Sivahn Sapirstein, who is spending her fellowship year at Shatil, is one of the Jay E. Orlin Fellows. Sivahn grew up in Newton, Massachusetts in an Israeli-American family which emphasized a pluralistic approach to Judaism. She first became engaged with the movement for equality and justice in Israel during her time at Gann Academy, where she co-led the school’s Israel discussion club and became introduced to many of the organizations working to transform the status quo. Following high school, she spent a gap year in Israel at the Mechina in Holon. There she became interested in comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to other deeply divided societies, and subsequently using the comparison to reshape the way we talk about peace and conflict. At George Washington University, Sivahn continued exploring deeply divided societies by studying conflict resolution and spending a semester abroad in Belfast to study the Northern Irish conflict. For her senior thesis, she conducted a two-year independent research project on nonviolence in deeply divided societies, comparing the Northern Irish conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which she presented at multiple research conferences.
During her time at GW, Sivahn also worked with the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), Shared Paths, and J Street. Through these roles she become invested in studying and advancing civil society as a key facet of peacebuilding in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nate Orbach, who is spending his fellowship year working at +972 Magazine, is one of the Jay E. Orlin Fellows. Nate was born in New York and moved with his family to Newton, Massachusetts at a young age. He attended the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston and Camp Ramah in Palmer before studying at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA, all of which were crucial in fostering his Hebrew language skills. At Gann, Nate developed a passion for politics and especially for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he frequently fiercely debated teachers and students alike.
After his time as part of the Kivunim gap-year program, Nate decided to double down on his interests in Middle Eastern politics. During his freshman year at Tufts, he became Co-Chair of the Tufts JStreetU chapter and started to study Arabic intensively. Nate’s Arabic professors at Tufts ignited a passion for the language and inspired him to spend the summer of 2019 studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan through the CET immersion language program. His time in Jordan was both radicalizing and humbling as he came to see that too often our discussions and debates about Israel-Palestine are abstract and far removed from the lives and stories of individuals.
Back at Tufts, Nate completed a B.A. in English literature, which helped hone his interest in the lives and histories of individuals. As a Social Justice Fellow, Nate is excited to use his Hebrew and Arabic language skills, as well as his passion for storytelling, as part of his work to bring justice to the lives of those facing occupation and discrimination.
In addition to his interests in language, politics, and literature, Nate is an avid long-distance runner and cook.
Maya Bickel, who is spending her fellowship year working at Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, is the Nomi and Leibel Fein Fellow. Maya grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. She graduated in May 2021 from Columbia University with a BA in Middle Eastern studies. She wrote her honors thesis about sustainable, communal agricultural practices in late Ottoman and early mandate Palestine. In Spring 2020 she studied abroad in Amman, Jordan where she learned colloquial Levantine Arabic. She had already learned Hebrew from a year spent living in Jerusalem for her mother’s sabbatical while she was in eighth grade.
Maya spent this past year living in Jerusalem and working as a research assistant for a professor at Ben Gurion University on a household water insecurity project in a cluster of Palestinian villages south of Hebron. In addition to her research assistantship, she spent three months with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence’s Hinenu program, living in the South Hebron Hills and doing on-the-ground solidarity work.
Zach Harris, who is spending his fellowship year working at Omdim B’Yachad (Standing Together), is the Richard J. Israel Fellow. Zach was raised in Skokie, Illinois. After high school, Zach spent a gap year in Israel at Mechinat Nachshon in Sderot before attending Brown University. He graduated in 2022 with a B.A. in Political Science. He wrote his senior thesis on the development and ramifications of the 2018 Israeli Nation-State Law.
While at Brown, Zach helped revitalize and grow his campus’s J Street U chapter. He also interned at Americans for Peace Now and J Street’s New England regional office. Zach also grew up as a chanich (camper) and later madrich (counselor) at Habonim-Dror Camp Tavor in Three Rivers Michigan. In Summer 2022, he joined Tavor’s mazkirut (summer leadership team) as Techni (logistical co-director). Zach is passionate about human rights, education, and social change, especially relating to Israel and Palestine. He’s excited to combine those interests through the NIF Shatil fellowship. In his free time, Zach is an avid long distance runner and enjoys listening to a variety of podcasts.
Read the bios from other cohorts of the NIF / SHATIL Social Justice Fellows:
2021-2022 cohort | 2019-2020 cohort | 2018-2019 cohort | 2016-2017 cohort | 2015-2016 cohort | 2014-2015 cohort | 2013-2014 cohort | 2012-2013 cohort