About : Meet Our Staff
Our staff is made up of dynamic individuals who consider themselves part of one big Bronfman Center family. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna
University Chaplain/Skirball Executive Director
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna is a visionary, inspiring and highly personable rabbi known for his passion, sensitivity, creativity, and openness. A communal leader, teacher and innovator, he serves as the Skirball Executive Director of the Bronfman Center and University Chaplain of NYU. Rabbi Sarna and his family live in Gramercy Green, where he is Chaplain-in-Residence, and maintain an "open home" to students. He is married to Dr. Michelle Waldman Sarna and father to Batya, Maayan, Moshe, David, Amital and Hillel.
Tracy joined The Bronfman Center family in December of 2007. She is from Charleston, SC and received her BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She also has a certificate in Non-Profit Accounting and Governmental Reporting from NYU's SCPS. Tracy began her career in the non-profit world as an educator at The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and from there went on to work as an administrator at Park Avenue Synagogue's Congregational School. Tracy is a proud Brooklyn resident, and it is only because of our students that she travels daily to the "outer borough" of Manhattan. She loves working at NYU with such a dynamic, diverse and exciting student body.
Manager of Student Life
Erica has been at the Bronfman Center since 2008 after graduating with a BFA in Dance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She digs that her job includes taking students out for coffee and on trips around the world to places like Nicaragua, India, Estonia, and Israel. In addition to her role at NYU, Erica is a professional dance artist with several NYC-based modern dance companies. She builds vacations around thrift stores, enjoys contact improv jams, doesn't mind mixing plaid with paisley, and makes a mean arugula salad.
Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi
Manager of Religious Life
Ordained from HUC-JIR, the seminary of the Reform movement, Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi is passionately dedicated to pluralist Judaism, feminism, and LGBTQ rights. She holds a BA in Women’s Studies from Harvard University and both an MA and a PhD in Performance Studies from NYU. She has taught in the Religious Studies, Performance Studies, and Expository Writing Departments at NYU and loves both formal and informal teaching. While she works intimately with the Reform and Queer Jewish communities, Rabbi Nikki also oversees the "big picture" and visioning for Shabbat and holidays here at the Bronfman Center. A convert to Judaism, Rabbi Nikki is particularly happy to discuss spiritual change, doubts, and questions… but she’s also happy to talk pop culture, science fiction, HBO’s Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Game of Thrones. Rabbi Nikki lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, with her wife Rachel and their son Ilan. Email Nikki!
Rabbi Gideon Black
Gideon was born in Glasgow, Scotland and grew up in London, England. In 2007 Gideon moved across the pond to pursue his rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University. Gideon received his law degree from University College London, after starting his undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics. Gideon also has an MA in Jewish Philosophy from YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School. Before college, Gideon spent two years studying at Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush). At NYU, Gideon serves as a campus rabbi, representing the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) – a program of the Orthodox Union. Aside from being a huge soccer and golf fan, one thing Gideon is more passionate about than anything is people. He is here for you anytime, so if you would like to chat over a cup of coffee (chances are he’ll order tea), or you’re looking for someone to learn with or you want to join him and his wife Aliza for a Shabbat meal please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Senior Associate, Leadership & Global Initiatives
Rebekah joined the Bronfman Center team in 2011 after graduating from NYU with a BA in History and Jewish Studies. While a student at NYU, she was an Eryk Spektor Scholar in Jewish Studies, a member of the NYU Purple and White Dance Team, and studied abroad with the pioneer group to NYU Tel Aviv. At work, Rebekah oversees student leadership development and the brand new NYU Global Center for Jewish Life. She's your girl for Israel and Holocaust education as well. Rebekah also has the great privilege of managing immersive experiences including Taglit-Birthright Israel at NYU and the annual Bridges: Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Dialogue alternative break trip. At home, Rebekah is a Shapiro Family Fellow and is pursuing a dual MA in Education and Jewish Studies with NYU's Steinhardt School and the Skirball Department of Hebrew & Judaic Studies. Originally from Austin, Texas, Rebekah is the oldest of five and adores her family, Texas Longhorn baseball, the beach and coffee. She hopes to make aliyah someday and spends as much time in Tel Aviv as she possibly can.
Fun fact: Rebekah was on the hit NBC series, Friday Night Lights in high school as a backup dancer!
Come visit Rebekah on the 5th floor of the Bronfman Center anytime. Chances are, she'll take you out for coffee or ice cream!
Jay Herman is the coordinator of CLIP, a competitive undergraduate internship program with sites in New York and Israel that cultivates emerging professional and lay leaders in the Jewish community. Originally from the beautiful state of Colorado, Jay is a master’s student in Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, pursuing a degree in music education which will include certification to teach K-12 music in New York public schools. At his alma mater, University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, Jay revitalized the Jewish community as president of Hillel and as Interfaith Coordinator for Jewish Life. At NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, Jay also works with Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, and non-denominational progressive students on campus to create opportunities for liberal Jewish engagement. Outside of work and school, Jay enjoys practicing marimba, vibraphone, and piano, listening to National Public Radio, and skiing the Rocky Mountains.
Senior Engagement Associate / Data Architect
Sam Cohen grew up in Farmington, Maine, in a house that used to be a barn. He graduated NYU in 2013, where he majored in Jews and minored in the Internet. He was a co-founder of the NYU Indie Minyan, a Fellow at Yeshivat Hadar and the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, and a member of the NYU Badminton Club. Sam has traveled in 34 states and 14 countries, and has photographed couples kissing in most of those places. He likes photography, tennis, magic tricks, avocados, really tall buildings, and anything that brings people together.
Program Associate, Department Administrator
Hannah grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from NYU in 2013 where she majored in psychology and Hebrew and Judaic studies and is now pursuing a Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. While she is a proud southerner, she is thrilled to join the Bronfman Center team and considers it her home away from home. Her responsibilities at the Bronfman Center include finances and programming, to name a few, as well as managing our team of amazingly talented and devoted student workers. In her free time, she loves to go to stand-up comedy and improv shows. Hannah will also travel to the ends of the earth for a good thrift shop. Feel free to contact her if you wanna hang out, chat, or have any questions!
Sigal grew up in San Diego, California, crossed coasts, and left the Pacific, her parents, four siblings, and labradoodle Ziggy to study at NYU. During her four years in New York, she fell in love with the city and is so excited to stay here and continue exploring. In her spare time, Sigal loves to run the city streets, bake gluten free goodies, and score a bargain at Bloomies. She graduated this past May with a concentration in Middle Eastern and Judaic Studies. She is beyond psyched to join the Bronfman team and work behind the scenes of the magic happening at 7 E 10th Street. She is honored to work alongside Rabbi Sarna and all of the amazing staff who made her time at NYU so remarkable. She looks forward to meeting everyone so please feel free to come by the 4th floor and say hello!
firstname.lastname@example.org (212) 998-4123
Jonathan grew up in Fairlawn, NJ and graduated from Yeshiva University with a degree in Psychology. Before college, Jonathan spent two formative years studying and growing at Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Nof Ayalon, Israel. Upon graduating YU, Jonathan wanted to continue to deepen his Jewish knowledge and commitment, so he decided to pursue rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva, where he is currently in his third year. Throughout his college and semicha years, Jonathan has served in numerous Jewish educational positions, ranging from the rabbinic intern at the Riverdale Jewish Center to a member of the chinuch staff at Camp Lavi to a YU-Teach fellow. Jonathan loves to play roller hockey, watch TED talks, eat unhealthy snacks, and is always down for a good chill. He is excited to be a JLIC fellow at the Bronfman Center, the very place where he met his super cool wife, Sharone.
Sharone hails from the city of Leipzig. Not New Leipzig in North Dakota, but the original. In Germany. But you would barely know it. Traveling and living throughout Europe during High School, Sharone is fluent (without an accent!) in just about any language you’ve ever heard of. Well not quite, but close. After High School, Sharone studied at Midreshet Tehilla in Jerusalem and enrolled at University in Levico Terme, Italy. Eventually, Sharone decided to explore the Western hemisphere and came to NYC where she completed her BA in Political Science. She is currently a graduate student at NYU in the Wagner-Skirball dual degree master’s program, concentrating in finance and Judaic Studies. Sharone is fascinated by obscure Jewish communities, comparing Jewish and Western ideas, and comparative linguistics. She also enjoys discussing notions of identity, and has a love for cats that neither she, nor anyone else, can explain. Oh and if you are looking for an amateur tour guide in Europe, be in touch.
Rachel hails from Long Island, NY, and currently resides in the beautiful Washington Heights (no, it is not dangerous to live there). After spending a year and a half at MMY, Rachel spent her years at Stern College deliberating over many majors and simultaneously taking classes at Azriel, YU’s graduate school of Jewish Education. She then completed her Master’s in Speech and Language Pathology. Due to Rachel’s love of Torah, people, and teaching, she has been involved in both formal and informal Jewish education since high school when she went to Perth, Australia to teach the community and run various programs. In Stern she created and ran T Cubed, served as an advisor and a program coordinator on SEG, and worked as an advisor on YU’s Mechina program. She had the privilege of being part of various learning programs in Livingston, Scarsdale, and at Morasha BMP. Rachel loves developing personal relationships and helping others forge their own path towards Judaism.
When Rachel is not working as an SLP, she can be found talking to random strangers, reading interesting memoirs, and listening to slam poetry. She loves talking to anyone and everyone on a range of interesting topics, and enjoys searching for interesting blogs, attempting to play guitar, and philosophizing about life.
Rivky was born and raised in Teaneck. (You probably haven't heard of it- it's a small town in New Jersey.) After two years at Midreshet Harova and four studying Africana studies at Johns Hopkins, with a detour of a semester in Ghana, she was excited to move back to New York. Aside from her position as part of the amazing team of JLIC here at NYU, Rivky is the education manager (ask her what that means!) at a Jewish education technology nonprofit. Please call her to meet up, she'd love to take you out for a cup of coffee, or her favorite drink, chocolate milk! Outside of work, Rivky likes to read blogs, go to rap concerts, and play Mah Jongg.
The grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, Justin Pines was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey, where he attended a Conservative day school and an Orthodox synagogue, and began a lifelong commitment to Jewish practice at his bar-mitzvah. He graduated summa cum laude in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Hillel President and as Student Speaker at his commencement ceremony. He received his JD from Harvard Law School, and then spent two and a half years working as a corporate associate at Paul Weiss in New York. Justin serves on the young leadership boards of AIPAC and the Hebrew Free Loan Society, was an Encounter Davar Acher Fellow and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow. A love of exploring Jewish texts with a variety of people has led Justin to study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Machon Shlomo, Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), and Orayta. A passion for and commitment to service has led Justin to enroll at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical school, where he is entering his third year. In his free time, Justin loves outdoor travel, live music and beach volleyball. He has traveled to 40 countries and 38 states, and has seen over 60 Dave Matthews concerts. Justin’s wife, all of his siblings and several of his cousins attended NYU and are members of the Bronfman Center community, and he is looking forward to experiencing what all of the excitement is about.
Global Program Coordinator
Chelsea graduated from NYU in 2013 with a degree in Media, Culture, and Communication, which she made all about religion, politics, and sexuality. She was Co-founder and President of Bridges: Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Dialogue at NYU, and was recognized for her work as the 2013 All-University Commencement Speaker at Yankee Stadium. Chelsea spent last year teaching English to adorable kindergarteners at Sunflower Trilingual School in Samut, Sakhon, Thailand, and still takes every opportunity to eat Thai food and show off her language skills. She sits on the board of American Jewish Committee ACCESS NY and is a member of the Planned Parenthood of NYC Activist Council. A native of Seattle, Washington, Chelsea will always be a Pacific Northwester at heart and is an avid fan of rain and the Seahawks. She loves to travel and will talk to you about reproductive justice until you turn blue.
Global Leadership Fellow
Diana, the Bronfman Center’s Global Leadership Fellow, hails from New York City. She joined the Center in 2014 after graduating with honors from NYU-Stern as a double-major in Accounting and Management, and as the recipient of the Laurence Tisch Alumni Award. She was very involved on campus throughout her undergraduate career, serving as President of USWIB (Undergraduate Stern Women in Business), on the Stern Class of 2014 Legacy Committee, a Stern Street Team Admissions Ambassador, an Orientation Leader, Treasurer of Hayden Residence Hall and President of Alumni Residence Hall. She has held internships with Ramona Singer of the “Real Housewives of New York City,” at InStyle Magazine, and at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In addition, she serves as as a contributing writer and social media consultant for TheBeautyBean.com and when not busy interviewing celebrities for the site, she indulges in her love of yoga, travel, the Mets and the Rangers. Diana has spent a lot of quality time in Israel and as the daughter and sister of IDF veterans she has absorbed an extraordinary love for the country since birth. Diana hopes to be able to make meaningful contributions to Israel and the Jewish community-at-large through her work at the Bronfman Center, a place she came to appreciate during her college career as the true Jewish heart of NYU. Stop by the 5th floor of the Bronfman Center to see Diana and have her take you out for coffee!
Social Work Intern
Arielle Braude had her first spiritual experience at an Alanis Morissette concert when she was 15. A senior in the Silver School for Social Work at NYU, Arielle is our Social Work Intern here at the Bronfman Center. As a part of her portfolio, she coordinates our Jewish Learning Fellowship, supports our Chavurah team, talks about what it means to be human, and giggles a lot. Outside of the Bronfman Center, Arielle teaches Hebrew school, explores her new ‘hood, the Lower East Side, and tries to find just the right drum circle for her vibe.
Assistant Coordinator, CLIP: New York
Gabriel Schaller is the assistant coordinator of CLIP: New York. Gabriel grew up in Vienna, Austria and graduated from SOAS, University of London with a BA in politics and economics with a concentration on the Middle East. During college, Gabriel was president of his university’s Jewish Society during the year and interned at the Austrian embassy in Saudi Arabia and the UNIDO in Mexico City during the summer. After graduating from college, Gabriel lived in Israel for a year, where he studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and studied Hebrew and worked in an Ulpan program on Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael. Currently, Gabriel is a first-year student in the NYU Wagner-Skirball dual-degree program and a recipient of the Steinberg fellowship. Gabriel is interested in social change, finance, Jewish identity, and modern Jewish history. He enjoys reading graphic novels, scuba diving, and loves riding his bike through New York City. You can reach Gabriel at email@example.com.
Spring work days: Monday, Tuesday (AM), Friday
Coordinator, CLIP: Onward Israel
David Schaum is the coordinator for CLIP: Onward Israel. He is an alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music where he studied the violin and viola. In addition to his past musical ventures, he has always been an active member of the New York Jewish community as a teacher and lay leader. David also attended Yeshivat Machon Meir, a center for religious Zionism in Jerusalem. He recently had the honor of presenting his work on the Jewish identity and music of the 20th century serialist composer, Arnold Schoenberg at the 16th World Congress of Jewish Studies held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For the past two years, he has been an enthusiastic member of the Limmud NY Steering Committee, creating diverse programming that unites Jews from all over the world to engage in a weekend of immersive learning. He enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of NYC, singing piyutim and cooking mountainous amounts of food for his friends. You can reach David at firstname.lastname@example.org.