Sara Miriam, Director

Sara Miriam Liben grew up outside of Boston and made aliyah after graduating from the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she majored in Sociology and Gender Studies in Judaism. Since moving to Israel, her work has focused on the relationship between Israel and Jews around the world both at Masa Israel Journey as Director of Leadership Development and as the Manager of Community and Operations at Kehilat Tzion in Jerusalem. She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband Adam and their many plants.

Benjy, Director of USY Israel Programs

Benjy Behrman made Aliyah with his wife Emma from England in 2005.  Since then he has worked as a teacher and tour guide for The Jewish Agency, Ramah Israel, Yad Vashem, Young Judaea Year Course, and Alexander Muss High School in Israel. He joined the USY team in 2022, has been the Director of EPIC Israel for two summers, and worked with Nativ 42 throughout last year.  Benjy loves history, reading, hiking and running. Benjy lives in Modiin with Emma and his three children Noa, Adi and Nadav.

Hannah, Assistant Director of Programs

Hannah Bartell is originally from New Rochelle, New York and has spent the past couple of years living all over Israel. She made aliyah to Israel after graduating from Binghamton University in 2020 with a degree in Judaic Studies and volunteered teaching English in Israel’s periphery.  We are thrilled to have Hannah continue with the Nativ team for her fourth year- as a participant on Nativ 36, Madricha on Nativ 41, and the Operations Coordinator on Nativ 42!

Deb, Assistant Director Admissions and Parent Liaison

Deb (Lobel) Shafran was a Nativ 16 participant (1996-1997) and a Nativ 21 madricha (2001-2002)! She 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. She took every opportunity during summer vacations to work for different USY programs (Wheels, Pilgrimage, Parent’s Pilgrimage) and after working as a teacher for several years in New York City,  lived in Israel for over fifteen years. Deb is excited about her recent move back to Upstate NY to be close to family with her husband and three children, Rami, Matan, and Dina.

Noam, Social Worker

Noam Spira studied Psychology and Counseling at CUNY Queens College and then earned a Masters in Social Work in Israel. During his masters degree, he worked at a Jerusalem based mental health health clinic as well as a retirement village. For the past two years, Noam has worked with Nativ where students are at one of the most exciting stages of life: when they spend a year working on their personal growth while emerging into early adulthood. He is excited to meet Nativ 43 and support them as they embark on their immersive journey in exploring their personal, communal, and Jewish identity.

Jacob, JTS Slifa-Nadich Mashgiach Ruchani Intern

Jacob Kaplan-Lipkin is a 3rd year Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he is also pursuing a masters degree in Hebrew Bible. He has had serious Nativ envy his entire adult life and is thrilled to finally get a taste of it as the Slifka Rabbinic Intern for Nativ! He previously served as the Rabbinic Intern for Cornell Hillel, is involved in various interfaith activities,  and he is a leader in JTS’s Dayenu Circle for Climate Action.  Jacob worked in Jewish social services at DOROT, where he served as the Facilitator of Intergenerational Programming and has spent several summers on staff at Camp Ramah as a Rosh Edah and a counselor. Jacob is proud of his origins in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was born and raised and stayed close by for college at Stanford University.

Counselors (Madrichim)

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