Controller & Special Projects
After a 10 year absence, Josh was delighted to return to MJE in 2010. After serving as MJE’s original Administrator, Josh left to join Birthright Israel. Later on Josh served as CFO (acting) at the FJMC and Director of Budget and Finance at CUNY’s MacCauley Honors College Josh is delighted to see the growth that has occurred at MJE and is delighted to be able to help MJE – and its participants – continue to grow and thrive. A life-long East Sider, Josh is the father of three young children.
RACHEL LEONA BENLISA SOLOVYOV
East Side Coordinator
Rachel graduated from The George Washington University where she double majored in Marketing and International Business. Professionally, she is a fast-paced, detail-oriented, creative problem solver with a knack for customer service and building client relations. With sales and marketing background in corporate, Rachel joined MJE because she was looking for a more meaningful career. Never forget to smile and remember a positive attitude goes a long way!
Assistant to Rabbi Wildes
Born and raised in the Bronx, Deborah has worked with an administrative background for over 25 years and is skilled in Event/Party Planning. Deborah has worked for Rabbi Wildes for over nine years and is proud to be his assistant and part of the MJE Team. When she is not busy keeping Rabbi Wildes organized and on the go, coordinating room rentals or planning parties, she enjoys spending quality time with her talented daughter, JoAnna, who is now studying abroad at FIT college and aspires to become a Fashion Retail Buyer.
DR. ADENA BERKOWITZ
Dr. Adena Berkowitz is an honors graduate of Barnard College, JTS, Cardozo Law School
& the Washington Square Institute of Psychotherapy and Mental Health. She loves teaching and interconnecting her background in Jewish Studies, Law & Psychotherapy. Dr. Adena is the author of the best selling The Jewish Journey Haggadah and co-authored Shaarei Simcha-Gates of Joy. A practicing therapist, she lives on the UWS where, she and her husband, Rabbi Zev Brenner, their children and dog Babka, love hosting guests for Shabbat and Holidays.
Fellowship Coordinator & Educator
Zahava Schwartz, a Queens native, recently graduated from Yeshiva University’s GPATS, with a Masters in Biblical and Talmudic Education. She is also currently completing her Master’s in Modern Jewish History from Revel. As the former Education Staff for New England NCSY, she has spent countless hours preparing classes for NCSY teens across the country. She also spent the past year teaching at Route613, a comprehensive conversion preparation program geared for students interested in halakhic conversion to Judaism. When she’s not in New York, she can be found in Israel (probably at Aroma, with a Diet Iced Coffee in hand) while staffing Birthright trips.
RABBI SHMULI ZEMA
Shmuli was born and raised in Monsey, New York in a traditional Jewish home. He received his Master’s in Business Administration from Baruch College, while receiving his rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University. Shmuli has traveled to Australia and Poland leading informal educational journeys and has worked as an Assistant Rabbi at The Hampton Synagogue for 4 years. He currently volunteers as a scholar-in-residence in Manhattan Beach, and spearheads a non-profit focused on granting STEM educational opportunities to underrepresented Jewish minorities, while building the defense industry of Israel. Shmuli enjoys short walks during COVID with his wife, while learning anything related to Jewish growth.
Adam Weinstein, President
Lewis Barbanel, Chairman
Elaine Gold z”l
Mayer Offman z”l
Jason Demby, Chair
J. D. Papa