Aaren Alpert was born and raised in Southern California where she was active in USY and Camp Ramah. As a senior in high school, Aaren interned for the Public Affairs Director at the Counsel General of Israel in Los Angeles. Before attending college, Aaren spent a year in Israel on the Conservative Movement’s gap year program, Nativ, where she studied at Hebrew University followed by a semester in Beer Sheva working at a residential facility for adults with special needs. Aaren will spend the Fellowship year at Bema'aglei Tzedek.
Aaren received an MBA in Nonprofit Management from American Jewish University and is currently a thesis candidate, focusing on the "innovative" sector and its relationship to the established Jewish Community. As a FEREP (Federation Executive Recruitment and Education Program) Scholarship recipient, Aaren worked in Cleveland, Ohio as the Young Leadership Director at the Jewish Federation. In this role, Aaren led a strategic planning committee focused on better engaging Jewish young adults in Federation’s work, planned and implemented a 7 day mission to Israel for 22 young leaders in Cleveland and secured more funding and resources for the Young Leadership Division and it’s outreach efforts. Prior to her work at Federation, Aaren served as the Special Programs Coordinator for Camp Ramah in California.
Nadav Ariel grew up mostly in Carrboro, North Carolina after a short interlude in Jerusalem, Israel. Nadav graduated with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2006 and received highest honors in political science while also majoring in history. While at UNC-CH, Nadav helped establish a history course on the Arab-Israeli conflict and was active in Hillel, organizing its Holocaust Memorial Week. Nadav graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in June 2009. During his third year at Harvard Law School, Nadav spent a winter term working at the Tel Aviv office of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society where he learned about the plight of asylum seekers in Israel and advocated on their behalf. Nadav hopes to use his experience in legal advocacy to work for social justice in Israel. No doubt he will have chances to do so this year at Sikkuy.
Maya Azran was born in Israel, but moved to New York at a young age. From her youth involvement in tsofim to a year spent studying abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Maya has always maintained a close connection with Israel. Her involvement with the Student Action Committee at Hebrew University and the J Street Israeli Network in New York spearheaded her interest and dedication to protecting the interests and civil liberties of marginalized Israeli communities. In the coming year she will continue this work at Singur Kehilati in Lod.
In 2010, Maya graduated with a degree in anthropology from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Her thesis, which explores the narratives and paradoxes of women in Right Wing Hindu campaigns, was published in the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of South Asian Studies. After graduation, Maya returned to New York to work at the Asia Society, planning and programming the 2011 Women Leaders of New Asia initiative and conference. For the past year, she has worked at The Jewish Museum, organizing membership events and coordinating outreach and development efforts.
Samara is thrilled to be the first ever Canadian NIF fellow. Growing up in the small but close-knit Jewish community of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Samara was very active in Jewish organizations and affairs. At the same time, she was committed to enacting social justice on a broader scale. Samara visited Israel for the first time on a grade 12 high school graduation trip. Since that experience, she has returned to Israel in many different capacities, including as a student of the Arab/Palestinian/Israeli conflict at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; as a Cultural and Educational Coordinator at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon; and as a Madricha for Israel Outdoors. In between these trips, she completed an Advanced Degree in Contemporary History and Political Science with a focus on social movements and protests, and, in 2010, a Master’s of Political Science at York University, with a focus on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among African American women in urban centres of poverty and the need for participatory, grassroots organizing. Samara also has worked as the Program Director of Camp Massad Manitoba- a Hebrew-Immersion residential summer camp.
Samara’s experiences living for extensive periods of time in Israel have shaped her understanding of the country, its complexities and intricacies. Her experiences have exposed her to a diverse group of people living in Israel and inspired her to seek out a hands-on way to promote social justice and equity among marginalized communities.
"I deeply care about Israel and ensuring that it remains a democratic, just state. This is why the New Israel Fund Social Justice Fellowship is extremely important to me," Samara says. She hopes that the NIF fellowship will allow her to explore the importance of her relationship with Israel, but also her growing desire to change and improve the situation in the country. Samara will spend the year at ASSAF.
Talia is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from Barnard College in May of 2011 with a degree in sociology and human rights. Over the course of her studies she focused on issues related to global migration and wrote her senior thesis about the impact of autism on the Somali refugee community in Minnesota. She studied abroad in Chile and spent a semester in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv writing asylum applications with African asylum seekers and working with community advocacy centers to create an inter-organizational newsletter. She spent her summers working with teenagers with special needs at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Over the past year she worked at American Jewish World Service. In Israel she will spend the coming year at Mahapach Taghir.
Lucy Newman is originally from Leicester, a small Jewish community in the UK. She discovered the world of Israeli NGOs on her gap year in Israel by doing an internship with Mavoi Satum, a Jerusalem based organization that lobbies on the 'agunah' issue in Israel.
She went to Ghana with Tzedek, a UK Jewish development charity, where she did an internship with a local anti-trafficking NGO and did a research project on the rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking.
Lucy got her undergraduate degree in History and political science at the University of Manchester. Her undergraduate thesis was on sex trafficking in Israel. She did a sociology masters at Cambridge. At Cambridge she worked on group research project for the UN Rapporteur for Human Trafficking on the issue of supply chains. She also completed a research-based thesis on the Israeli NGO and government response to the trafficking of asylum seekers in the Sinai desert. During the fellowship year, Lucy will translate theory into practice, working on trafficking issues with Amnesty International in Israel.
Nomi Teutsch grew up in a vibrant, diverse neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia. Through June 2012 she is serving as a Faiths Act Fellow of The Tony Blair Faith Foundation at UNITED SIKHS. In that role she has worked to mobilize a diverse set of New York City faith communities to take inspired action on the Millennium Development Goals. Since September 2011, Nomi has initiated and managed a variety of creative interfaith campaigns and events, including: The Spring of Solidarity Campaign, Interfaith Diwan, Interfaith Women’s Social Justice Book Group and Debate in the Neighborhood, a youth debate project that brings together Muslim, Sikh and Hindu high schoolers in Queens. Nomi will have the opportunity to translate her interfaith work in the U.S to the Israeli sphere through her work at the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI).
Nomi has spent time in Israel as both a student and an activist. She has worked with a number of non-profit organisations including the Center for Constitutional Rights, Encounter, J Street and Shining Hope for Communities. As a volunteer, she has worked with incarcerated women in Connecticut as well as led campus activism around issues of violence against women. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University in 2011 with High Honors in Philosophy.