The Jerusalem U Team

Meet our team of educators finding joy in the challenges of Israel education.


Alan Goldman

Alan Goldman has dedicated his life to Jewish education, which combines his passion for Zionism and his love for traditional Jewish learning. He believes that true learning should foster an understanding of self and lead to positive action. His particular approach combines formal academic studies with informal and field education.  For close to 30 years Alan has developed his expertise as a well respected educator in long term Israel programs, serving on the faculties of many Gap Year programs and Israel education organizations. He has also developed a particular specialty as a senior educator for Poland Journeys. Alan made aliyah at the end of the 1980’s and lives on a Moshav with his wife and kids in the most beautiful part of Israel, Emek HaElah (The Elah Valley).

Why are you passionate about Israel education?
The establishment of the State of Israel, in addition to  being an unprecedented historical event, has had profound effects on modern Jewish identity. I love discussing, debating and generally trying to figure it all out with my students.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Israel educators today?
Understanding the importance of a particularist identity in a world which emphasizes universalistic identity.  In other words addressing the following question: Why is it important to belong to and identify with a particular people with a mission?

 

What are the necessary components of outstanding Israel education?
Knowledge, openness, and passion

Benji Davis

Benji made Aliyah in 2009 to Israel from Los Angeles, CA after earning his BA in Middle East Studies and History at the George Washington University. Upon enlisting into the IDF, he created his own sub-sector in the IDF draft office to assist the enlistment and placement of Lone Soldiers. He likes to call his service a “start-up army experience.” Additionally during his army service, he founded the Tel Aviv Moishe House and the Tel Aviv Egal Minyan. Upon completing his army service, Benji began working as an Israel Educator to visiting groups to Israel focusing on the topic of the geopolitics of Israel & the Middle East. He joined Jerusalem U in 2015 as an Israel Educator teaching the Israel course in numerous gap years. Benji currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife Rachel and holds an MA in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University.

Why are you passionate about Israel education?
I have been involved in Israel Education my entire adult life. My passion comes from the students and participants I meet who have described how they connect, how they feel, and how they engage with Israel. What I love about Israel Education is the opportunities to discuss, question, debate and learn from so many individuals that engage Israel in so many ways. My passion stems from my personal life long commitment to help students come to their own conclusions about Israel through an engaged and honest educational journey.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Israel educators today?
Instead of an answer, I have a follow up question. How can students be inspired and find meaning in the return of an exiled people to its homeland while engaging with the complexities that comes with the establishment of a modern nation state?

 

What are the necessary components of outstanding Israel education?
First and foremost, it is ideal for educators and students to approach their educational journey with an open mind to learn and to engage with the multi-faceted layers of Israel, and the nuances and complexities of the modern state that exists today. If there’s an open mind on how to teach and how to learn, the educational impact may see no bounds.

Lior Krinsky

Lior Krinsky has been a university administrator and Israel and Jewish educator for over a decade. As Vice President of Israel Education Content, Lior works to develop dynamic, film-based Israel education resources focused on authentic story-telling and grounded in history, context, and primary source materials. She holds a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University, MAs in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University, and was a Ginsburg Scholar at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Lior has focused her academic and professional work on the development of Jewish identity in young adults, the American-Israel relationship, and Palestinian narrative and nationalism.

When not being bossed by her kids and dog, you can find her following Bruce Springsteen up and down the Eastern Seaboard, experimenting in the kitchen, and prepping for the zombie apocalypse.

Why are you passionate about Israel education?
The modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of 2000 years of dreams; it’s vital for all Jews to realize they have a stake in how our story unfolds in our homeland.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Israel educators today?
There are so many! One of the key ones is embracing teaching about the reality of Israel and Israeli society, “warts and all,” so that our high school students have a more authentic, adult understanding and relationship with Israel.

 

What are the necessary components of outstanding Israel education?
Fearlessness, understanding of your audience, and authenticity

Matthew Lipman

Matthew Lipman’s “ani maamin” (“my belief”) of education is to challenge his students—To challenge their perceptions, to challenge their understanding and to challenge themselves. By understanding that every story has multiple shades of grey, students are able to gain the knowledge to form and to articulate their own opinions in a convincing and lucid manner. Matthew loves feeding his family and friends an eclectic range of cuisines and can be found running through the streets of Modi’in early in the morning or late at night.

Why are you passionate about Israel education?
I love Israel and I love the role education can play in deepening students’ intellectual connections to our homeland. Developing student’s abilities to express their connection to Israel can only strengthen their connection further.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Israel educators today?
The maxim “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is the biggest challenge for us as Israel educators. Students often think a google search or reading a few Facebook posts is enough to give them the knowledge they need to be able to understand incredibly complex situations.There is no simple substitute for high quality education.

 

What are the necessary components of outstanding Israel education?
Israel education has to be relevant, honest and engaging. Relevant means knowing the need to differentiate that for example how you teach students spending a year in Israel is very different from how you would teach someone who has never been to Israel. Honest  means not just portraying all of the incredible advance and achievements of Israel but also to present the many societal and political challenges Israel faces. Engaging means knowing how to maintain students’ interest in the topic.

Michael Unterberg

Michael Unterberg thinks being Senior Israel Educator is just about the best job in the world. That’s probably because it combines using his decades of Jewish education experience, tech geekiness and passion for Israel and Zionism together. Mike believes that nothing can inspire Jewish growth, creativity and identity like learning about Israel. Hailing from Brooklyn, and having raised his five kids in Cleveland, Mike loves a good New York discussion in a Mid-Western polite way. He’s a very proud father and grandfather, and addicted to curiosity. Sadly, his mini-Schnauzer couldn’t care less about any of this.

Why are you passionate about Israel education?
I believe that the State of Israel in an unprecedented event in the history of human civilization, that should fascinate everyone, but Jews in particular should be passionately engaged in their national renaissance.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Israel educators today?
Many people are confused about Zionism and its claims about Jewish identity. Educators must be focused on explaining our shared national existence, mission and destiny.

 

What are the necessary components of outstanding Israel education?
Passion, perspective and pluralism.

About Jerusalem U

Jerusalem U engages millions of people across the globe with our award-winning films; educates young Jews by providing exceptional educational programs taught by world renowned educators including, former Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Professor Bernard Lewis, and Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar; and empowers the best and brightest young people to advocate for Israel and to develop groundbreaking solutions for the needs of the Jewish People. Jerusalem U’s educational courses and feature films are available for college students, high schools, adult education and organizations.

Jerusalem U engages, educates and empowers young Jews to connect with Israel, Judaism and the Jewish people with award-winning feature documentary films, short films, film-based and immersive educational experiences, and Israel education thought-leadership.