Leadership

Board of Directors

Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox
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Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox

Founder & President
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Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox is well known in the Boston area and beyond. She was ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York which is a pluralistic Jewish seminary. She has served as rabbi at Congregation Eitz Chayim in Cambridge, Temple Emanuel of Marlborough, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and Beth Israel Hospital. She was also the Interim President of the Academy for Jewish Religion and is a founder and national chair of the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education. Rabbi Cherie served as the chair of the NewCAJE conferences in 2010 - 2016.
Jerry Benjamin
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Jerry Benjamin

Treasurer
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Jerry Benjamin is the Managing Member of Milwaukee Silicon LLC a start-up company that is working on a new means of silicon purification that will make massive solar more cost-effective. Prior to that, he served for thirty years as the Co-Managing Director of AB Data Ltd. He is an active Trustee of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and a member of the board of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Foundation. He is one of the Co-founders of CAJE. Married to artist Cindy Benjamin for 44 years.
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Amy Ripps

Program Chair
Amy Ripps
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Amy is the Director of Education and Youth Programs at Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, NC. Prior to relocating to North Carolina almost 20 years ago, Amy was based in the Washington, D.C., area where she held a number of education and youth-related positions at both the Reform and Conservative congregations. She chaired CAJE 31 at Duke University and has presented at numerous conferences. Currently Amy is working on a Masters Degree in Jewish Education from The Davidson School at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
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Eitan Gutin

YP Co-Chair
Eitan Gutin
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Eitan Gutin is currently serving as the Director of Lifelong Learning for Tifereth Israel in DC. He has been an educator in many Jewish venues, and specializes in matters of Tefillah and spirituality. He recently received S’micha as a Maggid, using stories to connect other Jews with God. Eitan, his wife Aviva, and their son Lev live in MD.
Sherry Knazan
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Sherry Knazan

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Sherry has been a Jewish educator for many years. She currently serves as the coordinator of the Exploring the World of Judaism program, an adult learning program through Jewish LearningWorks in San Francisco. She was the previous director of family programming at the yearly Grief and Growing Camp and continues to teach a 6th grade Hebrew/Judaica class at Congregation Rodef Sholom. Sherry holds a BS in education from the University of Michigan, and M.Ed. from Temple University, and a Master of Science in Jewish Studies from Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning where she is currently working on her doctorate in Jewish Studies. She was awarded the national Harold Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Education as well as the Bay Area Helen Diller Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She loves connecting with all kinds of people and baking yummy chocolate chip cookies.
Eliana Light
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Eliana Light

LEEP Liason
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Eliana Light is an award-winning songwriter and educator who empowers people to make Judaism their own through song, experiential education, and prayer. She has put out two albums of original Jewish music, A New Light and Eliana Sings (About Jewish Things!). Her songs have been featured on PJ Library compilations and are used by educators, song-leaders, and clergy all over the country. Eliana has performed and taught throughout the United States, including at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, NewCAJE, Limmud New York, and the DeLeT Masters Program. She is the author of Hebrew in Harmony, a curriculum published by Behrman House that teaches prayer and Hebrew through music. Eliana received her Masters in Jewish Experiential Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2016, and is the Music Educator of B’nai Jeshurun in New York City.

www.elianalight.com
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Mark Young

Mark Young
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Mark Young is passionate about advancing effective educational leadership in Jewish life. As managing director of the Leadership Commons at the Davidson School of JTS, Mark builds relationships with community foundations, federations, and practitioners across the continent to make the Leadership Commons a space where “thinkers, doers, and visionaries” from all corners of Jewish education come together to learn, create, and collaborate for the common good of the Jewish people in North America.

Mark serves on the board of JPRO Network and regularly publishes on how to best retain and invest in Jewish educators, including his $54,000 Strategy series on eJewishPhilanthropy and his 2016 ELI Talk: Mah Tovu.

Mark holds an MPA in Nonprofit Management and an MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from NYU as well as a BS in Psychology and Economics from McGill University.

 

Staff

Sydney Backer
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Sydney Backer

Conference Coordinator
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Sydney is thrilled to be serving as the NewCAJE Conference Coordinator! Sydney has a strong background within the Jewish community. Prior to joining the NewCAJE team, she spent three years working as the Assistant Regional Director of NFTY Southern California, where she supported 600+ families and 57 congregations. In her work with NFTY, Sydney spearheaded SOCAL 678, a new initiative geared toward middle school students. She also oversaw operations, registration and administration for the region, and assisted with high school and North American retreats. She grew up at Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Fountain Valley, CA, and is a proud alumna of URJ Camp Newman. Sydney is originally from Huntington Beach, CA, and she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara.sydney@newcaje.org