Melissa Balaban
Founder/CEO
Melissa Balaban was IKAR’s founding board chair and has been Executive Director/CEO since 2007. In 2004, Melissa and her husband were searching for a Jewish community that would enrich the lives of their entire family and draw on Jewish tradition to engage the world in a meaningful way. Ultimately their search led to a serendipitous meeting with the immensely talented Rabbi Sharon Brous and an inspiring group of people, who came together to form IKAR, a leading edge Jewish community that fuses tradition, imagination, activism and spiritual practice. Melissa works closely with Rabbi Brous, the board and staff to guide the overall vision and strategic direction of IKAR. Prior to joining IKAR professionally, Melissa was Assistant Dean at the University of Southern California Law School. Previously, she was Directing Attorney of Public Counsel’s Child Care Law Project, a senior consultant (and now board member) for a national human resources consulting firm, and an adjunct professor at Loyola Marymount MBA program. Melissa is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California Law School. She was the 2017 recipient of the Trailblazer Award from NewGround, a Muslim Jewish partnership for change and the Outstanding Professional Achievement award in 2017 from the Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California. Melissa is married to Adam Wergeles, a lawyer, and has two daughters with whom she took a family “sabbatical” in 2007 that included six and a half months of travel and volunteering in Africa, Southeast Asia and Israel. She now has the rare pleasure of blending her life’s passion with her profession, even though she’s still shocked to be a professional Jew.
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Rachel Waranch
Past Board Chair
In 2010, after a decade in New York City (long enough to feel like a real New Yorker, almost), Rachel and her husband, Jason Feuerstein, moved to Los Angeles with a one-month-old. Although they loved LA from the start, it really felt like home when they found IKAR. Rachel grew up in Baltimore, where both sets of grandparents were machers in their respective synagogues, and always felt a deep connection to both Judaism and social justice. A graduate of Washington University, Rachel is the proud mother of two witty, deep and strong-willed children, and works as an in-house counsel in the luxury industry.
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Adam Miller
Past Board Chair
Adam has been a member of the IKAR Board since 2005. Professionally, Adam is the founder and President/CEO of CornerstoneOnDemand, a publicly held enterprise software company. Adam is extensively involved with the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. He has also done work with Heal the Bay. He has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. and M.B.A. from UCLA.
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Fred Kramer
Past Board Chair
Fred has served on the IKAR Board of Directors since May 2008. Focusing on development and structuring the organization for growth, Fred worked closely with IKAR’s Executive Director and professional staff to create a board that can raise money effectively and support the multi-faceted activities of IKAR. Fred is a founding partner in Reason Ventures and heads business development for Critical Mass Studios and Rightsline following the companies’ recent merger. Fred has previously served as Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, a non-profit that fights genocide happening today, and as President and General Manager of Withoutabox.com, the film festival submission system that was acquired by IMDB.com. He served as Chair and Treasurer of fellow-IKARite Nick Karno’s 2010 campaign for State Assembly, and has produced two feature films. He has a BA from the University of South Florida.
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Todd Kessler
Past Board Chair
Todd joined the IKAR board in 2008 after many years as an active member in the community. He also serves on the board of the Tufts University Communications/Media Studies Program.  He is a volunteer teacher at the Open School of LAUSD.  He is a television executive whose recent credits include Co-Executive Producer-Nashville, Co-Executive Producer-Pan Am, Co-Executive Producer – The Good Wife/CBS, Executive Producer-The Unit/CBS and Supervising Producer – Rome/CBS. Todd is a graduate of Tufts University.
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Karen Hanovice Hogan
Past Board Chair
Karen joined the IKAR board in 2011 and quickly became immersed in the finance and development activities of IKAR. She is a former investment banker and sits on the boards of five public closed-end investment funds. She has a B.S. in economics and French from SUNY Albany and a M.P.A. from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
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Dr. Mark Krieger
Originally a New Yorker, Mark Krieger has resided in Los Angeles for 28 of the last 30 years. He lives with his wife Kristie, an Academy Award, Emmy Award, PGA Award and BAFTA Award-nominated producer whose working relationship with director Steven Spielberg spans over 20 years, and his son Sam, a student at Harvard Westlake.​ Dr. Krieger is a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he serves as the Surgeon-in-Chief and the Senior Vice President of the Department of Surgery. He is a Director and a Trustee of CHLA, and a Director of the Children’s Hospital Medical Group. He is a Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He is also a Director of the American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery. He serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Make a Wish Foundation. He truly loves making a difference in the lives of children and their families during times of need. He graduated from Harvard College and received his MD degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.​ Mark, Kristie and Sam found IKAR through friends 5 years ago. They love the passion and vibrancy of the community and of the services, and watching Mark’s out of town relatives skeptically approach the service and then fully buy in. The whole experience of Sam’s becoming a Bar Mitzvah brought them close to all that is wonderful at IKAR – the community, the learning, and the passion around the expression of faith.
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Aaron Applebaum
Treasurer
Aaron grew up in rural New Jersey, attended Williams College in Massachusetts, and started his investment career in Boston. There, he married Lauren, and after a number of enjoyably cold winters, the two of them left for an adventure in Los Angeles so that he could join Capital Group’s municipal bond team. As an investor, he focused on investing in not-for-profit retirement communities, municipal electric utilities, and portfolio risk management and later became a diversified portfolio manager.​ Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, Aaron and Lauren started a family and found their way to Ikar, drawn to its energy, values, and community. Their son, Micah, attended the IKAR ECC, and has remained close with many of his classmates in Limudim. Their daughter, Liora, celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at IKAR in 2022. Lauren was a long-serving board member focusing on Ikar’s educational programs.​ Aaron tends to think in big picture terms. He continues to ponder macroeconomic conditions, but he is deeply concerned with environmental sustainability issues and believes that large shifts in consumption patterns and rapid decarbonization of global energy systems is necessary to reduce the worst risks of climate change. When not savoring the joys and challenges of parenting, he enjoys exploring outdoors via cycling, backpacking, or backcountry skiing.
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Jeremy Rosenthal
Board Vice Chair
Jeremy and his wife Gwen have been in the orbit of IKAR since the early days and are longtime members.  Jeremy believes that IKAR is critical to ongoing transformation of American Judaism and is one of the building blocks for an inclusive, diverse, proactive and relevant Judaism.  IKAR empowers an intense, meaningful and stimulating Judaism that challenges us all to be better people while also speaking our spiritual and religious needs. IKAR drives us to actions that make the world a better place one step at a time.  To paraphrase Hemingway, change happens gradually and then suddenly.  IKAR is driving that change. Professionally, Jeremy helps companies in distress work through their financial and operational difficulties with Force 10 Partners.  Prior to joining Force 10 Partners, Jeremy was a partner in the restructuring group of the law firm Sidley Austin LLP.  Jeremy also sits on the board of Youth Emerging Stronger (YES) which provides housing and support for homeless and foster youth and Camp Ramah of California, a Jewish summer camp. Jeremy received his J.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Michelle Rosenthal
Board Chair
Michelle moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2008 and she and her husband Isaac started exploring different synagogues. From the first time she came to IKAR, it felt like the right place to put down Jewish roots in Los Angeles. Her relationship with IKAR has evolved and deepened over the years, from Friday night services after work to baby namings and a bris for her two daughters and her son, to becoming part of IKAR’s wonderful Early Childhood Center and Limudim communities. She is honored to be part of IKAR’s board. Michelle works as a social impact consultant, helping nonprofits and mission-driven companies with a range of issues, including organizational structure, leadership development, change management, talent strategy, culture, and corporate social responsibility. She worked at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company from 2007-20. Prior to that, she worked at a women’s microfinance bank in rural India as part of a Fulbright fellowship, after graduating from Yale.
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Zach Lainer
Secretary
Zach was first exposed to the “essence” of IKAR through the teachings of Rabbi Brous, as his Jewish Studies teacher at Milken Community High School. A few years later, he attended an IKAR potluck Kabbalat Shabbat at Roxbury Park and was hooked, eventually becoming a member. Zach appreciates IKAR’s unique ability to use social justice as an expression of Jewish teachings and values. Zach is an attorney by training, and currently works as counsel for Lainer Development, a family-run real estate investment and management company based in Van Nuys. Prior to law school, Zach served as an aide to Congressman Howard Berman (the former-chairman of the house foreign affairs committee and long-time representative of the San Fernando Valley) and remains passionate about politics and government. Zach is a proud University of Michigan alum (go blue!) and former CORO Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Beverlywood with his wife, Hannah, son, Henry, and dog, Filibuster. Zach is honored to serve on the IKAR board, and is excited to contribute to IKAR’s future as it looks to settle into a new and permanent home.
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Ethan Goldstine
Immediate Past Board Chair
Ethan first came to IKAR in its early years but remained on the fringes until falling in love with core IKARite Lirona Kadosh, who — along with IKAR– drew him into the community. After brief careers in film production, radio and computer consulting, Ethan has been creating websites since the early esoteric days of the Internet. He founded the website for KCRW and co-created one of the first online serials. Since 1998, he has been a partner at kapow, inc. which specializes in online design, development and consulting for major non-profits and cultural institutions. Ethan is a proud native Angeleno and an alumnus of Sinai Temple Religious School, LA Hebrew High, LA Ulpan and Camp Ramah, as well as Beverly Hills High School and Yale. He’s happy to have found such a warm and welcoming Jewish community that so beautifully blends action, progressive ideals, serious discourse and casual attire.
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Eric Beckman
Eric Beckman joined the IKAR Board in 2018 and is a member of its Building Committee.  You can find him at IKAR most every Shabbat and holiday, where he enjoys soulful prayer and shmoozing with friends over coffee.  Eric is Co-Managing Partner of Breakwater Management, a private investment firm headquartered in Los Angeles.  He was previously a Senior Partner at Ares Management and an officer of Ares Capital Corporation, a publicly traded investment fund.  Earlier in his career he worked at Goldman Sachs and for the City of New York.  He has served on the boards of several non-profits, including the Posse Foundation, where he chaired the L.A. Advisory Board.  In addition to his role at IKAR, he is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University.  Eric has a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from the Yale Law School.  He and his family live in Brentwood.
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Mark Borman
Mark Borman is the founder of The Borman Group, LLC, a multi-disciplinary real estate re-development company focused on the preservation of vintage buildings and the revitalization of urban submarkets.   The philosophy of the company is that space, curated correctly, is ideologically transformative with the ability to create generational social and economic equality, and it saves a lot of cool buildings otherwise destined for a wrecking ball.  In addition to his passion for real estate, Mark currently serves as a board member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Los Angeles and is the co-founder of The Care and Cure Institute.  He has a B.A. in Real Estate, Finance and Economics from the University of South Carolina.
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Lorne Buchman
Lorne M. Buchman began his tenure as the fifth president of ArtCenter in 2009. Under his leadership, the College has made significant strides with campus expansion, entrepreneurship and incubator labs, new academic programs, endowment growth, scholarships and financial aid for students, community development and shared governance practices. His current focus is on constructing new academic facilities and on-campus student housing and completing ArtCenter’s $100M capital campaign. Prior, Buchman served as president of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, where he led the institution in a plan to transform from a graduate school into a multidisciplinary university. He previously served as provost and president of California College of the Arts, where he spearheaded the creation of its renowned San Francisco campus in 1994. During his tenure at CCA, he also oversaw significant enrollment growth, launched initiatives for public programs and community service, and diversified the faculty. A trained theater director and scholar, he is the author of Still in Movement: Shakespeare on Screen and has held a number of faculty and administrative positions at the University of California, Berkeley. With his PhD from Stanford University and BA from the University of Toronto, Buchman was the principal and founder of Buchman Associates, a private consulting firm he established in 2000 for identifying philanthropic and private investment sources to develop facilities for nonprofit organizations. A key project included his work as the executive director of the highly acclaimed Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, an international center dedicated to disability rights and universal access. In addition, Buchman is active in community service, including membership on the boards of several art- and youth-related organizations.
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Lisa Friedman
Lisa entered IKAR for the first time at HHD services ten years ago. As a native Los Angeleno, having spent her adult life engaging with the Jewish landscape, by the end of the services, she knew she had found a new spiritual home. She loves IKAR’s welcoming and inclusive embrace and what a joyous space it is, filled with smart and serious people with the courage to lean-in to social justice with the clergy. She is especially energized in being a part of Minyan Tzedek Green Action and advocating for environmental justice. For the past 20 years Lisa has been engaged with a plethora of Jewish grassroots organizations exploring eco-Judaism as a portal for Jewish identity and practice with projects in Los Angeles, the U.S. and in Israel. She has a B.A. from Pitzer College in Environmental Studies, an M.A. from Pepperdine University in Psychology and an M.A. in Environmental Education from Cal State San Bernadino.
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Marissa Gee
Soon after moving to Los Angeles in 2007, Marissa attended an IKAR picnic and Shabbat service at Roxbury Park. She was welcomed openly and has been a member ever since. She was drawn to IKAR’s focus on social justice work and soon became an active volunteer. She got her BA at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and JD at NYU, and practiced corporate law in NY before moving to LA. She no longer practices, and instead, is a personal trainer and running coach, kinesiology professor at Santa Monica College, and runs her own corporate wellness company, CorporateActive. She is also a former Board Member of the Jewish Multiracial Network and volunteered at an NGO in Kampala, Uganda for six months as part of an American Jewish World Service program. She lives with her husband and her two daughters, and is a proud ECC parent.
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Eric Greene
With deep ties to the IKAR community since its early days, Eric Greene was drawn to IKAR’s commitment to create an egalitarian community of mensches dedicated to meaningful spiritual practice, intellectual honesty and political engagement. Eric became a member out of a conviction that institutions doing good work–especially those striving to embody the best values of Judaism–must be supported and encouraged. A writer and civil rights activist, Eric serves as Associate Communications Director for Diversity and Campus Climate at UCLA working to ensure that commitment to inclusion and equity is embedded in the heart of the university policy. Eric was previously Senior Policy Advisor at the ACLU of Southern California and Southern California Regional Director of Progressive Jewish Alliance/Bend The Arc. Eric studied religion at Wesleyan University and Pardes, was a CORO fellow in New York and worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund before attending Stanford Law School. In addition to his efforts as an organizer in national and local Jews of Color and interfaith communities, Eric has also served as a consultant working with Jewish organizations on diversity and racial justice issues. Alongside his activism, Eric has written or contributed to over half a dozen books on race, the arts and politics.
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Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali
A few years ago, Liz discovered IKAR after expressing to friends, Daniel Inlender and Joel Mogy her disappointment in her then life-long shul. Within days, YouTube video links were arriving from Rabbi Brous’s High Holiday services. Watching these thoughtful and inspiring videos, meeting in person with Rabbi Brous, and then reconnecting with Melissa Balaban after many years made joining the IKAR community feel like coming home! Liz was born and raised in Los Angeles. She runs and owns a commercial real estate company in Los Angeles. Liz moved to Israel in 1993 with her husband and two small children, where she partnered in founding BIG Shopping Centers Ltd. (“BIG”), an Israeli public company traded on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange. In 2007, Liz created BIG Giving, a philanthropic branch of BIG Shopping Centers that primarily supports educational, developmental, and co-existence programs for Jewish and Arab children across Israel. Liz remains active in her philanthropy in Israel working with the Tel Aviv Foundation and Babylonian Jewry Museum. In the spring of 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liz started the Make More Masks Campaign aimed to keep those most vulnerable in our communities safe and healthy and to provide protection for frontline workers. Make More Masks Campaign produced and distributed over 100,000 masks in California, New York, and Iowa at the height of COVID. Liz has served as the chair of the board at Oakwood School, a private elementary and secondary school in North Hollywood from 2012-2015, amongst her twenty years as a board member. She serves on the board of The Representation Project whose mission is fight sexism through films, education, research, and activism. Liz is the author of two books, Israel Land and Sixty Seconds of Light. She served on Hillary for America’s National Finance Committee, Biden for President’s National Finance Committee, and, since 2018, as a deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee. Liz has hosted, curated, and spoken at over 100 events in support of Democratic candidates and organizations, many of which took place at her Los Angeles home prior to the pandemic. Liz has a wonderful partner Silvio, who is a painter and sculpture. Liz is the proud mother of five diverse, interesting, and incredible young adults who live in the US and Israel.
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Daniel Inlender
Daniel’s professional career is rooted in business and finance. Since 2001, Daniel has worked at Joel R. Mogy Investment Counsel in Beverly Hills, California. Today, he divides his time with Joel Mogy, the Firms’ President and Daniel’s mentor, and his work focused on real estate management and development. Daniel’s community activities focus on organizations whose missions are foundational to Jewish teaching and values. He was active with the American Jewish Committee from 2005-2016, serving in numerous capacities, including as founding chair of ACCESS-Los Angeles, a member of AJC-LA’s Executive Committee and as a member of AJC’s National Leadership Development Committee. He completed AJC’s Comay Fellowship Program and traveled with ACCESS on missions to Germany and Ethiopia. Daniel’s commitment to service and community also has extended to previous leadership posts or board memberships at: Hillel at UCLA (where he graduated with a B.S.in 2000); The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, where he served as a member and Chair of the Israel Pluralism Committee; and The Jewish Free Loan Association. Daniel first engaged with IKAR more than 12 years ago because of its dynamism, energy and passion – all of which have multiplied manifold over the years. He is proud to be part of the IKAR Community and looks forward to finding meaningful ways to help further its mission. A holder of dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, Daniel is passionate about Jewish identity and Israel and is committed to opportunities that promote dialogue, peace and stability.
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Marta Kauffman
Marta Kauffman is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television writer, producer and showrunner. She recently completed shooting the seventh and final season of her Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie, which stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Prior to Grace and Frankie, Kauffman was best known for creating NBC’s long-running hit Friends with David Crane (with whom she also created HBO’s Dream On). The iconic series, which ran for 10 seasons, earned 63 Emmy nominations, winning Outstanding Comedy Series in 2002. The Writers Guild of America, West awarded Kauffman and her Friends partner David Crane the 2016 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in television writing. She also earned the 2016 Outstanding Television Writer award at the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference as well as the Kieser Humanitas Award. Kauffman is a long-time member of the Oakwood School’s Board of Trustees, having served as its Chair for three years. She has also served on the Board of Big Sunday (as its first Chair after becoming a 501c3) as well as currently serving on the board of Jewish Story Partners and The Lung Cancer Foundation of America. As a board member, Marta brings energy and is an avid protector of an organization’s mission. She is a tireless ambassador and a moral compass for the institutions she has served. Marta met Rabbi Brous on a trip to Israel a number of years ago. She had the incredible opportunity to learn from Rabbi Brous and, on many hours on a bus, got to hear her perspective on Israel. A number of years later, Marta was looking for a new spiritual home.  But she was also looking for home that stood for equity and social justice, not just in word but in action.  IKAR was that place. Marta is grateful for having been accepted into this extraordinary community and realizes that the best way to get something out of a place is to put something into it.
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Julia Moss
Julia Moss has considered herself an IKARite for more than 13 years. A lifelong Angeleno, Julia was first introduced to IKAR when she was living in Washington, D.C. During a trip home, her brother told her to “come check out this camp-like Shabbat” and she was instantly hooked. Julia likes to say she was the first ever “Ikar From Afar” member because she started coming home so often to attend Ikar that she was asked to serve as the co-chair of the Purim Justice Carnival despite living 3,000 miles away. When she moved back to Los Angeles in 2012, Julia instantly made Ikar her home and has “grown up” in the community: from Tribe (though it wasn’t formalized when she joined) to her aufruf at the JCC to Bite Size Shabbats to the Early Childhood Center to Limudim.​ When Julia isn’t at IKAR, she works as a Learning and Development Specialist in the life sciences following nearly 15 years as a Jewish communal professional for such organizations as the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Journal, and The Miracle Project.​ Julia is honored and thrilled to be joining the IKAR board and to be raising her children in a community where Judaism is lived, not just learned.
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Sophie Pritzker
Sophie Pritzker most recently served as interim CEO for Keith McNally Restaurant Group, a family company based in New York where she spent seven years working in various operational and corporate roles.  She received her B.A. from the American University of Paris, where she studied Political Science and Philosophy. Sophie serves on the board of Edible Schoolyard NYC, a non-profit dedicated to nutritional education for New York City public school students. Originally from downtown Manhattan, Sophie recently moved to Los Angeles with her husband. She converted to Judaism with support (and sponsorship) from Rabbi Brous, the IKAR community, and education through AJU.
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Hannah Roth
Hannah grew up in Syracuse, NY. When she was 8 years old, her family took a sabbatical to Israel where they connected more with their Judaism, leading the family in the years that followed towards a modern orthodox practice. Upon finishing high school, Hannah attended seminary at Midreshet Lindenbaum and then went on to get a film degree at NYU.​ Hannah’s parents and two brothers moved to Israel as she was starting university and she has had the good fortune to travel back and forth regularly.​ She moved to Los Angeles with her (soon-to-be) wife Kathleen from New York City at the end of 2006 and they got married during the legal “window” before Prop 8 passed in 2008.​ Hannah and Kathleen started coming to IKAR in 2009 on the suggestion of a variety of friends’ suggestions. After being elated at finding parking easily at the JCC on a Friday night only to find out that services were at Roxbury that Shabbat, they made it in time for R’ Sharon’s drasha and to watch services end while young children danced in the center of the room and knew right away that this was the right community for them and for their future family to be a part of.​ They now have two boys, Noah and Enzo who are both alums of the IKAR ECC and who have both spent lots of time dancing in the center of the room at IKAR. Hannah is active on the Hesed committee (never shying away from a dairy/gluten free menu request) and Hannah is a regular morning minyan member.  ​ Hannah has been a talent manager at Framework Entertainment since 2021 following two decades as a talent agent at Buchwald in both their NY and LA offices.
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Elizabeth Saiger
Elizabeth Saiger joined IKAR upon moving to California 8 years ago from New York. She has had 3 children go through the IKAR Early Childhood Center and was involved in the Parent Advisory Council and the formation of the Prayground. She loves her continual work with the Hesed committee and is always looking for new ways to connect and support members. She is a Texan but spent summers at Camp Ramah in Ojai where she met her husband David.  Elizabeth is a systems thinker, lover of connecting and an organizer. Professionally she works in academic operations in the field of Education Reform and is currently the Director of Academic Operations at Ednovate Charter Schools, a network of high performing charter high schools.​​Elizabeth is honored and thrilled to be joining the IKAR board and asked to join in honor of her late grandfather and many other family members who are leaders in the Jewish community.
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Noah Schechter
Hello! My name is Noah Schechter. You might remember me from nearly dropping the Torah during hagbah, or the Simchat Torah where I predicted Hillary would handily win the 2016 election — emblematic, I’m sure, of the steady hands and prescient vision I hope to bring to the Board. I first came to IKAR for Kol Nidre in 2015, and very nearly arrived in a blue shirt. Thank god, someone had produced a snazzy video of YKs past, and I realized you people weren’t kidding about the dress in all white thing. I rushed home to change, ate a sandwich in my car, and 25 hours later left Neilah knowing I’d found my new spiritual home. In the years since, I’ve been lucky enough to read Torah, write and organize Purim spiels, and serve as a leader within the Tribe community. Mostly, though, I think of myself as a Shabbos morning Jew. Friday night’s cool, too. These days, I work as a writer-producer on NBC’s The Blacklist and live in Hollywood with my partner Kirie. Ikar is, hands down, my favorite part of living in Los Angeles.
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Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug
Tzivia fell in love with IKAR and its deep commitment to justice and spirituality during IKAR’s early days, but distance kept them apart. When her family finally agreed to attend IKAR’s High Holy Days services a few years ago, they fell in love with the community and the family became members. Tzivia quickly began to immerse herself in all things IKAR — trekking from Sherman Oaks to attend services regularly, participating in social justice actions and learning opportunities, co-chairing the IKAR membership committee and hosting house parties with Steve for Valley IKARites. An L.A. native, Tzivia is a lawyer with a degree in Jewish Studies from UCLA. She has spent most of her career working in the Jewish community on issues of social justice. Tzivia was the founding Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, the Western States Civil Rights Director for the ADL and the Jewish Community Relations Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Tzivia also enjoyed four years working as the community liaison on DreamWorks’ “The Prince of Egypt.” Today Tzivia works in philanthropy with several clients: she is the West Coast Director for the Jewish Funders Network; Sr. Advisor to CANVAS, a Jewish arts and culture funding collaborative; the U.S. Program Director to the Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society; and the Executive Director of the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund, an L.A.-based giving circle. In her “free” time, Tzivia also serves on the boards of Camp Ramah in California and NewGround – a Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, participates in two book clubs and lives for spending time with friends, family and, especially, Steve and their kids, hiking, traveling, going to theater and concerts and enjoying each other’s company.
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Karl Thurmond
Karl is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. While at Harvard Law School, Karl received the Williston Prize for best contract negotiation and was an Ames Moot Court Finalist. He specializes in business trial work, business litigation and business counseling, and was appointed to the Judicial Appointments Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.​ He has been named one of America’s Top 100 Bet-the-Company Litigators the past five years, named a “Southern California Super Lawyer” eighteen times, and selected one of the Top 100 Black Lawyers in the State of California by the National Black Lawyers Association the past ten years.​ Karl is passionate about giving back and the value of a Jewish education. His daughter Abigail attended Jewish day schools from the time she was 1 ½ until she was 18 years old. Karl served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Executive Committee of Milken Community School, the Co-Chair of Milken’s Annual Giving Fund and Capital Campaign, and the President of the Board of Regents of Temple Emanuel Academy Day School. And in an attempt to provide other Jewish students with the benefit of a Jewish education, Karl has endowed a scholarship at Milken Community School.​ Karl is also passionate about politics. As part of this passion, Karl served as Co-Chair of City Attorney Mike Feuer’s Campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles, and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Finance Committee for Adam Schiff’s US Senate Campaign and Co-Chair of Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager’s Finance Committee.​​ Karl’s greatest legacy passion is working to address the problem of people experiencing homelessness. He is trying to tackle this problem by serving as Co-Chair of Adam’s US Senate Campaign’s Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing and Homelessness, and serving on the Board of Directors of Volunteers of America Los Angeles, which is one of the largest non-governmental providers of homeless and head start services in Los Angeles County.​ And when he is not pursuing his passion for Jewish education or politics, Karl can found most mornings running the Janss Steps at UCLA, and lately, thinking about how to help IKAR support its audacious and meaningful vision.
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Adam Scott Weissman
I joined IKAR in 2016 after attending services on and off for a few years. When my then fiancee, now wife, Christy told me she was far more comfortable visiting IKAR than attending services at the shul I belonged to at the time, that sealed the deal. Within a month of joining IKAR, I was leading canvasses for Minyan Tzedek Community Organizing’s election work. IKARites have a way of pulling you in and making you want to get involved. I haven’t looked back since. In 2017, I joined the Community Organizing Steering Committee and this year I became a co-chair. The inextricable link established at IKAR between living a Jewish life and working for justice in the community is why I joined and why my involvement has deepened over the years. In my work with Minyan Tzedek Community Organizing, I’ve helped lead campaigns to make California a sanctuary state, reform policing, eliminate cash bail, steer tax revenue away from prisons and back into communities, and build more affordable housing. I was born and raised in Dayton, OH, where both my parents served as longtime board members and sometimes presidents of the synagogue I grew up attending. At the same time, my religious education was broad. My mom’s a Jew by choice, a choice that wasn’t finalized until I was 9, and many of my extended family members are devout Roman Catholics. I attended Catholic school through the 8th grade, had a baptism & a bris, a first holy communion & a bar mitzvah. By the time I became bar mitzvah, I was all in for Judaism and Catholicism was in the rearview mirror, but these early formative experiences and the lessons I’ve drawn from being exposed to multiple faiths makes me especially passionate about IKAR Organizing’s interfaith work with LA Voice. I’m a graduate of University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (Fight On!). As an undergrad, I organized two Hillel alternative spring break trips (one with the school’s NAACP chapter) to rebuild in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was also the Obama ’08 campaign’s Southern California campus organizer. I also teach TV writing at USC and have taught creative writing to teen boys incarcerated in Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall, as well as formerly incarcerated adults through the Inside Out Writers program. I live in Burbank with my wife Christy, son William, and our dog Leo.
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Sarah Wick
Sarah currently serves as the COO of Lowercarbon Capital, a climate tech VC that backs companies that help reduce CO2. Prior to that, she was COO at Crooked Media for over six years, a political media company that is devoted to helping progressives get elected through producing podcasts like “Pod Save America,” and its political activism arm “Vote Save America.” Sarah holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard College in English.​ Born and raised in Los Angeles, when not working, Sarah can be found working in her garden, reading, or engaging in the task of trying to train her dog which she calls a “lab” but in whose face you can clearly see the pitbull.​ Sarah is grateful to Jody Uttal, her mom’s best friend and fellow lover of mystery books for introducing her extended family to IKAR, where her mom and sisters also remain enthusiastic and active members. She is also grateful to Rabbi Brous, who married her and her husband Robert several years ago and turned their tiny outside, afternoon, end-of-COVID wedding into something timeless and transcendent. She lives in the Franklin Hills with her husband and daughter, Violet.
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David Alpern
Past Board Chair
David Alpern is a Founding Partner of Varsity Healthcare Partners. Prior to founding Varsity, Mr. Alpern was a Partner with Aurora Capital Group, a middle-market private equity firm, where he led the healthcare investing effort. Previously, Mr. Alpern was with GTCR Golder Rauner, a middle-market private equity investment firm, where he focused on both healthcare and financial services industries. Mr. Alpern began his career as an investment banking analyst in the global industrial & services group of Credit Suisse First Boston, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions and high yield financings. He holds a BA in History from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Mr. Alpern serves on the Board of Directors for Angels of Care, Emergency Care Partners, Ideal Option, Probo Medical and The Orthopaedic Institute.
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Yoni Fife
Past Board Chair
Yoni joined the IKAR board in 2010, served as treasurer for three years and became IKAR’s vice chair in 2015. Professionally, Yoni is an attorney at Athene Holding, Ltd., an insurance holding company. Prior to Athene, Yoni practiced general corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Yoni has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
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