Our Team

The Makom Community Team

Working Together to Provide Quality Jewish Education

Beverly Socher-Lerner

Founding Director

Beverly is an innovative and passionate Jewish educational leader who believes that each person constructs meaning in his or her life based on his or her experiences. Makom Community is built around creating learning experiences for families and children that are both joyous and meaningful.

Beverly received a B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland (UMD). While she was at UMD, she researched Israeli Education at Israel’s National Library in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Education Archives on an Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Scholarship for Research in Israel. Beverly was also a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York City. Beverly received her M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania in Jewish Education. In the last ten years directing synagogue schools at Congregation Shaare Tikvah in Upper Marlboro, MD and Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, NJ, and working at Barrack Hebrew Academy, Beverly has developed over forty new curricula for students and families of all ages. Beverly is a 2019 recipient of the Covenant Foundation Pomegranate Prize and a Shalom Hartman Created Equal Fellow in 2020.

She is excited to build community with families here in Philadelphia to advance this new model of Jewish education for urban children and families that is taking root around the country in Berkeley, CA, Silver Spring, MD, Atlanta, GA. This new model meets the distinct needs of urban families and creates joyous, immersive, and effective Jewish education in a whole new way. Contact Beverly at beverly@makomcommunity.org.

Amanda Phillips

Center City Director

Amanda is a passionate Jewish educator who loves creating immersive experiences for learners and their families. Originally from Sarasota, Florida, she acquired her love for Judaism from her many summers attending and working at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia. She received a B.A. in Jewish Studies and Nonprofit Management from Indiana University and an M.A. in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City. While at JTS, Amanda also pursued a Master’s concentration in Israel Education from the iCenter, the national hub for Israel Education. During her time in New York City, Amanda led summer teen travel, worked in numerous synagogue schools across the New York metropolitan area, and staffed Birthright Israel trips. She was the Assistant Director of the Lese Center for Living Judaism at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, where she created meaningful experiences for learners of all ages, both in and outside of the classroom. Amanda is so excited to be with all of the students and families at Makom Community, and can’t wait for a wonderful year of fun and learning! Contact Amanda at amanda@makomcommunity.org.

Leah Koontz

South Philly Director

Leah is thrilled to be joining Makom in South Philadelphia for a joyful year. Leah is a passionate Artist and Educator committed to co-building radically inclusive, student centered environments for growth and learning. Her passion for art and object based learning comes from her background as an Artist and museum professional. Leah holds a M.S.Ed from Bank Street School of Education and a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design. Previously, she has worked as a Curator of Education at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, as well as a teacher at Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel, Neziner Hebrew School, The Society Hill Synagogue Playschool, and Hannah Senesh Community Day School. Other schools she has worked with include Greenfield Elementary, Brooklyn New School, and Manhattan Country School. She was a member of the artist collective New Boone and has worked in the field of informal education for seven years in institutions such as The National Museum of American Jewish History, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of the Moving Image, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Frick Collection. She served on the board of the New York City Museum Educators Roundtable and maintains an art making practice which she loves to fold into her teaching. Contact Leah at leah@makomcommunity.org.

Rachel Beck

BMitzvah Educator

As an arts educator, community organizer and Jewish educator, Rachel is passionate about supporting young people to be empowered change agents in the world. Her approach to each of these roles is rooted in a strong ethos of Jewish Liberation – fighting for a world free from anti-Semitism, where Jews are free to be our whole selves, fighting alongside all others seeking liberation. Rachel has a background in visual art and education, and received her BA in Economics with a minor in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College. Rachel is also the Teen Program Coordinator at Temple BZBI, and is excited to bring her passion and skills working with teens to the BMitzvah Program at Makom. She has previously worked in the Early Childhood Education Program at BZBI and at an after school program at Huey Elementary School in West Philly, where she has lived for 10 years. Rachel is a community leader in POWER Interfaith, and has played key roles in the climate justice movement in Philadelphia. She is a member of Tzedek Lab, a national network of leaders mobilizing the Jewish community against racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy. Contact Rachel at bmitzvah@makomcommunity.org.

Chaim Budenosky

Educator

Chaim is an educator, Judaica artist, and Jewish community member. They have a deep joy in collective learning through ritual and play, and can’t wait to join the Makom team! Chaim roots himself in Philly after growing up in Manhattan, Kansas and moving to St. Paul, Minnesota to complete their Bachelor of Art in Studio Art at Macalester College. Drawing on his experiences with children in the public art world and in homeless services, Chaim brings a warm and non-judgemental demeanor to Makom. Chaim also works at the Kol Tzedek Torah School. Imaginative play and silliness are like medicine to them! Chaim is grateful for the songs that guide us through the week, the traditions of change and justice that we pursue, and the rest that recharges us at the end of the day. Contact Chaim at chaim@makomcommunity.org.

Ash Fisher-Tannenbaum

Educator

Ash is a spirited play arts educator born and raised just outside Philadelphia, where they earned a B.A. in Theater from Temple University (2016). They spent the last few years building community and making avant-garde art, theater, and film in Western Massachusetts, but are overjoyed to return home to the Philly Jewish community! Ash has spent the last nine happy summers teaching and playing at Ramah Day Camp, where they have done many jobs, most recently as Rosh Drama and Rikud (Israeli dance). They teach at BTBJ religious school and love to work with The Bible Players to bring theater and improv education to a large variety of Jewish spaces. Ash is thrilled to be joining the Makom Community team this year, and cannot wait to play and grow with our learners. Contact Ash at ash@makomcommunity.org.

Olivia Hacker-Keating

Educator & Program Assistant

Olivia is an educator passionate about accessible, arts based education. She grew up in New York City where she attended and then taught at the Village Temple Hebrew School. She then went on to study film and English at Oberlin College, where she participated in several community based arts education programs including Apollo Outreach Initiative and Oberlin Drama at Grafton. In 2019 – 2020, she worked as a college access fellow at 12Plus, a Philly based non-profit organization dedicated to providing high schoolers at Philadelphia public schools with the tools and guidance to pursue their post-graduation goals. She is thrilled to be joining the team at Makom’s South Philly Center and excited to share creative, hands-on Jewish education with the kids in the community! Contact Olivia at olivia@makomcommunity.org.

Gaby Marantz

Assistant Director of Teacher Education

Gaby is a musical and energetic Jewish educator who grew up in Central New Jersey. She studied psychology and linguistics at NYU and spent many happy summers at Habonim Dror summer camps. Gaby recently completed her M.Ed. from Weidner in Education. She loves dancing, baking intricate desserts, and making the world a more colorful place. She’s excited to have the opportunity to learn, sing, create, and giggle with our amazing students every day of the week! Gaby was a Matan Intstitute Fellow in Cohort 10 where she learned deeply about how to engage all our learners at Makom Community. Contact Gaby at gaby@makomcommunity.org.

 

Sara Mosenkis

Executive Assistant & Makom @ Home Educator

Sara (“Sah-ra”) wears a lot of hats. After joining Makom Community last year as part-time bookkeeper, she is excited to expand her role this year to include teaching Makom @ Home, supporting development and operations, and helping keep the Makom ship in shape as we grow. Sara mostly grew up in Philadelphia, studied Linguistics at Brown University, and now lives in Washington, DC. When she’s not sitting in front of her computer, Sara can often be found singing, tending her balcony garden, or taking walks in her neighborhood (wearing a hat, of course). Contact Sara at sara@makomcommunity.org.

 

Ben Safran

Educator & Camp Coordinator

Ben is excited to join Makom as Camp Coordinator and Educator. A native of New England, for the previous several summers Ben worked at Jewish day camps in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Their roles there included special needs counselor and CIT Director (in which they ran teen programming), working with kids of all ages. Additionally, within Philadelphia they have taught literacy at Boys & Girls Clubs. Apart from their work with children, Ben has taught courses in music history, music theory, music composition, and race/diversity studies at Temple University, from which they have a Ph.D. in Music. Ben has researched and published on music in social movements, and they are also co-chair of the board of Earth Quaker Action Team. Ben is excited to combine their passion for teaching about texts, cultures, and justice with their love for working with children and Jewish education. Contact Ben at ben@makomcommunity.org.

Abigayle Stoetzer

Educator & Communications Manager

Abby is bubbly, animated, compassionate, and sensitive to the needs of others. She is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey and holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Temple University. Abby is especially passionate about Jewish music. She was the Music Director of her collegiate a cappella group, Jewkebox, where she arranged and taught both pop and Jewish Music. When she isn’t at Makom Community, she can be found taking pictures of her cat, Stella, listening to podcasts, and discovering new vegetables to try. Abby is excited to incorporate many musical activities into Jewish Enrichment, as well as assist the kiddos in any way she can! Contact Abby at abby@makomcommunity.org.

 

Maya Winneg

Educator

Maya is thrilled to join Makom Community as an educator for our Nitzanim kiddos. As a Temple ‘20 alum, they graduated with a BA in Film and Media Arts paired with a minor in Education. During college, Maya participated in HIAS Pa’s after-school programs for elementary through high school-aged students in Northeast Philly. Having had a lovely experience with the students and staff, they’re looking forward to building community with their group during Jewish Enrichment. Maya seeks to combine storytelling, education, and community both in the classroom and in their artistic work. They’re excited at the opportunity to do so in an inclusive, Jewish setting such as Makom. Contact Maya at mayaw@makomcommunity.org.

 

Advisory Board

Executive Board

  • Walker Allen
  • Jeremy Bannett
  • Terri Soifer
  • Barbara Schneider
  • Mike Slutsky
  • James Stein, Board Chair