Idit Klein has been an activist for equality and social justice for the past 20 years. Since 2001, she has served as executive director of Keshet. During this time, Klein has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization with an annual budget of $42,000 to an 18-person, national organization with an annual budget of $2 million. Under her leadership, Keshet developed a comprehensive training curriculum for LGBT inclusion and trained educators in hundreds of Jewish communities around the country. In Massachusetts, Klein helped mobilize Massachusetts rabbis and synagogue members to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Klein also served as executive producer of Keshet’s award-winning documentary film “Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School.”
Prior to leading Keshet, Klein was an activist in the LGBT community in Israel and played a role in early organizing efforts to create Jerusalem Open House. She has worked for social justice organizations in Jerusalem and in Boston, including Shatil, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (now known as Israel-Palestine: Creative Regional Initiatives) and Community Work Services. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale University, Klein received a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. She is also a certified facilitator of the Center for Leadership Initiatives.
Klein was among eight recipients of the 2003-2005 Joshua Venture Fellowship for young Jewish social entrepreneurs, and was a plenary speaker at the 2007 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly. A board member of JOIN for Justice and a past fellow, Klein was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award, and named to the Forward 50.
Daniel Bahner brings experience in program development, community building and social-justice education to Keshet. Originally from southwest Ohio, Daniel quickly formed a connection between his Jewish identity and the importance of inclusion and working toward a more socially just society. He dived further into social justice and Jewish thought while an undergraduate at Lehigh University. Studying classics and religion studies, Daniel learned the importance of reflecting upon the past, but at the same time finding meaning for the present. At the same time, he began to become involved in many social-justice education groups, winning multiple campus awards for his involvement. His passion for social justice and education continued during his graduate studies at New York University, where he received a master’s in higher education administration and student affairs.
Daniel joined Keshet spending three years working at a small liberal arts college as assistant director of residence life. There, he trained students in building inclusive residential communities as well as assisting students whenever they had concerns about their community environment. Daniel was highly involved with campus-inclusion projects, presenting at conferences, putting together programs, sitting on committees and managing educational processes. For his work, he was awarded a major regional award for commitment to social justice. Daniel is excited to be working with communities across the country and helping to facilitate a larger conversation about inclusion and equity.
Catherine Bell has close to 20 years’ experience organizing, educating, and driving programmatic growth in a Jewish social justice context. Before she joined Keshet, Catherine served as the Director of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship at JOIN for Justice. Under Catherine’s leadership, the fellowship grew into a highly competitive, nationally acclaimed program for recruiting and training talented emerging Jewish organizers. At Keshet, Catherine oversees all of Keshet’s national and local programmatic work, including institutional change, community building, and teen engagement. She developed the successful Keshet Leadership Project model to drive institutional change for greater LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish organizations across the country, oversaw a major shift in Keshet’s evaluation practices, and dramatically grew Keshet teen programming. Catherine graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College and holds a MA in Sociology of Education from New York University. She lives in Dorchester, MA with her partner and two young children.
Shira is originally from the Bay Area and has a long history of involvement in Jewish life. She moved to Massachusetts in 2012 to attend Smith College, where she was immersed in a culture of activism and LGBTQ inclusion. During her time at Smith, she served as the Vice President of Smith’s literary magazine, wrote for a cultural magazine in Italy, and crafted a chapbook of poetry. She also interned at a small publishing company and a Bay Area non-profit. Shira graduated cum laude with a double major in Italian and English. She is very excited to help Keshet create engaging content that promotes full inclusion in all aspects of Jewish life.
James Cohen grew up in the Boston area and is happy to be back in his hometown and working with Keshet and the LBGT Jewish community. During his 15 years in South Florida, his career focused primarily on the restaurant and food-supply industries, but it was a personal experience that led him to a career in Jewish communal service. At a time when it was not legal for openly gay people to adopt in Florida, James became a licensed foster parent. When the law changed in 2010, he began the process to adopt his son, Jason. Raising Jason and sharing Jewish values with him inspired James to reconsider many aspects of his life. He was fortunate to be able to combine his passions for social justice and Judaism into a position at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, where he served as donor relationship manager and worked closely with attorneys, financial professionals and other donors to deepen their involvement in the organization and the local Jewish community. At the same time, James served on the board of directors of Next@19th, a nonprofit promoting Jewish culture in South Florida. He and Jason were active volunteers at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, a synagogue with a commitment to inclusiveness and to social justice. James holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Miami.
Avi Edelman has over a decade of experience as an experiential educator and facilitator, working with a diverse array of youth in dynamic learning settings ranging from remote overnight camps to urban college campuses. For the past three years, he led programming for Operation Understanding DC (OUDC), an interfaith, cross-cultural nonprofit that brings together Black and Jewish high school teens from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for a year of dialogue, learning, and leadership development. At OUDC, Avi wrote and implemented a year-round curriculum, led an annual month-long civil rights pilgrimage, and trained dozens of students in public speaking and facilitation. Avi won numerous awards for his leadership of the Columbia University LGBTQ community, where he organized an annual conference for queer and allied high school students, led a successful campaign to implement gender-neutral housing in campus dorms, and facilitated dialogues to foster inclusion and create safe spaces for all students. Avi is also a film editor and script supervisor whose work has been screened in theaters, at film festivals across the country, and on nationwide television stations such as PBS and ESPN. He is an above-average juggler with waning professional circus aspirations.
Rich Feczko brings a wealth of knowledge to Keshet, with more than 25 years of management experience in a broad range of businesses. He came to Keshet from Hebrew College, where he served as chief operating officer and directed the college’s Me’ah adult-education program, guiding its national growth into new regions. Prior to Hebrew College, Rich was managing director at Hammer and Co., a research and consulting firm, where he oversaw all internal processes, including finance, technology, product development and market research. Earlier in his career, he built worldwide training organizations at a number of high-technology companies. Rich holds a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, and pursued master’s work in computer science there as well. He is a founding member of Shaarei Tefillah in Newton, Mass., where he has served in numerous capacities, including president.
Sho is originally from the Twin Cities, and they have been working for LGBTQ equality and justice for over a decade, including helping to defeat Minnesota’s anti-LGBTQ constitutional amendment in 2012. Sho grew up actively involved in the Jewish community in St. Paul/Minneapolis (day school, camp, USY), and attended Beloit College in Wisconsin, before eventually making their way to Massachusetts. They have an MBA in Nonprofit Management and an MPP with a focus in Women & Gender Studies from Brandeis University’s Heller School.
Shana Gee-Cohen is a highly seasoned development professional, with more than five years of event-planning and fundraising experience. Her passion for donor-relations management and producing large-scale fundraising events began at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. Over the years, she has owned her own event-planning business; worked for the St. Paul Jewish Community Center; JPRIDE, Minnesota’s only Jewish LGBTQ organization; and PFund, an LGBT philanthropy organization. In 2015, Shana was selected as a Schusterman Family Foundation Connection Point Fellow and participated in Eighteen:22: A Global Network for Change, in Salzburg, Austria. She holds a Master of Social Policy and Practice from the University of Pennsylvania. She is married to her brilliant spouse, Beck. They have two adorable pups, Tootsie and Scout, who collectively weigh 13 pounds.
Gene Goldstein-Plesser joined Keshet in 2015 as the community program coordinator of Nice Jewish Boys, a group that builds community among the gay, bi, trans and otherwise queer men of the Bay Area. Gene was homeschooled by Jewish lesbians in North Carolina before making his way to San Francisco, where he’s worked various stints as a land-use consultant, community manager, data analyst and bicycle courier. He is a graduate of the urban studies program at Brown University, where he also served as executive vice president of Brown-RISD Hillel, ran a political debate group and cooked countless giant vats of vegetarian food for the West House food co-op. Gene is an avid potluck-hoster, accordion-player, storyteller and bread baker.
MJ Halberstadt is a playwright and education professional originally from Long Island. He came to Boston to earn his BA in Theatre Education at Emerson College, and eventually his MFA in Playwriting at Boston University. He worked in Emerson College Undergraduate Admission in roles focusing on recruiting prospective students, managing an alumni volunteer program, organizing on-campus events for guidance counselors, and supporting Performing Arts applicants. He is a founding member of Bridge Repertory Theater, and author of several comic plays that explore complex questions about identity, privilege, and family, including the Elliot Norton Award-winning The Launch Prize; he brings this enthusiasm for promoting empathy to Keshet. An affiliated faculty member at Emerson College, he lives in Brookline with his husband and looks forward to collaborating with Jewish community members to establish inclusive spaces and events.
Jacob Klein arrived in the Bay Area in the summer of 2014 and has since been committed to queer and Jewish communities, passions they bring to Keshet. Currently a participant in the 2016 cohort of the Jeremiah Fellowship run by Bend the Arc, Jacob is dedicated to the meeting place of Judaism and social justice. They are also a member of the leadership committee for Glitter Kehilla in East Bay, a group that welcomes progressive young adults of all identities to build Jewish community. They interned at Tikkun magazine, a Jewish-infused progressive political publication. A graduate of UCLA with a Bachelor’s in English/Creative Writing, and a minor in Global Studies, they also spent a year studying at Trinity College, Dublin. While there, they campaigned with the local queer communities on issues ranging from trans visibility to marriage equality. Originally from San Diego, they’ve now settled in Oakland where they spend their free time reading, writing, and lounging with cats.
V grew up in Rhode Island and spent time in Colorado and Kansas before coming back to New England and settling down in Massachusetts. They have a background in visual communication and graphic design, as well as experience in medical record keeping and insurance billing. They have collaborated with mental health professionals on projects to improve the care of trans and gender creative children, and through their uniquely designed pronoun buttons. They have provided support to educators, organizations, and LGBTQ+ youth nationwide. They share their personal and LGBTQ+ focused design work via their website, bimblesnoot. During their free time, they enjoy kayaking, beach combing, board games, and relaxing with their husband and cats.
Originally from New York City, Kaden Mohamed moved to the Boston area in 2010 to attend Wellesley College. There, he studied women’s and gender studies and education studies. During his time at Wellesley, Kaden began exploring and understanding his interests in social justice and anti-oppression work, which in turn helped him understand and feel comfortable with his own gender identity as a part of the trans community. Prior to joining Keshet, most of his advocacy and activism was expressed through participation in educational panels, press interviews and participation in different community movements for social change and equity.
Kaden is excited to work with Keshet and expand his participation in striving for a more inclusive society for all LGBTQ-identified people. He currently lives in a collective in Allston, Mass., with eight other people, three cats and six bikes. In his spare time, he can be found working as a barista and biking around Boston.
Jodi Nemser-Abrahams is a Massachusetts native who spent time living in Vermont; Washington, D.C.; and Israel before returning to Boston, where she currently resides. Prior to joining Keshet, she was executive assistant at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, where she discovered an unexpected passion and talent for data management. She is excited to contribute her knowledge and energy toward furthering Keshet’s mission from behind the scenes.
Jodi cares deeply about social-justice issues and has focused much of her professional work on at-risk youth. Most recently, she managed a career-exploration program for high school students at Youth Enrichment Services in Boston. She has also volunteered with a variety of populations, including immigrants, adult GED students and homeless children. As a volunteer for ReachOut!, a service-learning program for young professional Jews in the Boston area, Jodi had the opportunity to serve as a site captain at several local service sites.
Jodi holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Marlboro College. When not working or volunteering, she can be found outside — most likely rock climbing, biking or hiking — or in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe.
Justin Rosen Smolen joined Keshet in 2015 as national director of youth programs, a new senior position focused on creating inclusive, visible and celebratory spaces for LGBTQ Jewish teens throughout the country. Representing the Keshet team in New York, he cultivates partnerships with organizations to develop trainings on LGBTQ issues for professionals, as well as leadership-building opportunities for LGBTQ teens across organizations and movements. Justin brings a passion for social entrepreneurship, leadership development and experiential education to his work.
Previously, Justin served as associate director of the National Incubator for Community-Based Jewish Teen Education Initiatives at The Jewish Education Project, where he consulted to a collaborative of 14 national and local funders developing new strategies and initiatives for working with teens, and as director of programs and strategy at PresenTense, where he oversaw accelerator programs for social innovators in cities throughout North America.
Justin is a graduate of the dual-degree program of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and Jewish thought . A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he holds a Master of Public Administration in nonprofit management and a master’s in Jewish studies from New York University.
Emily Solomon joined Keshet in 2016 as a consultant and in 2017 she transitioned to a staff member, now serving as Keshet’s Grants Manager. She has worked with various nonprofits throughout the country for more than 25 years, specializing in the areas of grant writing, direct service, program development and management, evaluation planning, fundraising, and academic research. Before joining Keshet, Emily worked as an independent consultant providing services in the grant writing domain nationwide. Her grant writing services have spanned numerous disciplines, including Jewish issues, youth development, education, housing, homelessness, health, and the environment, with organizations that are diverse in size and focus.
Emily and her husband Jay have four children, including three teenagers whose active lives ensure there is never a dull moment at the Solomon household. Emily and Jay own Hot Ticket Café in partnership with the Denver Center for Performing Arts and Jay’s Gourmet 2 Go, Denver’s newest family dinner delivery solution. She is an active volunteer at her children’s public schools where she has helped launch several important initiatives. If ever Emily finds a free moment in her day, she’ll likely be out on an early am run in her neighborhood or hiking with family or friends. After many years of juggling multiple clients and in a quest for better life balance, Emily joins Keshet in this new capacity which allows her to focus more deeply on one organization. Already familiar with its mission, culture and philosophy, Emily is excited to join the Keshet team.
Dubbs is thrilled to be joining the Keshet family after working in the for-profit world. While this is Dubbs’s debut in the nonprofit world, Dubbs is no stranger to it. Dubbs’s passion project is a show they founded called “Thank You For Coming Out,” which features LGBTQ improvisers and storytellers. Dubbs creates partnerships with nonprofits and uses the show as a tool for fundraising, community awareness, and support. The show has had actors from the Broadway shows Fun Home, Waitress, School of Rock, and Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and TV shows Broad City, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Outs and more. In Dubbs’s free time they like to read, write, travel, and perform.