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. Our facilitators undergo significant professional development and coaching and working closely with the Vision Director, create and develop our unique, responsive curriculum. We are so excited to have this awesome, diverse, thoughtful team of facilitators!
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Ilana Gleicher-Bloom

Vision Director of The Mensch Academy

Ilana graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in both Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and English and American Literature. She was previously a Pardes Fellow at the Pardes Institute and the Melamdim Teacher Education MA Program at the Shalom Hartman Institute and Tel Aviv University. Before launching Mensch Academy, Ilana taught Talmud and Tanakh at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School and the Heschel High School in Manhattan. Read more…

Rabbi Lauren Henderson

Rabbi + Director of Family Learning and Spirituality

After serving as a JEN Fellow at Mishkan for the last two years, Rabbi Lauren is now a full-time Rabbi at Mishkan, specializing in social justice, family, and children’s programming. Lauren grew up in a small but mighty Jewish community in Spartanburg, South Carolina as part of an interfaith family. Lauren graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary with a Masters in Midrash and a Certificate in Pastoral Care. Read more…

Aviva Stein

Mensch Facilitator

Aviva Stein is an Environmental and experiential educator with a passion for the outdoor world and Jewish culture. Having grown up in Skokie, she returned to Chicago in 2016 and as loved the great biking, vibrant communities, and natural space the city has to offer. She spends her time studying with Svara and doing community organizing, and ends her days in her home full of plants and with her beautiful cat Yosi.

Anna Wolfe

Family Program Coordinator + Mensch Facilitator

Anna Rose Wolfe is Mishkan’s Family Program Coordinator and Mensch Academy Educator, building our family and children’s programming to better serve our growing family base at Mishkan. In her work with the Mensch Academy and Mishkan Family Programing, Anna looks to provide children with a Judaism rooted in exploration. Read more…

Liam Ze’ev O’Connor

Mensch Facilitator

Liam Ze’ev O’Connor is a Chicago-based artist and educator. Liam grew up on an island near San Francisco, and received a BA from Lewis & Clark College and a MFA in Sculpture + Expanded Practice from The Ohio State University. Liam has been with Mensch Academy since its creation, and is the Yetzirah (Art) Specialist. Previously, Liam has taught drawing and sculpture for teens and middle schoolers at Marwen, and is currently the sculpture teacher at Chicago Academy for the Arts.