Who We Are
Kulanu Board of Directors
|Vice President||Bonita Nathan Sussman|
|President Emeritus||Jack Zeller|
|Rabbi Barbara Aiello|
|Daneel Schaechter||Yakov Zamir|
|Bookkeeping and Database Coordinator||Jerry Krasny|
Additional Kulanu Activists
|Regional Coordinators and Community Liaisons - click here|
Harriet Bograd - President
Rabbanit Bonita Nathan Sussman - Vice President
Barbara Vinick - Secretary
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
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
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.
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.Daneel Schaechter
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, 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.
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!
- Brazil - Daneel Schaechter
- Cameroon - Bonita Nathan Sussman and Rabbi Gerald Sussman
- Cote D'Ivoire - Bonita Nathan Sussman
- Ethiopia - Samuel Taddesse
- Gabon - Bonita Nathan Sussman
- Ghana - Harriet Bograd
- Guatemala - Rabbi Elyse Goldstein
- India - Navras Jaat Aafreedi, and Judi Kloper
- Kenya - Sarapage Podolsky
- Latin America - Daneel Schaechter
- Madagascar - Bonita Nathan Sussman
- Nicaragua - Bonita Nathan Sussman
- Nigeria (Abuja) - David Tobis, Remy Ilona
- Papua New Guinea - Bonita Nathan Sussman
- Puerto Rico - Rabbi Lawrence Goldstein
- Rwanda - Bonita Nathan Sussman
- Suriname - Jacob Steinberg
- Uganda (Abayudaya) - Harriet Bograd
- Zimbabwe (Lemba) - Sandy Leeder