Bridging the Gap Fellows 2015-2016

Aryeh Laufer

Yeshiva University


hails from Lawrence, New York but likes to identify as a citizen of the world.  Fresh off the boat from a gap year in Israel, Aryeh is currently working towards a double major in psychology and Jewish studies at Yeshiva University. Aryeh loves learning from people of all backgrounds and having deep meaningful conversations on the spot. He is passionate about education, Torah values, philosophy, broadening horizons, the 7 habits of highly effective people, chassidut, relationships, and can sometimes get a bit too carried away with the miracle of existence. This aspiring Jewish educator truly believes that boxes are for dead people and labels are for clothing- and is downright giddy to be working towards the goal of bridging the gaps between the boxes and labels of denominations, politics, and social circles. Aryeh is looking forward to learning, sharing, and getting to know everyone on a deeply experiential level! 

Anastasia Velkov

CSI


is native New Yorker and a sophomore at The College of Staten Island. She is currently majoring in Psychology and minoring in Business with ambitions of entering the field of I-O Psychology in the future. Growing up in a non-religious Russian household  her connection with Judaism and the Jewish community was never something that seemed to concern or intrigue her; until an impromptu and whimsical decision to take advantage of Taglit. The transition post Birthright opened up a new understanding of who she was. With transition came the assimilation into the Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College, a place that felt like a home away from home.  Becoming involved with the Tanger Hillel helped her come to an internal epiphany within herself and where she belonged in the Jewish community. By being a fellow for Bridging the Gap Anastasia hopes to pique the interest of those who were in a similar situation as she was and help them understand and integrate into a community that is open to all that are open to it.

Shanie Reichman

Queens College


is a fierce debater, determined understander, and ridiculous dreamer. She goes to Queens College, where she is Vice President of the political science club, and a social change fellow for the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding. Shanie is an active part of the Hillel, having started the first partnership minyan on Friday nights and working as a peer network engagement intern, before moving on to become a community organizing intern for the Hillel club, as well as their inclusivity chair, this coming year. She is responsible for all interfaith and LGBTQ+-inclusive events and plans on working her butt off to ensure she successfully creates an inclusive space. Shanie is looking forward to a year of awesome events and friendships with the Bridging the Gap Fellows and community. 

Greta Davidova

Baruch College


is a junior at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business. Greta was born in Russia and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where her family moved only a few months after her birth. Being raised in a traditional Gorsky-Kavkazi Jewish home has allowed her to learn about the importance of Jewish traditions, as well as staying connected to her Jewish roots. With the majority of her family living in Israel, and given the opportunity to extend her stay there after her unforgettable Birthright trip last summer, she was truly astonished by the unity within Israel’s communities and the country as whole. Greta hopes that with Bridging the Gap she will have the opportunity to help form that same kind of unity between Jewish-Americans of her generation here at home in NYC, building a stronger Jewish community that will come to serve as a foundation for many more generations to come.

Rachel Waldman

CSI


is a junior at the College of Staten Island and is studying Business Management. She is the president of the Hillel club on campus and is hoping to make a difference for the jewish students on her campus. She is of Russian decent but is looking to learn more about her culture and background. In her free time, Rachel enjoys singing, playing piano, exploring and traveling the world.

Kseniya Davydova

City College


is a sophomore Honors student at City College. She is majoring in Civil Engineering and aspires build the future of New York City, literally.  In school, she is an active member of both Engineers Without Borders, where she serves as treasurer, and member of the ever-growing City College Hillel. Kseniya was born in Uzbekistan and came to American at a very early age. She grew up in a tight-knit community in Queens, NY. After a recent birthright trip to Israel, she feels more excited and proud of her identity. She hopes that Bridge the Gap will give her the opportunity to unite Jewish people of all background and walks of life by sharing the values of education and community. 

Jeffrey Kogan

Pace University


Originally from Long Island, New York, Jeff now lives in Downtown Manhattan and is a student at Pace University where he studies finance. He is a driven individual and is active in several on-campus organizations including Zeta Beta Tau, Hillel, and several others. With parents from Donetsk and Moldova, much of his drive comes from his motivation of being a first generation American. Jeff obtained his first job at 15 in a New York law firm, commuting regularly from Long Island to New York City. In the future, he aspires to become the CFO of a non for profit organization.

Michael DeMartino

College of Staten Island


Born and raised in Staten Island, New York. Mike is a lovable goofball with who knows how to pull a smile out of everyone. He majored in Design and Digital Media through The College of Staten Island. Mike wasn't raised in a Jewish household even though his family is historically Jewish. His father, a devout Catholic, met and married his mother who was from a Jewish household. Mike wasn't raised with religion but he was loved and was gifted a good set of morals from both parents. Years later he fell back into Judaism after meeting some friends in the Hillel offices of The College of Staten Island. Seeing the love and trust and history of the Jewish religion was what pulled him back to his family roots. The realization was he was a Jew his whole life and he finally found a name for himself. Connecting with people, connecting with his community and forging a deeper connection with himself are all major goals for his joining this fellowship.

Rotem Noah

Brooklyn College


Rotem Noah is a freshman at Brooklyn College, and is majoring in International Business with a minor in Marketing. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Having Israeli parents, Rotem speaks English and Hebrew fluently. Rotem is currently the President of The Israel Club at Brooklyn College and the VP of a Jewish Sorority that she is founding on campus. Rotem is extremely passionate about Israel and Advocates for the country to the best of her ability. Furthermore, by founding the Jewish sorority, her goal is to bring Jewish girls from different descents together to form Sisterhood. Rotem aspires to be a young Jewish leader in her community so that she can spread her love for Judaism and Israel.