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…
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.
Family Program Coordinator + Mensch Facilitator
Liam Ze’ev O’Connor
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.