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We’re building a new model of Jewish belonging. Meet our dedicated clergy, educators, and professional staff.

Rabbi Deena Silverstone

Rabbi and Director of Jewish Life

Where to begin?! I love everything about JCP! This community is passionate, creative, warm, and engaged. I admire how our leadership and community members are deeply committed to both ancient Jewish tradition and 21st-century innovation.
I love Simchat Torah, the holiday where we finish reading the Torah and then start all over again! When we celebrate and dance with the Torah, I am reminded of the power of our foundational, eternal story, from which we derive new wisdom each time we read it.

Rabbi Deena is passionate about building community, creating connections between ancient Jewish wisdom and modern life, and accompanying people on their journeys.

A native New Yorker, Deena began working at JCP as an HSP teacher in 2016, and she has been part of the community ever since. Deena has served as the JCP’s Rabbi since her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May 2020. Throughout her rabbinic training, Deena participated in a number of fellowships, including the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics, the NIF Froman Fellowship for Social Justice, the AIPAC Israel Leffell Fellowship, the Tisch Fellowship, and the Be Wise Fellowship. Deena lived in Jerusalem for a year, during which time she participated in the Rabbinical Student Seminar at the Hartman Institute and volunteered as an intern and teacher at Kehillat Kodesh V’Chol in Holon. Deena attended Yale University. She graduated cum laude in 2015 with a B.A. in cognitive science and religious studies with honors in both majors.

In her free time, Deena loves to swim, read, and take long walks through different neighborhoods in NYC.

Jacob Leizman

Student Rabbi

What random interest do you have?
I love playing chess — and I’m always looking for new people to play with online!
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Yom Kippur because it requires a lot of us physically and gives us a lot spiritually in return.

Jacob Leizman is thrilled to continue at JCP in a greater capacity this year as a Student Rabbi. He is a 3rd year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR, located right by Washington Square Park. In addition to tutoring at JCP last year, Jacob was a full-time educator at Central Synagogue prior to beginning HUC-JIR and has had a variety of teaching and prayer leadership experiences that have spanned from New York, to South Carolina, to Israel, and even a cross-country bus across the US. Jacob has spent most of his life around New York — he grew up New Rochelle and graduated from Hunter College in 2015 — and is excited to spend more time downtown in Tribeca. Jacob is passionate about making Judaism an accessible and authentic presence that can fulfill, ground, and inspire us. In his downtime, Jacob loves playing basketball and guitar, and spending time with friends and family.

Cantor Galeet Dardashti


What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
It’s a tough one but I think my favorite Jewish holiday is Sukkot since we put up a sukkah every year. We usually have a big sukkah bash. One of the highlights is the annual art show we put up in our sukkah featuring the works of my nine year old!
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
When I was a kid I performed music with my parents and two sisters all over North America. We were often billed as “A Dash of Dardashti!” We were like the Jewish Von-Trapps...

Cantor, scholar, and vocalist/composer Galeet Dardashti has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative performers of Jewish music today beginning with her work as founder/leader of the renowned all-woman ensemble, Divahn and through her multi-disciplinary commissions, The Naming and Monajat. Time Out New York described Dardashti’s work as “urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic,” and The Huffington Post called it “heart-stopping.”

Dardashti holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology specializing in contemporary Israeli cultural politics and is currently writing a book on the Mizrahi piyyut (sacred song) phenomenon in Israel. Dardashti has held postdoctoral fellowships at NYU and Rutgers and most recently was Assistant Professor of Jewish Music/Musician in Residence at JTS. She will be an Affiliated Fellow at University of Pennsylvania’s Katz Center in 2020/21.

Since studying with her father, Hazzan Farid Dardashti, she has accumulated over twenty years of professional cantorial experience with Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and experimental communities.

Rachel Mintz

Director of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
I love the Union Square Greenmarket and Brooklyn Flea.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I have four siblings but I'm also an only child, and I lived in Argentina for seven months.

Rachel Mintz is the director of JCP’s Early Childhood Center. Rachel is no stranger to our parents, children and staff, having served for the two years as our Child Development Specialist & Parent Educator. Prior to this role, she was a familiar face in our classrooms where she served as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) for several years.

Raised in New York, Rachel received a master’s degree in social work at New York University and a master’s in early childhood general and special education from Hunter College. She began her work in early childhood education as a classroom teacher at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue Preschool. Rachel serves as an adjunct professor at Hunter College, teaching graduate level courses in curriculum development and early childhood education, and supervises student teachers in the field. She has also worked extensively advocating for young children through the New York City Department of Education.

Denise Kohn

Associate Director of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
I love to take runs and spend time in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I once did a 250 foot bungee jump into a gorge in Zimbabwe. I once hitchhiked on the back of a mango truck from the northern coast of Honduras to the southern coast, eating mangos the whole way.

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Denise Kohn received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University, and then went on to live and work in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer. She received a Master’s in Public Health degree from Columbia University and worked in the non-profit administrative world for many years. Denise made a career change and taught at Plymouth Church School while receiving her Master’s in Early Childhood Education degree from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education. She is also actively involved in the Jewish world, having most recently served as the Chair of the Beginning Jewish Families Task Force and as a Cabinet member of the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal of the UJA-Federation of New York. Denise lives in Brooklyn with her husband Adam and her three children.

Marisa Goldsmith

Director of Admissions and Enrichment Programs Coordinator

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
I've been a vegetarian my whole life and my favorite vegetarian restaurant that I have frequented for the last 20 years is Hangawi. I’m lucky to live near and work in the best city with many amazing vegetarian options.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I love game shows! I've been on two and am in the process of trying out for another one.

Marisa has worked as a teacher and administrator in both public and private schools in New York for the past seventeen years. After graduating with her M.S. Ed from Bank Street College, she worked at the Children’s Aid Society in Greenwich Village as the Director of Admissions and Education. On her free time, Marisa plays softball in a “momball” league out in Long Island, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Sarah Johnson

Administrative Director of the Early Childhood Center

What's one of your favorite things to do in the city?
I love watching movies at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn.
What random interests do you have?
Singing has always been a great passion of mine, but I've also started to realize my dream of learning to play the electric guitar!

Sarah is a Texas native who moved to New York in 2012. She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She also attended St. John’s College in New Mexico for its Great Books program. Sarah has worked since 2010 in human resources and administrative positions in arts organizations. She enjoys concerts, movies, and her Brooklyn neighborhood.

Allison Kreisler

Child Development Specialist of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
NYC street fairs! I love to walk around a street fair on a beautiful spring or fall day in NYC.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Hanukkah. It falls during a time of the year where you get to spend time with family and friends. I love to see the excitement in my children’s eyes as we light the candles each night.

Allison Kreisler received her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After college, Allison came back to New York, where she was born and raised, to earn a Masters of Arts degree, in Speech Language Pathology, at NYU. Allison has worked with preschool and school age children for over twenty years. She has extensive experience collaborating with a wide range of teachers, doctors, and therapists of various disciplines, making her an expert in child development. Allison strongly believes that children are the most successful learners when there is a strong home-school connection. She understands the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in which parent education, about all areas of development, plays an integral role in a child’s success in school. Allison has a private practice where she provides speech-language therapy in New York City and Long Island. Allison lives in Port Washington, NY with her husband and two children.

Roxana Reid

Ongoing Schools Specialist of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
I love my neighborhood, the Lower East Side, and having a wonderful meal outside under the twinkling lights of Avenue A is a favorite — not to mention the bagels from Kossair’s Bagels & Bialys.
What do you love about JCP?
I love the JCP’s community. It is engaged, energetic and always mission driven.

Roxana Reid is JCP’s ongoing schools specialist, enhancing our ongoing school counseling services and adding to the care and attention of our families during the placement process. Roxana has more than twenty years of experience in counseling and helping to place families in ongoing schools.

Daphne Logan

Director of Hebrew School Project

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
One of my favorite things to do in the city is to feed the turtles at Hernshead in Central Park.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
My favorite Jewish holiday is Hanukkah because of the memories I have of the joy that it would bring during winter exams in college.

Daphne brings to JCP a diverse range of experience working in the Jewish nonprofit world. She attended the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and graduated in 2019 with BAs in Urban Studies and in Talmud. She also spent a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she was a Nachshon Project Fellow. Daphne is passionate about empowering Jews of all backgrounds to love and take ownership over their Jewish lives.

Joel Levy

Executive Director

As a Senior Foreign Service Officer, my rank was the equivalent of a Brigadier General.
The people who make up this amazing community—board members, children in our various educational programs and their parents, and our excellent staff. It is a pleasure and honor to be involved in this community and to be working together with so many talented and dedicated people to ensure Jewish continuity.

Joel has been active in Jewish communal affairs for many years. Following a full career as a Foreign Service Officer, with assignments in Korea, Romania, Tanzania, Malta and Berlin (where he headed the American Embassy Office), he was Founding Chairman for Germany of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, New York Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League and President and CEO of the Center for Jewish History. Joel serves on the board of Youth Bridge New York, a JCRC high school leadership program through the lens of diversity, and is actively engaged in Park Slope Jewish Center. Joel is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and Columbia University and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Joel and Carol, their adult children, and grandchildren all live within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn.

Jeffrey Alton

Director of Finance

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
I enjoy strolling or running along the Hudson on the Upper West Side. It is the combination of the beauty of the river and at the same time feeling the bustle of the city that makes me love being a New Yorker.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I grew up in Arkansas.

Jeffrey Alton brings a broad financial background to JCP, including experience in non-profit finance, commercial banking and investments. He has worked both as a service provider and customer in many areas, sharpening his skills in budgeting, project analysis and retirement plans. His work experience includes positions of increasing responsibility at financial institutions including international banks and private investment firms. Jeffrey is a Chartered Financial Analyst and a member of the New York Society of Securities Analysts. He received a BBA from the University of Notre Dame. Jeffrey lives in New York City with his wife and three daughters.

Edward Kelly

Director of Facilities

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
Have a beer and watch the Mets from Shea Bridge in Citi Field.

Edward Kelly is a Facilities Manager whose extensive experience has included years at the 42nd Street branch of NY Public Library, the three building Google campus and the Sherry Netherland hotel. Most recently, he served for a year as Correspondence Manager at National Debt Relief performing duties as varied as code writing and creating client introductory documents. He holds an undergraduate degree in Film Production from Hunter College.

Ray Antonison

Marketing & Communications Manager

The vibrancy of everyone here.
I love the community where I live, and getting to know the people around me makes a difference. Just going to the nearby park and talking to the people in my neighborhood about where we live and what we love about it makes me appreciate my home so much more.

Ray Antonison is a video creator and visual artist from New York whose background includes writing, social media management, and media creation. They hold a Bachelor of the Arts in Playwriting & Screenwriting and Journalism from SUNY Purchase, and after graduation, began teaching in Brooklyn. As a videographer and editor, Ray has worked with non-profits and on brand launches, shot content for magazines, and edited videos for other content creators. As a disabled content creator, much of their work is centered around community-led representation. A self-taught animator, Ray is always experimenting with new forms of artmaking, and works often with collage and paint as well as pen and pencil. Ray’s background in childhood education made JCP a natural fit. 

Yaffa Muhlbaum

Jewish Life Coordinator

I love to knit, crochet, embroider, and play ukulele and guitar.
Shavuot! A celebration of the Torah and an excuse to eat dairy--what more could you want!

Yaffa Muhlbaum (she/her) is the Jewish Life Coordinator at JCP. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and relocated to New York for undergrad. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in the Hebrew Bible from the Jewish Theological Seminary. During her time at Columbia she served as the President of Pizmon, a Jewish 501c3 non-profit and music group. At the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Yaffa served as a Director of The Actualization Project, an engagement initiative designed to bring Hillel programming to underserved members of the Columbia community. She also served as the Ruderman Disability Inclusion Ambassador where she created more accessible and inclusive programming and advocated for students of all abilities. Yaffa participated in the Kraft Global Fellowship where she traveled to Chile as part of an interfaith learning exchange. She has also participated in the UJA Jewish Changemakers Fellowship, a program dedicated to the development of global Jewish leadership.

Carly Siegler

Data Administrative Specialist

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
My absolute favorite place in the city is Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City. I previously worked for an incredible company called Battery Dance that hosts an annual festival at Wagner Park every August. Dancers from all over the globe perform on an outdoor stage. It's a small park that holds a lot of big memories for me and also has the most breathtaking views of the Hudson and the Statue of Liberty.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Passover. The story of Exodus is extremely powerful and so resonant in the face of a world that remains unjust and inequitable for so many. For me, Passover serves as a reminder that Jewish tradition instills a real responsibility to advocate for my fellow humans. I also happen to really love matzah.

Carly Siegler was born and raised outside of Philadelphia. She is a 2013 graduate of Ursinus college, with a B.A. in Media and Communications Studies & Theater, and a Minor in French. Carly’s professional background is in the non-profit sector, and she has had the pleasure of serving various arts organizations in both Philadelphia and her adopted home of New York City, where she is currently pursuing a degree in public interest law.

Kalina Venugopal

Executive Assistant

I love that JCP is a really tight-knit family.
I love sharks! Shark Week is my favorite.>

Kalina Venugopal (she/her) grew up in California and received her B.A in Theater Arts from Santa Clara University in 2017. Kalina loves being a part of the JCP team, and in her spare time trains for marathons, eats tons of pasta, and is a proud volunteer for the non profit arts organization Film Fatales—which advocates for marginalized directors of all genders for television/film.

Meet the Board