MEET OUR 2022
"We believe that every Jew should be a student and any Jew can be a teacher"
The Female Collective
The Female Collective are students from the New Zealand School of Music passionate about creating a space for female musicians to collaborate with the goal of highlighting female musicians, composers and arrangers. For their debut performance they will be showcasing their own arrangements on some of the jazz classics. Led by Hannah Flacks on vocals, Elisa Bird on Baritone Saxophone, Mysty Cooke on trumpet, Zoe Iannou on piano, Grace Kendrick on bass guitar and Baileigh Sparkes on drums.
Kris moved to Wellington in 2019 from Houston, Texas. He graduated from the University of Houston and was a teacher for 12 years, having taught European History and Psychology. He joined the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand in November 2019 as Education Director where he has worked to expand the educational programmes offered at the centre as well as the online presence of the centre to help students and teachers with Holocaust education.
Born in Venezuela, Desiree emigrated to New Zealand in 1985 with her husband and three daughters. She has an MA in Creative Writing - Scriptwriting (IIML-VUW), and an MA in Literary Translation Studies (VUW). She writes poetry, theatre, film, stories and other genre. Her play 'Nuclear Family' won the Best Stageplay Award (Script) at the 2011 Moondance International Film Festival Competition (USA) and the show, performed by her daughter Yael Gezentsvey, received 5-star reviews. More info at link.
Yael is a Venezuelan born, Eastern European, Jewish, Kiwi arts practitioner. Founder and Artistic Director of Kavanah Productions, recent collaborations include co-writing the award-winning animated collection of three short stories for the fulldome “How It Was Told To Me”, which received international acclaim. She has produced shows at Circa Theatre and also produced and performed the 5-star solo theatre show NUCLEAR FAMILY, by Desiree Gezentsvey, to rave reviews. More info at link.
David is a founding member of the Klezmer Rebs (formed in 2002) and still leads the band. Originally from Pennsylvania, he moved to New Zealand 40 years ago, and lives in Wellington with partner Rose (also in the Klezmer Rebs). In addition to playing rhythm guitar, mandolin (badly), and singing with the band, he is a member of the Wososi world music a capella chorus, enjoys wildlife safaris, and works for Foreign Affairs in the NZ Aid Programme.
After starting to develop ailments that her doctor suggested were inevitable for women in their 40s, Claire decided to do something about her health at a yoga studio near where she worked as a researcher at Massey University. That was 15 years ago. Five years ago she bought the business and moved from researching small businesses to running one. She teaches various forms of yoga and breathwork and is constantly looking for new ways to help others to learn about these ancient techniques.
Joseph graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Art in Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Acting. A month after graduating he returned to NZ to star in top Kiwi medical drama series Shortland Street. His previous credits include roles in films The Engagement Party, Missing and Dealer. Joseph also has extensive experience on stage, having won the Northern Area Performance Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor for his 2017 performance as Usnavi in stage production In The Heights.
Rabbi Dr Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz received her doctorate from University College London. She holds a Research Fellowship at the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester, where she is investigating the history and development of Limmud. She has presented at Limmud worldwide. , as well as founding the Pop-Up Beit Midrash in 2019. In 2021 she received Orthodox rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Maharat, New York, and authored her first book.
Rob was born in London and lived there until 15 years ago when he came to New Zealand with his family. He has also lived in Israel, where he made aliyah, serving in the IDF for 12 months. For the last six years, Rob has been President of both the Zionist Federation of New Zealand and JNF NZ. Rob lives in Auckland but regularly commutes to Wellington and has written several Opinion pieces on Israel and Zionism for the NZ Herald and Stuff/The Dominion Post.
Léon was born in Casablanca, Morocco. His mother tongue is French, and he also speaks English, some Hebrew, Arabic (Darja), Farsi, and a smattering of Haketia and Ladino! Léon holds a BA Hons in History from Loyola College, a BPhil in Modern Middle Eastern studies from Oxford University, and an MA in Islamic Studies from McGill University, with his MA thesis on the Moroccan monarchy and independence movement - Rhodes Scholar (1972). Léon has lived in New Zealand since December 1980.
Based between NZ and NYC, Simone wrote and starred in ‘Kid Sister’, a five part semi-autobiographical comedy, produced for TVNZ. She was a Staff Writer on the HBO Max series ‘Our Flag Means Death' produced by Taika Waititi and was in the writer’s room on the Netflix show, ‘Bloodline’. Simone was a Nickelodeon Writing Program Fellow, and has worked on Comedy Central’s ‘Inside Amy Schumer’. She has a MFA from the from the Graduate Dramatic Writing program at Tisch at NYU.
Rabbi Ed Rosenthal
Executive Director and Campus Rabbi of the Suncoast Hillels, Rabbi Ed is passionate about Jewish life and spirituality, Israel and the Jewish People. Before coming to work for Hillel, he was a congregational rabbi in Auckland, New Zealand and Brownsville, Texas. He's also the founder of Tikkun HaYam/Scubi Jew created out of his passion for Judaism and the Sea. Ed wants to show the wonders of the underwater world through Jewish eyes, while raising awareness about the myriad threats it faces.
Charlotte is the Senior Educator at StandWithUs. She graduated with a BA in Middle Eastern History from USC. In her current role at StandWithUs, Charlotte works with over 15,000 students, reaching over 100K on social media each year educating them about Israel and training them to be activists in their high schools, universities, and communities worldwide. She has quickly become one of the foremost public speakers in her field.
At 16 Maxine started working at Logan Brown, a Wellington fine dining restaurant. After studying cookery and pastry at WelTec, she moved to Paris to specialise in patisserie at Ferrandi l’ecole gastronomie. She's also worked in London at Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin starred The Fat Duck. In 2018 Maxine returned to New Zealand and set up Sugar Flour Patisserie in Kilbirnie, now a pastry school, where she teaches classes on French inspired patisserie.
Ittay is the Education Director at Kids4Peace Jerusalem, an interfaith movement for Israelis and Palestinians and the Jerusalem Correspondent for Plus61J Media. He also frequently teaches on gap year programs about the identity, narratives and cultures of the people who call Jerusalem home.
Rabbi Esther Jilovsky
Rabbi of Wellington’s Temple Sinai, Esther was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2021. She has lived in Melbourne, Jerusalem, Oxford, Berlin and Los Angeles. She holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from the University of Oxford and a PhD specialising in Holocaust memory from the University of London. She is the author of Remembering the Holocaust: Generations, Witnessing and Place and co-editor of In the Shadows of Memory: The Third Generation and the Holocaust.
Professor Paul Morris
Paul is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Te Herenga Waka/Victoria University of Wellington where he holds the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations in New Zealand and the Pacific. He has published widely in the area of intercultural and interreligious understanding. and is currently engaged in a research project on government and religion, and another examining religious traditions and markets.
Ruby (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Ashkenazi) is a writer, taonga pūoro practitioner, and music therapist living in Pōneke. She has performed with artists such as Yo-yo Ma, Trinity Roots and Whirimako Black. Her first book of poetry, 'Tōku Pāpā', looks at how culture and values are passed down through our relationships with our parents. She is currently completing a PhD at Massey University in the use of traditional Māori musical instruments within health care. Photo courtesy of Ebony Lamb.
Passionate about Jewish diversity, Ruben is the National Director of Sephardi House & Young Leadership at the American Sephardi Federation. He's also Founding Executive Director of the Sephardic Mizrahi Q Network. As a visual artist, Ruben uses his multilingual Arabic-Hebrew-Persian calligraphy to build Muslim-Jewish interfaith bridges. He has been listed among The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” emerging leaders and changemakers.
Liza is an award-winning educator with over twenty-five years of teaching experience. Her YA crossover novel, The Assignment, was published by Delacorte Press and has received numerous honours, including being named a 2021 Sydney Taylor Notable Book.The Assignment has also been published in Russian, Polish, Italian, and Korean. In addition, Liza has had two adult nonfiction books published and several short stories included in the New York Times bestselling Small Miracles series.
Elliott is co-founder of Living Jewishly, a non-denominational digital Toronto-based platform that hosts conversations and events to draw out the core existential meanings of Judaism and of a spiritual life. Dr. Malamet made aliyah with his family in 2013, and lectures at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and other institutions. He is one of the premiere discussion moderators in the Jewish world today, having conducted/moderated over 100 interviews.
Wendy is Shalom Program Manager to Young Family Programs - PJ Library and Adamama Jnr. She has been working with children and families for over twenty years and is passionate about creating a warm, nurturing, and supportive learning environment that invites every child to play, have fun, discover, and explore whilst enhancing their developmental skills. Her hands-on approach is open ended and aims to meet the individual child where they are at, to empower their knowledge of the world around them
For many years JoEllen served Temple Sinai in Wellington as the Mashpiah or Spiritual Director. JoEllen is now retired and tries to follow this teaching of Rabbi Rami Shapiro: “Jewish mysticism suggests that we do one practice for each of the five dimensions of life”. This includes walking, chanting prayers from the Torah, qi gong, heart opening meditation/prayer practice, studying sacred texts, and connecting with family, friends, study partners, neighbours and strangers.
Leah is completing her doctoral dissertation on attachment theory and the psychology of religion. As a clinical psychologist, she has worked with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families in Canada, USA, England, and Israel and taught at Bar Ilan University. She has given professional seminars on the systematic integration of different theoretical and clinical approaches to psychotherapeutic assessment and treatment, emotional regulation, and the interface between psychology & religion
Michelanne is a member of Temple Sinai, and a past member of Beth Shalom. On moving to Wellington in 2020 she emerged from semi-retirement to do a two-year Master of Fine Arts at Massey University. She considers herself a beginning painter but is pleased to make a small artistic contribution to Limmud.
Dr Lisa Newland
Recently returned to Auckland, Lisa is an Anatomical Pathologist with an interest in the visual arts and design and has exhibited her own photographic artwork. Thirty years ago, her late grandfather ignited her interest in their relative, the Berlin photographer Yva, and ever since, she has been on a journey of research and discovery to bring Yva’s life and legacy to the world. She is collaborating with the Israeli film and production company Metaphor to create a documentary about Yva.
"We believe that every Jew should be a student and any Jew can be a teacher"