Project Zug is led by a team of Israeli and American Jews seeking to strengthen relationships between Jewish communities across the globe.
Project Zug was founded by Benjamin Ross, a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College, and Hagit Bartuv, Former Director of Midreshet, a Jewish-Israeli online learning platform. Benjamin and Hagit connected in 2012 in Jerusalem, and developed a shared goal of using Jewish learning to connect Jews in Israel and America.
Their vision became a reality, leading to more than 800 participants in Project Zug in under 3 years!
The Project Zug Team
Rabbi Avi Killip, Director
Avi was ordained from Hebrew College's pluralistic Rabbinical School in Boston. She is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and holds a Bachelors and Masters from Brandeis University in Jewish Studies and Women & Gender Studies. Avi has worked as a teacher and Jewish professional in two synagogues, an independent minyan, a mikveh, and a yeshiva.
Allie Conn Kanter, Associate Director of Community Learning
Allie Conn Kanter is the Associate Director of Community Learning for Mechon Hadar and Project Zug. She has worked in experiential Jewish education for more than seven years, including at Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Michigan Hillel, Avodah, 92Y, and various summer camps. Allie holds an MA in Experiential Jewish Education from the Davidson School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She served as Limmud NY 2017 conference co-chair, is a co-founder of BackPocket, and is an alum of the PresenTense NYC Fellowship (2015). Originally from outside Philadelphia, she is a proud Penn State University alum and avid Philly sports fan. Allie lives in Manhattan with her husband, Josh.
Jeremy Tabick, Content Manager
Jeremy curates Mechon Hadar's and Project Zug's online content. He is also pursuing a PhD in Talmud at JTS. He graduated from the University of Manchester (in the UK) with a Masters in Physics, and is an alumnus of Yeshivat Hadar and the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He has been involved in editing and producing educational resouces for Limmud, both in the UK and internationally, such as the Chavruta Project and Limmud On One Leg. He also teaches at the Ivry Prozdor High School.
Anna Leah Berstein Simpson, Website Administrator
Anna Leah Berstein Simpson is Mechon Hadar's and Project Zug's Website Administrator. She graduated from Dartmouth College, where she studied Classical Archaeology, Art History, and French. She served as Vice President of Religion and Education at Dartmouth Hillel, headed the Writing Assistant Program at the College writing center, and sang in the Handel Society. After college, Anna Leah worked as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at a public high school in Lyon, France, followed by two years studying Information Architecture at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon on a merit scholarship for international students. Anna Leah has worked at the U.S. National Archives, traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean, and is a proud alumna of Camp Yavneh, Holton-Arms School, and Yeshivat Hadar.
Dror Strashun Jacob, Israel Coordinator
Dror Strashun Jacob, Bible and religion researcher, is taking major steps towards his masters in the biblical studies department in the Hebrew university of Jerusalem. His research focuses on the priestly Israeli-judeo textual creations, from its genesis and until the end of the second temple era. Other field of interest, is ancient near east, jewish Kabala, and early hindu and budist religions, as well as sufi poetry. Dror lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Sarah, and their two children. Sarah and Dror work together to make the foundations of the jewish faith and religion accessible to children around the world by powering a Youtube channel that teaches the weekly Torah portion, and is called- “chamesh le’mikra”.
Odeya Goldshmidt, Content Specialist
Odeya is studying for her masters in Hebrew Culture at Tel Aviv University. She has a bachelors in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University and is an alumna of a variety of Batei Midrash including Migdal Oz, Havruta, and Elul. In addition to working at Panim she is a facilitator for Gesher, Elul, and Itim - the Beit Midrash at Tel Aviv University.
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, Executive Director of Mechon Hadar
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is co-founder and executive director of Mechon Hadar. Elie has previously worked as a journalist, banker, and corporate fraud investigator. A graduate of Harvard College, he completed his doctorate in liturgy at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was also ordained. A Wexner Graduate Fellow and Dorot Fellow, Elie is a co-founder of the independent minyan Kehilat Hadar and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow, and is the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights, 2010). Click here to find out more. You can also watch a video of him at the Jewish Federations of North America, in Denver, CO, 2011.
Michal Berman, Executive Director of Panim
Michal joined Panim after a decade working at the Central School for Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem, and worked for five years for Ginot Ha'Ir Community Center in Jerusalem to advance Jewish renewal. She completed her bachelor’s with honors in Psychology and Jewish History and master’s in Jewish Pluralism from Hebrew University. She is the graduate of a moderator's program at Seminar Hakibbutzim. She lives in Alon with her husband and three children.