(in alphabetical order)
Suzanne Anderson | Great Britain
I grew up in North London and now live in Sussex. I got married in 2016 and live with my husband on the South Coast of England by the seaside. I am a Qualified Social Worker and my career has specialised in mental health and criminal justice.
My role current role focuses on rehabilitation of individuals in the community. I grew up in Progressive Judaism where my family and I were very involved in synagogue life. When I moved to Sussex in 2012, I joined Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue where I have become increasingly involved in the community over the past 5 years. For example, I have introduced a monthly instrumental Kabbalat Shabbat service and a monthly havdalah story-telling evening. I participate in and lead sessions with the Rosh Chodesh group; as well as being a member of the Synagogue Redevelopment Committee and a new community renewal project, which aims to enhance the engagement of existing congregants and increase new membership to the Synagogue. Furthermore, I am
attending classes to learn to leyn from the Torah.
Away from work and synagogue life, I can be found curled up on the sofa doing cross-stitch tapestries; watching movies; attending pilates classes, playing board games, cooking or walking by the sea. I am very keen to find knowledge, inspiration and friendship from the upcoming seminar. I hope to find innovative ways to interpret what I learn from the programme to affect positive change in my synagogue and the wider community.
Robin Ayers | United States
My name is Robin Ayers, born in Alabama, earned a Bachelors, two Masters and an Educational Specialist Degree, in Education. As a highly qualified Educator, I taught public school for 25 years. Also, taught Sunday School for over 10 years, and served my Jewish Community in various other capacities. Have one son, Aaron. He is 28 years old. I am here with my sister, and am looking forward this opportunity to study and share with many other talented eople
from all over the world.
Francisco Bataller | Spain, United States, Belgium
Next to being a father and a husband, being Jewish is the most cherished aspect of my identity. I feel prouder
about it than about my now-finished career as an academic and an international civil servant. Although I have a somewhat troublesome relationship with God, and while I see myself as rather progressive from an ideological
point of view, I am quite traditional as regards ritual. I am more of an observant than either an uninvolved or a religious Jew as I have kept a Kosher home for over 40 years, I love attending (nonOrthodox) Shabbat services and in recent years I have become increasingly, if not fully, Shomer Shabbat.
A firm believer in egalitarian Judaism and a science-based doubter by vocation and training, I love to read Torah and participate in Torah discussions with enthusiasm, notwithstanding my belief in its human authorship. All my attachment to observance is not as much a result of a sense of religious obligation but rather reflects both a search for spirituality and a fidelity towards, and identification with, long-held practices of the Jewish people. I am also an avid reader of Jewish social and intellectual history and I am always looking forward to a greater understanding of how to be a better Jew and what has made Judaism be what it is today.
The fact that I have lived and keep roots in too many countries (born and raised in Spain, studied and taught for nearly 15 years in the US, studied and worked on foreign affairs for over 25 years in Belgium) and that my close family is spread all over (a son in Jerusalem, a daughter in Seattle, parents and/or siblings in both Columbus – Ohio and Valencia – Spain) make my wife’s and my life (Jewish and otherwise) sort of complicated. After my retirement,
we are now lessening our ties with Belgium and with our dear IJC community and are seek to take deeper roots in Columbus and Valencia.
Kelita Cohen | Brazil
Kelita Cohen is a psychologist who lives in Brasilia, Brazil, with her husband Shlomo and their two children, Yehuda (6) and Raphael (3). She is currently ending her PhD studies in Human Development Process at the University of Brasilia. Professionally, Kelita also works as a sworn translator of Spanish since 2012, after being approved in a public contest. Recently she joined the communications committee of the WUPJ-LA. She is committed to her community and is involved in transforming it constantly. For this reason, in recent years she has been trained in community leadership courses as a fellow of several organizations (CONIB, Brazil; Nahum Goldman Fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture). Her two principal community projects have been to serve as the only woman in charge of the Editorial Committee’s secretariat of ACIB, with which in the last three years has published twice a month the Middle East Charter; and the creation last year of the Jewish Studies Group from the feminine perspective. Additionally, Kelita began to pursue rabbinical studies at the Instituto Iberoamericano de Formación
Rabínico Reformista. She is an enthusiastic learner who advocates for an egalitarian, pluralistic and Zionist Jewish collectivity.
Trevor Creewel | Zimbabwe, Australia
Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and have lived in Perth, Western Australia for 31 years. Married to Meryll, have two daughters and two grandsons aged 2 and 4. Retired solicitor. The last 25 years of my career were spent in the West Australian State Solicitor’s Office working on the land claims of Aboriginal Australians, where I found many parallels with my experience as a member of another dispossessed people.
My parents were married in a Progressive congregation in South Africa and I have been brought up to be, and am, a proud and convinced Progressive Jew. In the 1990s I was much involved with the Board of Management of Temple David, the Progressive congregation in Perth, culminating in two terms as president of the congregation. Nowadays I am happy to be involved in supportive roles where necessary. My goal is to lead by example. This will be my third visit to Israel –‐ the first was about 20 years ago with my wife and daughters, and in May last year I attended the WUPJ Biennial Conference.
Idan (Lukasz) Edelist | Poland
I’m 21 years old student of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. I’m especially interested in Jewish languages (Yiddish and Hebrew, both Modern and Biblical). I also work at Cracow’s Jewish Progressive Community – I organize holidays, cultural events and cooperate with other Jewish institutions in our city. My biggest hobby is traveling. I’m trying to spend my free days outside the city I live in to find some new places. I love
to explore new countries and cultures.
Vik Gittsovich | Belarus
My name is Vik Gittsovich, I’m 26 years old. I graduated from Belarusian State Economic University with a specialty in foreign economic activity. I have been working for more than 9 years with different advertising companies, including international ones. I worked as copywriter, account/project and new business manager, art/creative director. Now I work for an international company based in Israel with an office in Belarus. I’m of course
an active member of the Centre of Progressive Judaism Beit Simcha and Moishe House in Minsk. I always try to help to organize holidays and memorable days in our communities. Now I have a good idea of project which helps, I think, to develop the Beit Simcha community and increase people’s knowledge about Reform Judaism.
Karen Gold | United States, Israel
I am Karen Gold Anisfeld, daughter of Elinor and Sanford (z”l) Gold of Pittsburgh, PA. My siblings and I were raised in a highly affiliated Reform Jewish home, attended Temple David religious school, had Bnei Mitzvah and confirmations, and attended Friday night and holiday services. I participated in Temple youth group (NFTY) then BBYO, where I became a Chapter President then Greater Pittsburgh Region President of BBG.
In 1980, I received scholarships to visit Israel for the summer. Before landing, I saw Israel’s coastline from the plane. At that moment, I had an epiphany: Israel is MY home! As my parents opposed the move, I graduated from high school, a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree (both from The Ohio State University), and married an Israeli I’d met at school. For two years, I worked at a corporate job so I would come to Israel self-sufficient.
When I arrived in 1989, Reform Judaism barely existed in Israel and there were only two general religious distinctions: Religious and Secular. Even today, it is hard for many Israelis to comprehend something in between…although they acknowledge many shades of “Religious”. The growth of Israel’s “Progressive” movement is truly an important development for me personally.
Today, I am independently employed as a Business & Marketing Communication consultant in diverse industries. I love to travel, kayak and connect with people…and I am a selective, but natural leader. My adult son (a secular Jew who had a Reform bar mitzvah) lives near me in Herzliya.
Rabbi Julia Gris | Ukraine
I was brought up in Bryansk, received my first education at the Bryansk State Pedagogical University (Physics and
Mathematics Department). In my youth I had been a leader of the Jewish youth in the native community, so decided to dedicate my life to the development of Jewish life in FSU. After two years of study in Machon I was invited to work in the Community of Progressive Judaism in Odessa (Ukraine) as a spiritual leader and а community worker. Meanwhile I was working at the ORT school in Odessa teaching Jewish history.
In 2009, I began my studies at Leo Beck College in London. I made the first year of my study at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. In 2014, I graduated from the rabbinic department of Leo Beck College in London, where I was ordained as a rabbi and I also received a master’s degree in Hebrew and Judaism at the Kings College of London. After receiving smichah, I returned to my congregation “Shirat ha-Yam” in Odessa as a rabbi.
Lillian Kowalski| United States
Hailing originally from Albany, NY, Lillian Kowalski worked in almost a dozen different Jewish organizations before matriculating at HUC-JIR in LA. She is currently a 4th year rabbinical student. She received a Masters in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC in 2016 and her Bachelors from Brandeis University in 2008. For her undergraduate work, she majored in Judaic Studies and Music. She also received a certificate from the iCenter in Chicago for a Masters Concentration in Israel Education in 2016.
Currently, Lillian is the rabbinic intern at Temple Judea in Tarzana, CA. Last year, she served as the student rabbi at Temple Shalom in Yakima, WA and prior to that, she spent two years as the Educational Administrative Intern for Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills.
Andrea Kulikovsky | Brazil
Andrea Kulikovsky is currently the Director of Education at CIP – Congregação Israelita Paulista, the largest Jewish
community in Brazil, responsible for the education, youth movements and young adult programs. Andrea has a Bachelor in Law Degree and a Specialization in Corporate Law, having practiced law for over 10 years before venturing into specialty dining, starting her own bakery specialized in desserts and catering for small events. She was the Latin American representative at the WUPJ Resolution Committee during Connections 2017, where she was part of the desk of the New Generation Lay Leadership Think Tank panel, and is currently a member of the group that is reviewing the Portuguese version of the Plaut Chumash for WUPJ – Amlat. A mother of 3 kids, Andrea has been a volunteer at CIP for over 30 years, and she is a founding member of the first female Torah leyning group at her community.
Vicki Lugar | United States
My name is Vicki Lugar, born in Montgomery, Alabama and a 3rd generation member of Augath Israel Synagogue. Currently living in Birmingham, Alabama as a member of Temple Emanu‐el for 21 years. Active member, teaching Sunday School. Participated with the Jewish Community in various other capacities. My only son Eli attended Jewish away camps for over seven years, served as a camp counselor at Henry S. Jacobs Camps for four years. Today he also teaches Sunday School and is the song leader at Temple Emanu‐el for the Sunday Morning Service.
I have a Bachelors in Health Educational. Worked in the medical/healthcare industry for many years before starting a second career in residential real‐ estate in Birmingham, AL. Plan to travel with my sister on our 1st trip to Israel to learn and share with many other talented people from all over the world. I hope this will help our Jewish Community back in Alabama.
Jacqueline Moreno | Brazil
Jacqueline Moreno I am from Brazil but I consider myself a citizen of the world being Israel my homeland. I am a person who is creative, proactive, innovative with an entrepreneurial vision. I love what I do and my biggest motivation is to team up with people who think big and are keen on spread benefits. I love working with projects that prioritize the collective intelligence and sense of belonging and cooperation. Ethics and citizenship are
essential pillars for the sustainability of the interpersonal and organizational relationships that move me and challenge me to expand my knowledge searching for continuous improvement. As a volunteer, I am an environmental activist of the movement SOS Vale Encantado (SOS Enchanted Valley) and together with other
activists we have been preserving 100 hectares of rain forest that was threatened to become a highway in Salvador, Bahia where I live. I am a member of the Jewish congregation (SIB Sociedade Israelita da Bahia) and together with my two colleagues who are women too we have developed projects in the cultural area until November 2017.
Now I am developing volunteer work in the communication are at WUPJ-LA. I write stories for the newsletter and do Translations in English and Portuguese to feed the website as well. I am a mother of an amazing young woman who is a film maker and I have been running my own business for 24 years where a have a lot of challenges as well as fun. I have 3 brothers and my parents are doing well. I am divorced and I work in the international
communications area that involves translation, simultaneous interpretation and also workshops in communication and sustainability. I am preparing content to create a YouTube channel and a blog to disseminate sustainable ideas and critical thoughts, this communication strategy will be a way to do my tikun olam to make a better world.
Sandra Strauss | Israel
My name is Sandra Strauss, I am 45 years old, and I’m Natan Levy’s mother. I studied in Jewish school my whole life. In 1991 I studied biotechnology at the Nesher Institute in Tel Chanan in Haifa. I’ve lived 4 years on Kibbutz Ein Hashofet and one year in Tel Aviv. In 1999, looking for my purpose of life, I started studying Kabbalah and from there I developed a Kabbalistic method of medicine of the house and harmonizing living environments that each recovered point of the magnetic camp can provide a free-flow healing energy, promoting physical and emotional balance. I really love the life that I have created. I have a book edited “Household Kabbalah”, and this year will launch two more books. I teach Kabbalah and Meditation in Midrash Culture Center in Rio de Janeiro, and always searching ways to renovate and improve life.
Marcin Bartlomiej Studzinski | Poland
I’m 26 and I participate in Ph.D. program in Modern Linguistics at the Jagiellonian University. I have taught foreign languages for eight years and it is not only my job but my very addictive hobby as well. I’ve studied Literature and Jewish Studies and since then I’ve been improving my Hebrew, Ladino and Yiddish skills. I’m
interested in Jewish theology and the discourse which is used to describe the Shoah. I love animals, traveling and reading – that is my most significant hobby.
Marina Tuliakina | Russia
My name is Marina Tulakina. I am 42 now. I was born on the 29th of January 1975 in the Far-Eastern part of Russia in Vladivostok where I spent my childhood. I studied in a local linguistic school. After finishing the school I entered the Art College. There I studied well for 5 years and was graduated with honors. I then moved to Saint-Petersburg to continue studying Arts in Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design. I studied interior design for 5 years and was graduated in 2003. I was working as interior designer for the next 5 years. In 2007 I became a mother and made a decision to change my job. So the next 5+ years I experienced as a lay leader of the parents committee of a local Jewish kindergarten, then 3+ years as an organizer and a leading teacher of the Jewish educational family project “Plyaski-Kraski” at the progressive Jewish community “Shaarei Shalom”. By now I work closely with the progressive Jewish community “Shaarei Shalom” as a designer and a decorator of various events and holidays.
Brenda Waffel | Germany, England
Hello, I’m Brenda Waffel. I am a semi-retired language teacher, married with two grown-up children and spend parts of the year living in Germany and England. I was born in London in the early 1950s to third-generation
Eastern European immigrants. After studying at universities in Birmingham and London, I moved to Germany in the 1970s where I taught English at secondary schools.
Living in a rural area at this time, I did not have real access to Jewish life, apart from the time I spent with my family in London. After I retired a few years ago, I decided to do something about this. Four years ago my husband and I moved to Freiburg, a city in southwestern Germany where I joined Chawurah Gescher, a small and flourishing Liberal Jewish community on whose council I have been for the last two years. At the same time I am a member of Eastbourne Liberal Jewish Community in England, where I have served on the council for four years. To play a fuller part in the life of the community, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to do a Ba’alei Tefillah course at Liberal Judaism in England. I graduated in 2016 so I can now lead or co-lead services. In 2012 I spent three months volunteering at the Children and Youth Village ‘Ahava’ in Kiryat Bialik. I am very much looking forward to returning to Israel, as well as being excited about having the chance to participate in this stimulating course.
Judith Wiley | Canada
Divorced, I am the mother of three, grandmother of five, and Chief Executive Officer of a Community Health Centre which I was hired to build, staff, program and run. The Centre offers health and wellness programs and services to people who face barriers such as poverty, and mental health and addiction issues, among other barriers. We have an interprofessional team consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses, chiropractor, chiropodist, social workers, psychiatrist, physiotherapists, system navigator, dietician, and health promoter.
Starting in the corporate world, I then moved to the nonprofit/charitable sector where I have headed local, national and international organizations. Before I moved from Metropolitan Toronto to the tiny fishing village where I now reside, I lived in South America and Barbados where I did consulting work with the Inter American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.
I converted to Judaism in 1999 and consider that the single best decision I have made strictly for myself. From the time of my decision to pursue a Jewish life, I have been active with whichever synagogue I was attending – first Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario Canada and now Temple Israel in London, Ontario Canada. At Holy Blossom I was fortunate enough to study under Rabbi Dov Marmur, and I was very active in Sisterhood as well as other synagogue activities. I attended biennial conference in San Diego in 2005 and had the thrill of worship with that congregation of 5000 people.
My adult life – volunteer and professional – has focused on two things: pursuing social justice issues (mostly the rights of women and girls and anti-racism), and the promotion of good governance in the charitable sector. I built a successful consulting business around the latter.
Prodded on because Rabbi Marmur made the comment, “most Jews are illiterate”, meaning we do not speak Hebrew, I have recently started an on-line Hebrew course which is exciting as well as punishing. The course is offered in real time with an Israeli teacher. I view it as a sophisticated version of Skype with interactive teaching tools etc. This is a terrific challenge, and I am grateful my teacher is patient and has a good sense of humour. I am hoping to meet her in person while I am in Israel this time. I look forward to meeting new people and making new friends while we attend the Beutel Seminar.