Elana Rivel

Chief Executive Officer

Elana Rivel

Chief Executive Officer

Elana Rivel is an experienced leader of nonprofit Jewish educational organizations. Rivel previously worked at JLV for over 12 years, last serving as its Associate Director.

Rivel has served as a leader in Jewish nonprofit organizations ranging from Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Penn State Hillel, Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, TX, and most recently as Director of Ramah Day Camp, Philadelphia. In her tenure at JLV, Rivel helped to develop and manage numerous innovative initiatives that became national models, such as One Book, One Jewish Community, jkidphilly and LeV: Getting to the Heart of Jewish Education.

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Rhona Gerber

Chief Development Officer

Rhona Gerber

Chief Development Officer

Rhona Gerber brings more than two decades of nonprofit and political fundraising expertise to her role as Chief Development Officer, recently spending six years as Development Director of CeaseFirePA, a statewide gun-violence prevention organization. Long committed to the Philadelphia Jewish community and particularly to Jewish education, Rhona was the founding chair of the BZBI preschool and was active on many committees at Kohelet Yeshiva, PJDS, JBHA, and Mekor Habracha. She is Chair of the Center City Kehillah.

headshot for Molly Wernick

Molly Wernick

Director, jkidphilly

Molly Wernick

Director, jkidphilly

Molly Wernick is thrilled to join the team of Jewish Learning Venture, bringing nearly two decades of expertise as a Jewish community builder and experiential educator. She’s worked with top national Jewish organizations like Jewish Federations of North America and Repair the World, as well as local favorites like Habonim Dror Camp Galil and Tribe 12 in Philadelphia. Molly‘s creative work has been published in the pages of Hey Alma, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Lilith Magazine, and the 2014 textbook Experience and Jewish Education.
She holds an MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Speech Communication and Women’s Studies from Ithaca College. Currently, she resides in South Philadelphia with her husband, toddler, and dog named Ducky.

Robyn Cohen

Director, PJ Library in Philadelphia

Robyn Cohen

Director, PJ Library in Philadelphia

Dr. Robyn Cohen is the Director of PJ Library Philadelphia and jteenphilly. She and her husband are the proud parents of four wonderful jkids!

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char hersh

Director, Administration

char hersh

Director, Administration

char brings more than 6 years of experience working within informal Jewish education, with a focus on connecting with Jewish history and engaging in cross-cultural learning. Previously, they were a museum educator at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. They hold an M.A. in Public History and a B.A. in Religion from Temple University.

Bari Jacobson

Parent Ambassador, Lower Bucks County Area; Coordinator, Get Together Grants; Social Media Manager

Bari Jacobson

Parent Ambassador, Lower Bucks County Area; Coordinator, Get Together Grants; Social Media Manager

Bari is the Parent Ambassador for the Lower Bucks County area, Coordinator, Get Together Grant and Social Media Manager. Bari enjoys planning events, creating Jewish community, teaching, and sharing all of the wonderful opportunities Jewish Learning Venture has to offer! She and her husband have two wonderful children. Bari has a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Recreation Management.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Whole Community Inclusion Coordinator

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Whole Community Inclusion Coordinator

Gabby and her husband Fred live in Elkins Park and have two children, George and Jeremy, and a black rescue Saluki, Odin. She loves to cook, take nature walks and play on Pinterest! She and her family are part of the Mishkan Shalom community. Gabby is an experienced Jewish educator, having worked as an education director, curriculum writer, teacher, author, and youth director/advisor in various capacities for over 20 years. At Jewish Learning Venture, she works as the Chief Program Officer and directs Whole Community Inclusion. Gabby is a proud recipient of the 2022 Covenant Award. Her most recent book, The Little Gate Crasher, is a memoir of her great-uncle, who overcame society’s prejudices about dwarfism to lead a remarkable life. She has also written The Kitchen Classroom, a children’s cookbook designed for children of all abilities. Gabby holds a B.F.A. in Theatre and Creative Writing from Emerson College and an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Headshot of Sarah Kolker in a white cowboy hat

Sarah Kolker

Director, jkid4all

Sarah Kolker

Director, jkid4all

Sarah Kolker, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Moore College of Art and Design, was born and raised in Philadelphia. She has extensive experience providing healthy creative learning environments for youth in Philadelphia, Jamaica, SF Bay Area, and New York City. Her use of art and social justice-centered educational practices have been employed by both private and public institutions. Sarah continues to teach and support community art with Mural Arts in Philadelphia, which is the nation’s largest public art program that engages the community to ignite change through mural-making.

Sarah lives in Germantown with her two children. When she is not busy supporting youth and families, she enjoys spending time in her garden or creating nourishing food in the kitchen and artwork in the studio or in the community.

Robin Matthews

Director, jkidpride, PJ Our Way Engagement, and Graphic Design

Robin Matthews

Director, jkidpride, PJ Our Way Engagement, and Graphic Design

After spending over 15 years as an English Professor, Robin joined Jewish Learning Venture so that she could contribute to enriching the lives of families in the Philadelphia Jewish community. Originally from Boston and having earned a B.A. from Wheelock College and an M.F.A. from Emerson College, Robin is a jkidphilly parent who also teaches the K-1 Bonim class at Temple Sholom in Broomall. She lives in Media with her wife and their son.

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Julia Weekes

Director, Professional Learning

Julia Weekes

Director, Professional Learning

Julia Weekes is an educational management leader, educator, and artist. Julia has over thirty years of experience in leadership and management, professional development, arts education, integrated curriculum development, early childhood education, project-based learning, cooperative learning, and progressive education practices. She also has decades of experience in family engagement through her various roles in school, institutional, and community-based education.

Julia is a Philadelphia-area native and resides in the Mt. Airy section. She is the mother of two Black biracial teenage sons, Judah and Isaiah. Julia has been a congregational school teacher at Mishkan Shalom for over ten years. She has integrated her secular education knowledge and training into her congregational education role, creating classroom communities that focus on kindness, creativity, and collaboration.

Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L

Whole Community Inclusion Specialist

Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L

Whole Community Inclusion Specialist

Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and accessibility consultant. She graduated from the University of Maryland with dual degrees in Psychology and Dance and from Thomas Jefferson University with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Alanna has worked as an occupational therapist in acute rehab, early intervention ages 3 to 5, outpatient, and school-based settings. Alanna has facilitated accessibility in a variety of ways including autism-friendly Broadway performances in New York City, open captioning at People’s Light in Malvern, and organizing mapping events to collect data on physical accessibility. Her company, Access Point, strives to increase inclusion in Philadelphia and beyond by advocating for access, creating solutions, and promoting awareness of accessible opportunities for people with disabilities and their friends and family.

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Ashley Dziados

Parent Ambassador, Delaware County

Ashley Dziados

Parent Ambassador, Delaware County