Presenters

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Over 60 accomplished, exciting and diverse presenters will be part of Limmud FSU San Francisco.

This page will be continuously updated as we confirm the speakers leading up to the event.

Anna Abramzon

Anna Abramzon

Artist, Entrepreneur, Lecturer

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 Anna Abramzon was born in Kiev, Ukraine, with a paintbrush in her hand. She immigrated to the United States in 1989.  After graduating from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Anna fulfilled her dream of moving to Israel. It was in Jerusalem, that she painted her first ketubah (Jewish premarital contract) for her own wedding. Since then Anna has built a business creating art for life cycle events. Anna’s work has been shown in galleries all over the United States and Israel. She is also a recurring guest lecturer at Rice University, as well as JCCs nationwide. 
Jars Balan

Jars Balan

Author, Editor, Literary Translator

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Jars Balan is an author, editor, and literary translator who has published numerous scholarly and journalistic works on Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian themes. Since 2000 he has served as the Coordinator of the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Center, for the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His areas of academic specialty are Ukrainian-Canadian history, literature and theatre. In this capacity, over the years he has written works on a number of Ukrainian-Jewish themes, including an essay on the anarchist Makhnovist movement and most recently an article for the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE) about the friendship between the renowned painter William Kurelek and his art dealer, Av Isaacs.  
Sandra Cahn

Sandra Cahn

Limmud FSU Co-Founder, Philanthropist

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Sandra was instrumental in enlisting crucial support for organization’s creation and has been active in promoting Limmud FSU activities and in its fundraising efforts ever since. She has long been involved in fundraising for major organizations: co-founded UJA-Federation of New York’s Women’s Executive Circle. She also serves on the boards of the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, UJA-Federation of New York and is a past president of the Queens College Hillel. 
Yishai Fleisher

Yishai Fleisher

Hebron Community Spokesperson

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Yishai Fleisher is the International Spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron. Yishai is also an Israeli broadcaster and a frequent columnist for major news websites and media outlets. He holds a JD from Cardozo Law and rabbinic ordination from Kollel Agudat Achim. Yishai is a paratrooper in the IDF reserves and lives with his family on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem.
Asya Gribov

Asya Gribov

Educator, Arts Administrator

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Freelance community organizer and creative educator, Asya splits her time between leading workshops at various museums, running experiential Jewish education programs, and working with the Russian-speaking Jewish community in North America. She spends her free time at galleries, museums, and artist studios delving deep into the art scene wherever she is.
Oleg Ivanov

Oleg Ivanov

Counter-Delegitimization Expert, Writer

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Oleg Ivanov is the Jewish Diplomatic Corps Coordinator and Digital Campaign Manager at the World Jewish Congress. Freelance writer. Pursuing PhD in Comparative Literature at UCLA. Earned M.A.’s in Comparative Literature at UCLA and in Theatre History and Criticism at CUNY Brooklyn. Also worked in theater as a dramaturge, performer, producer, and translator.
Benzion Klatzko

Benzion Klatzko

Rabbi, Social Entrepreneur

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One of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” per Jewish Forward magazine. Founder of Shabbat.com and many other Jewish social websites and apps. Jewish thought teacher to Hollywood producers, actors, directors. Formerly, campus rabbi at UCLA and congregation rabbi in New Jersey.
Grisha Kotlyar

Grisha Kotlyar

Chess Master, Social Entrepreneur

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 Grish Kotlyar came to USA in 1987 from the USSR, where he was a chess master and the champion of Moscow. After arriving in USA, he became the USA Amateur champion in 1988 and his current rating is still one of the top ones in California. He runs Chess Academy for kids. Grisha is also the main organizer of KSP, the biggest Russian Music and Arts Festival in USA, that draws more than 2,000 people attending it every year.
Oleg Kuvaev

Oleg Kuvaev

Artist, Designer, Animator

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Creator of famous Masyanya animated internet series, that originated in 2001. St. Petersburg native, Kuvaev has been a painter and sculptor during 1987-1997 period, but since 1997 he turned to computer graphics, working as designer and developer at some studios. In 2001, he founded Mult.ru studio and has fought for copyrights on his own creation – Masyanya brand. In 2006, Kuvaev moved to Israel.
Jonathan Medved

Jonathan Medved

Entrepreneur, Investor

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Founder and CEO of OurCrowd, the leading Global Equity Crowdfunding platform for accredited investors and angels. Serial entrepreneur and “One of Israel’s leading high tech venture capitalists” according to the Washington Post. “Top 10 most influential Americans who have impacted Israel” according to NY Times. One of the “50 most influential Jews” according to Jerusalem Post.
Wolf Moscovich

Wolf Moscovich

Historian

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Wolf Moskovich is Professor Emeritus and formerly Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His main fields of interest include Slavic studies (Ukrainian studies in particular), Jewish culture and history in Eastern and Central Europe (Yiddish studies in particular), interrelations between Jews and Christians, and languages and cultures in contact. He has been Visiting Professor at the universities of London, Oxford, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Rome, and Bratislava. He is editor-in-chief of the book series Jews and Slavs (volumes 1-25, Jerusalem) since 1993. He is President of the Israeli Committee of Slavists and a member of the International Committee of Slavists. Honours received include: Foreign Member of the National Academies of Sciences of Ukraine and Slovenia; and the V. Zhabotinsky Gold Medal of the Ukraine-Israel Friendship Society (Kyiv) for promoting mutual understanding among nations. He is a board member of Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.
Lori Palatnik

Lori Palatnik

Writer and Educator

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Lori Palatnik is a writer, Jewish educator, sought-after international speaker, who has appeared on television and radio, and is the author of several books. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Palatnik; and is a regular speaker on Capitol Hill. Lori is the Founding Director of The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, an international initiative that has brought thousands of women, and hundreds of men, to Israel each year from 19 different countries, on highly subsidized programs to inspire them with the beauty and wisdom of their heritage. She is the busy mother of five children.”
Alti Rodal

Alti Rodal

Historian, Writer, Advisor, Educator

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Alti Rodal is a historian, writer, former professor of Jewish history, and advisor to the Government of Canada. She is currently the Co-Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Initiative. Born in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) in western Ukraine, she received her early schooling in Israel, and was educated at McGill, Oxford and Hebrew universities in the fields of history, religion and literature. Her professional experience includes eight years of full-time teaching on aspects of medieval and modern Jewish history at universities in Montreal and Ottawa, and twenty-five years of senior advisory and management experience in government in Canada, including as Director of Research for the Commission of Inquiry on Nazi War Criminals in Canada.
Abby Stein

Abby Stein

Transgender Activist, Speaker

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Abby Stein is an American transgender activist, blogger, and speaker. She is the first openly transgender woman raised in a Hasidic community, and is a direct descendant of Hasidic Judaism’s founder the Baal Shem Tov. In 2015, she founded the first support group nationwide for trans people of Orthodox background.

 

Stein is also the first openly transgender woman to have been ordained by an Orthodox institution, having received her rabbinical degree in 2011, from an Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic school. To date, she is also the only female rabbi to have been ordained by an Ultra-Orthodox institution. However, she was ordained before coming out as transgender, and is not working as a rabbi as of 2016.

Tatiana Amirova

Tatiana Amirova

Award-winning Singer, Songwriter

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Odessa native. “Voice of Ukraine” contestant. Unique side of Tatiana’s versatile repertoire are Jewish songs, gently seasoned with Soul, Funk and Jazz, and her own lyrical compositions. Tatiana won her first music competition “Morning Star” at 3 years of age, in Ukraine. Later on – win at Hungarian festival “Vesprem games” in 2003, in 2004, she conquered an Italian contest “the Golden Vine,” followed by contests in Paris and Cannes. Her shows envelop with a wave of charm, charisma and natural magnetism.
David Blumberg

David Blumberg

Venture Capitalist, Philanthropist

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 David is the founder and managing partner of Blumberg Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund based in San Francisco. David is an authority on early stage investing with more than 30 years of experience. He founded Blumberg Capital in the early 1990s and launched its first venture-backed fund in 2001. Prior to Blumberg Capital, David managed international investments with the Bronfman Family Office, Adler & Co, APAX Partners and at T. Rowe Price. He also launched business development for Check Point Software Technologies as one of its top four executives. David earned his A.B. in government, cum laude, from Harvard College and his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and INSEAD. David speaks French and is proficient in Hebrew and Spanish. David serves on the boards of Apester, CaseStack, Credorax, Deep Instinct, DoubleVerify, EarnUp, FeeX, Firmitas, Fortscale, IntSights, Kreditech, Namogoo, Trulioo, Wunder and Zooz. He also serves on the Board of The Lincoln Club of Northern California and is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.  
Josh Cerf

Josh Cerf

Non-Profit Development Officer

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 After working as a volunteer firefighter and EMT during college in upstate New York, Josh continued to work in public service professionally on a 911-contracted ambulance in Santa Barbara County, California.  Now five years later, while he no longer works on an ambulance, his love for emergency medical services has not diminished but rather pivoted. On a trip to Israel with his older brother a few years ago, he was  introduced to United Hatzalah and enthusiastically became involved with the organization via two successful fundraisers in L.A., becoming a Regional Development Officer for United Hatzalah.
Eugene Fooksman

Eugene Fooksman

Startup-nik, Philanthropist

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Eugene emigrated to San Francisco Bay Area from St Petersburg, Russia in 1999, after getting his MS in Mathematics from St Petersburg State University. He works for WhatsApp/Facebook as a software engineer. Eugene is also actively involved in organizing and supporting Jewish community in San Francisco Bay Area. 
Stella Grizont

Stella Grizont

Positive Psychologist, Entrepreneur

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Stella Grizont is the Founder and CEO of WOOPAAH, which companies like Google, Genentech and Johnson & Johnson employ for programs in work place culture design, engagement and well-being. In the past 12 years, Stella has coached over 1,300 high performers in 17 countries. Grizont was one of the first 150 people in the world to receive a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She was a regular contributor in many TV and print media outlets and has lectured for several universities including NYU, MIT, Rutgers..  
Malcolm Hoenlein

Malcolm Hoenlein

Community Leader, Public Policy Advisor

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Mr. Hoenlein is an Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the coordinating body on international and national concerns for 52 national Jewish organizations. Previously, he served as the founding Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New York, the central coordinating agency for Jewish organizations in the metropolitan New York area. Prior to that, he was the founding Executive Director of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry. Mr. Hoenlein serves as an advisor to many public officials and is frequently consulted on public policy issues.
Leonid Kaganov

Leonid Kaganov

Literary Author, Poet, Humorist

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Futurist writer, poet, humorist, screenplay and song writer. Award winning book author.
Daniel Kluger

Daniel Kluger

Books and Songs Writer, Journalist

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Israeli writer in science fiction and detective genres. He writes in Russian language. Graduate of Simferopol State University as physicist. Began to publish his works in the 1970s. Medical scientist and book publisher before moving to Israel and becoming a journalist, as well as continuing to write books, as well as write and translate poems. His poetic work Jewish Ballads was distinguished with Jerusalem Olive award in 20007.
Naya Lekht

Naya Lekht

Professor, Researcher, Writer

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 Naya Lekht was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated with her family to Los Angeles in 1989. After obtaining her PhD from UCLA in Russian Jewish literature, Naya has been teaching at UCLA, as well as researching on Russian Jewry. In addition to her research, Naya publishes her fiction.
Natan Meir

Natan Meir

Professor, Historian

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Natan Meir is a Chair of the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University. Dr. Meir’s area of academic specialization is Jewish social and cultural history in Eastern Europe, as well as modern European Jewish history.  He is the author of Kiev: Jewish Metropolis, 1861-1914 and co-editor of Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History.  His forthcoming work-in-progress is Republic of Beggars: The Jewish Destitute, Disabled and Dispossessed in Tsarist Russia. Dr. Meir was recently named as a Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson

Composer, Performer

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Josh Nelson brings his extraordinary message of hope, unity and spirituality to concert stages and worship services across the globe. Josh is a gifted multi-instrumentalist and songwriter whose work is celebrated and integrated into the repertoire of congregations, camps and communities around the world. Recently hailed by Time Magazine as a “star of the New Jewish Music,” Josh is the music director for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial Convention, faculty for the Hava Nashira Music Institute, and a musical artist in residence for the JCC Maccabi Artsfest. In 2014, Josh was cast in the starring role of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for the NYC off-Broadway revival of Soul Doctor.
Yakov Palatnik

Yakov Palatnik

Writer and Educator

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Originally from Chicago, Yakov traveled through Europe and then to Israel, where he discovered the vibrancy and relevancy of Judaism. He studied at Aish Jerusalem for 10 years and received rabbinic ordination. For 13 years, he worked with Aish Toronto and became the founding rabbi of The Village Shul. He then worked with Aish Denver, and in 2005 moved to Washington. Together with his wife, Lori, he has started many new classes and programs which have resulted in the growth of a vibrant, Jewishly-committed community in the North Bethesda/Rockville area. Rabbi Palatnik is co-author of Remember My Soul, and the father of five children.”
Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky

Human Rights Activist, Politician, Author

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One of the most famous former Soviet Refuseniks and an Israeli politician, author and human rights activist. English interpreter for Andrei Sakharov. Sharansky became the first political prisoner ever released by Mikhail Gorbachev due to intense political pressure from Ronald Reagan and the United States. In Israel, Sharansky founded new party, served as Minister of Industry and Trade, Minister of Housing, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of The Jewish Agency.
Elena Zusmanovich

Elena Zusmanovich

Educator

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Elena has designed, organized and led Jewish educational programs, lectures, and tours in the USA, Israel, and Russia. She works in the Jewish institutions of the Bay Area since 1997. Elena is a recipient of the 2010 Helen Diller Family Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She holds MS Information Science, BA Art History and is an alumna of the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute.
Gregory Asmolov

Gregory Asmolov

Social Scientist, Social Entrepreneur

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Gregory (Grisha) Asmolov is the new media, innovation and literacy expert, Researcher at the Institute of Russia, based at King’s College London. He earned PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His focus – crowdsourcing digital platforms and role of internet in relationships between individuals and governmental organizations. Gregory has consulted on information technology, new media, and social media projects for The World Bank and Internews Network. Gregory is a co-founder of Help Map, a crowdsourcing platform used to coordinate assistance to victims of wildfires in Russia in 2010 and won a Russian National Internet Award for best project in the “State and Society” category. Earlier Gregory worked as a correspondent for Russian media outlets in Israel, and the news editor on Channel 9 in IsraelGregory holds MA in Global Communication from George Washington University (Washington, DC) and BA in Communication and International Affairs from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Matthew Bronfman

Matthew Bronfman

Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

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Matthew Bronfman, a major supporter of Limmud FSU, has been involved with this initiative in a leadership role since 2009. Entrepreneur and philanthropist, Matthew serves as Chairman and CEO of BHB Holdings. Matthew’s philanthropic interests include national chairman, American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS program; chairman, Teamwork Foundation; and member of the board of 92nd Street Y. He received a BA from Williams College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 
Chaim Chesler

Chaim Chesler

Limmud FSU Founder, Chairman

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In 2006, together with Sandra Cahn (US), Chaim Chesler founded Limmud FSU and chairs its Executive Committee. As executive director of the Israel Public Council for Soviet Jewry, he worked in Israel and around the globe to raise awareness of the struggle of Soviet Jews and their right to repatriate to Israel. Chaim headed the Jewish Agency for Israel’s delegation to the former Soviet Union and the United States, and served as treasurer of the Jewish Agency.
Alex Furman

Alex Furman

Founder, Engineer, Serial Entrepreneur

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Alex co-founded Invitae (a genetic information company) in 2010 and was part of the team that took it public in 2015. Currently, he’s spearheading Invitae’s people analytics effort, enabling innovation at scale through a reinvented organizational structure and data-informed personnel management. Had somebody told him only a few years ago that he’d be overseeing what’s essentially an HR function at a publicly traded company, he would have laughed in their face. Alex is a software engineer, a photographer, a college dropout, a beekeeper, and many other things. He’s rarely bored.
Danny Grossman

Danny Grossman

Head of SF Jewish Federation

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Current CEO of Jewish Federation of San Francisco, The Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, Danny Grossman is a native of San Francisco, a successful business owner, entrepreneur and diplomat. He has decades of experience as a volunteer and leader in the Bay Area’s Jewish and civic communities, and many years of business and public sector leadership. Fun fact, Danny Grossman served as a diplomat in USSR during Reagan administration years, actively supporting the Soviet Jewry movement.
Ami Horowitz

Ami Horowitz

Documentary Filmmaker, TV Personality

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Writer, producer, and director of Ami on the Streets, a satirical short film series made for Fox News. Horowitz co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the 2012 documentary U.N. Me, a critical examination of the United Nations. Prior to that, he worked in political campaigning and then spent sixteen years in the investment banking, including at Lehman Brothers.
Sasha Kapustina

Sasha Kapustina

Filmmaker, Producer, Entrepreneur

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 Sasha was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. In 2007-2009 she worked as head of legal department and a producer at Leopolis, a film production company based in Moscow. In 2010 she relocated to Los Angeles, and together with Masha Tishkova started the Goldfish Film Distribution Company, to bring Russian films to Israel. In 2010-2014, Sasha wrote and produced several short films. Sasha is currently working on a documentary about Israeli medical clowns – “I Clown You.” Sasha holds a law degree from the State University Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia) and an MFA in Film Producing from the New York Film Academy (Los Angeles). She is a Fulbright Alumna. 
Roman Kogan

Roman Kogan

Executive Director, Limmud FSU

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Roman Kogan was born in Tallinn, Estonia, Roman emigrated to Israel in 1991. A graduate of Hebrew University’s Department of International Relations and Journalism, Roman was a press attaché in the Knesset, headed the press service of the Jewish Agency in St. Petersburg, and represented the Department of Education of the Jewish Agency in the Baltic states. Proficient in Hebrew, Russian, and English, Roman joined Limmud FSU in 2010 as chief operations officer and was promoted in 2014 to executive director. 
Galina Leytes

Galina Leytes

Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

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 Galina Leytes is co-founder and vice president of I-SAEF, a nonprofit that is funding alternative energy research in Israeli academia, such as converting CO2 into fuel using solar energy. Ms. Leytes co-founded and acted as senior executive of a NASDAQ technology company and, prior to that, held senior technical and IT management positions at Charles Schwab, Stanford University, and a variety of high-tech companies. Ms. Leytes has served as a board member on various private and public companies, and as a director in the nonprofit sector. Galina has served on Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation where she has won the prestigious Volunteer of the Year Award and was selected as 2016 Honoree of the Business Leadership Council.
Marina Modlin

Marina Modlin

Attorney, Author

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 Born in Saint Petersburg, Marina has been in the Bay Area over 20 years, earned BA degree from UCD, JD – from USF. Marina own the estate planning law firm since 2010, with offices in South Bay and on the Peninsula. She has authored two books, including “Wills and Trusts for the Rest of Us.”  
Ilya Novikov

Ilya Novikov

Attorney, TV personality

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Ilya Novikov is Russian attorney, often serving as a lawyer in politically controversial trials, including Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and Moldovian businessman and politician Vyacheslav Platon. Another side of Novikov’s fame comes from being an active member of TV intellectual club “Что? Где? Когда?” since 2002. In 15 years since, he earned multiple best player awards from the club, but in 2016 his team was prevented from participating in that TV season because of Novikov’s involved in political legal cases.
Pinchas Polonsky

Pinchas Polonsky

Philosopher, Educator

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Russian-Israeli Jewish-religious philosopher, researcher, and educator. He has written several original books as well as a number of translations of important works on Judaism. One of the founders of the clandestine network for the study of Torah in Moscow in 1979. Today he lives in Israel and is an activist in the process of the modernization of Judentums. Pinchas Polonsky teaches in a Ariel University and is a researcher on the topics of the late Rav Kook.
Zhanna Shpits

Zhanna Shpits

Singer, Songwriter, Inspirational Speaker

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 Zhanna Shpits is an inspirational speaker, singer, songwriter and an award-winning performing artist who creates magic using music, stories and motivation. Her mission is to bring light into the hearts of everyone she touches. Gracing the transformational stages of luminaries including Bill Baren, Alina Vincent, WPN and others, Zhanna’s keynote performances combine inspiring personal stories and heart-touching songs to create distinct, memorable, and transformational experiences. Audiences are inspired by her stories and her music. They are enchanted by her beautiful and sultry voice, whether she is singing an original, the classic standards, or traditional Russian Bards sung in her native language. 
Yonatan Winetraub

Yonatan Winetraub

Co-founder, CTO of SpaceIL

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Presently a biophysics PhD student at Stanford University, Yonatan Winetraub is also a Co-founder and CTO of SpaceIL, an Israeli contender in the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Along with two friends, Yariv Bash and Kfir Damari, Yonatan conceived their mission in a pub in 2010, and filed their paperwork with the XPRIZE Foundation mere minutes before the entry deadline. If all goes well, its 500-kilogram spacecraft—informally dubbed “Sparrow”—will hitch a ride to the moon sometime in 2017 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket chartered through private aerospace company Spaceflight Industries. 
Ophir Akunis

Ophir Akunis

Minister of Science, Technology and Space

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Minister of Science, Technology and Space in Israeli Cabinet, Ophir Akunis has many years of experience in Israeli politics. Having served as Deputy Environment Minister prior to current post, he also held posts of deputy media adviser to Prime Minister, Likud party spokesperson, spokesperson to the ministers and many other posts through the years.  
Gleb Budman

Gleb Budman

CEO and Entrepreneurial Executive, Engineer

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Gleb Budman is CEO and co-founder of Backblaze. Along with his team, Gleb bootstrapped Backblaze to millions in revenue and profitability. The company won the SIIA CODiE for Best Cloud Storage and secured a spot on Deloitte’s Fast 500 fastest growing technology companies as a result of its 917% five-year revenue growth. Previously, Gleb led the product teams from pre-funding through acquisition at Kendara and MailFrontier, and founded three prior companies. He received his MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School, has been a speaker at events including GigaOm Structure, Massive Storage Systems and Technology, and SNIA; profiled by Inc. and Forbes; and holds 5 patents on security.
Sacha Dratwa

Sacha Dratwa

Counter-Delegitimization Expert

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Sacha Dratwa is a Head of Counter-Delegitimization Unit of World Jewish Congress. Sacha founded the Israel Defense Force’s New Media Operations. After completing his position in the IDF, Sacha joined the Yesh Atid political campaign as director of projects for the digital team. After the campaign, Sacha worked for Rimon Cohen Sheinkman, a leading PR firm in Israel, as director of digital media communication. Sacha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Interactive Communications from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and is currently studying Master’s in Political Communications from IDC. 
Anton Ginzburg

Anton Ginzburg

Artist, Filmmaker, Mentor

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 Anton Ginzburg is a New York–based artist and filmmaker who uses an array of historical and cultural references as starting points for his investigations into art’s capacity to penetrate layers of the past and reflect on the contemporary experience. Born in 1974 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Ginzburg received a classical arts education before immigrating to the United States in 1990. He earned a BFA from Parsons The New School for Social Research in 1997 and MFA degree from Bard College, Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. His art has been shown at the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale, Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, White Columns in New York, Lille3000 in Euralille, France, the first and second Moscow Biennales, and the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. 
Sasha Gutfraind

Sasha Gutfraind

Artificial Intelligence Expert, Data Scientist

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 Canadian Israeli with roots in Minsk, Sasha is a Chief Health Data Scientist at Uptake Technologies and a Lecturer at Loyola University Medical Center. His work and research focuse on applications of data science and computational methods for medical and societal problems.
Gil Hovav

Gil Hovav

Culinary Journalist, TV personality

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 Gil Hovav comes from one of the most respected families in the Jewish world: he is the great-grandson of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language; the grandson of  Itamar Ben-Avi who began modern Hebrew journalism; and the son of Moshe and Drora Hovav, “founding members” of Israel’s modern day public radio. He began his career as a restaurant critic, moved on to become a newspaper editor, and was involved in many top television food shows. Mr. Hovav has published three best-selling novels all related to his family’s colorful history. 
Yelena Khanga

Yelena Khanga

Journalist, TV Personality, Author

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Russian journalist of African/Jewish/African-American ancestry raised in Moscow, USSR, who came to the USA in 1990 to write Soul to Soul: The Story of a Black Russian American Family: 1865–1992. Khanga was the moderator of the Russian television talk show The Domino Effect. She also moderated Russia’s first talk show about sex, called About That.
Shlomi Kofman

Shlomi Kofman

Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest

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Shlomi Kofman, Consul General of Israel to Pacific North West, born in Georgia, USSR, raised in Israel, has a degree in international relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with his first posting coming in 1998 in Shanghai. After four years there (during which he learned Mandarin and earned an MBA), he transferred to Thailand, serving as deputy ambassador at the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok. After stints as the chief of staff in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., and as a diplomat adviser to the Knesset, he was made deputy consul general of Israel at the all-important New York consulate before being posted to San Francisco this summer.
Deborah Lipstadt

Deborah Lipstadt

Historian, Author, Educator

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 Deborah Esther Lipstadt is an American historian, best known as author of the books Denying the Holocaust(1993), History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (2005) and The Eichmann Trial (2011). She is currently the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Georgia, United States. Lipstadt was a consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 1994 she was appointed by Bill Clinton to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, serving two terms. Actress Rachel Weisz portrayed Lipstadt in Denial (2016), a film based on her 2005 book History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving, and directed by Mick Jackson. 
Jeff Morgan

Jeff Morgan

Winemaker, Author

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Jeff Morgan is an American winemaker, writer, cookbook author, and co-founder of Covenant Wines. The former West Coast editor of Wine Spectator magazine, Morgan began his wine career in his mid-30’s after working as a professional saxophonist in Europe (eventually as bandleader at the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo) and in New York. In 2003 he co-founded Covenant Winery—dedicated to making “highly regarded” kosher Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon among other wine varietals. In 2000, Morgan was hired by specialty food purveyor Dean & DeLuca as Wine Director. During this time, he wrote his first cookbook—Dean & DeLuca, The Food and Wine Cookbook. He has written an additional 7 cookbooks since, collaborating with his wife, Jodie Morgan. In addition to his roles as winemaker and cookbook author, Morgan was a founding instructor at the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley. 
Yulia Patrakova

Yulia Patrakova

Art, Literature Historian

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Yuliya Patrakova is a teacher. She was born and lives in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the past Yulia taught Russian language and literature, but lately she has been teaching Hebrew, and authored and led Jewish culture education projects. Her interests lie in the literature in general, and children’s literature more specifically, Jewish artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the history of Saint Petersburg. Her motto: I love everything that flows.
Garrett Reisman

Garrett Reisman

Astronaut, Engineer

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American engineer and former NASA astronaut. Currently – director of crew operations at SpaceX. He was a backup crew member for NASA Expedition 15 and joined Expedition 16 aboard the International Space Station for a short time before becoming a member of Expedition 17. He returned to Earth on June 14, 2008 on board STS-124 on Space Shuttle Discovery. He was a member of the STS-132 mission that traveled to the International Space Station aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis from May 14 to 26, 2010.
Marina Sirota

Marina Sirota

Professor of Biomedical Informatics

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Assistant Professor at the Institute for Computational Health Sciences at UCSF. Prior to that – Lead Research Scientist in the Division of Systems Medicine at Stanford University and Sr. Research Scientist at Pfizer. She completed her PhD in Biomedical Informatics at Stanford University. Her primary focus is on leveraging and integrating different types of clinical data to better understand the role of the immune system in disease.
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