Professional Leadership & Administration

Board of Directors

Michael Brill is a Managing Director at FocalPoint Partners, a leading independent investment bank, and heads the firm’s New York office. He previously held senior leadership positions at Duff & Phelps, LLC, Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Yale University. Michael and his wife, Judy Abel, are the founders of Yavneh-The Jewish Living Project, a Manhattan partnership minyan. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Wall Street Synagogue. Michael and Judy live in Manhattan with their three children, Joshua, Rebecca and Noah.

Tova Bulow is a long-time member of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and was one of the founders of its Bikkur Cholim Shabbat Services and the Women’s Chevra Kadisha. She was also a volunteer in the Hospice Unit at Beth Israel Medical Center. Tova is a graduate of Barnard and holds Masters degrees from Columbia Teachers College and Sarah Lawrence in Health Advocacy. Her primary involvement has always been with her children and grandchildren. Tova is an active participant in learning opportunities both at Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.

Jonathan Canel is a real estate developer from Highland Park, IL. He specializes in mixed-income multifamily housing development and affordable housing preservation. Jonathan received his JD from Harvard in 2014 and his BA from Stanford (in history) in 2010. Jonathan is married to Shiran and has one daughter, Eliana, who is presently 18 months old.

Jonathan was an auditor of the YCT semikha program in 2020-2021 and came to admire the honesty and intellectual integrity of the YCT Rabbinical staff and appreciates the sensitivity they exhibit, both in their teachings and in their psak, to the factual realities – scientific, social, and spiritual – of our world today. He believes that as a result of their work, YCT stands uniquely positioned to heal many of the rifts within the contemporary Jewish world.

Behnam (Behn) Dayanim is a partner with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he
is global head of digital commerce & gaming. His practice focuses on gaming, fintech and payments, AI, data and sanctions & trade controls. Behnam lives in Silver Spring, MD, is married to his college sweetheart (YC/Stern) and has four+one children – Tamar (married to Yona Kornsgold) of New York and a rising music executive (!), Danya (a graduate student at UMD), Ezra (undergraduate at Columbia/JTS) and Atira (a rising high-school sophomore at the Berman Hebrew Academy in Maryland). In his communal life, Behn currently is a vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and on the boards of the Federation of Greater Washington and of JOFA. In years past, he has served as president of the Berman Hebrew Academy, founding chair of the Lay Advisory Council of the Beltway Vaad, and national vice president of the Orthodox Union, among other involvements. He also is an actor, appearing in Renegades: The Requiem (Parts 1 and 2), available on your finest streaming venues.

Dr. Jody Dushay is Medical Director and Lead Medical Research Officer at the Clinical Research Center of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at Beth Israel. Her research and clinical practice focus on metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Dr. Dushay received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University. She is a member of Shaarei Tefillah in Newton, MA. Jody is married to Paul Gompers and they have three daughters.

Rabba Yaffa Epstein serves as the Senior Scholar and Educator-in-Residence at the Jewish Education Project. Previously, she was the Director of the Wexner Heritage Program at the Wexner Foundation, and the Director of Education, North America, for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. She has taught educators, rabbis and lay leaders from across the spectrum of Jewish denominations and is passionate about making Jewish learning accessible, exciting, and inclusive to all who wish to participate. She received Orthodox Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat
Maharat, earned an additional private Ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes, holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University, and studied at the Talmud Department at Hebrew University.

Rella Feldman has been continually involved in Jewish communal institutions with an emphasis on educational institutions, Holocaust education and philanthropy in the American Jewish community and in Israel. She is a past-president of The Moriah School in Englewood, NJ and of the Women’s Division of the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey.  Rella is currently a vice-president at the Drisha Institute and a Board member of Yad Vashem.  She and her late husband, Charles (“Chuck”) Feldman z”l, were founders of Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, New Jersey. Rella is a partner at LPZ Management, a NJ based real estate company.  She is the proud mother of five children (two of whom live in Israel) and a proud grandmother.

Eric Feldstein is the chief financial officer of Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), a large US healthcare insurance provider. Prior to joining HCSC in May 2016, Mr. Feldstein held posts as Executive VP of the Enterprise Growth Group at American Express, CFO and operating partner at Eton Park Capital Management, CEO of GMAC Financial Services, and VP of finance and corporate treasurer of General Motors Corporation. Mr. Feldstein also currently serves on the Board of Directors and the Governance Committee of Northern Trust Bank’s Complex of Mutual Funds. He earned his BA in economics from Columbia University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. Along with his professional work, Mr. Feldstein has served his local community through his involvement with Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan, where he served as president from 2006-2012 and remains an active member.

Ari Hait, Secretary of the Board, is a Partner with the law firm of Kaye Scholer LLP where for over twenty-five years he has specialized in commercial real estate and real estate finance. Ari is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Yeshiva College. He is a former President of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Ari and his wife, Beth, live in Riverdale, New York.

Dr. Adena Klineman is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in the treatment of eating disorders. She earned her doctorate in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus on interpersonal relationships and communication of emotion. Adena has served as a volunteer or lay leader in the Cleveland Jewish community since 2003. She served as the first female president of Green Road Synagogue, an Orthodox Synagogue in Beachwood, Ohio, from 2017-2021. During her tenure, Green Road Synagogue engaged Rabbi Binyamin Blau as their full-time spiritual leader, hired a Yoetzet Halacha, expanded youth and family programming, developed a partnership with the Community Beit Midrash to expand adult learning opportunities, and experienced a growth in membership, particularly among young families. Adena spearheaded fundraising and oversaw construction of the synagogue’s new facility and campus. Currently, she is serving as a Vice Chair of Women IN Philanthropy, a division of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. She and her husband, Jonathan Klineman, live in Beachwood, Ohio and are the parents of three sons.

Dr. Steven Laufer, Chair of the Board, is a researcher at the Meyers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem. Prior to making aliya in 2019, he worked as a principal economist at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., where he conducted research and advised Board members on issues related to housing and mortgage markets. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University and a PhD in Economics from New York University. He has been a member of Ohev Shalom the National Synagogue in Washington and of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale – the Bayit, and served as board president of the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital. Steven and his wife, Chani, are the proud parents of three children, Shoshana, Ari and Erez.

Steven Lieberman, Chair Emeritus, is a partner at the firm of Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck in Washington, D.C. He specializes in intellectual property and constitutional law, and his current clients include The New York Times Company, Dow Jones, Fox, McGraw-Hill, NBC, CBS and Time Warner. Mr. Lieberman has also devoted a substantial portion of his practice for the past 25 years to pro bono work on behalf of the Jewish community. Mr. Lieberman has served on the Board of YCT since its founding.  He is currently a Vice President of Beth Sholom Congregation & Talmud Torah in Potomac, Maryland and a member of the Board and Vice-President of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (“ASIRT”); he has also served on the Board of Directors of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. He has been honored by Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and the Association for Safe International Road Travel for his work on behalf of those organizations.

Jeremy Novich, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist. He earned his doctorate from Long Island University, Post Campus, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stevens Institute of Technology. Dr. Novich has worked on LGBTQ concerns as a clinician, researcher, and community educator. He published a chapter, titled Gay Jewish Men in the Orthodox Community: Striving for Selfhood, that summarizes his doctoral dissertation. In addition to his clinical work relating to sexuality, identity, and LGBTQ issues, Dr. Novich specializes in helping people with problematic substance use. He is a full-time psychologist at JQY and maintains a private practice as well.

Daniel Perla has an MBA in management from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, and spent nearly 18 years in the financial world before earning semikha from YCT. He worked as a security analyst and portfolio manager at investment firms and hedge funds including Iridian Asset Management, Centurion Investment Group, and Soros Fund Management. Dan has been active in Jewish communal life for many years and was privileged to serve as a Wexner Heritage Fellow. He served for seven years as the President of The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Dan currently serves on the boards of Mechon Hadar, The SAR Academy of Riverdale, and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, where he served as Chairman of the Board for three years. 

Rabbi Joshua Pernick, Alumni Representative, joined Congregation Beth Israel in Metairie, LA, in July of 2019. A graduate of Brandeis University for his BA (Sociology) and MAT (Elementary Education) degrees, as well as the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators’ year-long fellowship program, he was an early childhood and elementary school educator before beginning his rabbinic journey. After teaching in Jewish day schools in Charleston, SC; Watertown, MA; and Atlanta, GA, Rabbi Josh began his rabbinic training at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. While at YCT, Rabbi Josh interned at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal as well as serving as the student rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh in Portland, ME and the Orthodox Kehillah in Durham, NC. Since moving to New Orleans, he has joined the boards of the Jewish Community Day School and the Jewish Childrens’ Regional Service, as well as serving on the Strategic Planning Subcommittee of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans

Dr. Kenneth Prager, Chair, is a pulmonologist and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is Director of Medical Ethics and Chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee of Columbia University Medical Center. He lectures annually at The Ben Gurion University Medical School for International Health in Beersheba. In the 1980’s, he traveled to the USSR and was deeply involved in the medical and humanitarian problems of Soviet Refuseniks. Kenny and his wife Jeannie have lived in Englewood, New Jersey, for 40 years and are affiliated with Congregation Ahavath Torah. They have four children and six grandchildren. Kenny and Jeannie were both active leaders in Moriah School of Englewood when their children were young.

Rabbi Adam Scheier is Rabbi of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, a 1400-member Orthodox synagogue in Westmount, Quebec.

A members of YCT’s “pioneer” graduating class (2004), Rabbi Scheier is an advocate for “spiritual activism” on behalf of Jews around the world. He had led solidarity visits to many different communities, including Paris following the 2015 attack on Hyper Cacher; Montana following anti-Semitic threats against the local Jewish community; and Venezuela following hate crimes against the Jewish community. In 2010, Rabbi Scheier testified before a Canadian Parliamentary committee on the topic of human rights in Venezuela.

Prior to his arrival to Montreal in 2004, Rabbi Scheier participated in the founding and development of the first Yeshiva in post-World War II Germany, and has continued to work extensively with the immigrant Jewish community in Germany.

In 2015, Rabbi Scheier co-edited and published the Canadian Haggadah Canadienne, which received positive acclaim in Canada and worldwide. In July, 2016, Rabbi Scheier was honoured to accompany Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his visit to Poland and Auschwitz.

Rabbi Scheier has published opinion pieces in the Montreal Gazette, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Times of Israel, the Canadian Jewish News, and other publications.

Rabbi Scheier is proud to be the rabbi of the first synagogue to hire a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat.

Rabbi Scheier is married to Rabba Abby Scheier, and they have been blessed with five daughters, Aviya, Ayelet, Annael, Allegra, and Arella.

Advisory Board

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson is President of The Wexner Foundation. Prior to her assuming her current role in 2011, Elka served as Director of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program and Vice President of Wexner Foundation for close to a decade.

Ordained at HUC-JIR, New York, Elka began her career as associate rabbi at Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo, CA. She then served, with her husband, Rabbi Martin (Misha) Zinkow, as co-senior rabbi at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, MN.

Abrahamson, a dynamic speaker and an engaging teacher, is optimistic about the Jewish future owing to the remarkable leaders she encounters in her rabbinate, many of them Wexner Alumni. She has been widely published and is a popular scholar-in-residence, presenter, and keynote speaker for a wide variety of Jewish organizations. She received the Bernard Reisman Award as an outstanding member of the professional Jewish community.

Elka is an avid student and dedicated teacher of Mussar. She also loves a good football game, especially if the Vikings (or Buckeyes) are winning.

Stephen G. Bodurtha is a Managing Director at Citi Private Bank in North America, and has spent his career building and transforming investment and wealth management businesses.  Prior to joining Citi Private Bank in 2009, Steve led the investments, wealth management and insurance organization, as well as the retirement business, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He is a co-creator of the $80+ billion Sector Spdrs exchange traded funds and was featured in the book The Super Traders.  Mr. Bodurtha has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan University with a BA in Government. He has been a coach in the Fairfield County Connecticut Jewish Little League and has served on the board of Bi-Cultural Day School and Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut.

Eric D. Fingerhut is the President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Prior to his appointment at JFNA, Fingerhut served as the President of CEO of Hillel International from 2013-19. At Hillel, Fingerhut led the organization’s Drive to Excellence, which resulted in a doubling of the number of students engaged by Hillel each year and the total funds raised annually. Fingerhut’s emphasis on recruiting, training and retaining top talent for the system, and on building a data and performance driven organization, have become models for the non-profit sector.   From 1997 to 2006, Eric served as an Ohio state senator, and from 1993 to 1994, represented Ohio’s 19th congressional district in the U.S. Congress.

Fingerhut received a juris doctorate from Stanford University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Amy, sons Sam and Charlie, and beagles Pedro and Lulu.

Peter Gefen is highly esteemed educator, widely known for his founding of major schools and initiatives. Peter began his career with the creation of the Park Avenue Synagogue High School in 1967 and founded The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York City in 1983. He most recently founded and serves as President of The KIVUNIM Institute. In the summers of 1965 and 1966 he served as a civil rights worker for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Orangeburg, and soon afterwards served as a civilian volunteer during the Six Days War. He is married to Susie Kessler, and they have two sons: Jonah and Daniel, and a daughter, Nessa. Peter was born, raised in and has lived in New York City throughout his lifetime.

Jeffrey S. Gurock is the Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University and a former board member of YCT. An internationally-recognized expert in the discipline of American Jewish history; with special interest in the history of American Judaism, the history of New York Jewry and Judaism and American sports. He is the author or editor of twenty-four books, including, recently, Jews in Gotham: New York Jews in a Changing City  (NYU Press). An elected fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research and the New York Academy of History, Gurock is also an avid sportsman who has run the NYC Marathon 12 times.

Dr. Steven Laufer, Chair of the Board, is a researcher at the Meyers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem. Prior to making aliya in 2019, he worked as a principal economist at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., where he conducted research and advised Board members on issues related to housing and mortgage markets. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University and a PhD in Economics from New York University. He has been a member of Ohev Shalom the National Synagogue in Washington and of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale – the Bayit, and served as board president of the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital. Steven and his wife, Chani, are the proud parents of three children, Shoshana, Ari and Erez.

Aaron Lerner is the incoming President and C.E.O. of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Selects. Prior to being named to this position, Aaron served as Executive Director of Hillel at UCLA from 2012-2022, where he helped expand Hillel’s leadership training program to include approximately 150 student leaders who reach nearly 1,800 Jewish students every year at UCLA. He has also played a key role in Israel advocacy and education on campus and in the national arena.

Aaron is passionate about creating inclusive and empowered Jewish community. He believes that Jewish tradition enriches and informs every aspect of life, and particularly enjoys encouraging college students to apply Jewish values as they grapple with life’s major questions during their most formative years. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Aaron received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah with an emphasis in education.

Steven Lieberman, Chair Emeritus, is a partner at the firm of Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck in Washington, D.C. He specializes in intellectual property and constitutional law, and his current clients include The New York Times Company, Dow Jones, Fox, McGraw-Hill, NBC, CBS and Time Warner. Mr. Lieberman has also devoted a substantial portion of his practice for the past 25 years to pro bono work on behalf of the Jewish community. Mr. Lieberman has served on the Board of YCT since its founding.  He is currently a Vice President of Beth Sholom Congregation & Talmud Torah in Potomac, Maryland and a member of the Board and Vice-President of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (“ASIRT”); he has also served on the Board of Directors of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. He has been honored by Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and the Association for Safe International Road Travel for his work on behalf of those organizations.

Rabbi Dov Linzer is the President and Rosh HaYeshiva of YCT Rabbinical School. Having served as YCT’s Rosh HaYeshiva for over 20 years, Rabbi Linzer became its President in 2019 and assumed both the institutional and Torah-based leadership of YCT. In this dual capacity, Rabbi Linzer has set the vision for YCT as a Center of Torah and Torah Leadership, and, with an amazing team of colleagues and partners, oversees its growth, reach, and further development.

An acclaimed Torah and halakha scholar, Rabbi Linzer has been a leading rabbinic voice in the Modern Orthodox community for over 25 years. He has published over 100 teshuvot (responsa) and scholarly Torah articles, and hosts a number of highly popular Torah podcasts.

In his capacity as a mentor, Rabbi Linzer provides religious guidance to the yeshiva’s students and the over 150 YCT-ordained rabbis who are serving in the field. He answers hundreds of halakhic questions from YCT rabbis and broader community each year, which are available to the public on his blog, psak.yctorah.org.

Jonathan D. Sarna is University Professor, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, and Director at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. From 2008-2018, Sarna served as chair of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He is past president of the Association for Jewish Studies, Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and in 2009, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America’s fifty most influential American Jews, Sarna is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion, and life. Dr. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than thirty books. He is best known for the acclaimed American Judaism: A History. Winner of the Jewish Book Council’s “Jewish Book of the Year Award” in 2004. He is married to Professor Ruth Langer, and they have two children, Aaron and Leah.

Dr. Dov S. Zakheim is Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Senior Fellow at the CNA Corporation, a federally funded think tank. Previously he was Senior Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton where he led the Firm’s support of U.S. Combatant Commanders worldwide.

From 2001 to April 2004, Zakheim served as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Defense. In the four years prior to that, he was corporate vice president of System Planning Corp., a technology, research and analysis firm based in Arlington, Va. He also served as chief executive officer of SPC International Corp., a subsidiary specializing in political, military and economic consulting. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he served as a senior foreign policy advisor to then-Governor Bush.

From 1985 until March 1987, Dr. Zakheim was Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Planning and Resources in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). In that capacity, he played an active role in the Department’s system acquisition and strategic planning processes. Dr. Zakheim held a variety of other DoD posts from 1981 to 1985. Earlier, he was employed by the National Security and International Affairs Division of the Congressional Budget Office.

A graduate of Columbia University with a bachelor’s in government, Dr. Zakheim also studied at the London School of Economics. He earned his doctorate in economics and politics at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where he was graduate fellow in programs of both the National Science Foundation and Columbia College, and then a research fellow. Dr. Zakheim has been an adjunct professor at the National War College, Yeshiva University, Columbia University and Trinity College, Hartford, Conn., where he was Presidential Scholar. Dr. Zakheim has written, lectured and provided media commentary on national defense and foreign policy issues domestically and internationally.

Dr. Zakheim earned smicha from Hagaon Rav Shmuel Walkin. The author of hundreds of articles and book reviews on both national security and Jewish themes, his four books include Nehemiah: Statesman and Sage and The Prince and the Emperors: The Life and Times of Rabbi Judah the Prince.