Kulanu: Who We Are

Who We Are

Kulanu Board of Directors

 

President Harriet Bograd
Vice President Bonita Nathan Sussman
Secretary Barbara Vinick
Treasurer Sandy Leeder
President Emeritus Jack Zeller
Rabbi Barbara Aiello
Ari Grenspan
Judi Kloper
Rabbi Elie Lehmann
Daneel Schaechter
Yakov Zamir

Staff

Bookkeeping and Database Coordinator Jerry Krasny

Additional Kulanu Activists

Regional Coordinators and Community Liaisons - click here

Harriet Bograd - President

image: Harriet Bograd
A professional volunteer, serves as president of Kulanu. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Yale University Law School, Harriet has led community programs in low income neighborhoods and Jewish communities since the 1960’s. She has served as a staff leader and consultant for non-profit community organizations in areas of education, child care, health, and anti-poverty. Her work has involved funding, program development, finance, planning, and parent involvement in schools. Harriet was a founder of the Heschel School in New York City and is a leader in her synagogue. Among her areas of specialization are projects devoted to nonprofit accountability and “cyber-accountability.”

Rabbanit Bonita Nathan Sussman - Vice President

image: Bonita Sussman
Bonita Nathan Sussman is a volunteer with Kulanu and serves as Vice President. She is a graduate of Yeshiva University Stern College, has a Masters degree in religion from Columbia University and a second Masters in Jewish education from The Jewish Theological Seminary. She is an ordained rabbi through Aleph. For Kulanu, Bonita serves as liaison for newly emerging, returning and isolated Jewish communities around the globe. She is on the editorial staff of the Kulanu Magazine and Kulanu Board liaison for the Kulanu Academic Cohort. Bonita and her husband Rabbi Gerald Sussman have travelled to Nicaragua, Cameroon, Gabon, Papua New Guinea, and India addressing their Jewish development needs and encouraging their journeys to become part of the Jewish people. Her photographs of her travels have been been published and exhibited.

Barbara Vinick - Secretary

image: Barbara Vinick

Barbara Vinick, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, earned a Ph.D in sociology from Boston University and did post-doctoral work in human development at Harvard University. As a researcher in gerontology at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Public Health, she has written extensively about lifestyles, attitudes, and experiences of mature Americans. Barbara is currently a research associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University where she edited a collection of essays for the national Hadassah organization about how Purim is celebrated around the world. In 2012 her award-winning book, Today I am a Woman: Stories of Bat Mitzvah Around the World, was published by Indiana University Press. For a new anthology, she is currently collecting stories about Jewish brides around the world. A resident of Swampscott, MA, Barbara is clerk of North American Family Institute and Northeastern Family Institute, a board member of the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore, and a member of her synagogues's social action committee.

Sandy Leeder - Treasurer

Sandy Leeder is the Kulanu coordinator for the Lemba. He now lives in Tzfat, Israel and is retired from 30 years in the real estate development business where he specialized in tax and partnership accounting. He has a BA in Mathematics from Harpur College, SUNY and has an MBA in finance from Columbia University .

During his US Peace Corps service from 1967 to 1969 Sandy lived with the Hausa and Fulani people in Niger, where he worked as an agricultural extension agent for a peanut cooperative. In 1983 he participated in a secret American Association for Ethiopian Jews operation that smuggled Beta Israel refugees out of the Sudan to Israel. Thereafter he served on the Board of the AAEJ until it ceased in 1992 after Operation Solomon. More recently he was a board member of the San Francisco Bureau of Jewish Education for 8 years.

Sandy has visited various Jewish communities in Africa, including the Lemba in South Africa and Zimbabwe, Beta Israel and Beta Avraham In Ethiopia and Ibo Jews in Nigeria. He is currently assisting the Lemba Jews of Zimbabwe to construct the Great Zimbabwe Synagogue.

Jack Zeller - President Emeritus

image: Jack Zeller

Founder and president emeritus of Kulanu, is a clinical pathologist and a Jewish activist. He is a graduate of Columbia College, New York Medical College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, all located in New York City. Jack’s activism began when he served as a board member for American Association for Ethiopian Jews. After Operation Solomon, which air lifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1991, Jack and his wife Dr. Diane Zeller, a specialist in African history, decided to take on the broader issue of dispersed and isolated Jewish communities. After working with an Israel-based organization called Amishav, Jack founded Kulanu, serving as its president for 14 years.


Rabbi Barbara Aiello

image: Rabbi Barbara Aiello
Rabbi Barbara Aiello is Italy's first and only woman rabbi, and the first and only modern liberal rabbi who lives and works in Italy. Currently she serves the "bnai anusim" congregation Ner Tamid del Sud, The Eternal Light of the South, the first active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years since Inquisition times. Before becoming a rabbi, she was founder and director of The Kids on the Block puppet program used around the world to teach children and adults to accept and appreciate difference and diversity.

Rabbi Barbara is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she received the Distinguished Alumni Award. She holds a MS from The George Washington University in Washington DC and received rabbinic ordination from The Rabbinical Seminary International and the Rabbinical Academy in New York City. She is a founder and board member of the International Federation of Rabbis and Blogger for Times of Israel.

She has won several awards, among them Washingtonian of the Year, Parents Magazine's "Good Parent to Know," and the Surgeon General's Medallion for Excellence in Public Health from Dr. C. Everett Koop. Rabbi Barbara is the 12 year host of the Radio Rabbi program, broadcast live every Sunday morning on AM 930 The Answer in Sarasota, Florida and live streamed and podcast around the world.

Ari Greenspan

image: Ari Greenspan
Dr. Ari Greenspan is a U.S. trained dentist who currently lives in Efrat, Israel, with his wife, Shari, and their three children. He works in Jerusalem as a dentist and is also a mohel, shochet, and sofer! Over the past two decades Ari has been exploring diverse Jewish customs and traditions from around the world. Ari has lectured globally for dental groups and for many synagogues and Jewish schools, and is a frequent contributor to Mishpacha magazine. Aside from his work with the board, he will serve as Kulanu's new regional coordinator for Nigeria.





Judi Kloper

image: Judi Kloper
Judi Kloper, born and raised near Boston, graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Child Development and Family Studies, later earning a teaching certificate in home economics and health education and a Teaching English as a Second Language certificate. Judi has five children - three adopted from India, one from China and one birth son. As a social worker and international child welfare specialist, she has focused on India and on finding families for children with special needs. In 2004, following the tsunami that devastated much of Southeast Asia's coast, she raised $80,000 for communities in south India by activating her extensive network of organizations and friends. She believes in the power of the internet to help her reach out to multitudes of friends, acquaintances, and organizations to raise funds for various causes.

Judi has served on many boards in Oregon and in her home community of Corvallis, Oregon, including her congregation, Beit Am. Her volunteer work for non-profits has included editing and proofreading newsletters, websites, and blogs, and traveling overseas to teach English and help out in other ways. Her trip to India in 2014-2015 included living with the Bene Ephraim in Andhra Pradesh, a Kulanu community, and in 2015-2016, she lived in Nicaragua immersing herself in the life of the Congregacion Israelita de Nicaragua community. Judi is now the editor of Kulanu's magazine.

Elie Lehmann

image: Rabbi Elie Lehmann

 

 

Recently ordained by Hebrew College, Rabbi Elie Lehmann previously served as rabbinic fellow at Tufts University Hillel and has recently been appointed as rabbi at Boston University Hillel. Elie spent a month in the Kisuku Jewish community in Kenya last summer, and he has spearheaded our new Kulanu Global Teaching Fellows program.

 

 

 

Daneel Schaechter

image: Daneel Schaechter
Daneel Schaechter is a 25-year-old University of Pennsylvania graduate who wrote his thesis on the intersection of religion and politics in Ecuador, with a case study of the Ecuadorian Jews and Crypto-Jews. He spent 2015 living in Recife, Brazil as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English at the Federal University of Pernambuco, working at a small start-up, ProDeaf, and engaging with the Brazilian emerging Jewish communities. Most recently, he finds himself as an International Strategy Associate at Indeed.com and continues to serve as Kulanu's Regional Coordinator for Latin America and as a board member.

Daneel has volunteered with Kulanu since his senior year at Hunter College High School when he became interested in the plight of Crypto-Jewish communities in Latin America. He spent a post high school year honing his Jewish knowledge and skills at Orayta, an orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem. During the last six years, Daneel helped prepare the Beith Etz Chaim community in Huanuco, Peru for conversion in 2011. The subsequent summer, Daneel both taught Torah and conducted oral history research in the Beit Shemaya v'Avtalyon community in Armenia, El Salvador as well as with Adat Israel: Asociacion Judia Reformista de Guatemala in Guatemala City in 2012. During a spring break trip to Nicaragua in 2012, sponsored by the American Jewish World Service, Daneel initiated a relationship between Kulanu and the La Congregacion Israelita de Nicaragua. Some months later, he helped coordinate a Beit Din for a segment of that community that had waited years for the opportunity.

Since 2014 he has been very engaged with Emerging Jewish communities in Brazil, ranging from the Northeast states of Pernambuco to the Southern states of Santa Catarina and Sao Paulo. He is collaborating with several local Jewish scholars and Rabbis to bring a wider acceptance of these groups in Brazilian Jewish society. In 2015, Kulanu selected Daneel to be honored in the Kulanu Tribute Journal (see www.kulanu.org/tribute).

 

Yakov Zamir

image: Yakov Zamir

Yakov Zamir, freelance educator, manager, singer and writer, converted to Judaism after studying under the supervision of Geoffrey Goldberg, rabbi and cantor, in 1988. He shortly thereafter made aliyah, and lived in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, while pursuing a dual career as voice teacher and vocal soloist, performing both as a tenor and countertenor. While living in Israel, Yakov performed as a soloist with opera companies, orchestras and choirs in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Iceland, Germany, France, and the island of Cyprus...and all over Israel. His concerts in Israel were with the Israel Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Rehovot Chamber Orchestra, the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Technion Orchestra, the Hebrew University Orchestra, the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, Les Violons du Roi David, and many other instrumental and and choral ensembles. Since returning to the United States, Yakov has continued to freelance as a tenor and countertenor and has tried out several professions before settling on educational management.

Yakov started his involvement with Kulanu in 2014, with his first trip to Madagascar. Since then he has returned three times, and served as Kulanu's liaison with the fledgling Jewish community in the capital city, Antananarivo. With help from Rebbetzin Bonita Sussman of Kulanu and his contacts in Madagascar, Yakov organized the conversion of ultimately over 120 Malagasies to Judaism, and a conference featuring well-known Malagasy experts on Jewish roots and other related topics with keynote speaker Professor Tudor Parfitt of Florida International University. Yakov was honored with an appointment to the Board of Kulanu in February 2016.


 

Staff Bios

Jerry Krasny

image: Jerry Krasny
Jerry Krasny is Kulanu's Business Manager; he keeps the head New York office running smoothly. Jerry is a graduate of Lehman College of the City University of New York with a BA in history. He worked for some years in the Claims/Finance Department of the Amalgamated Life Insurance Company in Lower Manhattan, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a longtime employee there. In 1980, he moved to Radio TV Reports, a company that supplied media intelligence and consulting services to advertising agencies and public relations companies. There he was in charge of the client standing order database, which provided competitive media intelligence to advertising agencies. In 1996, RTV was bought by VMS, Video Monitoring Services, where Jerry continued to work until August, 2011, when the company filed for bankruptcy. Jerry says it was his good fortune to discover Kulanu. "It's been my pleasure to contribute to the spiritual and developmental growth of this wonderful organization." But we know we are the fortunate ones!



Additional Kulanu Activists

Kulanu Regional Coordinators and Community Liaisons

Because of the scope of our work, Kulanu relies on people who have their ear to the ground in various communities and can work closely with community members to accomplish their goals. Below are the volunteers who are committed to helping us facilitate our work "on the ground" in specific regions of the (Jewish) world -- though please note that we work with more communities than are listed below!

  • Regional Coordinators for Brazil - Regina Igel, Bob Feron, Dione Pereira, and Daneel Schaechter
  • Regional Coordinators for Cameroon - Rabbis Bonita and Gerald Sussman
  • Regional Coordinators for Ecuador - Ed Samiljan and Daneel Schaechter
  • Regional Coordinator for Ethiopia - Samuel Taddesse
  • Regional Coordinators for Ghana - Harriet Bograd
  • Regional Coordinators for India - Romiel Daniel, Navras Jaat Aafreedi, and Judi Kloper
  • Regional Coordinator for Kenya - Sarapage Podolsky
  • Regional Coordinator for Latin America - Daneel Schaechter
  • Regional Coordinator for Nigeria (Abuja) - David Tobis
  • Regional Coordinator for Puerto Rico - Rabbi Lawrence Goldstein
  • Regional Coordinator for Suriname - Jacob Steinberg
  • Regional Coordinator for Tutsi - Rabbi David Kuperman
  • Regional Coordinators for Uganda (Abayudaya) - Harriet Bograd
  • Regional Coordinator for Zimbabwe (Lemba) - Sandy Leeder
  • Community Liaison for Nigeria - Remy Ilona