Aryeh Ben David, Founder and Director
Aryeh Ben David founded Ayeka: Center for Soulful Education, in 2006. This initiative came after almost 20 years of work in formal and experiential Jewish educational settings. Aryeh taught at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem since 1987, and was a member of the Senior Faculty and Director of Spiritual Education. He also served as the Rabbinical Educational Consultant for Hillel International from 2004 – 2007, and spearheaded their spiritual initiative throughout the United States. Previously Aryeh served as the Educational Director of Livnot U’Lehibanot from 1991-96. He has been involved in the training of staff of countless organizations and lectures internationally. He is the author of “Around the Shabbat Table, a Guide to Meaningful Shabbat Conversations” (2000) and “The Godfile, Ten Approaches To Personalizing Prayer” (2007).
After many years in the classroom, teaching subjects including Torah, Talmud, prayer, ethics, and interpersonal relationships, Aryeh sought a way to enable students to more deeply engage with Judaism and to explore their spiritual identities. This led to the development of Soulful Education and the creation of Ayeka.
Aryeh grew up outside of NYC and studied psychology at Vassar College. He came to Israel in 1978, studied at the Meretz yeshiva in Mevasseret Zion and received Rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Rabbinate. He served in the Israeli army and now lives in Efrat, Gush Etzion, with his wife Sandra and their six children.
Yehoshua Looks, COO
After twenty years of senior management business experience in the United States, Yehoshua, his wife Debbie, and their three children, Moshe, Elka and Zoe, made aliya in 1996. Since arriving in Israel, he has devoted his energies to working with non-profit organizations, helping them realize their potential through application of fundamental management principles. He also loves teaching, writing, and with Debbie, hosting guests for Shabbat. Yehoshua joined Ayeka in 2013 after participating in a Soulful Education cohort in Jerusalem. Yehoshua and Debbie, along with their adopted Jerusalem street cats, live in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem. He is a regular contributor to the HaAretz Rabbis’ Round Table.
Leora Niderberg, Creative Director
Leora joined Ayeka from community/non-profit organizing and informal Jewish education. Prior to Ayeka, she served as National Programming Director of Bnei Akiva of the US & Canada (2012-2013). She earned her BA in Studio Art, Political Science, and Talmud at Yeshiva University in 2013. Leora grew up in New York and is now living in Jerusalem, studying architecture and urban design at the Bezalel Academy for Arts & Design. She hopes to one day merge her interest in Jewish education, community leadership, architecture, and cities by creating “safe spaces” for Jewish study and worship.
Shira Stein, Program and Social Media Coordinator
After moving to Israel in 2009, Shira completed a degree in Educational Counseling and Tanach studies from Bar Ilan University. Shira brings an extensive background in non-profit management, Jewish education and learning to Ayeka.
Born and raised in Maryland, Shira was an active youth leader, working for numerous Jewish education organizations over the years. She brings that passion with her, along with her more recent experience in non-profit management,administration, and public relations. Shira lives with her husband and two daughters in Maale Adumim.
Ilana Sinclair, PR & Marketing Director
Ilana directs Ayeka’s PR and marketing activities. Having made aliya in 2010, Ilana now works with clients in the Israeli non-profit community as a consultant on issues of marketing, branding, and social media presence. Prior to making aliya, Ilana served the Jewish community of Los Angeles as a strategic consultant and fundraiser at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Free Loan Association, PLP (Professional Leaders Project) and for Rhoda Weisman Consulting. Ilana earned her BA in Political Science from University of California, San Diego, and her MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. She lives with her husband and four kids in Modi’in, Israel.
Dasee Berkowitz, Director, Becoming a Soulful Parent
Dasee has worked in informal education for the past 20 years for Jewish communities in the US and overseas in Israel, India and the FSU. She has served many national agencies including AJJDC, Makom and JCCA developing educational curricula for different age cohorts. She has applied her educational experience to synagogue settings as well, developing early childhood and family engagement programs at Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor New York and now at the flagship Kehillah Eretz Yisraelit – Kehillat Zion in Jerusalem. Dasee is a frequent contributor to Kveller.com, JTA, Forward.com, Haaretz and Times of Israel. Much of her writing focuses on developing parenting as a spiritual practice and how to make Jewish life relevant and accessible to young families. Dasee is currently working as an educational consultant in Jerusalem where she lives with her husband and three children.
Mali Brofsky, Senior Ayeka Educator
Mali Brofsky is a senior faculty member and director of the Second Year program at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim. She has over twenty years of experience at post high school seminaries, both within and beyond the frontal classroom, in various capacities concerned with the educational, emotional, and social well being of the students. She lectures and has held a number of academic and administrative positions at various institutions, including the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Midreshet Lindenbaum and Migdal Oz. Mali has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Jewish Studies, a Masters in Jewish Philosophy from Bernard Revel Graduate School, as well as an MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She currently runs a clinical practice in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, and has published and lectured extensively on Jewish thought and education, on issues of emotional health, and on the connection between these fields. Mali lives in Alon Shvut with her husband David and their four children.