Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz: President & Dean
Rabbi Yanklowitz has twice been named one of America’s Top Rabbis by Newsweek and has been named by The Forward as one of the 50 most influential Jews and one of The Most Inspiring Rabbis in America. Rabbi Yanklowitz is the author of nineteen books on Jewish ethics and his writings have appeared in outlets as diverse as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the Atlantic among many other secular and religious publications. He has served as speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and a Rothschild Fellow in Cambridge, UK.
Rav Shmuly received a Masters from Harvard University and his Doctorate from Columbia University. He serves as the President & Dean of Valley Beit Midrash (Jewish learning center), the Founder & President of Uri L’Tzedek (the Orthodox Social Justice movement), the Founder and CEO of Shamayim (Jewish animal advocacy), and the Founder and President of YATOM, (Jewish foster and adoption network). Rabbi Shmuly, his wife Shoshana, and their four children live in Scottsdale, Arizona. They are also foster parents.
Senior Director of Operations & Assistant to the President & Dean: AJ Frost
AJ Frost is the Senior Director of Operations for Valley Beit Midrash. A Phoenix native, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science in Political Science and a double minor in History (American) & Religious Studies and went on to earn a Masters at Columbia University in American Politics and Religion. In his spare time, AJ is an active member of the Phoenix Young Professional community, has served on various community boards, and is a staff writer for The Comics Beat.
Contact AJ at email@example.com
Program Associate: Eddie Chavez Calderon
Since he was a teenager, Eddie Chavez Calderon has been deeply involved in social justice work. From the trenches to the coasts and everywhere in between, Eddie fights for a progressive movement that works towards a more inclusive, diverse America. Despite having many obstacles in his way, nothing has deterred Eddie from continuing to fight for the Latino community as well as LGBTQ+ acceptance and inclusion, woman’s rights, economic justice, workers’ rights, citizenship and civic engagement, voter equality, and much more! He is excited be a part of an interfaith coalition to continue to advocate for the dignity of every person no matter their creed or national origin.
Program Associate: Izabelle Aguirre
Izabelle Aguirre started her advocacy early on in her high school career. Coming from a family of immigrants, Izabelle always saw the importance of visibility within marginalized communities. After being elected president of her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, she used her platform to promote civic engagement and acceptance throughout the campus. As a college student, she continues to fight for the justice of women, immigrants, voters, the LGBT+ community and so much more. Izabelle plans on continuing a career in politics and establishing change throughout the nation.
Organizing Assistant: Austin Davis
Austin Davis is a poet and student activist currently studying creative writing at ASU. Austin is the author of The World Isn’t the Size of Our Neighborhood Anymore, published by Weasel Press on March 3rd, 2020.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chair: Josh Wertlieb
Josh Wertlieb, a recent transplant from Boston, is an entrepreneur and Wholesale Wine Trader. Josh is a founder of The Young Jewish Funders of AZ and the Pilot Light Mentor Conference for Free Arts of Arizona. He is also a board member of the Howard & Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation. He and his wife Rebecca currently live in the Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood of Phoenix.
Treasurer & Past Chair: Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman serves as Chief Executive Officer and is a Managing Partner for MRA Associates. Recognized multiple years as a Barron’s top independent financial advisor and Phoenix Five Star Wealth Manager, Mark possesses extensive credentials in the wealth management industry with more than 30 years of experience. Mark was appointed as the Commission Chair for the Arizona Commission on the Arts by former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and was recently reappointed for a third term by Governor Doug Ducey. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Arizona Community Foundation (Chair of Investment Committee) and the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix (Co-Chair), the Board of Trustees for the Phoenix Art Museum (Treasurer), Valley Beit Midrash (Chairman), Temple Chai (Vice President) and is a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership.
Founding Chair: Stan Hammerman
Stan has been active in the Greater Phoenix Jewish community for over 40 years. He has served in numerous leadership positions, including President of the Board of Beth El Congregation for four years. Stan and his wife, Cheryl, are a founding family of Congregation Or Chadash. Stan has served on the strategic planning committee for the Pacific Southwest Region of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He is a founding partner of Hammerman & Hultgren P.C.
Samantha Hirsch has an extensive background in education and non-profit organizations. Samantha graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors’ degree in Family Studies and received her Masters’ degree in Early Childhood Education from National-Louis University. Mrs. Hirsch went on to teach in Jewish schools in both Chicago & San Francisco before settling in the Valley in 2002. In Arizona, she sought out opportunities to assist within the Jewish community and became the Coordinator for Young Jewish Phoenix at the Jewish Federation in 2008. While working at the Federation, she also assumed the role Director of Admissions and Advancement at Jess Schwartz Academy. Most recently, Samantha was the Director of Admissions at New Way Academy, an independent K-12 specializing in students with learning differences. Samantha and her husband Larry are both actively involved in the local Jewish community, members of Temple Kol Ami and were part of the first Phoenix Honeymoon Israel group.
David Lieberman has lived in the Valley of the Sun since 1982. He is a member of Temple Solel and a student of Torah. He is also actively involved in the Jewish community in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. David is a retired management consultant and is a Spiritual Director.
Dr. Jacqueline Schenkein
Jackie attended Sarah Lawrence College and The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, followed by a pediatric residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and Jackson Memorial Hospital-University of Miami School of Medicine. She completed a fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She moved to Phoenix in 1983. She served as medical co-chairperson of the Arizona Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for 6 years. She had a solo practice for 20 years, and for the next 10 years was a member of the Pediatric Gastroenterology group at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She and her husband, Dr. Michael Schwimmer, are members of Temple Chai.
Howard moved to Scottsdale with his wife, Judy, in 2016 and almost immediately became involved with Valley Beit Midrash. Howard, a retired CPA, focused his professional career on estate and gift planning. Howard was the managing partner of a local firm in St. Louis and during his 15 years as managing partner oversaw a tripling of firm revenue. He served as the worldwide chair of BKR International, an association of accounts in over 80 countries. Howard has served on a number of charitable and civic boards including Temple Shaare Emeth (St. Louis), De Paul Foundation and its Executive Committee, Chesterfield Community Development Commission (President), Temple Solel (Paradise Valley) as well as committees for several other not for profit organizations. Howard has also served on strategic planning task forces for Temple Shaare Emeth, Jewish Family and Children’s Services (St. Louis) and the Monarch Fire Protection District. Howard has been recognized as one of the top 100 St.Louisians to Know, and the top 10 Accountants of the Year (St. Louis). Howard has spoken at national and international conferences and has published almost a dozen articles during his career.
Carole Zeichick moved to the Valley of the Sun in 2013, and has embraced Greater Phoenix with enthusiasm – even when the temperature is north of 115°. Carole is a full-time volunteer who manages support groups for the families of U.S. Marine Corps service members and recruits. In the Jewish world, Carole serves on the boards of Temple Chai, Jewish Free Loan, and the Debbie Freedman School of Sacred Music (DFSSM), which is the cantorial program of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Before emigrating to the Sonoran Desert, Carole worked as a loan officer in the San Francisco Bay Area, and before that, as a piano teacher certified through the Royal Schools of Music in the United Kingdom. A proud native of Glasgow, Carole splits her time between Arizona and Scotland.