Introducing our Mensch Academy facilitators!
We searched far and wide, and pulled together this unstoppable team of educational heroes.
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…
Emma grew up in Wilmette and is excited to be back in the Chicago area after receiving a BA in Political Science from Vassar College and a Masters in Jewish Studies from the University of Oxford. Previously, Emma taught after-school and Sunday school programs at the Jewish Enrichment Center in Hyde Park. Outside of the classroom, she loves to read, cook, and spend time at the lake.
Sarah grew up in San Francisco, California, and studied Theatre Arts and Education at UC Davis. She has worked as an educator for several seasons at Camp Tawonga, a Jewish summer camp in Yosemite National Park, and also at Teva in Connecticut. In both roles, she practiced weaving environmentalism, community building and Jewish values. Sarah is a lover of plants, silliness, Judaism, music-making, and story-telling.
Mensch Facilitator + BMitzvah Coordinator
Aviva is a naturalist and educator from Skokie. After graduating from UW Madison she moved to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center where she worked as a Teva educator and discovered her passion at the intersection of Jewish and environmental education. After bopping around Boston and rural Alabama for a while, she settled back in Chicago and spends her time in local activism, biking, writing, and talking about her cat.