Ilan WagnerPresident and CEO
Ilan was born in New Jersey and moved to Israel in 1986 after years of activity in the Young Judaea youth movement. Upon arriving in Israel, he helped found the...
Ilan was born in New Jersey and moved to Israel in 1986 after years of activity in the Young Judaea youth movement Upon arriving in Israel, he helped found the Keren Kolot Educational Seminar at Kibbutz Ketura, wrote a text book for teaching English at the high school level, and then went on to be the head of the Education Committee on Kibbutz Yotvata, and supervisor of Civics at the regional high school
In 1996, he worked as an emissary for college students in North America on behalf of Hadassah From 2002 until 2004 he directed the Jewish Agency Department of Education’s global student activities, and then returned to the United Sates as the Jewish Agency’s representative to Hillel and Student Affairs in North America Beginning in August, 2007 he served as the director of the Jewish Agency’s educational efforts in North America and directed MAKOM, the Israel Engagement Network in North America
Ilan returned to Israel in 2009, continuing his work as the Director of the Jewish Agency’s North American regional office and was involved in the creation of Onward Israel, of which he is currently the President and CEO Ilan lives In Modiin with his wife Shoshi and two children, Amit and Adi, and their beloved dog, Eddie If you meet Ilan, be sure to say a kind word about the Boston Red Sox
Jessica SiskindVice President for North America
Jessica was born in raised in New Jersey. Throughout her youth, she attended and worked at Ramah movement summer camps and was involved in United Synagogue Youth (USY). During college,...
Jessica was born in raised in New Jersey Throughout her youth, she attended and worked at Ramah movement summer camps and was involved in United Synagogue Youth (USY) During college, she had the opportunity to study abroad in two incredible cities, London England and Haifa Israel, which helped shape her interest in giving young people the opportunity to have immersive abroad experiences
After graduating from Boston University with a BA in International Relations in 2008, she started work at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Jessica served in multiple roles at JNF including in the Israel Advocacy and Education department and later in the Greater New York region as an events manager In 2013, she completed her Masters Degree in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Administration from Baruch College of the City of New York She had the opportunity to participate in Germany Close Up and is currently a Birthright Israel Fellow
Having been involved with Onward Israel since its inaugural year, Jessica proudly serves as the Onward Israel North American Director She lives in New York City where she is an avid Yankees fan and loves to explore the city for different types ethnic foods
Eliran CohenVice President for Operations and Business Development
Eliran is married to Maayan and father to Or-Yosef. From a very young age Eliran was active in social organizations as both participant and staff. Eliran served as a fighter...
Eliran is married to Maayan and father to Or-Yosef From a very young age Eliran was active in social organizations as both participant and staff Eliran served as a fighter and commander in the Israeli navy After this he was a Shaliach in US, before returning to Israel to continue his career In the last few years he was a Director of Programs in diverse projects such as ‘Taglit’, ‘Masa Israel’, and more
His academic career includes a BA degree in Political Science and Public Communication Currently he is completing his Master’s degree in the Studies of American Jewry During his years as a student, Eliran participated in a number of significant leadership programs such as The Stand With Us Fellowship, The Jewish Statesmanship Center and the program for educators for Jewish Peoplehood in Beit H’atfutzot
Among other endeavors, Eliran lived in and managed the Tel Aviv ‘Moishe-House’ extension In addition, Eliran founded and manages his own company ‘Kelim Shluvim’ that specializes in the development and management of training skills for diverse audiences Eliran is a big fan of sports and music of any kind
Scott CopelandVice President for Education
Scott currently serves as the Vice President and Director of Education at Onward Israel. He holds a B.A. from Brandeis University in Judaic Studies and an M.A. from Hebrew University’s...
Scott currently serves as the Vice President and Director of Education at Onward Israel He holds a BA from Brandeis University in Judaic Studies and an MA from Hebrew University’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and is also a graduate of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows, a prestigious leadership development center for the Jewish educational world
Scott has worked as a tour guide and educator in a wide variety of Israeli and Diaspora settings He has taught in Jewish communities around the world and has been deeply involved in educational tourism His areas of expertise include Israel studies, Jewish history and thought, and travel as an informal educational arena Scott has published online for the Jewish Agency, at Jewishlearningcom, in Shma, in Zeek, and in Blätter für Deutsche und Internationale Politik His article on the vision and practice of Israel Travel Education appears in the Springer Press Handbook of Jewish Education
Scott served as a reserve officer with the IDF Spokesperson’s Bureau He was also the founding director of the Taglit-Birthright Israel Institute for Tour Educators, an academy providing training in experiential Jewish education for the tour guides/educators of Taglit-Birthright Israel
Brad GaroonVice President for Marketing and Communications
As VP of Marketing and Communications, Brad creates and implements marketing strategy, finds new ways to grow Onward’s network and engage its community, and manages the organization’s branding, web presence...
As VP of Marketing and Communications, Brad creates and implements marketing strategy, finds new ways to grow Onward’s network and engage its community, and manages the organization’s branding, web presence and social media channels
Brad grew up in suburban Detroit, and lived in the Philippines before moving to New York City Brad comes to Onward Israel with over a decade of marketing experience, both inside and outside of the Jewish communal world Before working at Onward Israel, Brad helped to build robust online communities for 16 Handles frozen yogurt company, JDC Entwine, American Friends of The Hebrew University, and Columbia/Barnard Hillel
Brad received a Masters in Informal Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Bachelors degrees in Comparative Religion and Journalism from Western Michigan University He is also the founder and editor of Burger Weekly, a blog dedicated to finding and sharing the best hamburgers in the country
Veronika MatlovDirector of Global Partnerships
Veronika was born and raised in Vilnius , Lithuania, After making aliyah in 1990 she continued her B. A studies in Hebrew University in the field of Sociology and History. Veronika...
Veronika was born and raised in Vilnius , Lithuania, After making aliyah in 1990 she continued her B A studies in Hebrew University in the field of Sociology and History Veronika worked for the Jewish Agency for 20 years , mostly with educational projects for young adults and professional projects to new immigrants all over the world In 2001-2004 and 2007- 2008 she worked as an emissary in Kiev , Ukraine, working with local Jewish community and other Israeli organizations such as Nativ, ORT, and private companies , running the Israeli oriented activities , seminars , summer camps etc After returning from the second emissary mission Veronika directed the professional integration unit In The Jewish Agency , focusing on helping new olim build their careers in Israel She joined the Onward Israel team in November 2015
Veronika is married to Boaz and has 3 suns – Eliyahoo and Yonathan – soldiers in the IDF, and Noam – middle school student Sives in Mevasseret Zion, a small town near Jerusalem, and is a big fan of music of any kind , interior design, travelling, and good coffee
Rebecca ZuckDirector of Theme Based Programs
Rebecca joined the Onward Israel team in January 2015 to oversee the first theme-based summer programs. As the theme-based programs have grown, Rebecca continues to work on individualized marketing and...
Rebecca joined the Onward Israel team in January 2015 to oversee the first theme-based summer programs As the theme-based programs have grown, Rebecca continues to work on individualized marketing and recruitment for all theme-based programs and coordinates with the Israel-based organizers to ensure that the participants have meaningful and unique experiences
At the end of her time as a Communication and Film student at UMass Amherst, Rebecca joined the first cohort of Onward Israel participants in Summer 2012 As a proud alumna, she knows firsthand how impactful the Onward Israel experience can be Before joining the team professionally, she worked at Jewish National Fund on special projects for the Executive Office and Education departments before taking over the role of Speakers Bureau Manager
When she isn’t working, Rebecca can be found quoting obscure TV and movie references in Astoria, NY, where she lives with another Onward Israel alum
Liad ShaharDirector of Knowledge and Registration
Liad coordinates Onward Israel’s CRM system and website. she takes the lead on interactions for logistics issues with program organizers before and while the programs are running and is also...
Liad coordinates Onward Israel’s CRM system and website she takes the lead on interactions for logistics issues with program organizers before and while the programs are running and is also managing the Israel office and in charge of Ilan Wagner’s schedule, Onward Israel’s CEO
Previously, Liad has worked in the Priority Regions Division ,Scholarships Unit and the Social Activism Unit of The Jewish Agency for Israel She has a MA in Educational Management & Policy from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a BA in International Relations, Sociology and Anthropology
Liad is married to Yaniv and a mother to Eitan, Nevo and Re’em and lives in a Moshav near Jerusalem She really loves interior design and art
Yael ZegelsteinEducational Events Coordinator
After her army service as an Operations Officer in the North Face of Israel, Yael worked at a JCCA Summer Camp in Georgia. She returned to Israel and worked on...
After her army service as an Operations Officer in the North Face of Israel, Yael worked at a JCCA Summer Camp in Georgia She returned to Israel and worked on the screening and training team for the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Summer Shlichim Program
Her passion for Jewish education and for Israel led her to participate in a tour guide course with the Birthright Educator Institute After graduating from the course, Yael worked with varied educational tourism groups in Israel Over the years, Yael also worked in different positions in the URJ movement in Israel
Yael was raised in Ra’anana, Israel, and has been living in Jerusalem for the last few years She holds a BA degree in Land of Israel Studies from Haifa University and is an MA student in American Judaism at Haifa University
Sara NaorBay Area Recruiter and Western Coordinator
Sara Naor joined the Onward Israel team as its first Western Coordinator and helped kick start their Bay Area program as its recruiter. Sara was born in Israel and spent...
Sara Naor joined the Onward Israel team as its first Western Coordinator and helped kick start their Bay Area program as its recruiter Sara was born in Israel and spent her early life in Kibbutz Na’an She moved to Los Angeles at the age of 6 and spent her remaining childhood growing up in the San Fernando Valley
An alumna of UC Irvine, Sara was a member of every Jewish student board possible which led her to discover a passion for Jewish communal engagement She graduated with a degree in Film and Media and a minor in Jewish Studies and went on to work for the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Los Angeles office Now, Sara applies her passion for Jewish engagement to helping young adults aged 19-27 connect with Israel through meaningful summer experiences
Sara is located in the Bay Area where she is exploring her new home city and bundling up against the San Francisco cold
Rebekah PasterNational Program Associate
Rebekah was born and raised in New Jersey and recently graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in International Relations. She decided to pursue a career in US-Israeli...
Rebekah was born and raised in New Jersey and recently graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in International Relations She decided to pursue a career in US-Israeli relations after participating in various exchange programs and pro-Israel student groups throughout high school and college
Rebekah traveled back and forth between the United States and Israel while in college, spending a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University and an additional summer working at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs After graduating from college, Rebekah became Onward Israel’s North American Program Associate, where she coordinates the Design Your Own Onward initiative and assists with recruitment, registration, and marketing for all of Onward’s programs
Rebekah lives in New York City and loves skiing, traveling, and cooking
Zehavit Algem-HaimofOperations and Financial Coordinator
Zehavit coordinates finance and operations at Onward Israel, taking the lead on budget issues, and managing negotiations with suppliers and organizers. Zehavit served in the army as a satellite communication...
Zehavit coordinates finance and operations at Onward Israel, taking the lead on budget issues, and managing negotiations with suppliers and organizers
Zehavit served in the army as a satellite communication guide in the Computer and Information Corps Prior to joining Onward Israel, she has worked at the Jerusalem Mayor’s building as a social media intern in the mayor’s spokesperson’s office She has BA in Journalism and Social Media from Ramat Gan College
Zehavit is married to Tomer They live in Jerusalem and are expecting the first child Zehavit likes to paint in oils and acrylic colors on canvas
Desiree NeissaniTheme Based Program Coordinator
Desiree assists in coordinating recruitment and registration for theme-based programs. With the expansion of theme-based programs, she works on best practices for recruiting participants and works with organizers on the...
Desiree assists in coordinating recruitment and registration for theme-based programs With the expansion of theme-based programs, she works on best practices for recruiting participants and works with organizers on the ground to ensure meaningful summer experiences
Desiree is a Long Island native and went to Fordham College Lincoln Center where she studied Religious Studies and History After graduating from Fordham, she went on the Onward Israel New York Service Learning Program This experience fostered her desire to give back and prompted her career in the non-profit sector After returning from Israel, Desiree worked at UJA-Federation of New York in the SYNERGY department
Desiree lives in New York City, loves to travel, run in Central Park, and hang out with family and friends
Koby GellerNew York & Camp Counselor Program Coordinator
Koby Geller grew up in Teaneck, NJ, and graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in government and politics, Jewish studies, and Israel studies. He spent two formative...
Koby Geller grew up in Teaneck, NJ, and graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in government and politics, Jewish studies, and Israel studies He spent two formative pre- and post-college years living in Israel, where he studied at Hebrew University, volunteered as a first responder with Magen David Adom, studied at the Pardes institute, and interned with Knesset member, Yoel Hasson
His interest in building strong communities led him to pursue rabbinical studies at Yeshivat Chovavei Torah (YCT) in Riverdale, NY During his rabbinical studies he spent another year learning in Israel at Yeshivat Hakotel He also has worked at NYU and Drew University as a Hillel staff member, and ultimately, coordinates Onward Israel’s New York program
Koby, his wife Tali, and their daughter Annaelle live in Riverdale, NY In his free time you can find him cheering on Boston sports teams, playing board games, and eating vegetarian food