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Alumni Newsletter » Alumni Newsletter 2015

Alumni Newsletter 2015


Hello from Schechter Queens! 

The Solomon Schechter School of Queens celebrates its 60th anniversary this year! Our alumni are extremely important to the canvas of our school and we are proud of you as you continue through your lives grounded from the education you received as our students.

SSSQ alumni are part of our extended Schechter family and link the past with the future. We welcome your involvement with the school and here are a couple of ways you can stay connected:

- attend reunions and alumni events
- share what’s going on in your life for the monthly news email
- submit Class Note for the Newsletter (we welcome family pictures too!)
- share career highlights on our website's "Spotlight on Alumni"
- donate to our annual campaign
- update your personal information here

When alumni stay involved it gives everyone reason to celebrate. Your connection to your alma mater ensures that Schechter will remain true to fulfilling its mission of providing education of excellence to future students. Stay in touch with us!

Congratulations 2015 graduates - our eighth graders, classes 2007 from college, and 2011 from high school.

Warm wishes for a most enjoyable summer!

Naomi R. Horowitz
Alumni Coordinator
Office of Alumni Relations

Rabbi Alex Kaplan z”l

It is with deep sadness that we mourned the passing of Rabbi Alex Kaplan z”l in April, the first principal of the Solomon Schechter School of Queens. The funeral took place in Haifa and Shiva was observed at the family home.
המקום ינחם את המשפחה בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

A program took place May 19 during minyan led by Robin Gossett one of our physical education teachers and a SSSQ alumna. Robin’s mother, Ceil Gossett was a teacher under the leadership of Rabbi Kaplan. Robin shares with us and the alumni community her reflection of the program below:

“I was happy to have an opportunity to connect the memory of Rabbi Alex Kaplan z”l with our current students at the Solomon Schechter School of Queens on May 19, 2015.

The middle school students participated in a learning and sharing experience as together we studied Pirkei Avot. In Chapter 1 Mishna 2 we read that Shimon the Righteous said, “the world stands on three things: Torah, service of Hashem and deeds of human kindness. Students broke into small groups and discussed this study and how it applied to their lives.

I want to thank Naomi Horowitz, Ariela Silberman, Dr. Shira Leibowitz and David Kalman for their insight and help in putting this program together.”

- Robin Gossett
Pictured above are Howie Fried '72, Robin Gossett, and Naomi Horowitz


 Twenty three years seems like such a long time but actually it’s just the blink of an eye. Twenty three years ago I applied for a kindergarten position at Solomon Schechter. Little did I realize that I would become part of such a special and caring family.

I have an abundance of wonderful memories of all of my children, visiting Israel, learning about dinosaurs, celebrating Shabbats, enjoying our Passover Seders, dressing up for Purim, spinning dreidels for Chanukah, Thanksgiving feasts, playing in the playground, going on trips, our end of the year play and learning from each other.

You have made my life so special by being a part of it. A part of my heart will always be with you. Thank you for giving me incredible memories to think about as I retire from Solomon Schechter.

- Love Always,
Arlene Isserles


As a family, we have been part of SSSQ for more than 24 consecutive years. This June, Oron graduated and I wonder – does this mean we are no longer a “Schechter family”? How do we now identify in regard to SSSQ? Identifying as a Schechter Queens family binds us to all of the friends and families we have befriended along the way. We know these relationships continue way beyond our collective years as parents of Schechter students. We are all Schechter Queens families.

Over the course of our years at Schechter, we have shared milestones and life cycle events with other Schechter families. We began as a family of three children – we “graduated” as a family of five children and five grandchildren. Clearly our lives have changed in so many ways– however one constant has been Schechter. We have experienced changes in administration as well as the student body – however with all these changes, the Schechter culture remains a strong force.

So what makes the Schechter identity and culture so strong? What is it about our school community that has made such an impact on our lives? Why do our children remain connected to their Schechter friends and the school after decades of attending the school?

I am very interested in what others feel; I suggest it is the common values we live and instill in our children everyday. These values make us unique and unite us as a community.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share the emotional impact this “graduation” has had.
We are grateful to the Schechter community from 1991 until today that have been part of the “village” we are all part of. The continuity of a strong Schechter in Queens is important to us – and important for the Jewish community of Queens and its borders. We remain committed to our school’s continued success.

- Marcia Tal



Dr. Arie Blitz '76
I do have to say that I have had several memorable job experiences that paved the path towards where I am today. My first job experience was working in a Henna factory in Long Island City during high school. I used to work there during summers between semesters. My day consisted of rather mundane tasks like placing labels on shampoo bottles or mixing up the Henna batches. It was one of the most boring jobs I have ever had. Imagine sitting in one place all day long sticking label after label on bottle after bottle! The vast majority of my coworkers did not have much beyond a grade school education and therefore did not have many options open to them. Needless to say, I had lots of time to think while placing those labels or mixing Henna. One recurring thought I had was that I had better stay in school and complete my education so that I would have many more options available to me and could ultimately choose what my heart told me to pursue. Although the path since has been meandering at times, ultimately I did "follow my heart" by becoming a heart surgeon. While I still get to use my hands, I am hoping it is for a better purpose now :)

- Arie Blitz '76


Pictured are 2011 Alumni: Brendon Colby, Guy Langer, Jacob Wasserman, Jordan Brandwein and David Grodenchik

Seeing my friends once again in this setting definitely turned up emotions that I didn't expect, not because of the fact that I haven't seen them in so long, but instead because no one set this up for us. We were all in Israel on our own and decided to get together while we could. While it may sound corny, it made me feel a little more grown up.

I'll miss them all so much when they return to America.

- Jordan Brandwein ‘11


Where are they Now?

Benjamin Arabov '06 (pictured above) graduated from Kew Forest and then received his BBA, Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting and Business/Management '14 from Pace University. He is the Founder of Pure Digital an execution-based media company with an expertise in paid search (PPC/SEM), targeted display, paid social, remarketing and mobile apps installs.

Jonathan Biton '06 (pictured above) graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School '10 and received his BBA '14 from Baruch College. He currently is working as a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman in New York City, mainly focusing on residential sales and rentals. Although he is currently working in real estate, he would like to open up his own business sometime soon. Jonathan feels that the lessons he learned at SSSQ became his foundation of who he is today and always tells his parents that the best decision they have ever made was to send him to school there.

David Jacobi '06 (pictured above) graduated from the North Shore Hebrew Academy '10 He received his BA in Communications and Media Studies '14 from The Interdisciplinary Center. David is the co-founder of Terraboost Media Israel, an emerging out-of-home media company that provides clients the opportunity to sponsor wellness and advertise on different hand sanitizing billboards. To learn more about Terraboost check out the website:

Marc Reisner '06 (pictured above) graduated from Townsend Harris High School '10 and received his BS in Computer Engineering from Johns Hopkins '14. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin and works at Epic, a healthcare software company.

Isaac Silvera '06 (pictured above) received his BA in Urban Studies/Affairs '14 from the City University of New York - Hunter College and studied at Tel Aviv University over his junior year concentrating on Middle Eastern Politics and developing economies. Isaac also spent a semester at the University of Copenhagen where is studied Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Sustainable Business Practices and Renewable Energy. Isaac is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at REAL New York that specializes in residential rentals in the lower east side. He has published articles about New York, and studied in three major cities abroad.


Natalie Rebeyev '07 (pictured above) graduated from Syracuse University this May. She spent time in Israel participating in a short learning program through MEOR Vision in Jerusalem. She will moving to England in the fall to begin her PhD in Medical Science as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge.

At Syracuse, as a dual Biology and Judaic Studies major, Natalie developed her curiosity about human biology and disease alongside her study of humanities. Her early exposure to research led her to secure both on-campus and international research opportunities. She conducted pharmacological research with faculty at Upstate Medical University and cancer research at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. At Cambridge, she will be working with Dr. Paul Lehner to identify novel cellular receptors manipulated by viruses, which teaches us about viral pathogenesis. In the future, Natalie plans on attending medical school to continue her research as a physician-scientist and become an oncologist. Moreover, as a Bukharian woman, and as the first person to attend college from both sides of her family, she looks forward to sharing her experiences and supporting the academic and professional goals of young women from traditional, immigrant communities worldwide.
Romy Golan '03 (pictured above) received her BA in Writing Seminars '11 from Johns Hopkins University. Romy is an Associate Managing Editor at Alloy Entertainment, a creative think tank that develops and produces original books, television series, and feature films. Alloy, a Warner Brothers Company, is a leading producer of unique entertainment franchises and is known for it's bestselling young adult properties including Pretty Little Liars, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The 100, The Clique, The A-List, Private, and the Nine Lives of Chloe King.
Rebecca Theise '02 (pictured above) received her AB in Community Health '10 from Brown University and is studying to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Yale School of Nursing where she is expecting to complete her studies with a Certificate in Nursing (GEPN program) and an MSN, Master of Science Nursing '15. Rebecca has completed and received her EMT Basic License and NREMT Certification in 2010. She was an AmeriCorps Member from September 2011 to June 2012 and worked as a Health and Wellness Coordinator at the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, Connecticut.
Amy Panzok '01 (pictured above) graduated the University at Buffalo '09 with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences, and continued her studies at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine: Doctor of Dental Surgery '13. She completed her Orthodontics Residency at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry: Masters of Science and Certificate in Orthodontics. '15. Amy is an Orthodontist and has completed the first part towards being certified.
Ory Rinat '01 (pictured above) received his BA in Political Science, History '09 from Columbia University and is continuing his education at Georgetown University Law Center where he is finishing his JD part time and plans to graduate in May. Ory is the Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Atlantic Media Strategies, the digital consultancy of Atlantic Media. Ory works with corporations, think tanks, non-profits and trade associations, developing high-level engagement strategies.
Elissa Lerner (pictured above) attended SSSQ through 6th grade (1998). She received her BA in Religion, Theater Studies '08 from Duke University. She continued her education at the University of Qatar where she received her Certificate in Arabic Program for Non-Native Speakers '08. Elissa attended Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2009 and then received her MA in Religious Studies, Journalism '11 from New York University. She also produced her first play, Abraham's Daughters, in the New York Fringe Festival in 2010. Elissa is a Writer at Palantir Technologies located in California, and a Senior Editor at The Brooklyn Quarterly.
Lauren Sharabi '98 (pictured above) received her BA in Communications, Business '06 from the State University of New York at Albany. Lauren is Vice President, for Business Development & Institutional Sales at the Opal Financial Group located in New York City. She is responsible for bringing in sales for financial conferences that focus on facilitating educational and networking opportunities for the Institutional Investment arena in the U.S. and International Markets. She is married to Frederic Hassan, who works in Real Estate. They have two young children, Stella and David, and currently live on the Upper West side.

For the past 7 years, Justin Weg '97 (pictured above) has been a character animator at Blue Sky Studios in Greenwich, Connecticut. His film credits include: Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Rio (lead on the goose/spoonbill), Epic (lead on the dog Ozzy), Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, Rio 2 (lead on Nico), and most recently Peanuts (lead on Snoopy's brother Spike). He lives in Westchester with his wife Courtney and son Skyler. Please click here to view the Peanuts movie trailer.

Nadav Aharon (pictured above) attended SSSQ for K and 1st grade and would have graduated 8th grade in 1994. Nadav returned back to Israel where he finished his elementary education. His family left Israel and moved to Berlin, Germany where he graduated high school and then returned to Israel and entered the army. Nadav started working in the high-tech area and is currently the owner and co-founder of Trion Logics - a successful worldwide information security company in Israel that deals with integrating Infosec products and much more. Nadav is married to Amit Geva and lives in Israel. He hopes that the school would one day make a reunion for alumni living in Israel.

Adam Varga '94 (pictured above) graduated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received his degree in Electronic Media, Arts and Communications '03. Adam spent a year in Israel on Young Judaea's Year Course program between high school and college (98-99) and 6 months hiking from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail in 2004. Adam is a lead Engineer at Datalot and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Biana and their two children, Maple and Arlo.
Daniel Herscovici (pictured above) attended SSSQ through 6th grade (1984). He went on to get his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering and after 5 years in the industry went back to get his MBA from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania (graduating in 2003). Daniel spent time at Lucent Technologies and Motorola and now serves as Senior Vice President and General Manager at Comcast where he leads the Xfinity Home Business. Daniel lives in Princeton, NJ with his wife, Laurie and two amazing children (pictured above) Aaron (9) and Olivia (5).
Mark Seidenfeld '77 (pictured above) received his BA in Communications '85 from the University of Pennsylvania, and his JD and MS in Communications '88 in the dual degree program at Boston University School of Law and School of Communications. He is Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Scholastic Inc. located in Manhattan. Mark and his wife, Marjorie, live in New Rochelle with their twins Michael and Talia and youngest Jonah, all of whom attended Solomon Schechter of Westchester.


News From Our Alumni

Stephanie Fox '04 graduated from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College and received her BA in Economics and Political Science '12. She continued her education and received her M.Ed., Master of Education from the Christian Brothers University '14. Stephanie currently teaches 7th grade writing at Achievement First Brooklyn High School, a public charter school in Brooklyn. Stephanie was a Corps Member for Teach for America in 2012.

Daniela Grafman '03 received her BA in Communications/Media Studies, Psychology '11 from Fordham University. Daniela is a Wedding and Special Events Coordinator at Vision Entertainment Group, LLC in Manhattan. Prior to this position, Daniela planned special events for the United Way of New York City.

Ian Levine '03 received his BA in International Studies '11 from Muhlenberg College and continued his education at New York University where he graduated with a BSN in Nursing '13. Ian is a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at North Shore LIJ Health System.

Michael Schwartz '02 received his BA in Judaic Studies '11 from Binghamton University. He is a Priority Support Engineer at Lloyd Group located in Manhattan.

Alon Eliyahu '00 received his BA in Chemistry '08 from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He graduated Cum Laude, and received the Academic Excellence in Chemistry Award. Alon then attended and graduated from Touro College of Pharmacy where he completed his Doctor of Pharmacy '12. He is a licensed immunizing pharmacist currently working at Duane Reade in New York.

Rachel (Stein) Benzaquen '00 graduated Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Binghamton and received her BS in Management Finance '08. She is currently a Vice President at JP Morgan.

Elaine Gueron '00 attended Solomon Schechter Long Island High School '04. She graduated New York University with a BA in Psychology '08 and continued there to obtain her MS in Speech-Language Pathology '11. Elaine started a new position July 2014 as the Speech-Language Pathologist at Columbus Medical Rehabilitation in the Bronx and also works at Dry Harbor Nursing Home in Queens since 2011.

Josh Zeisel '99 received his BS in Aerospace Engineering '07 from Boston University and completed a MS in Mechanical Engineering '12 from the City College of New York. He is the Lead Mechanical and Thermal Engineer at Frequency Electronics, Inc. located in Uniondale, New York. Josh is a mentor at Plainview Old-Bethpage High School for their FIRST robotics program, Team 353 the POBots.

Karinne Nissenbaum Mymon '97 graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management in '05. She and her husband have two children, Saphir (6) a current student at SSSQ and Eliraz (3).

Heather Pasternak '97 graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BA in Fashion Merchandising and Buying '06. She is a Licensed Real Estate Agent at Town Residential in New York. Heather is a self-starter with a passion centered around fashion and entertainment, art, media and beauty.

Benjamin Lerner '96 graduated from Stuyvesant High School '00 and received his BS in Computer Science and Math '04 from Yale University. Benjamin continued his education at U Washington where he received his PhD in Computer Science. He worked one year at Microsoft before grad school and another year and a half interning at Microsoft Research during grad school. After completing a post-doc at Brown University, he is now a lecturer at Northeastern University in Boston.

Seth Offenbach '96 graduated with a BA from McGill University '04 and received his PhD from Stony Brook University '10. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Bronx Community College.

Julia Weinberg '95 graduated from Queensborough Community College with an Associate of Arts (AA), Business Administration and Management, General '03. She then received her BA, Legal Studies, General '05 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Julia is a Personal Injury Paralegal at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP located in Lake Success.

Ronit Notkin (Schwab) '94 received her BA in Psychology and a BA in Human Development from Binghamton University '02. She continued her education at NYU Silver School of Social Work and received her Master in Social Work '06. She worked in various capacities at NYU Medical Center at the Center for Brain Health and in the Alzheimers Disease Research Center for 16 years, the last 7 years was as a family counselor. She currently works at JASA as a Program Director for a geriatric psychosocial club.

Marshall Huebner '80 is an attorney in New York and has four daughters ages 11-20. Two are in Ramaz, one is in Israel and one is a freshman in college.

Lisa Anderman-Daskal '75 received her BA in Biology '83 from Lehigh University and her JD from St. John's University School of Law.

Larry Farkas '75 lives in Great Neck with his wife, Beth and their three kids; Alana (18), Lauren (14), and Matthew (12). He is an attorney with an office in Great Neck - Gleich Siegel and Farkas.

Michael Saliel '72 graduated from Queens College and received his BA, Computer Science '84. He then continued his education and received his MS, Computer Software Engineering '87 from Polytechnic University. Michael has extensive experience in technical project management with superior computer systems knowledge. He has lived overseas for many years and currently resides in New York.


Mazal Tov to Josh '99 and Jill Fox on the birth of their daughter, Zoey Aviv (pictured above), born March 15.
Mazal Tov to Jamie Sackett Marks '99 and Ashley on the birth of their son, Judah Leo (pictured above), born May 12, 2015 in London, UK.
Mazal Tov to Hillel Skolnik '97 and Sharon on the birth of their daughter Hadar Eliana (pictured above), born February 12. Big sister, Dafna (6), and big brother, Liav (3) are thrilled!
Mazal Tov to Eric Trager '97 and Alyssa on the birth of their son Max (pictured above), born February 19.
Mazal Tov to Maytal Aharonov Marcu '96 and Offer on the birth of their son, Ilay (pictured above), born March 1 in Israel.


Mazal Tov to Rafael Badalov and Lauren Mordukhaev '05 on their wedding July 2 at Leonard's Plalazzo in Great Neck.
Mazal Tov to Eric Benaim '93 and Stephanie (pictured above) on their wedding October 19 at Chelsea Piers.
Mazal Tov to Rachel Klager '93 and Jason Goldberg (pictured above) on their wedding at the Fox Hollow on December 20.


- Supports and advances the school’s alumni efforts, helping keep alumni connected and engaged.

- Promotes a lasting relationship between current students, staff, families, alumni, alumni families, and the community

- Facilitates social programs, networking opportunities, and other occasions that connect alumni and Schechter.

- Participates in fundraising to meet the school’s goals.

Thank you for your input and ideas.

Thank you to our alumni and alumni parents for support and contributions to the Annual Campaign.
2014/2015 SSSQ Alumni Council members:

Ariel Boverman '76
Roni Grill Nadell '92
Rachel Klager '93
Yaara Bank Plotkin '96
Naomi Birbach ‘00
Elana Jacob '00
Scott Topal '02
David Beizer '04
Lara Pollack '05
Melissa Glassman '06
Mirielle Maor '06

Advisory Members:
Andy Bass '70
Barry Katzman '80
Rosalie Costa Soriano '87
Ziv Alcalay '86

Joining the alumni council is a way of reconnecting with your friends and making new contacts.

If you would like more information on how to get involved, please contact:

Naomi R. Horowitz
Alumni Coordinator
718 591-9800 ext. 323


Class of 2007 & 2011


Please support your alma mater to secure a bright future in Jewish Education for our students.

For more information about ways to donate, please email or call 718-591-9800 ext. 323


As Alumni, your input is invaluable, and we want to keep in touch with you! Please take a few minutes to provide us with your updated contact information.

Would you like to be featured:

- in an upcoming Alumni Newsletter

- on our website/portal

- in SSSQ marketing materials

- share an essay or blog

- submit photos

- tell us what you've been doing since graduation

All submissions should be sent to and include:

- your name (please also include your maiden name, if applicable)

- email address and phone number

- address

- year you graduated
* By submitting content, you are granting SSSQ the right to use said content in all Alumni-related materials.


What's Happening In Your Life?

Marriage? Promotion? New job? Relocating? Honors and awards? New degree? New addition to your family?

Send an email to and share your news with fellow alumni.


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We welcome your feedback about this newsletter. Please share your comments and suggestions with us by sending an email to Naomi at
We regret any inadvertent errors or omissions