President & Dean: Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
Rav Shmuly studied at the University of Texas as an undergraduate, Harvard University for a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Psychology, Yeshiva University for a second Master’s Degree in Jewish Philosophy, and at Columbia University for his Doctorate in Moral Development and Epistemology. He has taught as an instructor of moral philosophy at Barnard College and at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Shmuly was ordained as a Rabbi by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Rav Shmuly has served as a congregational rabbi and as a campus Senior Jewish Educator and Hillel Director of Jewish Life.
As a global social justice activist and educator, Shmuly has volunteered, taught, and staffed missions in five continents including Israel, Ghana, India, France, Thailand, El Salvador, Britain, Senegal, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, and Haiti. Shmuly served at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and Davos, Switzerland as the rabbinic representative, a facilitator, and motivational speaker. Rav Shmuly is the Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek, the Founder and CEO of The Shamayim V’Aretz Institute, and is the author of ten books.
A film crew followed Shmuly for over a year to produce a PBS documentary (“The Calling”) about the training of religious leadership which aired nationwide in December 2010. In 2012 and in 2013, Newsweek rated Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America. In 2016, the Forward named Rabbi Shmuly one of The Most Inspiring Rabbis in America. In 2016, the Forward named Rav Shmuly one of the 50 most influential Jews. In the same year, Yanklowitz was selected for the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship in Cross-Cultural Leadership and Innovative Entrepreneurship at the University of Cambridge. Shmuly, his wife Shoshana, his children Amiella, Lev, and Maya live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
For articles written by Rav Shmuly, click here.
Operations Director & Assistant to the President & Dean: AJ Frost
AJ Frost is the operations fellow 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 Moishe House Phoenix, a board member for NowGen, an editorial consultant for Avalanche Comics Entertainment, and a freelance writer and editor.
Contact AJ at firstname.lastname@example.org
Program Director: Meghan Dorn
Meghan Dorn is the program director for Valley Beit Midrash. While a native of Michigan, she has called Arizona home for over twenty years. Meghan graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasizing in tourism, communications, and minoring in business. In 2009, she was asked by the ASU Alumni Association to serve as a founding board member for the Arizona State University Young Alumni, completing her tenure with this group in 2015. Since 2013, she has served on the board of the Phoenix Women’s Sports Association, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering young girls through sports. When she’s not in the community helping others, you can find her hiking or doing stand-up comedy.
Contact Meghan at email@example.com
PJ Library Director – Marcy Stralser-Lewis
Marcy Stralser-Lewis is the PJ Library Program Director in Phoenix. Marcy taught preschool at Gan Yeladeem and Chanen Preschool for over 20 years. She specializes in Early Childhood Education. Marcy is a native Phoenician and resides in Scottsdale with her husband and two sons.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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.
Past 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.
Treasurer: 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.
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 management consultant with the firm Point B, Inc. 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.