Blog  Introducing the URJ Youth Organizing Team

Introducing the URJ Youth Organizing Team

We have no doubt that the future – indeed the present – of the Reform Jewish Movement requires teens to lead us forward. Young people innovating and creating transformational Jewish experiences have always been a hallmark of Reform Judaism. We have witnessed the incredible things that can be built when talented young people have committed adults to mentor, support, and partner with them. In that vein, we are thrilled to introduce the new URJ Youth Organizing Team. This team will span the teen space between NFTY, social justice, and Reform Zionism, and will celebrate our core belief in the individual and collective power of our teens to create the communities and world that they envision. Together, the Youth Organizing Team will support our teens in building a powerful and diverse Reform Youth Movement by providing training, mentoring, and partnership for teens; supporting synagogue professionals and our new part-time NFTY Regional Mentors; building a network of alumni and volunteers; and raising funds for sustainability.

After several months of teen and adult leaders searching and interviewing, we have assembled a team of innovative, driven youth professionals and community organizers to support and grow the Reform Youth Movement. We are proud of the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities this team represents, and this critical development for the URJ.

Under the guidance of Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Senior Vice President and Director of the Religious Action Center, and Ruben Arquilevich, Vice President of Camps and Immersives, and led by Michelle Shapiro Abraham, Executive Director of Strategic Innovation and Program, this team will work across the URJ, to lift up the voices of teen leaders and build the strong and diverse Reform Youth Movement our world needs now.

We look forward to partnering with you in the months to come.

Shabbat Shalom –

Noa Apple (she/they), NFTY President 2022-2023

Rabbi Rick Jacobs (he/him), URJ President

Michelle Shapiro Abraham (she/her) is an alum of NFTY and UAHC Camp Swig (now URJ Camp Newman) and has worked in the field of Jewish Education for over twenty years. She currently serves as the Executive Director of  Strategic Innovation and Program for the URJ and oversees the Reform Movement’s teen strategies, Israel Immersives, and camp-related initiatives and grants. A longtime educator, author, and consultant for both camps and congregations, she holds a master’s degree and an honorary Doctorate in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR. Michelle is a PJ Library and Sydney Taylor Notable Book Award author, and the proud recipient of the 2015 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She recently expanded her work to explore the intersection between community organizing and youth development as a strategy for reimaging Jewish leadership, communal power, and individual thriving. When not working, you can find Michelle hanging out with her family or in her pottery and metal work studio creating and playing.

Logan Zinman Gerber (she/hers), the Director of Youth Organizing – Leadership Development , is a community organizer and Jewish educator whose Judaism is rooted in social justice. Logan worked for seven years as the NFTY Chicago Director, partnering with student leaders to create programs and experiential learning for hundreds of high schoolers. As National Campaign Organizer for the Religious Action Center for the past four years, Logan taught high schoolers, college students, and young adults how to be community organizers and use their skills and stories to mobilize their communities to make change. Logan loves learning almost as much as creating educational experiences for others. She holds a BA in Jewish Studies and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, masters in Social Administration and Social Work from the University of Chicago. You can find Logan running by the lake in Chicago with her dogs, searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, and singing a lot of Shabbat songs with her partner, Ben, and her small humans, Judah and Pearl. She is humbled to get to wake up every day and support our youth leaders in the development of their youth movement and pursuit of justice.

Rabbi Isaama Goldstein-Stoll (she/her) is the new Director of Youth Organizing-Local Communities and Synagogues. A product of the Reform Movement, Rabbi Isaama grew up in NFTY and at URJ Camp Harlam, and is an ordinee of HUC-JIR (Cincinnati). She brings an expertise in building Jewish community, a passion for life-long Jewish learning, and a commitment to affirming and celebrating Jewish diversity. After serving as the Senior Jewish Educator at the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University, and as a Religious Life Consultant at Be’chol Lashon, Rabbi Isaama is glad to return “home” to the Reform Movement.

Julie Marsh (she/her) serves as the Associate Director, Youth Organizing – North American Community . She’s an alum of CNYFTY, NFTY, Camp Harlam and Kutz. Julie has worked as a Congregation Youth Professional at Temple Beth Sholom, New City and Temple Israel, West Palm Beach where she was also the Clergy Assistant. On her 10-year anniversary at Temple Israel in 2011, she accepted the position of NFTY-STR Regional Director where she worked with hundreds of teens and many Congregational Professionals creating hands-on programs. Julie also had the privilege to run Camp Jenny alongside her teen partners. In January 2022 Julie returned to the URJ still fully believing in the impact teenagers can have in the Reform Jewish Movement. Julie is a forward thinker, decision maker and teen partner, which always promises success. She fully believes that children are not just our future, they are our present which means they need to be present in the conversation. Julie resides in Lake Worth, Florida with her husband, Lee. Together, they have a daughter, Kiley and two Golden Doodles, Bella and Bear. When not working Julie enjoys spending time at Disney World, or loafing on the couch watching Friends or The Prom. Julie does not take this amazing work with teens for granted, she is always proud watching her teens grow prouder of themselves.

Leora Cohen-Rosenberg (she/her), the Assistant Director of Youth Organizing – Development and Volunteer Community, has spent several years as an activist for many issues, particularly LGBTQ and reproductive rights, including serving as a Jeremiah Fellow with Bend the Arc. Leora is a proud graduate of SUNY Empire State, having also attended Pace University, where she served as an intern for their LGBTQA and Social Justice Center. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies. She will receive her master’s in Nonprofit Administration from Gratz College this fall where she is a Midcareer Fellow.

Shoshana Maniscalco (she/her) is thrilled to be joining the Youth Organizing Team as the Teen Justice Fellowship Organizer! She previously worked at Jews United for Justice as a community organizer focusing on labor and housing justice at the county and state level in Maryland. Originally from Western Massachusetts, Shoshana attended Ithaca College where she studied sociology and counseling. She also spent 15 summers attending and working at URJ Eisner Camp.

Emma Jaszczak Maszi (she/her) serves as the Strategic Innovation Program Associate for the URJ, assisting with the Reform Movement’s teen strategies, Israel Immersives, and camp-related initiatives and grants. She is an alum of NFTY-STR and the URJ Kutz Camp, as well as a staffing alum of NFTY in Israel, URJ Camp Newman, and URJ 6 Points West. In addition to the URJ, Emma has worked at organizations such as BimBam and Tkiya Music, and is a curriculum consultant in the intersectional field of Jewish civic engagement. A passionate Jewish and arts educator, she holds master’s degrees in Arts Education from The Florida State University and in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, as well as a master’s concentration in Israel Education from the iCenter. She lives in Cleveland, OH with her wife, Emily, their two dogs, Aggie and Franklin, and their guineapig, Hank, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with family, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, and laying in her hammock.

Matt Ghan (he/his) is the Business & Operations Analyst for the URJ Camping and Immersives team. Matthew is originally from San Jose, California and graduated Chapman University in 2016 majoring in Communication Studies. He grew up in NFTY CWR and worked for NFTY SoCal, and would not be the person he is today without his 15 summers spent at URJ Camp Newman. He serves as the Executive Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of The Hillel Foundation of Orange County, and studied abroad with The Nachshon Project Fellowship where he gained a deeper appreciation for Israel education. In his free time he loves to cook!

Lauren Stock (she/her) is so excited to be a part-time organizer with the new URJ Youth Organizing Team after almost a year working with the NFTY, RAC, and URJ teams to vision and kickstart this campaign. Her passion for teen leadership development comes from her involvement with Kutz, NFTY, and numerous other RAC and URJ Youth experiences as a teen and throughout college. She is an alum of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT where she graduated with her B.A. in Theater, Sociology, and Dance. Originally from Dallas, TX, Lauren is making New York City her home starting this fall where she hopes to find ways to merge her identities as a theater director and community organizer. Lauren also works as a Product Specialist, Elfa Designer, and occasional In-Home Organizer at The Container Store where she organizes everything else in her life!

Kelly Whitehead (she/they) is a forth year rabbinical student and Jewish Nonprofit Management MA student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and is excited to be a part-time organizer with the Youth Organizing Team. Kelly participated in the Reform Movement’s JewV’Nation Jews of Color Fellowship, where they learned to create and facilitate Anti-Racial Bias training for Jewish Professionals. Prior to Rabbinical School, she worked in a shared youth position between URJ Camp Harlam and Temple Sinai DC. They serve on the board of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and was selected as one of The Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for 2021.

NFTY North American Board
Our NFTY Board represents teens from all over North America, with a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and interests.We are also proud to announce the creation of two new roles, the Engagement and Inclusion Vice President and the Development Vice President!
President: Noa Apple (she/they)
Programming VP: Aiden D’Antonio (he/him)
Social Action VP: Daniella Abbott (any pronouns)
Religious & Cultural VP: Simon Warner (he/him)
Engagement & Inclusion VP: Cameron Samuels (they/them)
Communications VP: Arianna Walker (she/her)
Development VP: Evan Jaffe (he/him)