Staff & Board Of Directors

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 fourteen 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, and his four children in Scottsdale, Arizona.

For articles written by Rav Shmuly, click here.





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.


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.