Rabbi Esther Reed

Rabbi Esther Reed

Interim Executive Director

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

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. 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

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 Teaneck, NJ with Sara and their two kids, Noam (3) and Kiki (1). They are all devout New England Patriots fans.

email: RavAvi@rutgershillel.org

Sara Schwartz

Sara Schwartz

OU-JLIC Educator

Sara Schwartz grew up on Long Island and currently lives in Teaneck, 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 two adorable children.

email: SaraS@rutgershillel.org 

Adva Ripple Solomon

Adva Ripple Solomon

Jewish Agency Israel Fellow

Adva Ripple Solomon grew up in Israel and served in Ministry of Defense and the Israeli Navy. Adva holds LLB in Law and BA in Government from IDC Herzliya, and now in the process of obtaining her Masters in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security. She has worked in the Diamond Bourse, in fashion, a law firm and was a manager in two businesses specializing in an after school activities for kids. When  Adva was in high-school she helped found Krembo Wings, a youth movement for Children with and without disabilities. She was a coordinator and volunteer for 5 years at Hillel IDC, and has been working and involved with AEPi Israel since its early days to this day. She love sports especially soccer, hockey, and surfing.

email: adva@RutgersHillel.org

Sam Schnurman

Sam Schnurman

IACT Coordinator for Birthright Israel

Sam Schnurman was born in Farmington Hills, MI, but spent most of her life in Rockaway, NJ. She is a graduate from Penn State University, with a degree in Film/Video. Sam loves the Detroit Red Wings, to watch movies, listen to music, travel, and talk about Israel. She hopes one day to visit as many places as possible. 

email: sam@rutgershillel.org

 

Trent Works

Trent Works

Director of Engagement

Trent is originally from Newark, Delaware and a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in History. As an undergraduate student he served as a student leader at the University of Delaware Hillel. In the future, Trent plans on attending rabbinical school as well as traveling to as many art museums as possible.

email: trent@rutgershillel.org

Barbara Josephs Cohen

Barbara Josephs Cohen

Senior Development Officer

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.

email: BarbaraC@rutgershillel.org

Rachel Podhorcer

Rachel Podhorcer

Office Administrator

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. Rachel loves to travel, read good books, and go to museums.

email: rachel@rutgershillel.org

Madlenne Lalush

Madlenne Lalush

Facility Manager

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