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
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.

rabbi.sarna@nyu.edu 212-998-4120

Tracy Figueroa
Associate Director

Tracy Figueroa
Associate Director

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.

tfigueroa@nyu.edu 212-998-4113

Rabbi Daniel Smokler
Director of Education and Engagement

Rabbi Daniel Smokler
Director of Education and Engagement

Rabbi Daniel Smokler is the Senior Jewish Educator at the Bronfman Center.
Rabbi Dan teaches a variety of classes, studies with students and
small groups, and directs the Freshman and Sophomore seminar.  Rabbi
Dan graduated Cum Laude from Yale University in 2001 with a degree in
the History of Art.  He was ordained by Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg
in 2006.  Among other adventures, Rabbi Dan has worked as a labor
union organizer, lived in a tipi for a year and taught Hebrew school
in Cuba.  In addition to teaching and learning, Rabbi Dan loves to go
running, to do the New York Times Crossworld puzzles, and listening to
soul music.  In 2010, Rabbi Dan was awarded Hillel's Exemplar of
Excellence Award.  Rabbi Dan has served been at the Bronfman Center
since 2008.

dan.smokler@gmail.com

Rabbi Gideon Black
JLIC Rabbi

Rabbi Gideon Black
JLIC Rabbi

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!

rabbiblack@nyu.edu

Erica Frankel
Senior Associate, Manager of Student Life

Erica Frankel
Senior Associate, 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.

erica.frankel@nyu.edu 212-998-4122

Jenni Peterson
Development Associate

Jenni Peterson
Development Associate

Jenni grew up in Spokane, Washington and studied at the University of San Francisco, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Nonprofit Administration. During her time in the Bay Area, she was a member of the United Way Women's Leadership Council and Pi Alpha Alpha Honors Society. Jenni loves her family, baking, coffee dates, the Pacific Northwest, a good read and (of course!) her Alaskan Klee Kai puppy, Luna. She is thrilled to be a part of the Bronfman Center team and can't wait to learn more about the many ways that students are currently engaging in Jewish life at NYU. Jenni's office is located on the 5th floor so please stop by and say hello!

jenni.peterson@nyu.edu 212-998-4117

Rabbi Nikki Deblosi
Rabbinic Fellow, Scholar in Residence

Rabbi Nikki Deblosi
Rabbinic Fellow, Scholar in Residence

Ordained in 2013 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. 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 Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her wife Rachel and their son Ilan. Part-time on Bronfman’s rabbinic staff, Rabbi Nikki is on campus on Mondays and Tuesdays. Email Nikki!

deblosi@nyu.edu

Jay Herman
CLIP Coordinator

Jay Herman
CLIP Coordinator

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.

clipnyu@gmail.com 212.998.4121

Hannah Katz
Program Associate, Department Administrator

Hannah Katz
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. 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, room reservations, 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!

hannah.katz@nyu.edu 212-998-4110

Samuel Cohen
Engagement Associate

Samuel Cohen
Engagement Associate

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 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.

sam.cohen@nyu.edu 212-998-4124

Sigal Neustein
Administrative Assistant

Sigal Neustein
Administrative Assistant

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!

srn255@nyu.edu (212) 998-4123

Shuli Passow
Rabbinic Fellow

Shuli Passow
Rabbinic Fellow

Shuli Passow can’t get enough of NYU! She is excited to return to her alma mater—for both her BA and graduate work—as a rabbinic fellow. A native Philadelphian, Shuli moved to New York in 1994 to attend NYU, where she studied French literature, psychology, and music theory. It was back to NYU in 2003 for an MA in Judaic Studies and a Masters in Public Administration, and then on to the Jewish Funds for Justice, where Shuli served as the Director of Community Initiatives, supporting Jewish institutions around the country to work for social change through community organizing, education, and service learning.

Shuli is currently a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and is particularly passionate about exploring issues of justice, compassion, environmentalism and economics through Jewish text. Additionally, as a trained yoga instructor, Shuli works to integrate this embodied spiritual practice with Jewish teaching.

While she has worked in the Jewish community for nearly 15 years, Shuli had a brief stint as a Human Resources analyst at Goldman Sachs, and still religiously reads the business section of the paper.

shpassow@jtsa.edu

Rivky Stern
JLIC Educational Fellow

Rivky Stern
JLIC Educational Fellow

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.

Rachel Waldman
JLIC Educational Fellow

Rachel Waldman
JLIC Educational Fellow

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.

rachwaldman@gmail.com

Rebekah Thornhill
Senior Associate, Leadership & Global Initiatives

Rebekah Thornhill
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!

 

 

ret247@nyu.edu 212-998-4111