Skip to main content

About Us

Honeymoon Israel brings young couples into the folds of Jewish life.

Our Mission

Honeymoon Israel’s mission is to provide immersive trips to Israel for locally based cohorts of couples that have at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship, creating communities of couples who are building families with deep and meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people​.

Our goal is to make young couples of all backgrounds feel welcome in the Jewish community and to inspire them to incorporate Jewish values and traditions into their lives in their own way. 

Honeymoon Israel is supported by funders throughout the Jewish community who share our goal of welcoming and building community for diverse Jewish families.

Our Supporters

Our Vision

Honeymoon Israel’s vision is that every committed couple with at least one Jewish partner will possess the knowledge, inspiration, support system, and sense of belonging to build a family with meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people, thereby enhancing and strengthening the Jewish community.

For many young couples, there’s no easy way in to Jewish life, especially during those critical years when they’re in permanent relationships and deciding how to shape their lives and family.  

Honeymoon Israel offers a way in: immersive group travel to Israel that lets couples encounter and explore history, tradition, and identity on their own terms. We engage couples in an open-ended inquiry into how they connect to Jewish life and how they’ll incorporate Jewish values and traditions into their families. We support couples in their own exploration and foster the organic development of community. 

The HMI Story

How It All Began

In 2013, Mike Wise sat in his home in Buffalo, NY when he came across a newly released research report. In A Portrait of Jewish Americans, the Pew Research center indicated that intermarriage has become normative: 58% of Jews who have married since 2000 have a non-Jewish spouse, compared to 41% in the 1980s and 17% before 1970. Increasing numbers of young Jews, many themselves the product of intermarried families, are dissociating from religion: 32% of those born after 1980 describe themselves as “Jews of no religion” (meaning they identify as Jewish on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity, or culture), an increase from 26% of Gen Xers and 19% of Baby Boomers.

After reading the report, Mike drafted a whitepaper centered around the question: how do we better welcome young couples with diverse backgrounds to Jewish life so that we meet them where they are, rather than where the community might want them to be. 

He presented his idea to the leaders of the Jewish Federations in North America at the General Assembly in Israel and the whitepaper was published in an online forum. Little did Mike know that Avi Rubel would read all about his idea and fall in love with it. This pivotal moment was the spark that led to the creation of Honeymoon Israel.

A Vision to Reality

In March 2014, Mike Wise and Avi Rubel officially met in person. A quick game of Jewish geography revealed that Mike’s wife’s cousins were Avi’s aunt and uncle. Starting with family as its strong foundation, Honeymoon Israel was built. 

Both co-founders had devoted their lives to Jewish communal service. Mike was the CEO of various JCCs and Federations across the country and Avi was the founding North American Director for Masa Israel. They were driven by a common quest: what would be a game-changer in the growth of Jewish life?

In October 2014, Mike and Avi were fortunate to attract the attention of a family foundation that saw their vision and fully invested in them to make Honeymoon Israel a reality. They both resigned from their positions and jumped feet first into Honeymoon Israel, knowing that this organization could make a real difference in the lives of young couples.

Many Years to Come

Since 2015, Honeymoon Israel has existed to ensure that young couples with at least one Jewish partner have the knowledge, inspiration, support system, and sense of belonging to build a family with meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people. With a waitlist thousands of couples long and more than four couples applying for every spot on a Honeymoon Israel trip, the initiative has taken flight.

The Honeymoon Israel experience uses an immersive group trip to Israel as a catalyst to build a diverse, inclusive, supportive community at home. Couples from the same city travel to Israel to explore their connections to Jewish people, values, and traditions and how they may incorporate them into their lives in their own way. And it’s about so much more than the trip. Couples return home with a newfound community of friends and a deeper connection to Jewish life. 

Honeymoon Israel is now supported by generous funders and a dedicated team based across the country, all committed to supporting couples in their own exploration and to foster the organic development of community.

Meet The HMI Team

Avi Rubel

Chief Executive Officer

Before co-founding Honeymoon Israel, Avi was the founding North American Director of Masa Israel Journey, bringing more than 10,000 North Americans to Israel annually. Avi has lived in Israel for several years and also spent more than a decade working on Jewish community development in the former Soviet Union with Hillel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Avi served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Kyrgyzstan. Avi earned a BA from Binghamton University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Jennifer Chestnut

Chief Operating Officer

She/Her
Jennifer Chestnut, Honeymoon Israel's first Chief Operating Officer, has worked in the Jewish community since 1996. Prior to joining the HMI team, she focused mostly on organizational transitions and transformations in her 25 years in the Hillel movement. In her work as a Hillel Campus Support Director and Executive Director, her passions came through in helping Hillels reach their maximum potential through professional development, facility updates, budgetary growth, and more. Her portfolio included 25 Hillels throughout North America.
Jennifer received a BS from Syracuse University and a Master’s of Nonprofit Organizations from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations.
Outside of work, Jen is a 200RYT yoga instructor and a committed Daf Yomi learner. A Cleveland native, she lives in Akron, Ohio with her husband and their two youngest children while their oldest son lives in Burlington, VT.

Avital Ingber

Chief Advancement Officer

She/Her
Prior to joining HMI, Avital served as the President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. Avital led the Houston Federation in its historic response and recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. Prior to taking on the role of CEO for the Houston Federation, Avital spent nearly thirteen years at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington where she served as both the Chief Development Officer and Managing Director of Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund. Avital is a nationally recognized community leader, innovator and change agent. She is a well-known expert in resource development and multi-generational family philanthropy who has a passion for Jewish identity and community building locally, in Israel and around the world. She received her Executive Masters in Leadership from the Georgetown School of Business and her Bachelor of Arts from the Kogod School of Business at American University. Avital lives in New York City. She loves to travel and visits at least one new country every year.

Jenn Green

Chief Engagement and Program Officer

She/Her
Jenn currently serves as the Chief Engagement and Program Officer for Honeymoon Israel after working as the West Coast Senior Regional Director and the Director of Community Engagement in Los Angeles over the last 4 years.

Jenn previously worked as an advocate for youth in foster care and on probation in South LA, and currently serves as a volunteer CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) for a teenager in foster care. She is a graduate of the Glass Leadership Institute at the ADL, the Jeremiah Fellowship at Bend the Arc, and the New Leaders Council Institute for emerging millennial leaders and entrepreneurs. She holds an MA in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California.

She has been a teacher and community organizer across the globe, and her passions have taken her from the townships of South Africa to the villas of Argentina and the southern tip of South Korea. In her free time, she explores all of Los Angeles’ vibrant neighborhoods for her adventure blog, My Best LA Day, and gathers inspiring females for her women's circle, Her Tribe.

Michael Himmelstein

Chief Finance Officer

Michael is Honeymoon Israel’s Chief Financial Officer. For the past 23 years, Michael has served as a fractional CFO serving several businesses in the Atlanta area. Prior to that, he served in several financial leadership positions primarily in the healthcare field. Michael is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Georgia. He grew up in New York and earned a BS in Accounting from the University of Delaware. His passion for Israel stems from his granddaughter living in Jaffa with her parents.

Amanda Brooks

Trip Operations Specialist

She/Her
Amanda Brooks is the Trip Operations Specialist for Honeymoon Israel. She has a Bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from The Ohio State University and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership through Northern Arizona University. Amanda has worked as an educator for the majority of her adult life. She is also very involved in the Jewish community in Phoenix, serving on different boards, working at various Jewish summer camps, and teaching at local religious schools. In her spare time, she enjoys finding trendy brunch spots, traveling, and hanging out with her family.

Curt Sechrist

New York City Co-Director of Community Engagement

He/Him/They
After relocating from London UK, Curt lived in NYC for nearly ten years, and he and his husband are proud HMI alumni from NYC. In 2020, they moved to the West Coast where he became the Honeymoon Israel East Bay Director of Community Engagement. In 2022, Curt and his family decided to move back to NYC, and in October 2023, he rejoined the HMI team as New York City's Co-Director of Community Engagement.

Curt loves community building and exploring Jewish identity. When he's not engaged in Jewish life, you'll find Curt either walking his dog Carmen Miranda or playing with his 2 year old son, Noah.

Daniel Larson

Boston Director of Community Engagement

Daniel is a Canadian-Israeli who grew up between Edmonton, Alberta, and Kfar Monash, Israel. Daniel has over a decade of professional experience in the Jewish communal world, including at Jewish Federations in Canada and the US, working in community programming, development, and communications. Daniel holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Alberta, as well as an MBA in Social Impact and an MA in Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University. He loves to cycle, hike, act (film & stage), and is constantly in search of the next best shawarma that Israel has to offer. Daniel lives in Greater Boston with his wife Dafna and son Ilan, and is excited to share his love and knowledge of Israel with HMI participants!

Elana Pollack

Atlanta Director of Community Engagement

She/Her
Elana grew up in the small, sandy town of Vero Beach, Florida and moved to Atlanta after completing her studies in English and Hospitality at the Florida State University. For seven years, she worked for Camp Judaea as the Communications Director and then as the camp’s Assistant Director. When she and her husband were lucky enough to participate in an HMI trip in January 2020, she fell in love with the organization’s mission to embrace and celebrate the local diversity of Jewish families. With a passion for experiential education, keen memory for names and faces, and genuine curiosity for learning and “connecting the dots,” Elana joined the HMI team as Atlanta’s Director of Community Engagement in 2021. Elana and her husband welcomed a daughter in 2022 and live in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.

Emma Dunn

Regional Director, Midwest

She/Her
Emma is HMI's Regional Director of Community Engagement for the Midwest. Prior to joining the HMI team, she directed the joint young adult program of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations, overseeing HMI and a range of leadership and engagement initiatives for Jewish adults in their 20s/30s. She holds a BA and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota and a Certificate in Jewish Leadership from the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Emma is active in Jewish and political causes locally, serving on the National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota's Board of Directors and volunteering in various capacities in the Jewish community. She is a lifelong Midwestener and spends her time discovering new trails, people, and passions.

Hannah Bloomberg

Rabbinic Intern

(she/her)
Hannah is HMI’s Rabbinic Intern and a current student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Over the past decade, Hannah has had the privilege of building Jewish community through her work in youth groups, Jewish summer camping, Reform synagogues, Hillel, and Moishe House. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Rochester, as well as an MA in Hebrew Letters and a Certificate in Jewish Organizational Leadership from HUC-JIR. Hannah is a born and raised Midwesterner, but now lives in Los Angeles, CA with her fiancé, Alec. She loves to read, bake pies and cupcakes, practice yoga, and explore restaurants around the city!

Hilary Sloane

Marketing and Communications Specialist

She/Her
Hilary is Honeymoon Israel's Marketing and Communications Specialist. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Georgia in 2012, and has been part of marketing teams in many Jewish organizations including Congregation B'nai Torah in Sandy Springs, GA and Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Los Angeles, CA. Before joining the HMI team, Hilary and her husband went on Honeymoon Israel Atlanta in January of 2020, and they are both huge cheerleaders of this organization!

Jacquelyn Johnson

Operations Support Specialist

Jacquelyn Johnson is the Operations Support Specialist for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining Honeymoon Israel, Jacquelyn worked for two Jewish organizations in Program, Marketing, and Engagement positions. Jacquelyn has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Mass Communications and a minor in Leadership Studies from the University of Kansas. Jacquelyn resides in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and their dog, Lady. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, and hiking.

Joey Brooks

Alumni Giving Director

She/Her
Joey Brooks is the Alumni Giving Director at Honeymoon Israel. Joey holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Washington University in St. Louis. After many years as a fashion designer, she switched gears to work in the non-profit space, working previously in engagement and fundraising for a variety of Jewish organizations, specifically around education.
Joey is also an HMI alum! Joey and her husband Tom were on a 2018 trip from LA and are still closely connected to their HMI cohort. As LA natives, they spend a lot of time checking out food and art festivals all over, along with their son and new puppy.

Julie Smelansky

New York City Co-Director of Community Engagement

Julie is a community builder, event curator and Israel traveler. Prior to joining the HMI team, Julie served as the 20s + 30s Director at the Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan. Julie has deep connections to Israel from years as a bi-annual Birthright staffer and through her past roles working with Masa Israel Journey and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Julie is a lifelong camp counselor, trip leader, and informal Jewish educator, and is passionate about adapting Jewish life to fit the individual. She holds a B.A. from the University of Minnesota. Julie loves to travel, explore NYC, check out new restaurants, and host Shabbat dinners.

Kathryn Lash

Applicant Experience Coordinator

She/Her
Kathryn Lash is the Applicant Experience Coordinator for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining HMI, Kathryn worked as a civil rights and racial justice attorney. She spent her legal career advocating for individuals in marginalized communities using impact litigation, community lawyering, policy advocacy, and direct legal services. In her last legal role, Kathryn helped the DC City Council implement a district-wide right to counsel in housing cases by representing indigent tenants facing eviction.

Kathryn’s Jewish upbringing and the values it instilled – like tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedek (charity) – are what fueled her desire to become a civil rights attorney and use the law to make the world a better and more equitable place. She is excited about her new career path in the Jewish nonprofit world, and is proud to be supporting HMI’s efforts to make young couples of all backgrounds feel welcome in the Jewish community.

Kathryn received her JD from the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she served as a student attorney in the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, as the Programming Assistant for the National Black Law Students Association, and as the Vice President of Community Outreach for the New Mexico Women’s Law Caucus. Prior to law school, Kathryn received her B.S. in Journalism and a certificate in Multicultural Leadership Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Originally from New Mexico and Colorado, Kathryn enjoys outdoor activities, travel, making jewelry, and spending time with her amazing family and inspirational friends. She currently lives in College Park, Maryland with her husband, cat, and Shiba Inu.

Laura Sherr

Director of Marketing and Communications

She/Her
Laura is Honeymoon Israel’s Director of Marketing and Communications. She is passionate about connecting people to the causes most meaningful to them, and has over 13 years of experience in nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and communications for organizations including The Marine Mammal Center, Kiva and the Jane Goodall Institute, as well as in management consulting work in the for-profit sector. Prior to joining Honeymoon Israel, Laura spent more than 8 years at The Marine Mammal Center, where she was pivotal in shifting the storytelling and marketing strategy to reposition the brand as a global leader in ocean conservation.

Laura and her husband participated in a Honeymoon Israel trip from San Francisco in 2016, and now live in Maryland outside of Washington D.C. A Maryland native, Laura earned her B.A. in International Relations from Washington College. In her free time she enjoys multiple book clubs, volunteering, swimming, and spending time with her husband, two kids, and two cats.

Lindsay Migdal

Development and Strategy Operations Associate

Lindsay Migdal is the Development and Strategy Operations Associate for Honeymoon Israel. She has a Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh. Lindsay has spent most of her adult life working in the Jewish community and is passionate about giving back to organizations that have shaped her Jewish & Israel journey. She is a proud Ohioan and after growing up in Akron, spent 10 years in Jewish communities throughout the United States before returning home to Cleveland. In Lindsays spare time she loves traveling, fitness and cheering on Cleveland teams to victory (hopefully).

Lynnley Miller

Director of Jewish Educational Talent

She/Her
Lynnley Miller discovered her passion for working with the Jewish community on a post-college Masa trip to Israel. Living in Tel Aviv opened her eyes to the infinite possibilities of living a meaningful Jewish life. Lynnley has held many positions throughout the Jewish community and currently serves as Honeymoon Israel’s Director of Jewish Educational Talent, working with the Rabbis and educators who travel with HMI’s trips. While she is a long way from her undergrad days studying Biology, she considers herself a scientist at heart, always discovering new ways of approaching challenges. She also holds an MA in Jewish Professional Studies from the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership and is the VP of the Chicago chapter of Jewish Women International’s Young Women’s Impact Network. Whether it’s exploring a new neighborhood restaurant or preparing a meal in her Chicago home for family, Lynnley is always planning her next meal. She loves nothing more than to travel to new places with her husband Brett and to curl up on the couch with her dog, Cody.

Marisa Kaplan

Director of Development

She/Her
Prior to joining Honeymoon Israel as the Director of Development, Marisa served as Senior Vice President at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for nearly 13 years. She led Federation’s vision and strategy to create a fair, equitable social service safety net for Jews in need in Los Angeles and Israel. Marisa has more than 20 years of professional experience identifying Jewish communal needs and trends; managing lay committee processes; gathering and analyzing data; and assessing program impact and financial reporting to enhance resource development. Marisa, originally from Michigan, completed her Master of Social Work at Michigan State University, as well as her B.A. in Communications. In her free time, Marisa enjoys playing outside with her two sons, listening to live music with her husband and sharing a good cup of coffee with friends.

Melissa Opper O'Donnell

Los Angeles Director of Community Engagement

She/Her
Melissa fell in love with Honeymoon Israel when she and her husband went on the November 2018 HMI Los Angeles trip. Melissa’s enthusiasm for HMI led her to serve on Honeymoon Israel’s National Leadership Council for two years and subsequently join the team as the Los Angeles Director of Community Engagement.

Melissa began her career in the entertainment industry at the Endeavor Talent Agency before earning her J.D. from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. For the past decade, she served as a prosecutor and was given awards and accolades for her service to the community and victims of crime. During this time, she also taught fifth-grade students about the criminal justice system for Los Angeles County’s Project L.E.A.D.

Melissa holds a B.A. from Columbia University in History, a B.A. from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Bible and Ancient Semitic Studies, and spent time studying in Israel at Tel Aviv University. In her spare time, she loves to travel, explore new restaurants, read, and design and renovate homes with her husband. A long-time resident of West Hollywood, Melissa currently resides in Eagle Rock with her husband, daughter, and husky.

Michael Mishali

San Francisco Bay Area Director of Community Engagement

He/Him
Mike or Michael (he really doesn’t have a preference) Mishali is joining Honeymoon Israel as the Director of Community Engagement for the San Francisco Bay Area. He joined HMI after eight years working in middle and high school classrooms in Berkeley, Palo Alto, and San Francisco. His students called him Salad, an endearing nickname based on his last name, but suffice it to say, he really doesn’t mind Mike or Michael or even Mikey.

Michael is a husband, dog dad, and ceramicist. He grew up in a Jewish household on Long Island. By some miracle, Michael does not have a Long Island accent. Though his family is still on the Island, he’s happy to call the Bay his home where he lives with his partner, their dog, and an obscene amount of pottery.

Mikey holds a Bachelor’s in Biology from Adelphi University and a Masters in Education from UC Berkeley. With his years of experience seeding community in the classroom, at summer camp, and his own life, Mikey’s excited to share himself with the Honeymoon Israel community as well.

Mike feels personally attached to Honeymoon Israel's mission. Mike and his partner work hard at creating and maintaining their multicultural home. In fact, their multicultural household has helped him learn more about Judaism and feel more connected to it than ever before.

Mikelle Belfore

Director of Operations

She/Her
Mikelle is the Director of Operations for Honeymoon Israel. Her prior work includes Director of Admissions and Licensed Professional Counselor for non-profit organizations. She was an adjunct professor at Paradise Valley Community College and currently sits on the board of her local synagogue. Mikelle earned a BS in Psychology from The University of Arizona and a Masters in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. Mikelle and her husband were enthusiastic participants in the inaugural Honeymoon Israel trip from Phoenix, and reside there with their two children.

Mindy Goldstein

Executive Assistant and Development and Board Coordinator

She/Her
Mindy is a proud New Yorker who lives in Sharon, MA. She holds a BA in Psychology from Binghamton University, as well as an MBA from Northeastern University. Prior to joining HMI, Mindy served as the Director of Annual Campaign and Alumni relations for Ramah New England for over 10 years, helping to raise much needed funds for families in need and making the Ramah experience available to all. Mindy has very strong ties to Israel – her father, a Holocaust resistance fighter, emigrated to Palestine in 1945, fought in the Yom Ha'atzmaut War and helped to develop the Negev. And, her parents met and married in Jerusalem. Mindy loves to travel the world with her husband, Noah, and relishes her new role as Bubbie to granddaughters, Ava and Aviva.

Naava Frank

Institutional Giving Director

She/Her
Naava brings to Honeymoon Israel her passion for Israel and community building as well as her extensive grantsmanship experience. Naava has devoted her career to building a rich and diverse Jewish community, with significant achievements in program design, evaluation, and management. A seasoned consultant and facilitator, she speaks and gives workshops about communities of practice and nonprofit networks for foundations and nonprofits. Naava enjoys swimming and singing. She holds an Ed.D. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Barnard College/Columbia University.

Naomi Stanway

Washington, D.C. Director of Community Engagement

Naomi grew up on the Jersey shore and spent summers at URJ Camp Harlam where she developed deep connections with the Jewish community. Prior to HMI, Naomi spent 10 years as a classroom teacher. Her travels made her a student in Italy, a teacher with TFA New Mexico, a librarian with the JDC in Rwanda, and a chocolatier in Costa Rica (but only for a weekend). Naomi has always been deeply passionate about supporting families, and she is so excited to bring her experiences as an educator to Honeymoon Israel as the D.C. Director of Community Engagement.

Naomi and her dachshund Bailey are the proud owners of a DC-based pet accessories business, Beasties and Besties. When they aren’t popping up at local markets, Naomi and Bailey can be found out and about in their neighborhood, hiking in Rock Creek Park, gardening, or taking on overly ambitious DIY projects.

Rachel Kline

Chicago Director of Community Engagement

She/Hers
Rachel is a New Jersey transplant who has happily grown roots in Chicago, Il over the past few years. Prior to joining HMI, Rachel worked in Student Affairs, creating community on college campuses and then in granting at a non-profit focused on increasing interfaith cooperation on campuses across the country. Rachel holds a B.A. from University of Delaware in Sociology and Interpersonal Communications, a M.Ed. from Clemson University in Counselor Education: Student Affairs, and an M.S. from Syracuse University in Cultural Foundations of Education, with a C.A.S in Women and Gender Studies.

In her spare time, Rachel loves listening to podcasts, playing games, spending time in her garden, and trying new crafts. She doesn't have pets of her own, but would love to see all the photos of your pet and is always looking for food, podcast, or tv show recommendations.

Randi Reed

East Bay Director of Community Engagement & Co-Director of Jewish Service

She/Her
Randi is so excited to be the Director of Community Engagement for the East Bay and the Co-Director of Jewish Service with HMI. She has been a long time fan of HMI, and is so happy to be a full time team member. When not in the office, Randi is spending time with her wife, Ashley, and their son Dashel. He is their greatest joy and biggest adventure!

Before joining the HMI team, Randi was the Bay Area Education and Training Manager for Keshet where she built inclusive and equitable LGBTQ+ Jewish spaces all around the Bay Area. When Randi is not working, traveling with HMI, or being a full-time mom, she loves to make wine in the Santa Cruz mountains, row with West Coast Rowing, and host all day brunches with friends.

Randi has been to Israel three times with HMI, and each trip is magical. Randi loves the journey HMI gives to couples and the individual as well. Her first trip truly changed her life, and she is so proud to help bring more people to Israel to experience the magic.

Rose Osburn

Colorado Director of Community Engagement and Co-Director of Jewish Service

She/Her
A born and raised Michigander and alumna of The College of Wooster, Rose happily fell into a nontraditional personal and professional career path. Having been invested in social justice and building community from a young age, she found herself looking for an opportunity to explore these areas after college with the Repair the World fellowship where she served as a food justice fellow in Pittsburgh. Subsequently, this was Rose’s introduction to the world of Jewish nonprofits and Jewish life. She immediately felt welcomed and resonated deeply with many of the Jewish values and traditions she learned about. Rose went on to work for Thrive DC, a day shelter serving those at risk or experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C. and came back to Repair the World to work with the marketing and program teams before joining the HMI team as the first Colorado Director of Community Engagement and Co-Director of Jewish Service.

She recognizes and honors that everyone's Jewish journey looks different and is excited to help couples explore what living a Jewish life can mean to them while also providing opportunities for HMI communities to engage with service through intentional and meaningful avenues. Rose can be found at concerts around Denver with her partner, training their golden retriever, attempting to ski or hike, and spending as much time as possible with loved ones.

Ruthie Stein

Administrative Coordinator

Ruthie Stein is the Administrative Coordinator for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining Honeymoon Israel, Ruthie worked for two different museums in events and development. Ruthie has a BFA in Theatre from the University of Mississippi and a MA in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design. Ruthie is an HMI alum and resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two boys. In her free time, she enjoys reading, sewing, and antiquing.

Sarah Gipoor

Regional Director, West Coast

She/Her
Sarah is HMI’s West Coast Regional Director. Sarah has a rich professional history in outreach and engagement. With a BA in Business from American Jewish University and a Master of Public Policy degree from Pepperdine University, Sarah has spent the last decade creating and growing community initiatives through her work in Jewish education, public relations, and fundraising. She was a Maher Fellow with the LA based organization, 30 Years After, and spent time studying the Israeli-Arab conflict at Tel Aviv University.

Sarah also serves as a board member on several Israel-focused and American Jewish organizations across Southern California. She has a 6 year old Shih Tzu named Tiger Lily, who goes by her nickname Tilly. A fun fact about Sarah is that she studied martial arts for nine years; Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido.

Sarah Wasser McCoobery

Regional Director, East Coast

She/Her
After two years as HMI Boston's Director of Community Engagement, Sarah is currently HMI's East Coast Regional Director. Sarah is a Boston-native with a passion for immersive experience and community building. Prior to joining the team, Sarah was the Program and Operations Manager at Trybal Gatherings. She also founded a beverage company, ParTea, in 2015 and continues to run the company today. She holds a B.A. from the Gallatin School at New York University. In her free time, Sarah can usually be found cooking, entertaining friends, exploring the outdoors, or playing mahjong.

Sasha Sosniak

Digital Marketing Specialist

She/Her
Sasha is Honeymoon Israel’s Digital Marketing Specialist. She loves using technology and storytelling to connect people with purpose-driven organizations in intuitive and authentic ways. Prior to joining the HMI team, Sasha gained over 8 years of experience in driving for-profit digital marketing and technology, as well as supporting a number of nonprofits as a marketing consultant and board member. She’s revamped content strategies, launched impactful campaigns, and helped create fun and engaging tech features for websites and other marketing tools.

Sasha and her husband went to Israel on an HMI Colorado trip in 2016. They loved their experience and continue to be champions for the organization. In her spare time, Sasha enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, hiking, biking, snowboarding, reading, cooking what are hopefully delicious meals, and spending time with her husband, daughter, family and friends.

Rabbi Todd Zinn

Director of Jewish Journeys and Enrichment

He/Him
Prior to joining HMI Todd served as a Rabbi at Chicago Sinai Congregation, where he helped grow and expand the reach of educational programming across all ages, deepened the connections with other faith communities, and grew the opportunities for young people to engage in communal life. He led the congregation's social justice work, helping to define a vision for ways in which Jewish communities can partner with others to make the world a more just, equitable, and moral place.

Todd was ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. There he also earned his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and Masters of Arts in Jewish Education. He previously earned his Bachelor of Arts in History for Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. He has participated in the Otzma Service Learning Fellowship, the Rabbi Balfour Brickner Social Justice Fellowship through the Religious Action Center, and the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship with 18Doors.

Todd is an avid cyclist, an adventurous traveler, and a craft beer enthusiast.

Trudy Hart

Information Systems Manager

Trudy Hart is the Information Systems Manager for Honeymoon Israel. She has previously worked in the Jewish Nonprofit space in both the programming and operations ends. She holds a BA in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University and an MA in Israeli Studies from Hebrew University. In her free time, Trudy likes to hang out with friends and family, travel, and volunteer as an advisor for BBYO.

Meet The HMI Board of Directors

Alisa Levin

Board Chair

Alisa, co-founder of the boutique legal search firm Greene-Levin-Snyder, is an executive recruiter specializing in partner and senior level searches. Prior to founding the firm, Alisa practiced bankruptcy and workout law at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and White & Case. She began her legal career as a law clerk to Chief Judge Charles D. Breitel of the New York Court of Appeals.

Alisa is a graduate of the Joint Program between Columbia and Jewish Theological Seminary and St. John’s University Law School. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her husband, Charles Nathan and her French bulldog, Marnina. She and Chuck have a married son Sam and a daughter Lily. And she is very proud of her two stepchildren and three grandchildren.

Camille Seigle

Development Co-Chair

Camille spent eight years in hospitality planning events for United Airlines, Alibaba, Crain’s, American Express, Google, and well over a hundred weddings. She moved from hospitality to a career in sales at LinkedIn and then into LinkedIn’s management and senior leadership team focused on sales training and development. She has coached individual contributors and senior leaders in both personal and professional arenas. She has received certificates in Integrative Enneagram Solutions, Shift Positive 360 and is a certified coach through International Coaching Federation. Most recently she founded Camille Seigle LLC in which she works with companies and individuals coaching and facilitating.

She is active in the Jewish Community of Chicago and currently serves on the advisory council for the Ben-Gurion Society for the Jewish United Fund of Chicago. Camille received her Organizational and Leadership Coaching Certificate from Northwestern University and her undergrad from Denison University. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Joe, 2-year-old daughter, Isabel, and 10-year-old dog Palmer. Camille and her husband participated in the Honeymoon Israel trip out of Chicago in 2019.

Joe Kanfer

Development Co-Chair and Immediate Past Board Chair

Joe is Venturer at GOJO. The second generation of family leadership of GOJO, Joe was CEO from 1976 to May 2018, when he transitioned to Venturer. As Venturer, Joe is a member of the GOJO Board and an advisor and coach to many teams. Joe brings his passion for innovation and vision-setting to constantly generate new ideas and push boundaries.
Joe is a venture investor in the United States and Israel, serving as Chairman of Startvest Partners, which develops biotech startups in Israel. He is active in national Jewish affairs and is the past Chair of JFNA, The Jewish Federations of North America, the coordinating organization of the North American Jewish community, which includes the 155 Jewish communities of North America. He served on the board of the Jewish Agency for Israel and is past Chair of JESNA/the Jewish Education Service of North America, the Akron Jewish Federation and The Lippman School. He is also a Founding Director of Lippman Kanfer Family Philanthropies. He currently serves as Chair of Honeymoon Israel, a new venture to bring young couples to Israel and foster Jewish community when they return, and a board member of Leading Edge, dedicated to building talent pipelines for leadership in Jewish organizations.

Melanie Nussdorf

Board Development and Governance Chair

Melanie advises some of the world's largest financial institutions on fiduciary issues, including prohibited transaction exemption questions under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, especially in connection with financial products and services offered by major banks, investment advisers, brokerage firms, and insurance companies. Repeatedly recognized by clients and peers in Chambers USA and Legal 500 as one of the nation’s leading lawyers in the employee benefits area, Melanie’s experience spans the entire range of employee benefits, from tax-based requirements for qualified pension plans, to fiduciary issues, welfare benefits, and plan termination. She has substantial experience with the exemption and advisory opinion process under ERISA and has worked extensively on legislative and regulatory issues related to ERISA. Her experience includes seven years in senior roles at the Department of Labor and at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Melissa Bordy

Finance Chair

Melissa is Secretary/Treasurer and the Chief Financial Officer of Held Properties, Inc.

She has over 20 years experience in financial planning, cash management analysis and banking. Her expertise in financial markets includes negotiations and issuance of over $500 million of debt and equity offerings, future contracts and interest rate swap agreements. Prior to joining Held Properties, Inc. in 1987, Ms. Bordy served as Vice President of Asset/Liability Management for California Federal Savings and Loan Association and Assistant Treasurer for R & B Enterprises.

Melissa holds a Masters of Business Administrator degree in Finance and Real Estate from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Irvine.

Barrett Cohn

Board Member

Barrett is co-founder and CEO of Scenic Advisement, the first investment bank to meet the capital needs of late-stage private companies, their employees and investors. Before co-founding Scenic Advisement, Barrett was a venture advisor with venture-capital firm Maveron, the consumer focused venture fund founded by Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. Barrett served for more than two years as CEO of The Juno Company, a digital media company focused on educational mobile content for children. He also worked in Private Investment Management at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, and in Private Client Services at Stone & Youngberg.

Benneth Sheeley

Board Member

Benneth is an entertainment attorney at the boutique entertainment law firm, Jackoway Austen et. al, in Los Angeles. In his current practice, he represents actors, writers, directors, producers, and other individuals in the entertainment industry. Prior to going talent-side, Benneth worked at international law firms, Sheppard Mullin and O’Melveny & Myers, where he represented studios and production companies (including Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features and producers of various Netflix series) in the development and production of motion pictures and television. He has also represented clients in broader corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and complex commercial litigation.

Benneth received his law degree from UCLA School of Law and economics degree from St. Cloud State University. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Heather, and one-year-old son, Benn. Benneth and Heather participated in the Los Angeles Honeymoon Israel trip in March 2018 and remain active members of the HMI community.

Brian Weiss

Board Member

Brian Weiss is a television executive for TEGNA, one of the largest broadcast companies in the United States. As President and General Manager of Entertainment Networks for TEGNA, Brian oversees the operations of several 24/7 entertainment television networks, streaming services, and podcast ventures for the company. Previously, Brian led business development and partnerships for The Washington Post, after starting his career as a producer and on-air correspondent for Bloomberg Television.

Brian serves on the Board of Trustees for Atlanta-based synagogue The Temple, one of the largest and most storied congregations in the Southeast, and previously served as Chairman of the Leven Family Jewish Identity Institute. He studied Journalism at The George Washington University and also holds a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) from GW, as well as a Master's of Communications from Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Dunwoody, GA with his wife Yang and their daughters Ellie and Sophie and son Aaron. Brian and Yang participated in the Atlanta Honeymoon Israel trip in May 2016 and have since become deeply involved with the organization, including serving as members of the Alumni National Leadership Council.

Howard Zack

Board Member

Howard has been an entrepreneur, developer and angel investor and presently is the Managing Partner of WhoKnew Ventures, an early stage venture fund and start up incubator in Sausalito CA focused on health and wellness, food and nutrition. Howard brings an overarching consumer perspective to investing, as a former P&G brand marketing executive. He co-founded two Internet start-ups and pioneered factory outlet development in Northern California. In addition, he is deeply involved in a range of non profit organizations, Jewish and secular, including the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Wexner Heritage Foundation and the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Karyn Cohen

Board Member

Karyn joined the One8 Foundation in March 2013. She leads the foundation’s work in Jewish Continuity, Israel, and special projects in the US in the non-Jewish related issues areas. She’s responsible for identifying great organizations and leaders, developing grants and providing strategic and tactical support to help organizations increase their impact in significant and sustainable ways. Karyn has significant experience in both the private and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining One8, Karyn was Associate Vice President of Strategy Implementation at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, where she managed strategy and grant making for engaging key populations in Jewish life and led measurement efforts and other strategic projects. Prior to this Karyn spent nine years as a management consultant in Chicago and Boston with Capgemini focused on growth and customer strategy. She started her career working for the New England Holocaust Memorial and in the direct marketing industry. Karyn received a BA in Art History from The George Washington University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Lindy Radow

Board Member

Lindy is a trustee of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, a member of Women’s Philanthropy and a founding board member of MACoM, the community mikvah. Both support AIPAC, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Birthright Israel and Congregation Etz Chaim, where her husband Norman served as president.

3045

COUPLES PARTICIPATED

160

TRIPS COMPLETED

23

HMI CITIES