Staff & Board Of Directors

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz:  President & Dean

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is the President & Dean of Valley Beit Midrash. Rabbi Yanklowitz’s 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. Rabbi Yanklowitz is a sought-after educator, social justice activist, and motivational speaker as well as the author of seventeen books on Jewish spirituality, social justice, and ethics. He has twice been named one of America’s Top Rabbis by Newsweek. In 2016, The Forward named Rabbi Shmuly one of The Most Inspiring Rabbis in America. Rabbi Shmuly, his wife Shoshana, and their four children live in Scottsdale, Arizona. They are also foster parents.








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Emma Offenberg


Izabelle Aguirre

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

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.

Event Coordinator & Office Administrator: Lisa Hendizadeh

Lisa Hendizadeh is the Event Coordinator and Office Administrator at Valley Beit  Midrash. Born and raised in New Jersey but traded the snow for the beautiful AZ weather. Lisa has a Bachelors in Psychology from Caldwell University. She has extensive experience in the fields of education, event and office management. Lisa loves spending time with her two sons, cooking and spending time outdoors. Contact Lisa at

Program Officer: Dani Satlow

Dani has always loved the intersection between Jewish learning and social justice. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, Dani graduated from Brown University with a degree in Religious Studies, earning departmental honors. In addition to his time at Brown, Dani has previously participated in several Jewish learning institutions both in Israel and America including the Haemek Gap Year Leadership Program, Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa, the Hadar Institute, Hartman High School for Boys and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Institution. In addition to Jewish learning and social justice, Dani enjoys running, long distance hiking, traveling and reading late 19th century Russian existentialist literature. Dani can be reached at



Josh Wertlieb

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

Samantha Hirsch

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

David Lieberman

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.