graduating from Johns Hopkins University.  Today, he is happily married to Sarah Kovenock while working with his brothers to run the family business (industrial construction) and trying to keep up with his 4 year old son Calder and 2.5 year old daughter Edie.
  • Abbie Furmansky (Nivonim 1982) lives in Berlin with her husband, the composer and pianist Daniel Sutton, and their son Joshua. She has gained international prominence as a soprano opera singer, performing as an ensemble member at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as many other opera companies. She maintains a private vocal studio in Berlin where she gives voice lessons, and has worked as an artist-in-residence, giving recitals and master classes at universities and opera schools.


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