Sara Miriam Liben, Director

Sara Miriam grew up in Natick, Massachusetts in a family steeped in Jewish life and is a proud NERUSY and Ramah New England alumna. After graduating from the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she majored in Sociology and Gender Studies in Judaism she made aliyah to Israel.

Most recently, Sara Miriam has worked for Masa Israel Journey as Director of Leadership Development, directing and designing adaptive leadership programs for hundreds of Masa Fellows across Israel.  Sara Miriam previously spent five years as the Manager of Community, Operations, and Development at Kehilat Tzion alongside Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum. And between those experiences, Sara Miriam volunteered or worked at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Ramah Israel, the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center, and Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry.

Sara Miriam currently lives in Tel Aviv with her husband Adam, to whom she was married this past March, and absolutely loves working with the Nativers, madrichim and partners who all make Nativ a unique and successful leadership program.

Noam Spira, Assistant Director for Yozma

Noam joins Nativ with over 35 months spent at summer camp, the bulk of which was at Camp Ramah in Nyack and Camp Moshava IO. Noam holds a BA in Psychology from CUNY Queens College and an MSW from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work in conjunction with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During his undergraduate degree, Noam was a peer counselor, tutor for students with disabilities, co-facilitated a support group for university students on the autism spectrum, and was on the events committee for the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus.  He completed his MSW fieldwork at Tachana L’briut Hanefesh, a mental health clinic in Jerusalem and Protea B’har, a retirement community in Moshav Shoresh. Noam graduated this summer with a certificate in Trauma Informed Practice. Noam has been on numerous adventures from working as an apprentice for an artisan sourdough bakery to raising chickens, but by far the most exciting journey will be within his role at Nativ and Yozma. He lives in Jerusalem and is excited to welcome the Nativers in just a few weeks.

Tzipporah Tibber, Nativ Coordinator

Tzipporah joined the team in 2019 for Nativ 39. She grew up in Ma’ale Adumim, but now lives in Jerusalem right by the Machaneh Yehuda Market. Tzipporah served in the IDF in the Education and Youth Corps and was responsible for the education of IDF soldiers and commanders. Previously to joining the Nativ team, Tzipporah worked for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and served as a tour guide and logistics coordinator for the Israel Experience. She has a BA from the Ariel University in Political Science and Middle Eastern studies.

Deborah Shafran, Assistant Director for Admissions

Deb (Lobel) Shafran was both a Nativ 16 participant (1996-1997) and a Nativ 21 madricha (2001-2002). Deb grew up in upstate New York (Tzafon USY) and after Nativ, completed a B.A. and M.A. in Elementary and Special Education at Boston University. During her years of study, Deb took every opportunity during summer vacations to work for different USY programs (Wheels, Pilgrimage, Parent’s Pilgrimage). After working as a teacher for several years in New York City, Deb lived in Israel for over eight years. She spent four years working for Nativ in the NYC area and is now back in Israel with her husband and three children, Rami, Matan, and Dina.

Counselors (Madrichim)

Ben Markus-Vider is 22 from Kibbutz Hannaton, also known as Bentzi. He finished his army service last November after 2 years and 8 months as a system administrator in the IDF’s Cyber Security Directorate. Before the army Bentzi was a counselor at Ramah Palmer and then participated in the Kol Ami gap year program. This past summer he was a counselor at Ramah Galim and is excited to be part of the Nativ 41 team!

Sarah Kusnitz made aliyah after graduating from the University of Missouri with degrees in human development and comparative religions. She has studied at the Conservative Yeshiva, travelled to different farms, and also worked this past summer with Ramah Seminar. Her favorite things about Israel have been exploring nature, trying new food, and meeting friends – all things she plans on doing with the Nativ participants this year!


Hannah Bartell hails from New Rochelle, NY and spent this past year teaching 3-6th graders English in Bat yam, Israel on the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program. Previously she graduated from Binghamton in 2020 with a degree in Judaic studies. Hannah loves to take walks and explore as well as color and paint. Hannah is a proud Nativ alumna, having participated on Nativ 36 and is ecstatic to have a second opportunity to be part of the program!

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