The YJ Team
Simon Klarfeld, Executive Director of Young Judaea
Simon received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Keele in England and his Masters degree in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University. He was director of both the British and California Soviet Jewry movements, including serving “hard time” in the Soviet Union. Simon was founding director of Genesis at Brandeis University – a summer program for high school students. He then served as Vice President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. Most recently, Simon was the Executive Director of Columbia/Barnard Hillel. As a consultant, he has assisted organizations ranging from the iCenter, Joint Distribution Committee to Birthright Israel, and communities from Australia to Ukraine. He has written and presented on various themes including: Jewish Youth and Students; Experiential/Informal Jewish Education; Israel Education/Engagement; Jewish Peoplehood; and Leadership.
Yael Libedinsky, Senior Manager of College & Young Adult Programs
Yael was born and raised in San Francisco. She has a BA in Psychology and Jewish Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She now lives in New York and has been working with Young Judaea for 2 1/2 years. She has a background in hospitality management and began working in the Jewish world in 2006.
Young Judaea's Birthright Israel Team in Israel
Dan Krakow, Director of Young Judaea in Israel
Dan was born and raised in New York City. He has a BA in History and Hebrew from Binghamton University and an MA in Judaic Studies, specialization in Jewish Education, from Touro College, Israel branch. Dan served in the IDF tank corps. He spent a decade working in Immigration and Absorption of new immigrants before coming to Young Judaea two decades ago. In the 1980's he served as Aliyah Shaliach in Philadelphia. Dan is married to Shelly, father to Talia, Matan and Hagit, and saba to Liah and Hodaya.
Sigalit Freeman, Director of YJ Taglit-Birthright Israel
Sigalit was born and raised in Ashkelon, Israel and she graduated from David Yellin College in Jerusalem with a degree in Special Education. She later received her MS in Water Therapy from Wingate College in Netanya, Israel. She served in the IDF for two and half years as a Social Worker. She also was a Shlicha for the Jewish Agency as well as Young Judaea for 3 years in Miami, Florida. Sigalit now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and has been working for Young Judaea for five years.
Rafi Weisz – Director of Short Term Programs
Rafi was born and raised in Jerusalem. He was a commander in the Golani Infantry Brigade in the IDF. Rafi graduated from Hebrew University with a degree in Middle Eastearn Studies and History. He is a licensed tour guide and has worked with many different organizations such as The Jewish Agency, Canada Israel Experience, Hillel, Mayanot as well as Young Judaea. Rafi has been with Young Judaea Israel since 1998. He started out as a counselor for the summer programs then became a tour guide and for the past three years he has been the Director/Coordinator of all the short term programs at Young Judaea. In 2003 he joined the Year Course staff and served in a variety of positions: director of the field department, director of the Israeli experience department and director of the Year Course Negev department. Rafi lives in Moshav Nes H'arim with his wife and three children.
Nadav Savaia, Educational Director, YJ Taglit-Birthright Israel
Nadav was born raised in Ramat HaSharon, Israel and was a member of the Israeli scouts for 9 years. Right after serving in the Israeli Air Force, Nadav flew off to the USA to work as a counselor in Jewish summer camp. He liked it so much that he decided to be a counselor for a second year as well. While studying in Haifa University for his BA in Sociology, Anthropology and Communications, he worked as a tour guide for 5 years. After graduating, Nadav packed his up the tent he received for his Bar Mitzva(!) and travelled to South America for 6 months. Following the trip, he served for 2 years as an Israeli emissary for students at Stanford University Hillel. In addition to his work at Young Judaea, Nadav is studying for a Masters in non-profit management at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He lives in Jerusalem.
Lisa Sharon, Administrative Coordinator
Lisa was born in Kfar Saba, Israel and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and graduated from the Towson University with a degree in Family Studies and Community Development. She later received her Masters in Social Work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University in New York City. She made aliyah in December 2009. Lisa now lives in Jerusalem and has been involved in Taglit-Birthright since she made Aliyah.
Ari Krauss, Field Coordinator
Ari Krauss was born and raised in New York City and received a degree in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2009. Upon graduation he made Aliyah to serve in the IDF as a "Lone Soldier." He served for two and a half years in a specialized unit in the Golani Brigade and upon his release started actively volunteering for the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin in order to help other Lone Soldiers before, during, and after their service in the IDF. This is Ari’s first Birthright season with Young Judaea although he participated on Birthright trips before, as a student through the Hillel of Binghamton in 2005 and as a soldier shortly before his release this past summer.