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Meet the Scholars

Cohort VII

Gavriel Buchwald

Gavriel Buchwald grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey. He attended The Frisch School, where he captained the College Bowl Team and participated in Model Congress. Additionally, he was a Senior Big Sibling, helping freshmen acclimate to high school, and spent considerable time volunteering for Zoommates, zooming with special-needs children to provide entertainment during Covid-19. In recent summers, Gavriel was a lifeguard and counselor at Camp Moshava, Indian Orchard. He spent the last two years at Yeshivat Orayta where he engaged in serious Torah study. Throughout his second year in Israel, he participated in the Tikvah Overseas Student Institute, partaking in seminars regarding the intersection of Halacha and public policy. He is also a member of the Tikvah Collegiate Forum. In his free time, you can find Gavriel reading Wikipedia, plowing through an Early Modern European history book, or pursuing his Talmudic studies. As a Straus Scholar, Gavriel is excited to major in history and continue his Jewish education at Yeshiva University.

Sruli Friedman

Sruli (Jason) Friedman was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York where he graduated from Yeshiva Torah Vodaath High School in 2022 before coming to YU the same year. In his year at YU, Friedman has served as a news editor for The Commentator, a fellow at YUPAC, and an active member of the Tikva Collegiate Forum, while also pursuing majors in Political Science and Philosophy and intense Gemara study in the Mazer Yeshiva Program. In the summer of 2023 Friedman is also participating in the Heritage Foundation’s online Summer Academy, while taking electives in economics and psychology. An avid reader interested in a plethora of subjects, Friedman hopes to continue to progress in his studies at the Straus Center during the remainder of his time in YU, and looks forward to pursuing law school and a fulfilling career in the future.


Liev Markovich was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey and attended Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC).  At TABC, Liev was a captain of Mock Trial and a member of Model UN, Model Congress, and Soccer teams.  He was the founder and editor-in-chief of the opinion magazine Storm Currents, which covered topics ranging from politics to sports to social issues.  After graduating in 2021, Liev studied at Yeshivat Orayta for two years, where he took classes as part of the Tikvah Overseas Student Institute.  In his free time, Liev enjoys learning Torah, reading literature, meditating, and playing FIFA with friends. Liev’s major is currently undecided, and he is excited to explore his academic interests as a member of the Straus Scholars Program.


A fifth-generation Southerner, Matthew Minsk was born and raised in Atlanta, where he graduated from the Atlanta Jewish Academy (AJA). While in high school, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the school’s student newspaper, led its Israel Advocacy Club, and captained its Model UN and basketball teams. Upon graduation, he was inducted into the AJA Hatmada Society for his “consistent commitment to Judaic Studies.” During past summers, he has interned for the Orthodox Union Center for Communal Research, the Institute for Family Studies, and assisted Jewish communal and political advocates; he also participated in the Tikvah Scholars Program. Matthew has spent the last two years at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY) immersed in Torah study, an area in which he hopes to continue to learn and grow, alongside secular pursuits, at Yeshiva University.



Adina Feldman was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, and attended Manhattan High School for Girls (MHS). While in high school, Feldman served as both literary and art editor for the school publication, and was a member of the Arista honors society and Principal’s List. During her time in high school, Feldman participated in StandWithUs’s Teen Leadership Council, as well as completed courses with Tikvah’s Online Academy. Feldman opened and managed a social media account dedicated to creating content debunking misconceptions and disseminating educational information about Zionism and the State of Israel, of who’s content has been viewed over 50k times. After finishing highschool, Feldman went on to study at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) in Jerusalem. Upon the completion of her studies abroad, Feldman went on to a year of National Service (Sheirut Leumi) in Israel, living and working within the Ethiopian Absorption Center in Jerusalem where she worked to organize and execute targeted programming for children, teenagers, and families. Additionally, she served as the director of the neighborhood Beit Medrash program there for elementary school children and created weekly programming focused on bridging current Jewish themes and lessons with larger abstract concepts of Jewish and Israeli identity. Returning from Israel to Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, Feldman hopes to pursue a dual degree in psychology and marketing in conjunction with her studies at the Straus Center.



Rebecca Guzman was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. She attended Bruriah High School for Girls, where she served as Senior Co-captain of the Bruriah Debate Team, Junior Editor of the Bruriah Blaze, and Senior Editor of Bruriah's literary magazine. Throughout her senior year, Rebecca was a member of the Kaplun Foundation Teen Philanthropy Board, and before spending a semester at Aish Gesher for Women, she reported for The Jewish Press. Rebecca's writing has received recognition from the National Council of Teachers of English and The New York Times, amongst others. Rebecca hopes to synthesize her passion for literature and her studies in creative writing with her love for Jewish history and philosophy, aiming to devote her life to telling Jewish stories. In her free time, Rebecca can be found listening to music, reading, writing in her journal, or baking.




Tziporah Pinczower was raised in Riverdale, NY where she was first enamored by the intricate philosophy of law. Apart from the theoretical aspect of law, Tziporah recognizes the importance of taking pragmatic action to advance vital causes, prompting her to participate in the Norpac’s annual Mission to Washington for many years. She attended Manhattan High School for Girls where she spearheaded her school's first Law Review Journal, served as editor of her school's Lexington Weekly blog, was elected Senior Class President, and authored a quarterly column dedicated to highlighting the philosophical implications behind both Jewish (Halacha) and secular law derived from discussion of the upcoming holiday. After high school, she conducted legal research at Agudath Israel and attended Michlalah in Jerusalem. Tziporah is determined to put the knowledge and skill gained as a Straus scholar to good use to pursue a career in law that will bring fulfillment to her life and joy to the lives of others.




Shana Schwartz grew up in Hillside, NJ, and attended Bruriah High School. While in Bruriah, Shana learned to think critically and analytically about various topics in Judaism and secular society, and was taught to infuse Torah into all her areas of study. She participated in the Torah bowl and debate teams, and coached middle school students for the Chidon HaTanach. She also studied engineering, and applied her skills towards constructing a website to safely display the renowned Bruriah Holocaust Museum during the COVID-19 pandemic. During her senior year, Shana won the Jerusalem Science Contest for her research in molecular biology and Halacha. In her free time, Shana enjoys painting and drawing, and works as a makeup artist and monogram designer. After her year in Michlalah, Shana plans to pursue her interests in medicine while studying Torah and the humanities with the Straus Center.




Ateret Tollinsky grew up in Teaneck, NJ. She attended Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, where she served as the president of both the STEAM Student Leadership Committee and the Student Ambassador Committee. At Ma’ayanot, Ateret participated in the Drama Society and Torah Bowl, and served as a staff writer for Ma’ayanei Torah, Ma’ayanot’s weekly parsha newsletter. Outside of school, Tollinsky volunteered for Friendship Circle and iShine, and took courses through Tikvah’s Online Academy, which focused on American Jewry in the Supreme Court and Jewish Bioethics. Additionally, Ateret took part in a two year immersive program, Write On For Israel, which focused on educating high school students on leadership, Israel advocacy and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Upon graduation, she was awarded the Ed Stern Award for Excellence in History due to her rigorous study of history throughout high school. Tollinsky then studied at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) in Jerusalem for a year. Over the course of her year at MMY, she served as the Yachad Summer Seminary Coordinator for Recruiting and participated in the Tikvah Overseas Institute. As a Straus Scholar at Yeshiva University, Tollinsky is pursuing a major in Biochemistry in conjunction with her Straus courses. 



Tamara Yeshurun was born in Curaçao and moved to the United States at the age of four. Living in Miami, FL, she attended the high school Shaarei Bina Torah Academy for Girls, where she was a contributing editor of the student paper, founder and president of the Shabbat Zmirot Club, Chumash tutor for middle schoolers, and active participant in the musical productions as lead actress, vocal coach, and student director. With a particular interest in Jewish thought and contemporary society, Tamara is passionate about Jewish philosophy, social movements, Holocaust education, linguistics, and celebrating her Ashkenazi and Sephardi roots. Currently a member of the Collegiate Forum, Tamara’s involvement with the Tikvah Fund (Tikvah Online Academy, TOA Winter/Spring Invitational, Tikvah Scholars Program 2021 & 2022, and Tikvah Scholars Forum) introduced her to a world of great thinkers in politics, philosophy, and modern Zionism. After graduating, Tamara studied for one year at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY). During her year in Israel, Tamara participated in the Tikvah Overseas Program, regularly volunteered at Keren Or Institute for the Blind, and attended Mizrachi’s World Orthodox Israel Congress as a youth delegate, where she led a discussion group addressing the crisis of Hebrew illiteracy in Jewish Day schools. In her free time, you can catch Tamara journaling, reading, learning Spanish and Arabic, or singing songs from the golden age of Broadway.


Cohort VI 

Yinon Gurvich

Yinon Gurvich was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Ida Crown Jewish Academy (ICJA). At ICJA, he participated in Model UN and co-founded the school’s Chess Club. Gurvich was a member of the ICJA wrestling team, winning the Wittenberg Invitational Tournament and the Most Outstanding Wrestler award in his junior year. Upon graduating from ICJA in 2021, Gurvich spent a year studying at Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Israel. As a Straus Scholar at Yeshiva University, Gurvich is pursuing a dual degree in mathematics and finance, with an additional focus on the humanities in the Straus Scholars Program. 




Dassi Mayerfeld

Dassi Mayerfeld grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and graduated from Manhattan High School for Girls (MHS) in 2021. She served as the editor-in-chief of Eastward, Manhattan High School’s literary and art journal, and as a behavioral shadow at the Friendship Circle, interned in a biochemistry lab at Cornell University, competed in the ISACA Cybersecurity Competition, and submitted writing and artwork regularly to MHS publications, many of which were recognized by the New York Times and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. After graduating from MHS in 2021, she spent a year at Michlalah in Jerusalem, where she focused on the in-depth study of TanachHalakha, and Hashkafa. This coming summer, Mayerfeld will be interning at a Cornell University Alzheimer’s research lab at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. As a Straus Scholar at Yeshiva University, Mayerfeld is pursuing a major in biology with a minor in studio art. On campus, she works with children with special needs through extracurricular programming, while pursuing her interests in poetry and drumming. 


Jenny Rapp

Jenny Rapp grew up in Washington Heights, Manhattan. She attended Manhattan High School for Girls (MHS), where she participated in the math and chess clubs, served as senior editor of the literary and art journal, and received recognition from the Ulpaniada and American Mathematics Competitions (AMC). She spent her summers interning for the Intermountain Jewish News and 12 Mile Stables. Upon graduating from MHS in 2021, Rapp studied at Michalah in Jerusalem. As a Straus Scholar at Yeshiva University, Rapp is pursuing a major in mathematics in conjunction with her studies at the Straus Center. She has used her skills in mathematics to research public health topics in internships in Georgetown and Columbia University.



Ezra Seplowitz

Ezra Seplowitz grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and attended Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC). At TABC, Seplowitz served as the president of the Israel Advocacy Club and was editor-in-chief of Kol Torah and Israel Report. He served on the student council for two years and captained the track and hockey teams. Seplowitz was a fellow in Write On For Israel, a two-year leadership and educational program for Jewish high school students, and was invited to attend the AIPAC Schusterman High School Summit in 2018. Seplowitz graduated from TABC in 2020 as a member of the National Honor Society and was a recipient of the school’s leadership award and Yeshiva University’s Torah UMaddah award. He studied at Yeshivat Sha’alvim for two years and studied in Rabbi Meir Goldwicht’s Kollel at Camp Mesorah. Seplowitz is a member of YUPAC and the YU roller hockey team as well as a resident advisor. His hobbies include playing guitar and piano, running, and reading. He is pursuing a major in psychology and Jewish studies and a minor in philosophy. Seplowitz, a student of Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, plans on receiving a Ph.D. in clinical psychology as well as rabbinic ordination from RIETS. This past summer he served as a counselor at NCSY Kollel in Israel.

Joshua Shapiro

Joshua Shapiro grew up in West Orange, New Jersey and attended Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, where he was captain of the varsity basketball and baseball teams and senior editor of the school newspaper. Following high school, Josh attended Yeshivat Orayta for two years in Jerusalem Israel, where he founded and managed the Orayta Food Bank and participated in the Tikvah Overseas Student Institute. At Yeshiva University, Josh serves as an opinions editor and staff writer for the YU Commentator, Co-Founder and Co-President of the Tikvah Fund Chapter at Yeshiva University and member of its Collegiate Forum, and member of the “Food 4 Thought” club, which distributes food to the hungry within Washington Heights. In his summers, Shapiro worked as a counselor in Camp Moshava, Indian Orchard. In his free time, Josh enjoys singing as part of Y-Studs A Cappella Group, reading Jewish history books, and going for runs in Riverside Park. Josh is currently pursuing a major in Jewish Studies and minors in Music and Political Science and learns in the morning in the shiur of Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig.


Aharon Soloveichik

Aharon Soloveichik attended high school at Yeshiva Shaar Hatorah in Queens, New York, and, after graduating, the Shaar HaTorah Beis Medrash. In high school, he focused his studies on Talmud Torah (the study of the Hebrew Bible, its commentaries, and related texts), American political thought, and military history, and completed an internship at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. After studying at the Shaar HaTorah Beis Medrash, Soloveichik spent a year in Israel at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh. As a Straus Scholar at Yeshiva University, Soloveichik is pursuing a degree in history, war studies, and political science, while attending the shiur of Rav Hershel Schachter in the Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP).



Yaakov Willner

Yaakov Willner grew up in Los Angeles and attended YULA High School. While in high school, Willner interned at StandWithUs, where he helped develop an online curriculum for middle school students on topics of Israel education, and served as a counselor at Etta Israel, an organization servicing individuals with mental and developmental disabilities. Additionally, he wrote and was an editor for multiple publications, including Kol Hanearim, Polymatheus Journal, and Likutei Ohr, and played clarinet in YULA’s jazz ensemble. Upon graduation, he received the Excellence in Torah Award and was featured in the LA Jewish Journal. During his summers, Willner attended NCSY Kollel in Israel and was a member of Beth Jacob Congregation’s Summer Kollel in Los Angeles. Upon graduating from YULA in 2020, Willner spent two years in Israel studying at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY), where he sang in the yeshiva’s choir. He also took seminars through Tikvah Online Academy on Jewish ideas, Zionism, and Western civilization. As a Straus Scholar, Willner pursues economics and political science degrees while engaging in serious Torah study.


Cohort V

Ruchama Benhamou

Ruchama Benhamou, who commonly goes by Ru, is originally from Miami, Florida. She moved to Los Angeles for high school, attending YULA Girls High School, where she rose to be captain of both the flag football and soccer teams and was awarded the 2020 CIF Comeback Player of the Year Award. She also served as editor of her school newspaper, chief editor of the yearbook and volunteered for Yachad, experiences that taught her the importance of leadership, problem solving and planning ahead. She is passionate about STEM and is pursuing a career in science while also studying in-depth philosophy and liberal arts in the Straus Scholars Program. 




Daniel Ganopolsky

Daniel Ganopolsky was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Rambam Mesivta in Lawrence, New York in 2019. He spent two years studying at Yeshivat Migdal Hatorah in Israel, where he focused on Jewish studies, philosophy, and physics. While studying in Migdal, he also participated in the Tikvah Overseas Students Institute. Now a Junior, Daniel is studying Political Science and Philosophy. Outside of the classroom, Daniel is the Chairman of the Canvassing committee, Opinions Editor and staff writer for the YU Observer, and Vice president of the YU Political Science Society. When he is not in school, Daniel works as an aide for New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov and participates in the Tikvah Funds’ Beren Collegiate forum. After graduation, Daniel hopes to attend law school and eventually bring his work in the Straus Center into law and politics.


Racheli Gottesman

Racheli Gottesman grew up in Woodmere, New York. After graduating from HAFTR high school she spent a year at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) and participated in the Tikvah Overseas Student Institute. During her time at HAFTR, Racheli served as captain of the speech team, volleyball team, and Shakespeare team. Over the summers she has worked as a counselor for Yachad and learned and taught Torah at Camp Moshava’s Beit Midrash program. Now a junior at Yeshiva University, Racheli is studying Computer Science and has recently spent the summer in Israel as a Software Engineer Intern at Eagle Point Funding. On campus she is START! Science Leader and a member of the Volleyball and Cross country teams in addition to being an advisor for NCSY and Yachad. 



Yonatan Kurz

Yonatan Kurz grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and attended Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC), where he was captain of the College Bowl and History Bowl teams, editor-in-chief of the Israel Report, and a member of the Honors Society. After studying for two years at Yeshivat Sha'alvim in Nof Ayalon, Israel, Yonatan is currently a senior pursuing a double major in political science and Jewish studies with a minor in psychology at Yeshiva University as a fourth-generation student, in addition to learning in Rav Michael Rosensweig’s shiur. He is a member of the Political Science Society, a staff writer at The Commentator, an associate justice on the Student Court, and has published numerous articles and essays on YUTorah. During his summers, Yonatan has been a Madrich (advisor) on NCSY Kollel, a legal research intern for the Orthodox Union’s general counsel, and a Summer Honors Program Student at the American Enterprise Institute. He is passionate about the foundation, evolution, and future of Orthodox Jewry in America, and has served as a Shevet Glaubach Fellow for NCSY and a member of the Tikvah Collegiate Forum. In his free time, Yonatan enjoys learning Torah, exercising, reading books about American history and social science, and exploring modern Jewish thought. After completing his undergraduate degree at Yeshiva University, he hopes to pursue semicha at RIETS as well as a master’s degree before attending law school.

Noam Mayerfed

Noam Mayerfeld was born in New York City, and moved to Teaneck, New Jersey, at the age of 5.   He attended MTA/YUHSB, where he captained the debate and mock trial teams, and helped run a political action club devoted to US-Israel relations.  After two years at KBY, Noam Mayerfeld returned to YU, where he is an active member of the Straus Scholars program, a computer science major, and a talmid in Rav Shulman’s shiur.  In addition to his learning and studies, he teaches science to fourth grade students at a local New York City public school through the YU Start Science program, serves as a computer science peer tutor for his fellow students at YU, and coaches the MTA debate and mock trial teams. Noam is an associate justice on the Student Court, a member of the HackerRank weekly coding challenge club, and he belongs to YU’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter.  Last summer, Noam participated in YU’s computer science summer course, where he collaborated with a team of 4 students as well as an industry mentor, Gershom Kutliroff, CTO at Taranis, on a program to detect animals using selective search and non-max suppression and classify them using a CNN created using transfer learning from Resnet50, AWS EC2 and S3, TensorFlow, and COCO.  He collaborated on a website to display the images in the training set as well as the results of those images when passed through the program in the form of red bounding boxes around each animal and classifications of that animal. When he isn’t learning or studying, Noam enjoys reading, cooking, and playing the drums.

Allie Orgen

Allie Orgen was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is a graduate of The Frisch School. Allie served as an outreach and engagement intern for Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s 2020 congressional re-election campaign. Allie spent a year learning in Midreshet Harova where she was selected to join the first AIPAC gap-year cohort. In Spring of 2021, while still in seminary in Israel, Allie organized and served on the committee of the Bergen County Unite for Israel Parade, which attracted over 5,000 Marchers. Now in her sophomore year, Allie is pursuing a double major in political science and history. On campus, Allie is the president of the Yeshiva University Political Action Club and the Pre-Law Society, is a Model UN chair, and serves on the board of the J. Dunner Political Science Society. Allie spent the fall 2021 semester interning on Republican Jack Ciattarelli’s gubernatorial campaign in New Jersey, as well as interning for Teach Coalition, a non-profit that advocates for school choice. Allie was a foreign policy legislative intern for Congressman Josh Gottheimer, where she drafted policy memos and legislative briefs and assisted in research. Allie also served as a policy and research intern for Congressman Lee Zeldin’s NY Gubernatorial campaign. In summer 2022, Allie participated in The Fund for American Studies DC Summer Internship Program as a student in the International Affairs track. 

Jennie Peled

Jennifer Peled grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she graduated from YULA Girls High School. In high school, she served as Senior Class President as well as Captain of the Model UN, Mock Trial, Robotics, and Moot Beit Din teams. Upon graduation, Jennifer attended Midreshet Harova where she enrolled in the Tikvah Overseas Institute. Jennifer is currently pursuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Mathematics, and looks forward to enriching her work in STEM with a thorough background in Western and Judaic thought. She serves as President of the Machine Learning Club, Vice President of the Computer Science Club, and Secretary of the YU Political Action Club. Jennifer spends her free time working as a coordinator for Yachad and will be working for Microsoft this summer as a Software Engineering intern.



Jacob Sundel

Jacob Sundel is from Boston, Massachusetts. In 2019, he graduated from Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael as an AP Scholar with Honor. While in high school, Jacob was a captain of the basketball team, a member of the Model Beis Din team, and recipient of the Rose Ruderman Scholar Award. Following high school, Jacob spent two years learning in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY) in Israel. Jacob is also an Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 54 of Brookline, Massachusetts. For his Eagle Scout Project, Jacob started a Yachad chapter in his high school. Jacob enjoys dedicating his time to causes that help people with special needs, like participating twice in the Friendship Circle Bike Miami and being a counselor in Camp Kaylie. In the summer of 2022, Jacob was a Summer Research Intern for Timothy Carney at the American Enterprise Institute. 



Cohort IV

Rebecca Aduculesi

Rebecca Aduculesi is from Teaneck, New Jersey. She graduated from Yeshivat Frisch in 2019 and then studied in Israel at Sha’alvim for Women. Rebecca is currently a junior in the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Stern College for Women majoring in biochemistry. On campus, Rebecca volunteers as a teacher for START! Science and serves as a mentor for College EDge. She also participates in YUNMUN, serves as the sophomore class vice president, and is a board member on the Beit Midrash Committee. Rebecca works at the Beren Writing Center, is a chemistry peer tutor, and is a news editor for the YU Observer. During her free time, Rebecca enjoys learning Torah, playing tennis, and tutoring local students in her community. In the summer of 2021, Rebecca served as an advisor on NCSY Hatzalah Rescue, where she had the opportunity to bond with campers, teach Torah, and become a certified emergency medical responder. In her junior year, Rebecca conducted research in Dr. Ran Drori’s lab at Stern College. Rebecca is very appreciative of the Straus Center and all the opportunities it has to offer. 

Ayelet Brown

Ayelet Brown was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. Ayelet attended the Berman Hebrew Academy, where she learned the importance of community and leadership and used her energy and organizational skills to volunteer with Friendship Circle (where she serves as the program director) and Chai Lifeline. After high school, Ayelet attended Midreshet Lindenbaum. At Yeshiva University, Ayelet is chapter president of Project Sunshine on campus was vice-president of Project IncludED. Over the summers, Ayelet worked at Camp Simcha and Camp Kaylie. She has also worked for the Montgomery County Police Department Autism/IDD and Alzheimer’s Outreach Program, as well as The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health, volunteering with children who have special needs and rare diseases. Ayelet is majoring in psychology and minoring in public health. She is interested in child development and the intersection of Judaism and human behavior.


Natan Ehrenreich

Natan Ehrenreich grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, where he graduated from Fuchs Mizrachi School in 2019 as valedictorian. He spent a year learning at Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem. Now a junior at YU, Natan is involved with organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Tikvah Fund. On campus, he established AEI’s Executive Council, through which he hopes to facilitate public policy dialogue on campus with the help of one of the nation’s most impactful think tanks. He is also a member of Tikvah’s Collegiate Forum. In the summer of 2021, Natan served as an Academy Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, where he studied with leading thinkers in political theory and policy. In the summer of 2022, he was participated in the Hertog Foundation's flagship Political Science Fellowship in Washington D.C. A political science major, Natan has greatly enjoyed his involvement with the Straus Center. After graduation, he hopes to attend law school and work in law and politics.


Judah Fortgang

Judah Fortgang Judah Fortgang  is from New York and is an analyst at the Paul. E Singer Foundation.  He graduated from Yeshiva College with a degree in Political Thought in 2022. As an undergraduate, Judah was the vice president of YU's Alexander Hamilton Society and a Beren Summer Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. In his free time Judah enjoys watching football and hockey and drinking third-wave coffee.






Headshot of Benjamin Gottesman

A Long Island, NY native, Benjamin Gottesman is the Associate Director of High School Fellowships at the Tikvah Fund. This past June, he graduated Yeshiva University with degrees in both Political Science and Jewish Studies, and he was a participant in the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Honors Program. Benjamin also played a major role in student life, serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the YU Observer, a school student newspaper. In the past, Benjamin has interned at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem and in the office of New York State Senator Kevin Parker, but is most proud of his work as a counselor and division head in Bnei Akiva's Camp Moshava and Mach Hach B'aretz. His alma maters include Jerusalem's Yeshivas Hakotel and Long Island's HAFTR High School, where he served as the founding captain of the school's NSDA-affiliated speech and debate team.



Reuben Hartman

Reuben Hartman is from Lincolnwood, Illinois. For high school, Reuben attended the Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While there, he was the senior class president and the class valedictorian. Reuben is a regular volunteer at Chai Lifeline Midwest as a mentor for kids with illness. He also spends his summers at Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha as a counselor. Reuben also spent a summer at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Experiment in Architecture program. After high school, he attended Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Nof Ayalon. While there, he participated in the Tikvah Overseas Students Institute's "Jews, Morality, and the West" program, where he explored multifaceted theories and beliefs about the realities between religion and politics. Reuben spent the summer between his yeshiva years as an intern for State Representative Rabbi Yehiel Mark Kalish, Illinois's first rabbi congressman. At Yeshiva University, Reuben pursues a major in political science and minor in architecture.



Penina Spearman

Penina Spearman is from Kew Gardens Hills, Queens. She attended Midreshet Shalhevet High School and spent a year studying in Israel at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) in Jerusalem. Upon acceptance to Yeshiva University, Penina received the Torah U’madda Book Award for commitment to her school and community and the ideals of Yeshiva University. She is currently a senior at Stern majoring in philosophy. As a sophomore, she served as a teaching assistant at the Tikvah Fund and is a member of the Tikvah Collegiate Forum. On campus, Penina is a member of the AEI Executive Council and sits on the board of Yeshiva University's Alexander Hamilton Society chapter. She is also a board member of the Special Committee for Uighur Activism at YU. Penina serves on the Student Life Committee as the Student Liaison for the Counseling Center. She is also a Jewish Foundation for Education of Women (JFEW) Liberal Arts Fellow. In the summer of 2021, Penina interned at the Kohelet Policy Forum.



Cohort III

Ariel Greenwald

Ariel Greenwald lives in Riverdale, New York, and graduated from SAR High School. During her time at SAR, Ariel served as captain of the Model Congress team and played on the junior varsity and varsity soccer teams. She also acted in several musical theater productions. Most notably, she participated in the Witness Theater program, where high school students create original dramatic productions by reenacting the wartime experiences of Holocaust survivors. Ariel has always been passionate about Israel advocacy. By participating in the Jewish Week's Write On For Israel program, Ariel was able to build a strong understanding of the Middle East conflict and develop the tools to defend Israel. In addition to her extracurricular activities, Ariel was selected as a Tikvah Scholar and spent a summer at Yale attending lectures on topics ranging from Jewish identity to political philosophy. She spent a year in Israel studying in the Gush Etzion region at the Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women of Yeshivat Har Etzion/Migdal Oz. Ariel continued her involvement with Tikvah during her year in Israel through the Tikvah Overseas Students Institute. During the summers, Ariel enjoys bringing Jewish history and culture to life as a leader of experiential education at Camp Stone.

Abigail Pinchot

Abigail Pinchot grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. She graduated from Stern College for Women in 2022 with a major in English literature and minor in sociology. Abby is passionate about the arts, has won awards for her art pieces, and continues to sell her artwork. Abby served as an NCSY advisor and has led NCSY summer programs. She also lead weekly learning sessions for teens across the US via zoom. Abby assisted with the non-profit organization MyZuzah, whose mission is to deliver as many mezuzot as possible to Jewish homes throughout the United States. In the summer of 2021, Abby interned at OpenDor Media, where she assisted in the development and writing of podcasts and conducted research for future projects in Jewish history and Israel education. 



Eliana Wagner

Eliana Wagner graduated from Stern College for Women in 2022 with a BA in political science. Through the YU Pre-Law Judicial Internship Program, Eliana had the opportunity to intern for Judge Ruchie Freier at the Queens County Civil Court and gained extensive insight into the legal process. In past years, Eliana has worked as a legislative intern with the American Jewish Congress and as an intern on a congressional campaign. On campus, Eliana served as the president of the campus Israel club, the Dunner Political Science Society, and the J-Hecht Pre-Law Society. Eliana began her studies at Columbia Law School in August 2022 and ultimately plans work in civil service law.



Yehuda Goldberg

Yehuda Goldberg is the Straus Center's Rabbinic Intern, pursuing semikhah at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and a graduate degree at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He graduated from Yeshiva College in 2022, and was class valedictorian. Prior to studying at YU, Yehuda spent two years at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He is interested in the intersection of theology and political philosophy, religious humanism, Charedi thought, and the role that the careful study of rabbinic texts can play in shaping Jewish thought. 





Noam Josse

Noam Josse was born in London, United Kingdom. When he was nine, his family moved to New York, where he attended Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA), graduating in 2017. After graduating MTA, he studied in Yeshivat Sha'alvim for two years. At YU, Noam was in the Mazer Yeshiva Program in Rav Shulman's Shiur. He also helped found the Yeshiva University chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society. He has participated in summer fellowships at the Hoover Institution and the Witherspoon Institute. He also spent a summer in the BRS Kollel. After graduating in May 2022 Noam worked in structured products at Davis Polk & Wardwell and will attend Columbia Law School in the fall of 2023. Noam looks forward to working in law while continuing his Torah learning. Noam is fluent in French.



Ezra Wildes

Ezra Wildes grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York. He graduated from Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) in 2017 and spent the following two years studying in Yeshivat Sha'alvim in Israel. Ezra has always been deeply passionate about Torah U'Madda, which led him to found and direct the Torah U'Madda section of MTA’s intellectual publication, The Academy News. In the summers, he volunteered for Camp Simcha and was a madrich on NCSY Kollel. Ezra began his experience in the Straus Center as a senior in high school. He is majoring in Computer Science (Data Science track) and minoring in both Mathematics and Philosophy. Ezra has interned at Justpoint, Dicta - a data science company focused on democratizing Jewish and Hebrew texts and tools -  and Amazon Web Services. After graduation, he  is planning on pursuing semicha at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).



Cohort II

Baruch-Lev Kelman

Baruch-Lev Kelman earned his BA summa cum laude in Jewish Studies with a minor in Architecture from Yeshiva College (‘21). Upon graduation, he received The Dean Bacon Award for Excellence in the Humanities and Jewish Studies and The Rosenblum Award for Excellence in the Study of Jewish History. As an undergraduate, Baruch-Lev served as the Glatt Research Associate at the Center for Israel Studies, contributing to the exhibit Samaritans: A Biblical People (Museum of the Bible, 2022). He has also attended the University of Urbino in Italy, researching Jewish contributions to the Italian Renaissance while serving on the Shoah Prize Committee of the San Paolo Vatican Press. Baruch-Lev currently serves as the Straus Center's Programming & Communications Officer while pursuing an MA in Jewish History at Bernard Revel Graduate School .

Thesis — Middoth for Ezekiel and Solomon (PDF)


Eli Perl

Elimelekh (Eli) Perl grew up in Dallas, Texas, and moved to New York with his family during high school. Before Yeshiva University, Elimelekh graduated from DRS Yeshiva High School for Boys and spent two years studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion. Now in his fourth year at YU, Elimelekh is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in data science. He has captained one of YU’s mock trial teams, competed in intramural ultimate Frisbee, and co-founded the YU Tech Ethics Society. Elimelekh is also a proud participant in the Tikvah Fund’s collegiate programming, having spent a summer working as a Tikvah Jewish Ideas on Campus intern and attending Tikvah’s two-week seminar on Jews and American politics. He also served as the Tikvah Campus Ambassador at Yeshiva University. In the summer of 2021, Elimelekh worked as a technology engineering analyst in the controllers division at Goldman Sachs, and will be returning as a full-time analyst after graduating in May 2022. Elimelekh married Yael Blau in December of 2021. They live in Washington Heights.

Thesis  Jewish and Western Ethical Perspectives on Emerging Technologies (PDF)


Avishai Samouha

Avishai Samouha was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After spending a year at Yeshivat Sha'alvim in Nof Ayalon, Israel, Avishai began his journey at Yeshiva University and the Straus Center. At YU, Avishai was a board member of the Medical Ethics Society, a co-founder of an a capella group, and completed academic research in several areas. For his Straus thesis, Avishai focused on the foreign policy struggles related to Iranian nuclear ambitions. Additionally, he published a scientific paper and a review article related to the effects of Reovirus treatment on KRAS-mutated colorectal cancer. Avishai is currently in the process of applying to medical school.

Thesis — Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions: From Well-Being to Wahhabism (PDF)




Michael Weiner

Michael Weiner serves as Research Assistant to Douglas Feith at the Hudson Institute and previously interned for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Last summer, he was a Beren Summer Fellow at the Tikvah Fund and conducted research for Elliott Abrams on US foreign policy in the Middle East. Michael graduated from Yeshiva University in May 2021 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in Jewish history. During his time at YU, he explored the foreign policy field through think tank research internships and op-writing in national outlets. 

Thesis  Constitution or the Rule of Conscience? How the Psychology of Zionism Explains Israeli Law




Cohort I

Benjamin Atwood

Benjamin Atwood lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he and his wife Rachel direct OU-JLIC of Greater Atlanta, building up Jewish life for students at Emory, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State. Ben’s campus work extends to assembling a network of student leaders on campuses throughout Florida and Georgia as the Southeast Regional Coordinator for Yavneh. Outside the university-sphere, Ben helps build meaningful spiritual community as the Rabbinic Assistant at Congregation Ohr HaTorah of Toco Hills. He grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, graduated from Yeshiva College with a BA in English, and was a Straus Scholar at YU’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. Beforehand, he spent two years studying in Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He is currently pursuing rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University in tandem with a certificate in Mental Health Counseling at Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf School of Psychology. Ben has extensive experience designing purposeful Jewish experiences for people of all ages at the Tikvah Scholars Program, Camp Moshava IO, with NCSY, the Memphis Torah Fellowship, and the OU-JLIC educators fellowship.

Thesis — The Unexpected Journey of a Justice: Louis D. Brandeis’ Zionist Transformation (PDF)

Jonathan Fenster

Jonathan (Yoni) Fenster 

Yoni graduated from Yeshiva University in 2020 with a BA in Biology, and is currently pursuing a law degree from Fordham University. In law school, Yoni serves as an associate editor for the Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law and is a Fellow at the Center of Law and Information Policy. This past semester, Yoni interned for the SEC in the enforcement division and will be working at a New York City law firm upon graduation. Yoni currently lives in Teaneck NJ with his wife and son and is a proud alumnus of the Straus Center.





Eliott Dosetareh

Eliott Dosetareh graduated from Yeshiva University in 2020 with a BA in Economics and minor in Psychology. Upon graduating YU, Eliott served as a research and executive assistant at the World Jewish Congress in New York City, where he analyzed legislation pertaining to anti-Semitism, Holocaust education, and bi-partisan support for Israel. Eliott is currently pursuing a law degree from Cardozo Law School and serves as a staff editor on the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, where he has spent this past year researching and writing his note on Multi-Track Diplomacy and the Abraham Accords. He is also an active member of the Jewish Law Students Association and Real Estate Law Association. Last summer, Eliott interned at the New York State Supreme Court as a judicial intern for the honorable Judge Michael Katz. Upon graduating, Eliott looks forward to utilizing his legal degree towards his passion for Jewish rights and Israel activism, through a combination of both private-sector and non-profit work. 

Thesis — Hebrew Universalism: The Future Vision of Rav Kook (PDF)

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