Makom Staff

Yonatan Ariel, Executive Director of Makom

Yonatan lectures widely in the fields of Contemporary Jewry and Experiential Education. He has taught in public school, university and in adult and travel settings. Yonatan studied history and education at universities and is a graduate of both the Institute for Youth Leaders and of the Jerusalem Fellows. He has held senior policy-making positions at the Mandel Leadership Institute, the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Melitz and the Israel Experience. He is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. He can be reached at

Rafi Banai, Makom Expert in Teaching Hebrew as a Second Language

Rafi graduated from Hebrew University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Rafi received a teaching diploma and is an expert in Hebrew as a second language. He served as a Ministry of Education superintendent, taught Hebrew at Hunter College and at JTS. Rafi served as the Director of the Publication and Curriculum Division of the Jewish Agency, has conducted hundreds of in-service teacher training programs in Israel and abroad, and has written numerous materials for teachers and students. He can be reached at

Vadim Blumin, Makom Content & Training Specialist

Vadim is an historian and activist in the fields of Jewish Education and Civil Society in Israel. Formerly, Vadim headed JAFI’s Education Department in St. Petersburg, Russia, and served as Executive Director to the nonprofit “1+1: Association of Immigrant Youth.” Vadim has also participated in the GVANIM program for pluralism and leadership, as well as the JDC-ELKA Mashmaut training program for Directors-General of Voluntary Organizations. He is a Board Member of ‘Be Free Israel’ (‘IsraelHofsheet’), a member of the Content Committee, Limmud-FSU, and one of the founders of the ‘1.5 Generation – Russian-speaking Israelis’. He lives in Ramat-Gan with Roman and their daughter, Danielle. Vadim can be reached at

Robbie Gringras, Makom Creative Director

Robbie is a British-born Israeli, graduate of Oxford University and Mandel Jerusalem Fellows. He has taught and published widely on the arts in Jewish and Israel education. In the theatre he has performed on London’s West End and throughout the world in his own original plays. Since immigrating to Israel he has taught at theatre schools country-wide, and directed several plays. His solo shows have been performed in Israel, UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Russia, and Mexico in English, Hebrew, and Spanish.He can be reached at

Yael Katz-Ben Yitzchak, Educational Director for the Global School Twinning Network

YYael Katz squareael Katz-Ben Yitzchak is the Makom Educational Director for the Global School Twinning Network of The Jewish Agency for Israel.  Previously, she served as the Director of Education for the Israeli Reform Movement, the Director of the Lokey International Academy of Jewish Studies, and as Director of Jewish Family Education Programs in Schools at Melitz. Yael has a B.A. in Social Work and an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a Teacher’s Certificate in Civic Studies from the University of Haifa, and is currently studying Organizational Consulting at the Open University. She lives in Kibbutz Megiddo with her husband Chen and their three sons, Noam, Ori and Elad. She can be reached at 

Elisheva Kupferman, Makom Educator and Strategic Planner

Elisheva holds a B.A. in Psychology and Jewish History from Bar Ilan University, and an M.A. in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As an educator, Elisheva coordinated gap year programming for Bnei Akiva for three years, and ran summer leadership courses for teens. She worked in the nonprofit sector and joined Makom in 2010 to integrate these two passions: Jewish education and strategic nonprofit leadership. Elisheva is an Olah from New York now living in Jerusalem with Dov and their daughter Roni. She She can be reached at

Shlomit Naim-Naor, Makom Content & Training Specialist

shlomitShlomit Naim-Naor is a Jewish Educator, Poet and a Feminist.Shlomit was the Jewish Agency Shlicha to London, Assistant Director of Melitz and the Chair of the Israeli Batei Midrash Network. She is a Board Member of Ne`emanei Tora v`Avodah, and a member of the editorial boards of  the `Deot` periodical  and `Mashiv Haruch` poetry magazine. Shlomit holds a Master’s degree in creative writing and a B. A. in Philosophy & Hebrew Literature. Her writings are published in various magazines in Israel and the USA. Shlomit lives in Jerusalem with her husband Nissimmi and their daughters Aviyah Tzhali and Ma`ayan Miriam. She can be reached at

Cynthia Tzvibel-Navon, Makom Director of Operations


Cynthia holds a BA in Criminology, Sociology and Anthropology from Bar-Ilan University as well as an MA in Criminology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During her army service she served in the intelligence corps. Cynthia has been employed by the Jewish Agency since 2001 and now serves as the operations director of Makom. She is married to Yishay Navon and the mother of Ben and Lia. She can be reached at 

Adi Varon-Feldman, Makom Content & Training Specialist


Adi Varon Feldman is an educator and group facilitator. She holds a MA in Jewish studies from the Shechter institute, a B.Ed. in Informal education and Jewish studies from Beit Berl college, and a Teacher’s Certificate in Jewish studies. She was a  Jewish Agency shlicha in Newfoundland, Canada, and worked as a youth movement and community shlichim coordinator at JAFI’s Shlichim & Israel fellows unit. Prior to that,  Adi worked as a hadracha coordinator at Gesher, and at Alexander Muss High school in Israel. She can be reached at

Rami Wernik z”l 1968-2015

Rami holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Stanford University. Rami is writing his doctoral dissertation on Civic Education in Israel at Stanford. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, he also completed the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows Program. Rami has served as faculty for Midreshet Har Herzl, Melitz, and the Brandeis Collegiate Institute. He was Dean of the Fingerhut School of Education at American Jewish University.

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