Harriet Bograd, President
A professional volunteer, Harriet served as treasurer of Kulanu from 2002-2008, and president since then. 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, anti-poverty, and nonprofit “cyber-accountability.” 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. She is married to Ken Klein, and Kulanu’s office is in their home in New York City.
Bonita Nathan Sussman, First Vice President
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, Cote d’Ivoire, 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.
Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Second Vice President
Rabbi Barbara Aiello is Italy’s first and only woman rabbi, Currently she serves the “b’nei anusim”congregation Ner Tamid del Sud, The Eternal Light of the South, a recognized Reconstructionist synagogue, and the first active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years since Inquisition times. Rabbi Barbara is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and holds a MS from The George Washington University .
She was ordained at The Rabbinical Seminary International and the Rabbinical Academy in
New York City. She is a founding board member of the International Federation of Rabbis, mentoring rabbi for the international Jewish Studies program, Darshan Yeshiva, and Blogger for Times of Israel.
Barbara Vinick, Secretary
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Barbara earned a PhD in sociology from Boston University and
conducted post-doctoral work in human development at Harvard. She is currently a research associate at Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, a center focused on Jews and gender worldwide. She is working on a volume of stories about Jewish brides around the world, a follow-up to her book Today I am a Woman: Stories of Bat Mitzvah Around the World published by Indiana University Press. As a long-time researcher in gerontology at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Public Health, Barbara has authored articles on lifestyles, attitudes, and experiences of mature Americans.
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.
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.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.
Capers C. Funnye, Jr., Board Member
Capers C. Funnye, Jr. is Chief Rabbi of the International Israelite Board of Rabbis. In addition, he is rabbi and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago.
Rabbi Funnye earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew Literature and rabbinic ordination from the Israelite Board of Rabbis, Inc., Queens, NY. Rabbi Funnye also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies and Master of Science in Human Service Administration from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago, Illinois.
Rabbi Funnye has lectured at numerous universities, synagogues, churches and various community organizations throughout the United States. He has appeared on several national and local television programs and spoken on numerous radio programs both national and local.
Rabbi Funnye is married and he and his wife Mary have four children and are the proud grandparents of 12 grandchildren, 3 granddaughters and 9 grandsons.
Judi Kloper, Board Member
Judi Kloper, born and raised near Boston, graduated from Oregon State University with degrees in Child Development and Family Studies, and in Home Economics and Health Education. Judi has five children—three from India, one from China, and one birth child, as well as two beautiful grandchildren. As an international child welfare specialist, Judi worked for many years finding families for children with special needs from India. 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, assisting in immigrant programs, and traveling overseas to teach English. Her trip to India in 2014-2015 including 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. In 2017, she assisted the Beit Din in Nicaragua as two new Jewish communities were born. She continues to maintain close ties to the communities in India and Nicaragua. In her free time, she rides her bicycle and searches for the best chai in Oregon. Judi is now the editor of Kulanu’s magazine.
Elie Lehmann, Board Member
Rabbi Elie Lehmann is the Campus Rabbi at Boston University Hillel. He has rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College in Boston. He loves supporting young adults find innovative and meaningful ways to feel confident in their Jewish identity, knowledge, and practice. He has worked with ngo’s in several countries over the past decade. As Director of the Kulanu Global Teaching Fellowship, Elie has worked with several of our partner communities in Africa. Elie is an alumnus of Mechon Hadar, Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary. In his spare time Elie enjoys cooking, cycling around new neighborhoods, and playing drums. He lives in Cambridge, MA, with his wife Anya Manning and their baby son.
Modreck Maeresera, Board Member
Modreck Maeresera, Lemba Jew, is the current president of the Harare Lemba Synagogue in Zimbabwe. The Harare Lemba Synagogue is a synagogue for Lemba Jews in Harare, founded in May 2013 with sponsorship from Kulanu.
Modreck is married to Brenda and they are proud parents to 3 children, Aviv Yehudah, Shlomo Makomborero, and Maya Miriam. Modreck holds a diploma in journalism from the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM) in the UK. He works as a student recruiter for Malaysian universities.
Genie Milgrom, Board Member
Genie Milgrom was born in Havana, Cuba into a Roman Catholic Family of Spanish Ancestry. In an unparalleled work of genealogy, she was able to fully document her unbroken maternal lineage 22 generations going back as far as 1405 to Pre-Inquisition Spain and Portugal. She has traveled extensively into Fermoselle, the village of her ancestors in the Zamora region of Spain, while doing field research on the past Jew of Fermoselle and the surrounding area. She is currently the past President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Miami, President of Tarbut Sefarad-Fermoselle in Spain, as well as Past President of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies.
Genie is the author of the book My 15 Grandmothers as well as How I found My 15 Grandmothers, A Step by Step Guide as well as her latest book, Pyre to Fire. The Books have won the 2015 and 2018 Latino Author Book Awards. She also writes for several on line sites including www.esefarad.com as well as the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Crypto Jewry.
She has spoken at the Knesset in Israel and lectures around the world bringing awareness to the topic of the Jews returning from the Inquisition.
Her work has been showcased in the Jerusalem Post, The Miami Herald and other publications around the world. She was awarded the State of Florida Genealogy award for her outstanding achievements and advances in the Pioneer work she has done in Genealogy. Genie is now Director of the Converso Genealogy Project digitizing Inquisition Files around the world . Most recently , she was awarded the coveted Medal of the Four Sephardic Synagogues from Jerusalem for her decades of work in recuperation of Sephardic Memory. Click here to watch Genie Milgrom’s video introductions for Anousim communities.
Jeannette Orantes, Board Member
Jeannette Orantes is the president of the Asociación Judía de Guatemala Adat Israel. She was born in Guatemala City. Her academic instruction was completed at a Catholic school run by nuns, keeping with the Catholic tradition that her parents followed. She graduated as Secretary and currently holds the position of Secretary of the Presidency in the dairy industry.
Jeannette converted to Judaism, after overcoming many obstacles and received her conversion giur in the month of February 2013. She says, “This has been the greatest gift I could have received. Judaism for me represents a treasure for the trajectory of research, study, and discussion of so many wise people who have reached invaluable conclusions and that reaches our current rabbis. The study of Judaism is done with voracity and perseverance but it never comes to an end. It is a privilege to be Jewish and to have instructed my children, adults already, in this knowledge.”
Daneel Schaechter, Board Member
Daneel Schaechter has focused his work with Kulanu on the question of Latin American B’nei Anusim / Crypto-Jews for the last 10 years. At the University of Pennsylvania, he studied Latin American and Latino Studies and 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. In 2015, Kulanu selected Daneel to be honored in the Kulanu Tribute Journal (see www.kulanu.org/tribute).
Jerry Krasny, Business Manager
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.” We know we are the fortunate ones!
Jo Ann Friedman, Program and Fundraising Manager
Jo Ann Friedman is a graduate of Wellesley College and received a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University. She graduated from Northeastern University of Law after many years of graduate school but eventually found her calling in the non-profit world. Jo Ann developed the “Family to Family“ program in Montreal and worked to integrate the large influx of refugees from the former Soviet Union into the Jewish community there. She became the Director of the Montreal Mizrachi Organization and worked directly with Israel to support Hesder Yeshivot.
She remains very involved with the Jewish communities of Canada, where her family has been since the 19th century. Her work at Kulanu will enable her to pursue her driving goal, which is to bring us closer to Tikkun Olam.
Molly Levine, Communications Director
Molly Levine joined our staff as Kulanu’s Communications Director in 2018. She has an extensive background working in nonprofit communications, having worked with StrongMinds, The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, Global Nomads Group, Peace Corps, and Seeds of Peace.
Molly holds an M.A. from Emerson College in Global Marketing Communications and a B.A. in Communication Studies from Ursinus College.
Jacob Steinberg (Suriname Jewish Community coordinator)
Over the years, I have worked in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. I had the opportunity to visit small and isolated Jewish communities, and to see first-hand their struggle to maintain a meaningful Jewish life. While working in Suriname, I decided to get involved in supporting the small local Jewish community, the oldest existing Jewish community in the Americas. Being part of Kulanu is an opportunity for me to help the community to meet its unique needs.