Israel & Overseas
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Israel & Overseas > Negev Conference Participant Bios

UJC Miami Negev Conference
May 17th – 18th  2009
Bios of Session Chairs and Presenters

Kher Albaz
Mr. Albaz is the Director of Social Services for the Negev Bedouin community (Segev Shalom) and is involved in many development projects for this community. Mr. Albaz is a board member of several national and local organizations including the Abraham Fund, the Community Advocacy Fund and Social Workers for Peace. Well known as a leader in his community, Mr. Albaz has rich experience in both the public and the NGO sectors, and has been appointed as a member in several government policy development committees.  Mr. Albaz has a B.A in Social Work from Ben Gurion University, and M.A. in Social Planning and Policy from WLU in Ontario, Canada and an M.B.A. from the University of Haifa, as well as several certifications in senior management.

Richard Bernstein
With a background as a CPA and MBA, Richard is a corporate attorney and senior partner with the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig. He has been involved in lay leadership positions with UJA/UJC, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, The Dave and Mary Alper JCC, The Jewish Agency, The Florida-Israel Business Forum, JNF and other organizations supportive of Israel for over 20 years. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, a Vice President and Chair of the Planning and Distribution Committee of the Greater Miami Federation and Chair of the United Israel Appeal Audit Committee.

Marilyn Blumer
Marilyn Blumer is the Vice Chair of the United Jewish Communities and a member of its Executive Committee. She also chairs the Negev Work Group of UJC’s Global Operations Committee. She is an Associate Board Member of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a member of the Executive Committee of the United Israel Appeal Federations Canada, and a member of the Executive Committee and Co-Chair of the Budget Committee at the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). On the local level, she is a past President of Montreal FEDERATION CJA. Her many contributions have been recognized with the Samuel Bronfman Medal, the highest honour bestowed by Montreal’s Jewish community. She has also received the Bess Pascal Memorial Scholarship for outstanding leadership, the Julia Silverberg Brown Memorial Award for her exceptional volunteerism, as well as FEDERATION CJA’s Distinguished Leadership Award.

Sivia Katz Braunstein
Sivia Katz Braunstein, a graduate of Philadelphia Jewish Day Schools, spent 2 years studying at Bezalel Art Academy, which greatly influenced the direction of her life. Dubbed “Godmother of Illuminated Ketubot”, she and 2 other artists started the rebirth of this 2000-year-old tradition in 1973. In 1983, Sivia  was the first to print her  Ketubot, of which there are now hundreds available. In 2001, after a solidarity mission to Israel, Sivia became involved the Partnership 2000 program of Arad/Tamar/New Jersey/Delaware and made many visits to Israel, as well as hosting many Israeli artists, speakers and young people in her home. She is presently Cluster Chair of this partnership where many new and exciting projects and relationships are being created.

Eran Doron
Eran Doron, 37, is married with 1 child, and has been residing for the past 14 years in Midreshet Ben-Gurion at Sde Boker. He holds a masters degree in Environmental Studies from Ben-Gurion University and is a graduate of the Fellowship Program of the Mandel Institute for Educational Leadership and of the Environmental Fellows' Program of the Heschel Center. In the past he served as the general-manager of the Sde Boker Field School, and he currently heads Partnership 2000 of the Ramat Negev Regional Council with the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado. In addition, he heads the regional council's tourism department and is a member of the tourism forum of the Negev Development Authority.

Naomi Efrat
Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1982, all Naomi’s life she had a dream to live on a Kibbutz.
When growing up, she realized her dream wasn't as simple as she’d imagined: Kibbutzim were falling apart, going through privatization. After her Army service as a commander at a special unit for youth at risk, Naomi began to search for an alternative which might also be more suitable for Israeli society today. Naomi was looking for a way of life that would empower development towns, allow her to work with sectors of society that we don't always choose to deal with, and still fulfill her Kibbutz dream.
In Kama Urban Kibbutz in Beersheva she found her place: an urban community dedicated to supporting the town and empowering its people, committed to staying in the Negev and still living in collective, Kibbutz fashion. Feeling strongly connected to Urban Communities, Naomi decided to work at Shahaf Center which supports religious, secular and Arab communities of this sort all over Israel.  Naomi received her BA in Psychology a year ago. She loves painting, writing and hiking. She sees herself committed to her community and way of life, for the years to come.

Ofir Fisher
Ofir Fisher, 32 years old and resident of the Old City of Beersheva, was born in South Africa in 1976, and raised in Petach Tikvah, Israel since the age of three. He served as a submarine captain in the Israeli navy for six years.  With his honorable discharge from the military, Ofir decided to dedicate his life to developing and populating the Negev and the Galilee, a dedication born from the understanding that therein lies the future of the state and the Jewish nation.  It was from within this setting that he established, in 1999, the community of Sansana, the first community to be established in the Negev in over 15 years.  In the year 2000 he founded the OR Movement together with three friends and has been Chief Operating Officer of it ever since.  The OR Movement is a non-profit, unaffiliated organization that reaches out to all sectors of Israeli society and is dedicated to the development and the strengthening of the Negev and the Galilee. At the OR Movement Ofir is responsible for resource and development and leads all the OR Movement projects in the Negev.

Rena Genn
Rena Genn was born and educated in New York City.  She made Aliyah in 1969, and has served as the Israel representative of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation since 1983. 
She has previously worked in educational planning and administration.  Mrs. Genn is married to Reuven, the mother of two daughters and five grandchildren.

Leah Golan
Leah Golan has worked in the Jewish Agency since 1992 and is currently the Director General of the Israel Department at the Jewish Agency. As Director General of the Israel Department, Leah has spearheaded a process that has resulted in the Israel Department developing three main foci: partnerships—developing new models of partnership between worldwide Jewry and Israeli society; youth at-risk—changing risk to opportunity for the next generation; and priority areas—strengthening the Negev and the Galilee. Leah holds a BA in Political Science and Sociology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is currently the Israeli Chair of WCJCS and sits on the board of numerous organizations.

Zvika Greengold
Zvika Greengold was appointed Mayor of Ofakim in September 2008. Born, raised and educated on kibbutz Lochame—Hagetaot, he is a father of 3 and a grandfather of 3. He served in the IDF in the Armor Corps, was adorned with the “Ornament Courage” in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and graduated with the rank of Colonel. Experienced in the industry field in general and the petrochemical industry in particular, he established the “Tivol” factor in his home kibbutz, managed electrochemical industries in Israel and was the general manager of the government oil refinery corporation, in addition to the president of Overseas Corporation the field of energy. Mayor Greengold has served as director in several corporations, stood at the head of boards an economic councils in the industry field and the village sector, and has been active in public issues; among others, as a member in the management of the Peace and Security Council, a non-profit organization called Armor Forces Museum, and a committee member of the Rupin Academic Center. Mayor Greengold has a B.A. from Rupin Academic Center in the fields of economy and administration.

Bobbie Higer
Bobbie Higer is a dedicated community volunteer and a passionate advocate for Israel.  She currently serves as the Education and Leadership Development Chair for UJC’s National Women’s Philanthropy in addition to serving on UJC’s Coordinating Council for Israel and Overseas and the Negev Committee.  She is also a Past Co-Chair of UJC’s National Young Leadership Department.  Locally, she is a member of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors, serves on the Israel and Overseas Committee and is Miami’s Chair of the Miami/Yerucham Partnership.

Offer Isseroff
Offer Isseroff is the Director of the Division of Priority Regions in the Jewish Agency for Israel and the CEO of Daroma. Offer has served in numerous key positions in the Jewish Agency including Director of Finance and Human Resources of the Israel Department, Senior Advisor of the Budget Division and the Representative of the agency in Canada. Previous to his employment in the Jewish Agency, Offer was employed as Senior Economist at the Authority for the Protection of the Consumers in Israel. Offer holds an MBA from Tel Aviv university and sits on the board of directors in a number of public institutions, including Ramat Hadassah & Kiryat Yearim youth villages and "Tapuach for promoting technological excellence in Israel."

Max L. Kleinman
Max L. Kleinman has been executive vice-president of the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey since 1995. Previously, he served as the executive director of the Jewish Federation in Minneapolis. He is the immediate past president of the World Council of Jewish Communal Service. He is a recipient of Bachelors and Masters degrees in History from the City College of New York and a Masters in Social Work from Yeshiva University.

Myriam Lasry
Myriam, 27, was born in Madrid, Spain. When she was 2 years old, her parents made Aliya. In 1999, Myriam joined the I.D.F where she served for 3 years, first as a tank instructor and then as an officer in charge of tank instructors. In 2003 Myriam moved to Beersheva and started studying Industrial Engineering at the Ben Gurion University. In her third year at the University, Myriam joined the Ayalim Association and moved to the new student village of Dimona. After a year with the Association, Myriam founded and managed the pre-army volunteer program of Ayalim. Myriam is now Director of Resource Development at the Ayalim Association.

Norman H. Lipoff
Norman H. Lipoff is an attorney with the firm of Greenberg,Traurig in Miami Florida.He is a former member of the Board of Governors and Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel(JAFI),where he served as Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee.He is a past National Chairman of United Israel Appeal(UIA) and continues to serve as a Trustee of UJC. He is a Past President and Chairman of the Board of Jewish Telegraphic Agency(JTA) and a Past President and Campaign Chairman of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Lisa Lisser
Lisa Lisser is the incoming Chair of the Metrowest Partnership  2000 Steering Committee.  She just completed her term as Co-Chair of the P2K Renewal Process in which Metrowest and Ofakim/Merchavim worked together with two teams, one American and one Israeli, to redirect the relationship toward mutually beneficial programming.  Lisa has just completed 6 years as a member of the UJC National Young Leadership Cabinet and is immediate past chair of the Metrowest Young Leadership Division.  Lisa is currently a Vice President of Metrowest and sits on the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees.  For the 2010 campaign year, Lisa holds the portfolio of Major Gifts Chair for Women's Philanthropy.

Amram Mitzna
Amram Mitzna has been the Mayor of Yerucham since 2005. He was previously the mayor of Haifa for 10 years.  Mr. Mitzna was elected Chairman of the Labor Party and its candidate for Prime Minister for the 16th Knesset elections, and was a Member of Knesset until 2005. Mr. Mitzna has a degree in Geography from Haifa University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania. He was Commander of the Central Command, Head of the Planning Branch, and retired as a Major General from active service in the IDF.

Daphna Murvitz
Daphna Murvitz is serving as the Executive Director of the Israel Venture Network (IVN), in addition to managing IVN's Economic Development Initiatives. Before joining to the non-profit sector, Daphna was the Director of Global Operations at Check Point Software Technologies, Human Resource Manager at Flying Cargo-FedEx, and in  Strauss and Co., and has accumulated multi-discipline managerial experience. Daphna, a lawyer by profession, holds LLB and BA degrees.

Larry Nachshen
Larry Nachshen is a retired chartered accountant and businessman specializing in financing related to the oil, gas and mining industries.  He is currently a member of the Israel and Overseas committee of FEDERATION CJA, Vice-President of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, Incoming President of Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal and member of the Board of Directors of UIA Canada.

Allan Nyman
Allan Nyman has been a Board Member of the Jewish Federation of Palm Springs and Desert Area for 9 years, with a 3-year term as President. He is a Member of the Advisory Council Jewish National Fund of Palm Springs. He also served a 2-year term as President of the Jewish Community School of the Desert. In the past 3 years, Mr. Nyman has been part of the selection process and promotion through the Palm Springs federation for 4 large projects in the Negev including a Desert Agro-Research Center in Ramat HaNegev, Gavat Bar Day Care Center, and the OR Building in the Old City of Beersheva known as the Gateway in the Negev.

Lee Perlman
Lee  Perlman, Director, Program and Planning, serves as the senior programming professional for UJC's Israeli operation and is responsible for representing The UJC Global Operations, Israel and Overseas Division to multiple constituencies in Israel, key federation leadership and UJC's partners in the field. Lee most recently held a senior post with the Abraham Fund Initiatives for seven years.  His professional experiences include a long tenure at Melitz, The Centers for Jewish Zionist Education in Jerusalem, working as a Jewish Agency shaliach in London, and lecturing at both Tel Aviv University, where he served as Director of JESNA’s Lainer Interns program, and Brandeis University.  Born and raised in Manhattan, Lee has lived in Israel for close to 3 decades.  He is a published writer and active volunteer in different community settings.  Lee holds both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in Theater and is currently pursuing his doctorate in the same field.

Danny Pins
Danny Pins is the Director of the Division of Immigrant Integration at JDC Israel and CIMI (Center International Migration and Integration).  He has 30 years of experience working with immigrants.  While working for JAFI, he was involved in the planning of Operation Solomon and helped establish the Jewish Agency for Israel in Russia. In the last 3 years he has spearheaded the development of Centers for Young Adults modeled after Start-up in Beersheva.  Danny has a BA in Political Science and History from Hebrew University and Masters' Degree in Forced Migration from the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.

Leonard Posnock
Leonard Posnock is a Member of the UJC Negev Work Group, Board Member of the Jewish Community Endowment Foundation of Central New Jersey, and Member of the Ness Grants Committee of the Jewish Community Endowment Foundation of Central New Jersey.  He is also Co-Chair of the New Jersey-Israel Commission. He was Past President and Past Campaign Chair of Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey and Past Chair of Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey Missions Committee.  Leonard is a grandfather to 6 grandchildren.

Shmuel Rifman
Shmuel Rifman has been Mayor of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council since 1991, as well as Chairman of various organizations including the Israel Regional Councils Center, the Control Committee of ‘Mifal Hapais(National Lottery),’ the Negev Development Authority, and the Ramat Hanegev Local Planning & Building Committee.  He is also Chairman of the Board of the Ramat Hanegev Economical Development Company, the Technological Greenhouse ‘Am-Shav,’ and the ‘Neve Midbar’ Health Resort.  He has received multiple awards, including the Jerusalem Award in 2006 for contributions to Development and Settlement in the Negev, the Partner for Peace from the Institute for the Study of Middle East DU in Denver in 2007, and the Ben Gurion Negev Award from Ben Gurion University in 2007.  Mayor Rifman is a father of 3.

Ariella Rohringer
Ariella Rohringer retired as a senior partner of the law firm of Goodman and Carr in 2003, after 24 years of practice. The American Lawyer Media Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada has repeatedly named Ms. Rohringer as one of its members and The Canadian Legal Expert Directory has repeatedly named her as one of only a handful of lawyers in its highest category of recommended property leasing lawyers in Canada. She has spent many years involved in community and charitable activities.  She was the Co-Chair of the UJA Federation Annual and Emergency Campaign 2007 and is currently on the UJA Federation Toronto and UIA Executive Committees and Boards, the Koffler Centre for the Arts Board, the Israel and Overseas Allocation Committee, and numerous other UJA Federation Committees.  Ms. Rohringer is also involved with Mount Sinai Hospital, being on the Board of Governors, the Audit Committee, and the Foundation Finance Committee, as well as with the Art Gallery of Ontario and the University of Pennsylvania. She was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and is married to Earl Rotman, an Investment Banker.  They have three children, Jessica, 22 years old, Griffin, 20 years old, and Cole, 16 years old.

Eleanor Rubin
Eleanor Rubin, representing the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, is the current
Co-Chair of the Ness Allocations Committee of the Ness Fund/ Endowment Foundation of the Federation.   She is past president of the JFCNJ and past president of the NJ State Association of Federations.  She has held many positions with the Federation including Chair of CRC, Chair of Planning and Allocations, Chair of Chaplaincy Committee.  She is a Lion of Judah and LOJE.  She is a Vice President of the New Jersey Jewish News.

Tali Ruderman
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Tali holds a BA from NYU in Jewish History and Civilization and a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College. Tali came to UJC and OTZMA with a host of related work experience in the North American Jewish community including time with JESNA, the URJ, and two years as the North American Director of AMITIM, a JAFI service project that sent a group of Americans and Israelis to train and service developing Jewish communities in the FSU for a year. Tali was also herself a participant in the AMITIM program and spent a year working and living in the Jewish community in Kazan, Russia. Tali is about to commence her fourth year working as the North American Director of OTZMA.

Ronit Segelman
Ronit Segelman was born on a kibbutz in southern Israel, and as a young girl moved to Beersheva. She has a degree in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After valuable stints as a teacher for Bedouin children and product developer and sales manager for various companies, Ronit became the Jewish Agency's Community and Aliyah Emissary in Denver. On her return to Israel, she served as the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado's first Israel representative. During this time, Ronit played a key role in designing and implementing the new concept of a “tailor-made” partnership with the Ramat Negev Regional Council that was later adopted by the Jewish Agency for other communities. Ronit opened an office in Israel for the Merage Foundation, and was Director for five years until she joined the Rashi Foundation in 2006 as the Director of Partnerships.

Amir Shacham
Amir Shacham is the director of Israel Operations for UJC MetroWest. In this capacity he is in charge of all programs, projects and partnerships conducted in Israel and in MetroWest NJ. The community of MetroWest maintains three partnership regions in the Negev; Ofakim, Merchavim and Shaar Hanegev.

Steve Shapiro 
Steve Shapiro chairs the Task Force on Arab Citizens of Israel, serves on the Ethiopian and Loan Fund Task Forces and received this January a Community Service Award from the UJA-Federation of NY.  He has been involved with Israeli Arab, and more specifically Negev Bedouin, matters for many years.  He is an Honorary Fellow and past member of the International Board of Governors of the Technion, its Academic/Scientific Committee and served as president of the NY Region of the American Technion Society.

Yuval Shefi
Yuval Shefi has been the Executive Director of The New Yerucham Fund since 2006.  Before this, Mr. Shefi was the General Manager and Owner of “Live from Israel,’ a video conference productions company. Mr. Shefi has also been a Community Emissary at the Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May counties in New Jersey.

Sigal Shelach
Sigal Shelach is a dynamic young Israeli with a deep commitment to creating paths for chronically unemployed populations to enter the workforce. She completed an M.A. with honors in 1996 and received a Ph.D. in Labor Studies in 2001 from the Tel Aviv University Labor Studies Department. Through her studies, Sigal gained insight and expertise on migration and employment while working as an assistant professor and teaching M.A.-level courses, along with providing consultation for the Local Municipalities Management Development Program. In 2002 Sigal served as an advisor on municipal employment practices for the organization MAFAM, and was then appointed senior research fellow at the Ministry of Industry, trade and Labor. She was responsible for implementing single-parent employment programs, authoring opinion papers and co-managing projects with external agencies. Sigal's background and dedication to closing the gaps in Israeli society led her to JDC-Israel's TEVET Employment Initiative. Today, as TEVET Director of Programs for Minorities and Immigrants, Sigal spearheads innovative employment programs that are assisting Israel’s chronically unemployed to overcome cultural and social workforce barriers.

Janet Sherman
Janet Sherman is JCRC Director and Director of the Israel, National and Overseas Center of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado.  Janet brings over 25 years of experience in Jewish communal service.  Prior to moving to Denver and working for the Federation 7 ½ years ago, she was in Planning and Financial Resource Development at UJC and the former Council of Jewish Federations in New York.  She lived in Jerusalem from 1980-87 where she was Assistant Director of the Israel Office of American Jewish Congress and served as a Community Liaison in Project Renewal.  Janet earned both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Social Work from Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Morrie Siegel
Morrie Siegel, 56 years old, is in the non-woven textile performance products business. He has been involved in Jewish life for many years, through his synagogue, JCC, AIPAC, Masorti, and March of the Living. Mr. Siegel is currently on both the Executive Board & General Board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, where he serves on the Miami-Yerucham Partnership Committee and is Co-Chair of the Formal & Informal Education Committee. He is the Past Chair of So Dade Federation Branch, has been to 5 GA’s and has visited Yerucham 4 times in the past 2.5 years. Mr. Siegel has been married to Leigh for over 27 years, and has two adult daughters, both of whom did a year-long Young Judea program in Israel.

Gideon Soesman
Gideon Soesman is the Co-Founder & Managing Partner of the Oasis Investment Fund. Mr. Soesman has a solid track record in large scale Merger & Acquisition activities. Prior to joining Oasis, Gideon acted as Senior Director for global M&A activities at Royal Philips Electronics, where he lead acquisitions of > $ 1.5B and where he was responsible for corporate business development and venturing activities in Israel. Before Philips, Gideon was senior consultant and team leader at Shaldor, Israel’s leading strategic management consulting firm. Gideon holds a B.A. in Economics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and an M.A. in Business Administraition, Boston University / Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He immigrated from the Netherlands to Israel in 1990.

Stanley H. Stone
Stanley H. Stone is the Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. In this capacity Stanley worked to establish the New Jersey/Delaware Consortium of Federations in order to initiate a partnership with Arad and Tamar 12 years ago under the JAFI Partnership 2000 program. Stanley also oversees Keren Ness, which is a designated Federation Fund that is funding several programs in the Negev. In addition to his professional responsibilities he is the Vice President for Torah Academy of Bergen County High School. He is married to Ellen Stone and they are the proud parents of six children.

Yossi Tanuri
In January 2005 Yossi Tanuri was appointed as the youngest Director General of UIA Federations Canada (מגבית קנדה) since the establishment of the organization 42 years ago. During the last 42 years, UIA Federations Canada became one of the leading organizations in Israel, impacting almost every town and aspect of life in Israel. Under Yossi’s leadership, UIA was awarded by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel for the organization’s commitment and aid to the people of the North and the Israeli government during the second Lebanon war.

Ellen Yarrow
Ellen Yarrow is the professional responsible for FEDERATION CJA's Israel & Overseas Department, working with and providing support to Steering Committees in Montreal and Beer Sheva/Bnei Shimon to maintain and develop programs and relationships through our partnership.