Thoughts and conversations from our community.

contributors

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Rabbi Joy Levitt is the executive director of The JCC in Manhattan.

Selected by Newsweek’s Daily Beast as one of the 50 top rabbis (2013) and by the Forward as one of the 50 most influential Jews in America (2011), Joy Levitt has catapulted The JCC in Manhattan into one of the pre-eminent creative centers in American Jewish life today. An innovative educator, programmer, and Jewish professional leader, she recently founded the Jewish Journey Project, an ambitious initiative designed to revolutionize Jewish education for children.

Ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Joy was a congregational rabbi in New Jersey and Long Island for twenty years prior to joining the JCC. As a lay leader, she serves on the boards of Avodah: The Jewish Corps for Service, Americans for Peace Now, and the Columbia/Barnard Hillel. Joy is married to Michael Strassfeld, also a rabbi, with whom she co-authored A Night of Questions: a Passover Haggadah.


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Noah Mencow Hichenberg is the director of The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at The JCC in Manhattan.

He has held a variety of roles throughout the institution, including nursery teacher, Day Camp @ Pearl River site director, and instructor in Havurah and the Jewish Journey Project. 

Noah received his masters in Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Fordham University, and bachelor’s degrees in American History from Columbia University and Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Noah’s vision for the nursery school is a place of educational excellence that is a unique blend of progressive, values-based, play-centered, and Reggio-inspired pedagogy. He is committed to a “culture of growth” in the school, based on the belief that the growth and learning of staff and parents is as significant as that of our children. 


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Caroline Kohles is the senior director of the Marti Ann Meyerson Center for Health and Wellness at The JCC in Manhattan.

A fitness professional for over 22 years, she is co-founder of Nia New York™ and a First Generation Nia Trainer in White, Green, Blue, and Brown Belts. She holds certifications in yoga, indoor cycling, personal training, and 5 Rhythms. A former professional dancer with a passion for anatomy, Caroline is drawn to using movement to help special populations.

In her 10 years at the JCC, Caroline has been instrumental in leading the JCC's diverse and progressive slate of fitness programming. Her signature work includes the cancer care programs in partnership with the Comprehensive Breast Center at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, the award-winning JCC and NYU Langone Medical Center's Parkinson's program, our popular triathlon training program partnership with JackRabbit Sports, and many emerging nutrition and brain health programs.


Isaac Zablocki is the senior director of the Israel Film Center at The JCC in Manhattan.

Born in New York, he grew up in Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces' leading film unit as an educational film producer. He attended film school at Columbia University and went on to work at Miramax films. He produced and directed a feature film entitled Reality Lost and developed film educational programs for the Board of Education.

Isaac has been at The JCC in Manhattan since 2004. He programs more than seven film festivals a year including the acclaimed Other Israel Film Festival about Arab and minority populations in Israel, and Reelabilites: NY Disabilities Film Festival—now a national program in over 14 major cities across the U.S. He is the leading programmer of Israeli films in the U.S. and developed the largest on-line database of Israeli films as well as Israel Film Center Stream. Isaac lectures around the world in major institutions on a variety of topics including new Israeli cinema, Hollywood, the Holocaust, and the power of film for social change.


Miriam Leviton is the director of programs for Infants & Young Children at The JCC in Manhattan.

Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Miriam received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of California: Berkeley in Art History. While working toward her degree, a job at the children's museum in Oakland led to her desire to work with children and incorporate the arts into that experience. She relocated to New York in 2008 for a position at the Guggenheim's Learning Through Art program, placing teaching artists in public elementary schools throughout the city.

During her time at the Guggenheim, Miriam attended NYU's Steinhardt school, earning her Master's Degree in Non-Profit Arts Administration with a focus on early childhood arts education. Since joining the JCC in 2012, Miriam has continued to develop her passion for arts education, early childhood, and the ways in which Jewish values and open-ended, play-based experiences can impact children and families.


Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen is the director of the Center for Jewish Living and the David H. Sonabend Center for Israel at The JCC in Manhattan.

Prior to joining the JCC, Rabbi Cohen served for 10 years at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBT synagogue serving people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. She is vice-chair of the board of T'ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the author of the forthcoming CBST: The First Forty Years


Megan Whitman is the senior director of Arts + Ideas at The JCC in Manhattan.

Megan began JCC Conversations in 2010,  which has brought some of the brightest minds, like Malcolm Gladwell, Chelsea Clinton, Paul Krugman and Nora Ephron, to our community.  She also collaborated with the Sol LeWitt Estate on the long-term installation of LeWitt's Wall Drawing #599 in the JCC's light well.

Prior to her career at the JCC, Megan occupied various relevant positions in the Arts, from managing the Global Creative Leadership Summit to coordinating The Chicago Community Trust Arts Education Initiative. Megan received her B.A. with Honors from The University of Chicago and has a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University.