Rabbi Benji Levy
Rabbi Benji Levy graduated from Moriah College and now serves as the Dean of Jewish Life & Learning at the College. He has addressed audiences around the world and has lead many initiatives in Sydney including the Shabbat Project and the Joint Mikolot Public Speaking competition.Rabbi Benji holds a BA (Media & Communications) and Honours Degree in Jewish Civilisation Thought & Culture from the University of Sydney, an Education degree from Herzog College, Yoreh Yoreh Semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Zalman Nechemya Goldberg and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin following his study in Yeshivat Har Etzion, completed the Principals Program at the Lookstein Centre in Bar Ilan University and is currently writing his PhD in Jewish philosophy. His proudest achievement to date is his and Renana's children, Shayna, Yehuda and Lital.
Ilan, is the current Coordinator of the EDJE (Experiential Department of Jewish Education) and has been an integral part of Moriah’s Experiential Department for over four years. His most recent role has been to set up Youth to Israel (Y2i), an endowment fund in the tens of millions of dollars to send hundreds of Year 10 students to Israel on similar programs to the Israel Study Tour. He has a B.Comm (Finance) from Sydney University and has completed a Masters of Jewish Education at Hebrew University in 2016. He is very excited to go to Israel in what will be his fifth IST trip.
Vicki Farkas is a true Aussie - actually 5th generation on her mother's side but with a strong European connection through her paternal grandparents who trekked from Russia and Poland across Europe in the late 1800s to establish their life in England before emigrating to Australia in the early 1920s. She has lots of stories to tell about her grandparents and the contribution they made, both in London and Australia, in establishing Jewish communities wherever they went. She is married to Frank, born in Budapest, and emigrated to Australia in 1965 as a 12 year old under the supervision of the Red Cross - he too has many stories to tell about the loss of family and the impact the holocaust had on life in Budapest as he was growing up. Frank will be joining the group in Warsaw. Vicki has worked in Education for almost 40 years, joining Moriah in 2000 as the Head of Curriculum. This will be her second year as Head Teacher on IST, as well has having attended many Counterpoint Camps. Additionally, in 2006 she travelled with a large contingent of students (166) from Australia and New Zealand on the March of the Living. Her role then was similar to what it will be on IST - that is, being the central person to ensure that students are well cared for, and that should an issue arise during our travels, it is dealt with fairly, consistently and communicated to parents if necessary.
Catherine has been a Design and Technology and Food Technology teacher at Moriah for nine years. She holds a Bachelor of Technology Education and Advanced Diploma in Interior Design. Everyone that meets her, knows she has a flair for design, a flamboyancy and a caring and warm nature. She has worked as an event stylist and has run and managed several events at Moriah including Year 12 Graduations, Staff Lunches, Pink Breakfasts, Year 12 Formals and the Shabbat Project Challah Bake. She has enjoyed participating in several Counterpoint camps which have fostered a keen interest in Jewish learning and spirituality. She has also attended the Great Barrier Reef Trip to Far North Queensland where she immersed herself in all outdoor experiences with energy and eagerness. Just finishing a degree in Psychology, Catherine is most passionate about student wellbeing and mental health. She is looking forward to the rich personal and social learning experience and relationship building that will come with traveling overseas with her students. Being her second trip on IST, Catherine is especially looking forward to returning to Israel, sharing this adventure and deepening her connection with the Year 10 Moriah & Masada cohort of 2017.
Carolyn is currently the Head of Jewish Life ELC -12 at Masada College. She has taught at various Jewish Day Schools in South Africa, Melbourne and Sydney.
She holds postgraduate degrees in Philosophy and Religion as well as Education and teaches a range of subjects from Psychology and Studies of Religion to Jewish Studies and Gemara. She is a passionate Zionist and loves that Israel is the one place where every Jew can find a home regardless of their religious observance.
She and her husband Roy have 3 children. Their oldest daughter Lishai is a madricha for Bnei Akiva and studies design at Whitehouse, their son Amichai has completed 2 years in the Gush Yeshiva, has made aliyah and will enlist in the IDF early 2018. Adira has just graduated and is about to embark on a year programme at Midreshet HaRova in the Old City. Her dream is to sit around her Shabbat table with her children and grandchildren in Israel! Being a mum is her greatest joy and teaching young adults comes a close second. She feels privileged to be taking students on IST and be a part of this amazing journey in their lives.
Yigal Nisell is JNF Australia’s NSW Education Shaliach, he represents KKL-JNF Israel . After completing his army service, Yigal spent a year in Sweden as a Bnei Akiva Shaliach. He then went on to study law at Tel Aviv University and obtained his Masters in Law at Berkley in California. Over the years, Yigal was actively involved with The Jewish Agency and was the co-ordinator for Bnei Akiva’s Shnat program in Europe. As JNF Shaliach, Yigal uses education and outreach programs to demonstrate the tangible contributions made by JNF to improving life in Israel and around the world. Most importantly Yigal continues to strengthen the link between the Australian Jewish community with the community in Israel. He is passionate about developing educational content and values which will contribute to the next generation of Jewish leaders who will continue to strengthen our connection to Israel.
Lynn is an ex South African, and emigrated to Australia 20 years ago. In Johannesburg, she was Head of Mathematics at Highlands Boys, and also taught for many years at King David Linksfield. She has been teaching Maths at Moriah for the last 17 years, and has been activities coordinator for Camp Sababa for 10 years. She looked after Moriah Charity for 10 years and is committed and passionate about Jewish education.
She has 3 married children , 4 gorgeous grandkids and another 2 on the way. Her 2 frum children have made Aliyah , and 3 of her grandkids live in Israel. She says that her heart and soul are now living in Israel but her body and work are in Sydney.
She is thrilled at the opportunity to take our Y10’s to Poland and onto Israel and be a part of the life-changing journey with them. This will be Lynn's 3rd IST trip and she thinks that we are all in for a treat!
Rabbi Noah Kunin
Born in Stratford, Connecticut and raised in places ranging from Portland, Maine, to Zichron Yaakov, Israel, Rabbi Noah became accustomed to moving. After high school he spent 5 years studying in yishivas in Jerusaelm and 3 years in the Jerusalem Kollel, where he received rabbinic ordination in 2010. Rabbi Noah then joined the IDF working for the chaplaincy where he began his career in Jewish education.
In December 2011, Rabbi Noah moved with his wife Ruti and 2 children to Leipzig, Germany to run the Lauder Foundation’s regional outreach centre. 3 years later the Kunins moved to Berlin where Rabbi Noah served as the Project Director for Morasha Germany during which time he also completed his M.A. in Educational Leadership.
In 2017 the Kunins yet again made a major life decision and moved to St Ives where Rabbi Noah assumed the role of Director of Informal Jewish Life at Masada College. Having taught year 10 this past year, Rabbi Noah is extremely excited to join IST and continue the journey they embarked on together this past February.
Ruti was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. She has 9 brothers and sisters and lots of nephews and nieces. She received her B.A. in special education, and also graduated as a dance teacher from Wingate Institute. Ruti met her husband, Noah, through a funny misunderstanding and a guitar. In 2011 Ruti and the family moved to Leipzig, Germany to run the Lauder Foundation’s regional outreach centre. 3 years later Ruti moved to Berlin where she became the program coordinator for J-Community – a national Jewish outreach program for Jewish teens. This past February Ruti moved to St Ives to work for Masada College as a Jewish Studies teacher. Ruti and her husband have three adorable kids and no pets :) Ruti loves dancing, chocolate (in any shape or form) and meeting new people. She is very excited to go to her home land and share it with all of the IST students this year.
Jo has been at the College for 18 years, as a member of the English Department and in various student wellbeing positions. In her current role as Deputy Head of High School, Student Life, she has overall responsibility for leading the implementation of the strategic plan in the Secondary School, particularly in relation to Student Wellbeing, Co-curricular and Jewish Life & Learning. In her various roles in the College, she has led many different student programs, including IST, Leadership Retreats, trips to the Northern Territory and Cape Tribulation. As a senior staff member who has been involved in the management of student life at the College for over 17 years, she has a significant insight and understanding of our students and their parents. She knows how to set firm boundaries yet develop positive, respectful relationships with students. Jo has a Masters in Psychology, has been a Year Co-ordinator, Co-ordinator of Student Leadership and Development before being appointed to her current position as Deputy Head of School, Student Life, three years ago. As such, she offers a broad understanding of the wellbeing of our students and is well placed to support those who may need extra attention or support while abroad. Finally, she has been on 4 previous IST programs and still has a great sense of humour – qualities that are essential to being a staff member on IST.
Mark is married to Jo, which is not his only achievement! He has already completed one IST trip in 2014, where he ran S&P with Rabbi Benji every evening and went running at 6am with anyone who was keen. Needless to say, Mark is a fitness fanatic, and a Tri-athlete who has competed in a number of competitions, including the recent LCW in Huskisson and the Half Iron Man in Callala Bay. He is the CEO of an IT company, loves anything ‘Apple’ from computers, to iPad, to iPhone and also his Garmen watch. Mark is passionate about his two dogs, Pepe and Harper and his family. He has high energy levels, can function on minimum sleep and enjoys mentoring young people, hence his agreement to join the IST staff again.
Marissa graduated from Moriah College in 2014 and went on an Israel program with Bnei Akiva. She began her gap year on ‘Limmud’ and then switched to MTA where she attended Midreshet Yeud. She says that this was a life changing experience where she was able to learn more about Judaism, develop her Jewish identity and understand the importance of maintaining a strong affiliation to Israel. She is now studying a Bachelor of Event Management at UTS and says that it is exactly what she wants to be doing. On top of having been in charge of year 10 Counterpoint this year, Marissa is a madricha at Bnei Akiva where she leads the year 10s. She is very excited to have the privilege of being able to further her connection with this year group and hopes to bring them the meaning and joy that she found when she was on IST herself.
After graduating in 2013, Simone attended a year-long program in Israel on Bnei Akiva's MTA program where she attended Midreshet Harova. Her love of Israel grew as she experienced learning and living in the old city, went on tiyulim, volunteered and participated in programs on Kibbutz and Sar-El, and it is these experiences that largely contributed to her strong Jewish identity and passion for the state of Israel. During her time in Israel, she learnt valuable lessons from a variety of Jewish topics that extended from thought and psychology, to the study of Jewish texts, which shape her outlook on what it means to be Jewish in the modern world. She is currently a madricha at Bnei Akiva Sydney and is also studying at UNSW where she is completing a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) and Economics. Simone is excited to lead the kids on their IST journey, where they will be able to learn, be challenged, and have an experience of a lifetime.
Gidon graduated from Moriah College in 2014 and is currently studying Commerce at UNSW. He went on Bnei Akiva's gap year program Limmud and has been a madrich in Bnei Sydney for 2 years. He works at Moriah part time in the Experiential Department of Jewish Education (EDJE) and loves what he does! He is very passionate about sharing with others the happiness and fulfillment that Judaism has brought into his own life. One of his biggest achievements to date has been developing a relationship with HaShem and trying to change what he believes to be people's warped perceptions of Judaism and Israel. He plans to make Aliyah and join the IDF after finishing his bachelors degree. The reason he is so excited to do IST for the second time (besides the obvious reasons) is because he loves working with teenagers and trying to bring out the best in each of them as his madrichim did for him.
Ryan spent primary school studying at Mount Sinai College before moving to Moriah in year 7. He went on the IST trip when he was in year 10 and has been actively involved with the Jewish community ever since. When graduating Moriah Ryan went on the Bnei Akiva limmud program before moving to MTA where he studied in Yeshivat Har Etziyon. Ryan is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce and Law and has gained experience in Jewish education through teaching prayers at Moriah, his involvement in a number of counterpoint seminars as well as playing an active part in running the Dover Heights Shule Youth Minyan.
Nofar, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of New South Wales, graduated from Kesser Torah College as vice captain in 2014. After graduating, she was extremely fortunate to be able to go on on Bnei Akiva’s Israel program ‘Limmud’ which helped her both grow and strengthen her connection, to Judaism and the land of Israel. Nofar is an active member of the Jewish community, working as a youth director of Kadimah Shule and volunteering in Bnei Akiva. She considers herself extremely lucky to be able to take these kids whom she already has a strong connection with on IST where they will be able to grow and experience an incredible journey!
Adam Cohen says that he cannot wait to share this amazing IST experience with you all! He grew up in London, spent a gap year in the Old City of Jerusalem, then three years in a place called Birmingham (halfway between London and Manchester if that helps), before having an incredible year working in the Sydney Jewish Community. After spending the past year starting a new job in London, he couldn't stay away and spent the English summer (yes, that's a thing) back in Sydney for counterpoint. He had table tennis lessons (his family had no sporting genes so they decided to get really good at an irrelevant sport no-one cares about) and he is able to say the alphabet backwards in under three seconds, which isn't cooler then it sounds.
Daniel, commonly known as ‘Katzy’ is an ex Masada College Student who is currently studying a dual degree of a Bachelor of Commerce and Economics. After School Daniel went on a gap year to Israel for 10 months with Bnei Akiva on ‘Limmud’. Since being back, Daniel has joined the Informal Jewish education team at Masada. Daniel is outgoing and enthusiastic, always looking for a way to have fun. Whilst he can be quite crazy and loud at times, Daniel is also one of the most kind-hearted, warm people you will be lucky enough to meet. He is excited to share his passion of Judaism with the year 10 students over this amazing life changing journey.
Doron graduated from Masada College in 2013 and then spent a year on a Bnei Akiva program in Israel. He is now involved in Bnei as a madrich and is studying engineering. He says he is looking forward to spending time with the kids on IST!
Jordan is a Moriah alumni who had the opportunity to participate in IST when he was in year 10. After graduating, he went on the Bnei Akiva program, 'Limmud'. Since returning he has been actively involved in various community organisations like Hatzolah, Bnei Akiva and the Dover Heights youth minyan and is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Co-op). Jordan can't wait to be a madrich on IST this year and embark on this passage through the collective history of our people to the discovery of the kid's Jewish identity.