Who We Are
Board of Directors
|Vice President||Judith Manelis|
|President Emeritus||Jack Zeller|
|Rabbi Steve Leon|
Honorary Board Members
|Programming and Development Associate||John Cape|
Additional Kulanu Activists
A professional volunteer, serves as both president and treasurer of Kulanu. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Yale University Law School, Harriet has led community programs in low income neighborhoods and Jewish communities since the 1960’s. She has served as a staff leader and consultant for non-profit community organizations in areas of education, child care, health, and anti-poverty. Her work has involved funding, program development, finance, planning, and parent involvement in schools. Harriet was a founder of the Heschel School in New York City and is a leader in her synagogue. Among her areas of specialization are projects devoted to nonprofit accountability and “cyber-accountability.”
Is a graduate of Simmons College in Boston, MA and has a Masters degree in English and American literature from the University of California at Berkeley and a MSW in social work from Hunter College in New York City. Judy had a long career in Jewish communal service serving as Executive Director of Communications for both national UJA and UJA-Federation, and as National Executive Director of Hadassah. After completing her social work training, she worked in geriatrics for several years. More recently, she directed adult programming for the JCC in Manhattan and coordinated the Jewish multicultural programming for the center. Her last full time position was Program Director of SHARE: Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer. Currently, Judy works as a free-lance writer, editor and grant evaluator. In 2009 she took on the role of Kulanu's newsletter editor.
Is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and earned a Ph.D in sociology from Boston University. She did post doctoral work in human development at Harvard University. Barbara has served as a researcher in gerontology at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Public Health. She has written extensively on lifestyles, attitudes and experiences of mature Americans. Barbara is a consultant for the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University where she has edited two collections of essays from Jewish women around the world.
Founder and president emeritus of Kulanu, is a clinical pathologist and a Jewish activist. He is a graduate of Columbia College, New York Medical College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, all located in New York City. Jack’s activism began when he served as a board member for American Association for Ethiopian Jews. After Operation Solomon, which air lifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1991, Jack and his wife Dr. Diane Zeller, a specialist in African history, decided to take on the broader issue of dispersed and isolated Jewish communities. After working with an Israel-based organization called Amishav, Jack founded Kulanu, serving as its president for 14 years.
Additional Board Members
Has a dual BA degree in public administration and psychology from Kean University in Union, New Jersey and a BS in nursing from Drexel University in Philadelphia. In addition, he earned a M.Ed in adult education from Widener University in Chester, PA. Matt currently works part-time as a staff nurse at a major university hospital, working on the mixed medical oncology and bone marrow transplant unit. He also stays home full time with his two children. His favorite color is green and favorite food is warm, soft, cookies.
Rabbi Steve Leon
Is the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Zion, El Paso, Texas. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and received his ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion, where he served as Dean from 1974-86. Steve is a lecturer at the University of Texas El Paso, and serves on the Board of the El Paso Holocaust Museum and the Bat Zion Learning Center in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Steve has been involved in teaching and outreach to the Anousim (Crypto Jews) for the past 22 years. In addition to hosting several conferences on the Anousim, he has lectured widely on the subject, most recently at a joint meeting of the Texas and New Mexico Jewish Historical Societies. In 2008, Rabbi Leon led a B’nai Anousim (descendants of Crypto Jews) tour to Israel. He hopes one day to establish a B’nai Anousim learning center in El Paso.
Peter Persoff is a research engineer with a BE in chemical engineering from Cooper Union in New York City and a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Peter worked for many years at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a researcher and more recently as a contractor for the Yucca Mountain Project in Las Vegas. In 2005 he participated in a working mission to the Abayudaya community in Uganda and returned in 2008 as a Kulanu volunteer to help students prepare for their examinations in mathematics. Since then he has continued to advise the community on issues of sanitation and how to use spreadsheets to prepare their budgets.
Received her BA degree from the University of Calgary, Alberta and an MSW from the University of British Columbia. Her career has included teaching in Kenya and the Canadian Arctic, social planning for the elderly and persons with disabilities, teaching undergraduate and graduate social work students, and developing many not-for-profit, community based agencies and services. Andria served as Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia from 1974-81, and Executive Director of Ontario March of Dimes from 1981 to 1999. Today she serves as President and CEO of Ontario March of Dimes/March of Dimes Canada. In addition to her professional work, Andria is an active member of her synagogue, and is chair of its very active Jewish Diversity Committee.
Jacob Steinberg, Kulanu Coordinator for Suriname, is an independent risk management consultant in Toronto. He is a graduate of Ben Gurion University in Israel with a major in industrial engineering and has an MBA from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Prior to his consulting career, Jacob worked for Nortel Networks, a Canadian telecommunications equipment company in a variety of positions including internal auditor, senior manager, director of customer finance and director of equity investments. Jacob discovered the isolated Jewish community of Suriname on a business trip and made a personal commitment to help them reconnect to Judaism and to the worldwide Jewish community. Kulanu President Emeritus Jack Zeller helped to jump start Jacob’s work with a grant to facilitate the introduction of a Hebrew and Jewish education program there. In addition to other activities, Jacob is an active member of his synagogue.
Rabbi Bonita Nathan Sussman
Is a graduate of Stern College and has a Masters degree in religion from Columbia University and a second Masters in Jewish education from The Jewish Theological Seminary, all in NYC. She received her rabbinic ordination through Aleph. Bonita works both as a geriatric care manager for the JCC of Staten Island and as a professional volunteer. As an active member of the Staten Island Jewish community, Bonita currently serves as editor of the Jewish Voice of Staten Island and co-chair of the borough’s Israel Bonds Campaign. She is also active in interfaith dialogue. For Kulanu, Bonita serves as Kulanu’s coordinator for the Bene Ephraim community in India with her husband Rabbi Gerald Sussman. Their most recent assignment was in Cameroon where they taught and consulted with the newly emerging Beth Yeshourun Jewish community
Honorary Board Members
Is a board-certified medical oncologist. Aron completed his pre-med degree at Northwestern University and his medical studies at Northwestern University School of Medicine. He also has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from Catholic University of America. Aron and Karen Primack lived in Uganda where Aron did cancer research for the U.S National Cancer Institute and in Niger where he was the medical administrator of the U.S. Peace Corps covering Niger, Mali, Chad and Mauritania. At present, Aron is a program officer overseeing grants to developing countries for the Fogarty International Center at the National Institute of Health. He also teaches medical anthropology at the US Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences at the US Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Aron formerly served as the vice president of Kulanu.
Has a degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Boston College Law School. As an attorney, she worked at the US Commission on Civil Rights and the Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect at the Washington, D.C. Superior Court. Karen was editor of the organization’s quarterly newsletter from 1994 until 2009. She is also the editor of Kulanu’s two books: Jews in Places Your Never Thought Of(1998) and Under One Canopy: Readings in Jewish Diversity(2003). She served as executive producer of “Shalom Everybody Everywhere” the music of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda released in 1997. Karen retired from the law in 1990 when she and her husband moved to Niger.
Is Kulanu’s coordinator of programming and development. He received his BA from Cornell University in government and religious studies. In addition to his work for Kulanu, John also serves as program coordinator for FASPE (Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. John began his career in youth education, serving for one year as a WorldTeach English teacher in Costa Rica, and then worked for 18 months as lead instructor for Outward Bound working with underserved youth in the Southeast U.S. He spent Summer 2009 as a counselor and group challenge facilitator at Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine. John joined Kulanu in Summer 2010.
Additional Kulanu Activists
Newsletter layout editor as well as the creator of the Kaifeng Jewish community slideshow, graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a B.A. in political science, studied at the Free University of Berlin, and received her Ph.D. from the Cornell University Department of Government. Over the years she has taught politics, philosophy, and world civilizations at a number of institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. She continues to offer seminars in the Honors College of the University at Buffalo, most recently on "Beauty and the Brain: the Artistic Temperament." Enid also is a professional photographer, and in 2008 published JoAnn Falletta: Lyrical Images, a volume honoring the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. As an active member of her local Jewish community, Enid works hard to promote Muslim-Jewish understanding and joint endeavors in the greater Buffalo area.
Coordinator for the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda, is a professional musician and composer known for her command of world music repertoire and her dynamic presentations in communities throughout the United States and abroad. Laura began her involvement with Kulanu in 2002. Since assuming the position of regional coordinator for the Abayudaya, she has used her creativity and boundless energy to develop many successful programs. To highlight two: a tourism program combines visits to the Ugandan Jewish community with sightseeing in the country’s national parks; her award-winning, free trade coffee program organized with Christian, Jewish and Muslim Ugandans is unique in Africa.