AJWS’s first Global Justice Fellows set off for Mexico

This week, AJWS Los Angeles is thrilled to venture to Mexico with our inaugural group of Global Justice Fellows. Ranging from ages 22 to 68, this group includes rabbis, entertainment professionals, Jewish communal professionals, lay leaders, philanthropic leaders and nonprofit executives. Hailing from broad geographies and diverse communities, these fellows truly represent the vitality and variety of Los Angeles.

In August, the Los Angeles fellows began their year-long program designed to help them become activist leaders in support of global justice. By traveling to meet AJWS’s grantee partners in Mexico and witness their struggles and stories, we hope to return inspired and ready to lead the charge of repairing the world.

Meet the Los Angeles fellows below, and watch for updates on their experience in Mexico in the coming weeks!


Ackerman,-Naomi-Photo_smallNaomi Ackerman is a social activist, mediator and conflict resolution specialist who focuses on theatre as a means to facilitate social change. Born in the US and raised in Israel, she attended Hebrew University, the David Yellin Teachers’ Seminar and Nissan Nativ Acting Studio in Israel. Naomi was a founding member of “View Points,” an Arab-Jewish theatre group sponsored by the Peres Center for peace.


Adler,-Deborah-Photo_smallDebbie Adler manages her own online marketing strategy consulting business. Previously, Debbie served as a client manager at Blue State Digital, where she worked with organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is currently on the board of Brandeis University’s Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and she holds an MBA from New York University.


Avedon,-Joshua-Headshot_smallJoshua Avedon is co-founder and chief operating officer of Jumpstart, a nonprofit that works across the globe to empower organizations and leaders committed to compelling and meaningful visions of Jewish life. He is a recognized leader in forward-thinking use of technology, viral communications and community-building strategies for Jewish organizations. He holds an MBA in nonprofit management from the American Jewish University.

Balaban,-Melissa-Photo_smallMelissa Balaban, IKAR’s founding president and its first executive director, focuses on the strategic direction of the community. Prior to joining IKAR, Melissa served as assistant dean at the University of Southern California Law School. She also worked as the directing attorney of the Public Counsel’s Child Care Law Project, as a senior consultant for a national human resources consulting firm and as an adjunct professor in the Loyola Marymount MBA program.

Berrin,-Danielle-Photo_smallDanielle Berrin writes the “Hollywood Jew” blog for the Jewish Journal. The blog, awarded “Best Blog in Los Angeles” by the L.A. Press Club for the past two years, is a cutting-edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry. She has profiled entertainment and media luminaries, including Jeffrey Katzenberg, Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, British Esquire and The Times of Israel.

Davari,-Leili-Photo_smallLeili Davari is an organizer at Parent Revolution. She recently completed a Community Organizing Residency with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. An American of both Iranian and Mexican heritage, Leili worked in Israel as a volunteer teaching English to Arab Israelis before moving to Los Angeles. She received her MA in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Eagle,-Janelle-Photo_smallJanelle Eagle is an entertainment professional and LGBT Jewish activist. Janelle founded the 2wice Blessed Project, which is devoted to highlighting positive stories about the queer Jewish community. She has worked at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. As founder of Off the Path Productions, Janelle has worked with clients including National Geographic and GayTravel.com. She is a member of the ROI community and an active leader with JQ International.

Gellis,-Asher-Photo_smallAsher Gellis is co-founder and executive director of JQ International, a nonprofit that creates community and advances greater inclusion of LGBT Jews and allies through identity-building programs and services that embody Jewish values. Asher is a PresenTense LA Fellow, with past professional experience in synagogues, United Synagogue Youth and the Bureau of Jewish Education. He holds an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Glazer,-Miriyam-Headshot_smallMiriyam Glazer is a rabbi, author, scholar and the chair of the Literature, Communication & Media department at American Jewish University, where she has been a professor for the past 20 years. Miriyam participated in AJWS’s Young Rabbis Delegation to Ghana. Her most recent books are Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to their Beauty, Power and Meaning, a new translation & commentary and The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking.

Klein,-Jonathan_smallJonathan Klein is executive director of CLUE-LA, an interfaith organization dedicated to achieving economic justice for low-wage workers. After receiving his rabbinic degree from Hebrew Union College in 1997, he worked as director of KESHER, the Reform movement’s college outreach program. Jonathan serves as a board member for the ACLU of Southern California, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Our Faith Matters and Shamayim V’Aretz, a national Jewish animal welfare group.

Levitt,-Diane-Photo_smallDiane Levitt is director of corporate social responsibility for Belkin International, Inc. Her career in philanthropy began at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, and she has worked as a consultant for the California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the Stuart Foundation. She is a philanthropic advisor to the Pipkin Family Foundation and the outgoing president of Congregation Tikvat Jacob Beth Torah.

Michelle-2013_smallMichelle Missaghieh has served as associate rabbi at Temple Israel of Hollywood since 1996. She serves on the executive board of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din, the only pluralistic Bet Din (rabbinic court) in the United States. As a daughter of a Persian man and a New York woman, Rabbi Missaghieh is possibly the first Persian female rabbi.

Rosenthal,-Margalit-Headshot_smallMargalit Rosenthal is senior director of the Birthright Israel Experience at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. She has worked in social entrepreneurship, innovation and philanthropy with Joshua Venture Group and Slingshot in New York. Margalit holds an MPA and an MA in Hebrew & Judaic Studies from New York University, where she was a Jewish Foundation for Education of Women Fellow.

Samuels,-Robyn-Photo_smallRobyn Samuels is an active member of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she became an adult Bat Mitzvah. She has served on the board of the Highland Hall Waldorf School and worked for the Los Angeles Unified School district as a bilingual elementary school teacher in the inner city. She has also worked as a feminist theatre artist, writer and storyteller.

Schutzer,-Flori-Headshot_smallFlori Schutzer is program director of the Hunger Initiative and assistant director of resettlement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. She has more than 30 years of experience with nonprofits and social activism, including leadership roles with Operation USA, Share Our Strength and the LA Regional Food Bank. Flori has a background in theatre and has served on the boards of Teatro Tatalejos, Radio Club Afterschool and Congregation Kol Ami.

Sumekh,-Rache-Headshot_smallRachel Sumekh is a current member of AVODAH: the Jewish Service Corps in Chicago. This fall, she will begin a new position as executive director of Swipes for the Homeless, a national nonprofit that she founded as an undergraduate. Swipes allows college students to donate their remaining meal points to their local homeless population. Rachel was a PresenTense LA Fellow, and has worked with Repair the World and Uri L’Tzedek.

Zasloff,-Jonathan-Photo_smallJonathan Zasloff is professor of law at the UCLA School of Law. He is also a rabbinical student in the ALEPH ordination program. Jonathan currently serves on the boards of several Jewish community organizations, including the Breed Street Shul Project, Friends of Israel’s Environment and the Mussar Institute. He holds a PhD in American history from Harvard and a JD from Yale.


Jocelyn Berger is a program officer at American Jewish World Service’s Los Angeles location.