Avram Mandell
Executive Director and Founder
avram@tzedekamerica.org

Avram Mandell is a dynamic educator and respected member of the national Jewish community.

He brings over 20 years of experience developing and leading educational programs for Jewish children and teens. Avram aspires to create high-impact immersive programs that engage young adults in Jewish learning in a fun and relevant way and inspire them to incorporate Jewish values in their everyday lives.

Past Experience

Avram served as Director of Education at two major Reform congregations, most recently Leo Baeck Temple, a 600-family congregation in Los Angeles, California from 2004-2014. At Leo Baeck, he was responsible for all congregational learning, including a supplemental religious school, adult education, early childhood education, post-B’nai Mitzvah studies, and national service opportunities. Prior to joining Leo Baeck, he spent three years as Education Director at Temple Beth El, a 1,200-family synagogue in San Antonio, Texas.

Avram also brings youth group and camp experience, and once served as Assistant Director of the Union of Reform Judaism Camp Harlam and the regional advisor to the Pennsylvania High School Youth Group, NFTY-PAR.

Education and Training

Avram holds a Master of Arts degree in Jewish Education (MAJE) from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles, CA and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Miami University.

Professional Service

Avram served as co-chair of the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) and was elected to the board of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE) from 2007-2009. He was a 2010 Pellie Technology Fellow and a 2013 PresenTenseLA Fellow. Avram is a frequent speaker on experiential education, Hebrew language acquisition, teen engagement, and technology in the classroom. He is the creator of two popular Hebrew learning apps and an award-winning Jewish radio station.

Avram authored “Carry Over the Feelings and Practices of Passover” (Reform Voices of Torah, April, 2011); “Derech HaLimud – The Way to Study” (The Hebrew Project, July, 2010); and “Funny Man”, Still Small Voice: Reflections on Being A Jewish Man (URJ Press, 2007).

Avram was named the 2016 RHSOE ALUMNI-IN-RESIDENCE Educator for the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.

Personal

Avram brings many of his passions to Jewish education, including camping, improvisational comedy, music, and service. He is married to Abby Fifer Mandell, MAEd, Executive Director of the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and is the proud father of two children, Shai and Bo.

Josh Steinberg
Director of Programming
josh@tzedekamerica.org

Josh Steinberg is a creative, open-minded and passionate educator who loves learning about the world’s rich array of diverse people and cultures. In the effort of making a tangible positive difference in the world, Josh leverages his professional skills with his globally-informed perspective to serve as an effective agent of social change in his community.

He is excited to implement his policy knowledge into programmatic and educational experiences for students. With a strong commitment to Jewish continuity, social justice and experiential education, Josh brings his civic conscience and passion for uniting individuals across their differences to Tzedek America’s multi-faceted programs.

Education and Training

Josh graduated from Indiana University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. While at IU, led an interfaith student group where he exercised his belief in breaking down religious prejudice through education, and served as a leader for IU’s bipartisan Israel advocacy group.

As an alumni of Camp Ramah, both as camper and counselor, Josh understands the importance of cultivating leadership in students and empowering them to be engaged in the Jewish value of pursuing justice. Josh focuses on creating engaging and interactive programming that involves hands-on experience, collaborative discussion and space for personal reflection.

Personal

Josh finds great pleasure in meeting new people, learning about new cultures, speaking Spanish, connecting with the outdoors and attending music concerts of all genres.

Sandy Irani
Director of Operations
sandy@tzedekamerica.org

Sandy Irani has been producing enriching events and gatherings for more than 15 years providing a meaningful platform for people to share their stories. Her background is mostly centered around community programming in the worlds of music and art. She has worked with organizations including Sofar Sounds, The Wild Honey Pie, The Resident Collective, and Acoustic Night New York. She is also an artist who has focused the last few years on travel photography and illustrating ketubbot, which you can see on her website.

Education and Training

Sandy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College. While attending Sarah Lawrence, Sandy worked as the Social Action Tikkun Olam teacher for the Temple Israel of Great Neck’s Youth House in New York, where she was an active member as a student. In her youth, Sandy found her own connection to Judaism through social action and social justice-related programs, many of which she was organizing herself as the president of several different service clubs through USY, Rotary International, and the Youth House. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2014 to be closer to her growing family, Sandy has worked as a volunteer coordinator, a retreat counselor, and a mentor hoping to educate and inspire young minds outside of the classroom.

Personal

Sandy can be seen most nights at a concert, a storytelling event, or seeking out unique experiences around Los Angeles. She loves to travel and is always down for a 90s night.

Ross Bercun

Social Justice Tour Guide

Ross Bercun is a comedian, filmmaker, and Bay Area native who has lived in Los Angeles for over 10 years. He brings his years of being a Jewish song leader and camp counselor to craft and create a fun and engaging learning experience. Combining his comedy training with his Jewish education, Ross is both knowledgable and entertaining. Ross aims to facilitate tours that leave people thinking, feeling, and learning.

 

Aliza Podwol
Social Justice Tour Guide

Aliza Podwol is a caring, compassionate human and yoga teacher who aims for inclusivity and positivity. Through teaching yoga and other social justice projects, Aliza focuses on service and healing through authenticity, kindness, and encouragement. Aliza wants to leave the world a better place than she found it for all living beings.

 

Jyllian Siegel
Social Justice Tour Guide

Jyllian Siegel is a mindful, present, engaged and connected educator who works with neurodiverse and neurotypical youth. She cares deeply about the well-being of children and strives to ensure that each child she encounters feels safe and supported. She’s excited to be a part of the Tzedek America team and appreciates the opportunity to participate in social justice awareness and advocacy.