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
Assistant 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 hs globally-informed perspective to serve as an effective agent of social change in his community.

Josh joins Tzedek America from the public sector where he worked in Governmental Affairs at the Department of Public Health for the State of Illinois. During his time working in government, Josh was responsible for community outreach in Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods, educating constituents on current public health issues, and advocating for joint resolutions at the desk of state senators and representatives.

Prior to his governmental work, he served as a Field Officer on a political campaign and an intern for Indiana’s Senator Richard Lugar and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Josh’s government experience was invaluable and enabled him to transition into the nonprofit sector, as he begins his role as Assistant Director of Programming at Tzedek America.

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, Josh served as the brotherhood committee chair of his fraternity, 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.

Danielle Buxbaum
Guide

Danielle is a world traveler who has seen and experienced many different environments and cultures. Having traveled to many developing countries and living around the United States, such experiences have opened her eyes to the issues we face in our society and it is her passion to inform others of outlets and ways to become involved..

Danielle continues her volunteer work in the LA community in spiritual communities where they help with energy healing and coping with past traumas.

Past Experience

Danielle was a teacher in Wuhan, China where she taught English to 5th and 6th grade students as well as to college students. Being able to spread the universal language was a very rewarding experience, and living in China was extremely eye opening.

Since then, Danielle has worked in the travel industry. She was a flight attendant for many years and then worked for a travel agency. Working in travel gives Danielle a great deal of fulfillment. She loves helping others see the world and tries to help people have the authentic experiences that she has been so fortunate to have herself.

Education and Training

Danielle got her Bachelor of Arts in advertising at Temple University. While at Temple University, she studied abroad in London, studying media communications. This is when her passion for travel began. She has used her advertising and marketing background to promote travel programs, particularly in the health and wellness space.

Danielle also has a TEFL certification, which she utilized during her time teaching abroad. Learning and education are very important tools in Danielle’s eyes, and her time as a teacher was a truly valuable and uplifting experience.

Though unconventional, Danielle considers traveling the best form of education. It has given her great knowledge of the world and the many diverse cultures out there. First hand experience and interacting with so many different people while learning their ways and their customs has truly been Danielle’s idea of great learning. It has taught her a lot about history as well.

Personal

Danielle loves to dance and do yoga and meditation. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating nutritious food. She is originally from Philadelphia and has been in Los Angeles for over 6 years now and considers LA home. She loves living close to the beach and enjoying the great weather.

Ross Bercun
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.

Past Experience

Ross has created and toured the world with comedy shows, films, and social justice oriented teen leadership groups since he was in high school.

Education and Training

Ross holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Arts from The University of Arizona, a certificate of completion from Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Etampes, France, and a high school diploma from The Jewish Community High School of the Bay Area.

He has also completed many personal development seminars including Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within, Date With Destiny, and Landmark Education’s Curriculum for Living.

Personal

Ross prides himself on his ability to look for the humanity in everyone. He loves connecting with people, hearing new stories, perspectives, and laughter.