Introducing our Mensch Academy facilitators!
We searched far and wide, and pulled together this unstoppable team of educational heroes. Why are we calling them facilitators? Glad you asked! At Mensch Academy, one of our goals is that children will develop their own ideas and interpretations of Judaism and Jewish texts. In order to meet those goals, our staff will guide and facilitate the learning process, helping children develop their own independent ideas. We are so excited to have this awesome, diverse, thoughtful team of facilitators joining us for Mensch Academy’s launch year!


wolfe-6122Anna Wolfe graduated with honors from Columbia Collage Chicago, where she earned a BA in Acting, and a minor in Gender Studies.

She is a graduate of Second City’s Comedy Studies Program, as well as iO’s Training Program. Anna writes and performs regularly for the solo performance ensemble The LIVINGroom. Since graduating she works as a teaching artist in Chicago Public Schools as well as an educator for Chicago Children’s Theater’s Red Kite Program for students with autism. Anna is an active member of Mishkan, and is thrilled to be a part of Mensch Academy, where she looks forward to combining her passions for arts education and Judaism.


headshot_liamLiam Ze’ev O’Connor is a Chicago-based artist and arts educator.

He grew up on a small suburban island near San Francisco, and received his MFA in Sculpture + Expanded Practice from The Ohio State University. As a facilitator, Liam aims to help students develop a deep and lasting investment in Judaism by empowering exploration of Jewish values, Torah, and Prayer through art, discussion, and self-directed projects. In addition to his facilitating at the Mensch Academy, he teaches sculpture at Chicago Academy for the Arts and experimental drawing at Marwen.



sandmel head shotSara grew up here in Chicago, down in Hyde Park and then attended Macalester College where Sara received a degree in Religious Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

After graduation, Sara moved back to Chicago to work at the Jewish Enrichment Center. There, Sara learned all about supporting children in directing their own Jewish learning and empowering them to take ownership over their tradition. After two years at the Enrichment Center, Sara transitioned to teaching much of the same material to grown-ups with SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva. At SVARA, Sara coordinates, among other things, the SVARA and Mishkan Bet Midrash. When not working with SVARA, Sara is a community organizer working on various social justice issues here in Chicago. Sara is SO excited to be working with children again at the Mensch Academy this year!


Rabbi Lauren Henderson is Mishkan’s JEN Rabbinic

Rabbi Lauren recently finished rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, with a Masters in Midrash and a Certificate in Pastoral Care. She will stay with Mishkan for two years as a JEN Fellow, which means she’ll be taking on a whole bunch of rabbinic roles and projects over the next two years while continuing to learn and grow as a rabbi.

Read more about Rabbi Lauren here.