Rabbi Esther Reed

Rabbi Esther Reed

Interim Executive Director | (she/her/hers)

Rabbi Esther Reed grew up in East Brunswick, NJ.  A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, she received both her master’s degree in Jewish Women’s Studies and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.  She is a Conservative rabbi and lives in Highland Park with her husband, Mordy Schwartz, and three sons: Isaac, Sammy and Jonah.

email: RabbiReed@rutgershillel.org

Rabbi Jason Cook

Rabbi Jason Cook

Reform Community Rabbi & Senior Jewish Educator | (he/him/his)

Rabbi Jason Cook strongly identifies as a wandering Jew having grown up in western New York, northern California and Lake Oswego, Oregon (just south of Portland). He went to college at American University in Washington, DC where he studied International Relations. After graduating, he moved to West Palm Beach, Florida where he worked in the Jewish non-profit world doing teen engagement. In south Florida, Rabbi Cook also met his wife Phylicia. After five years of rabbinical school (including a year studying in Jerusalem), Rabbi Cook received his rabbinic ordination at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College in May 2021. Rabbi Cook and Phylicia are excited to have found an end to their wandering with the Rutgers Hillel community and live in Metuchen, NJ with their son Micah. Rabbi Cook always has time to talk about Jewish text and history, Torah, science fiction, and his beloved Portland Trail Blazers. 

email: RabbiCook@rutgershillel.org

Rabbi Avi Schwartz

Rabbi Avi Schwartz

OU-JLIC Educator | (he/him/his)

Rav Avi Schwartz was born in Queens, but grew up in Sharon, MA, and West Orange, NJ. He is an alumnus of Yeshiva University’s Yeshiva College, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and Wurzweiler School of Social Work. After working for Bnei Akiva and NCSY for many years, he studied in RIETS’ Gruss Institute in Jerusalem for three years. During the week, Rav Avi is a social worker, providing mental health support for youth, adolescents, and their families.

Rav Avi lives in New Brunswick, NJ with Sara and their three kids, Noam, Kiki, and Dani. They are all devout New England Patriots fans.

email: RavAvi@rutgershillel.org

Sara Schwartz

Sara Schwartz

OU-JLIC Educator | (she/her/hers)

Sara Schwartz grew up on Long Island and currently lives in New Brunswick, NJ. She holds a BA in psychology from Queens College and an MBA from Bar Ilan University.

In addition to her position as an OU-JLIC Educator, Sara also works for New Jersey NCSY.  She is married to Rav Avi and they have three adorable children.

email: SaraS@rutgershillel.org 

Eyal Buchnik

Eyal Buchnik

Jewish Agency Israel Fellow | (he/him/his)

Eyal Buchnik grew up in Haifa, Israel. He holds a B.A in Education and Jewish History from Haifa University. He has plenty of Israel educational experience working with American youth. He served as a Shin-Shin Shaliach, worked at American Jewish summer camps for three summers, staffed an American gap-year program in Israel, and has staffed other American trips to Israel since then.
Eyal loves writing, watching sports and playing soccer.

 

email: eyal@rutgershillel.org

Alicia Rosenbaum

Alicia Rosenbaum

IACT Coordinator for Birthright Israel | (she/her/hers)

Alicia Rosenbaum grew up in Mt. Laurel, NJ and has lived in Philadelphia the past year.  She double majored in political science and Jewish Studies at Lafayette College and just finished her Masters in Jewish Experiential Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary.  She has been to Israel 5 times and has loved every time.  For the past two years, she has worked as a preschool teacher.  While she loved working with young kids, she is excited to now work with college students.  For fun, she enjoys trying new foods, ice skating, pub trivia, and watching romantic comedies.

email: alicia@rutgershillel.org

 

Avery Elliott

Avery Elliott

Programming and Marketing Associate | (they/them/theirs)

Avery was born in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia and spent their childhood and teen years living in various cities in the south before their family relocated to New York City. They began their college education as a Deaf Studies major before transferring to Columbia College Chicago where they switched their major to music performance with a minor in music business. They currently live in Brooklyn.
Outside of work, Avery enjoys reading, watching hockey and baseball (go Dallas Stars and NY Mets!), writing music, and crafting (particularly crochet). They have a black cat named Void as well as a chihuahua/ dachshund mix named Felicity. When they want to relax, they enjoy planning future travel, cramming random fun facts and statistics into their brain, and creating new spreads in their bullet journal.

 

email: avery@rutgershillel.org

 

Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Student Rabbi for the Conservative Community | (he/him/his)

Alex Hamilton was raised in Oklahoma City. He has worked as a Jewish educator in a number of institutions including Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City, Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen, NJ, and Camp Ramah in the Rockies.  Alex graduated with honors from Rutgers University and is currently a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is also concurrently studying for a master’s degree in Hebrew Bible and Its Interpretation at JTS. Upon ordination from JTS Alex hopes to serve as a chaplain in the United States Navy, where he is currently serving as an officer the US Navy Reserve. He was recently married and lives in Washington Heights with his wife, Adeena.

email: alhamilton@jtsa.edu

 

Jeremy Davis

Jeremy Davis

Engagement Associate | (he/him/his)

Jeremy Davis was born and raised in the Long Island suburb of Merrick, NY. A lifelong Ramahnik, he attended Camp Ramah in the Berkshires for 15 summers as a camper, special needs counselor, and division head. Graduating from the University of Delaware, he studied Psychology and Neuroscience with minors in Cognitive Science, Jewish Studies, and Philosophy. While at UD Jeremy found his tribe at Hillel, where he served as an intern, student leader, and board President. He loves all things nerdy as well as classic rock, a fresh bialy, the Mets, and the Islanders.

email: jeremy@rutgershillel.org

 

Barbara Josephs Cohen

Barbara Josephs Cohen

Senior Development Officer | (she/her/hers)

Barbara Josephs Cohen has been at Rutgers Hillel since 2003 when she orchestrated the year-long “Israel Inspires” Initiative. She lives in West Orange with her husband, Michael, whom she met when they were both freshmen at Tufts University. They are the proud parents of Jonathan and Matthew and grandparents to adorable Gavi, Josh, and Lila. 

email: BarbaraC@rutgershillel.org

Rachel Podhorcer

Rachel Podhorcer

Office Manager | (she/her/hers)

Rachel Podhorcer grew up in Swampscott, MA and is a graduate of Brandeis University, where she received her BA in Music Performance. She is a violinist and is passionate about music education. Rachel lives in Highland Park with her husband Ari, a Rutgers Hillel alum, and their dog Gimli. Rachel loves to travel, read good books, and go to museums.

email: rachel@rutgershillel.org

Madlenne Lalush

Madlenne Lalush

Facility Manager | (she/her/hers)

Madlenne grew up in Akko, Israel, and fulfilled her love of the sea by serving in the Israeli Navy. She studied accounting and worked as an accountant at Leumi Bank, Discount Bank, and in the stock market. Madlenne also has 30 years of experience in building management and catering businesses. She has two beautiful kids: Shai has a heating and air conditioning company and Shelley is in nursing school. Madlenne also has a new granddaughter, Kelley. Madlenne has many talents, including interior design and jewelry design.

email: madlenne@rutgershillel.org