Originally from North Miami Beach, Rabbi Menaged attended Hillel High School and studied political science at the University of Florida. Rabbi Menaged learned at Midrash Sephardi in the Old City of Jerusalem, and received rabbinical ordination from Hacham Gidon Ben-Moshe. He also received an advanced rabbinic degree from Yeshivat Mikdash Melech in Brooklyn. Rabbi Menaged was Rabbi of Congregation Beth-El of Flatbush in the Syrian community of Brooklyn, before making aliyah with his family in 2011 to join Israel XP.
Experiential Education Director
Meir Balofsky has been the Experiential Education Director of Israel XP at Bar Ilan University since the program’s inception. Meir has been actively involved in both formal and informal education with Jewish youth for nearly 14 years. He is originally from Toronto, where he was a classroom teacher, a youth/family programming director as well as a published author in Canadian Jewish History. Meir made aliyah with his family in 2004 and has worked for the overseas program at Bar Ilan University since!
Mrs. Natalie Menaged
Director of Admissions
is the Director of Recruitment & Admissions for Israel XP. Natalie was formerly the National Director at Hasbara Fellowships, a branch of Aish HaTorah dedicated to educating, training and inspiring students to stand up for Israel on university campuses. Natalie was the founder and president of Gators for Israel at the University of Florida, where she studied political science and religion. Natalie also studied at Shearim seminary in Jerusalem for two years. Most importantly, Natalie is mother to five energetic children who love Israel XP students!
Rabbi Adam Siegel
Chief Financial Officer
Rabbi Adam Siegel, Israel XP Chief Financial Officer, has extensive and diverse experience in the fields of Jewish education and finance. After teaching Torah for several years in Binghamton, NY and Charleston, SC, Rabbi Siegel served as the executive director of Yeshiva Elementary School in Miami Beach, during which time the school experienced tremendous growth and success. He then became the founding director of Ben Gamla Charter School – the first Hebrew-English charter school in the USA, which now has over 2,000 students. During the same time, Rabbi Siegel won awards from multiple insurance companies and brokerages for his work as an insurance and financial consultant. In addition to serving as the CFO of our program, he runs a very successful mortgage brokerage in Jerusalem and teaches several courses at Bar Ilan University. He lives with his wife and five children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Men’s Campus Director and Av Bayit
Originally from North Miami Beach, FL, Yonatan is the Men’s Campus Director and Av Bayit. He studied five years in Yeshivat Shaalvim and taught at the Naale Elite Academy. In 2015 the Sievs moved south to a Garin Torani in Beer Sheva. They were exposed to a beautifully diverse community of Jews from all around the world and made themselves a positive religious presence in a largely traditional/secular neighborhood. Yonatan and his family have enjoyed opening their home, hearts and fridge to the XP students since 2018!
Mrs. Orli Sasson
Women’s Campus Director and Em Bayit
is the Women’s Campus Director and Em Bayit. Orli was born and raised in Miami, and is a graduate of the University of Florida. She graduated with a degree in English Literature and Speech Communication, but spent most of her free moments planning Israel and Jewish events on campus or attending any Israel trip she could hop on! Orli spent time learning at Shearim College of Jewish Studies for Women and then moved back to Hollywood, Florida where she worked as an educator and private tutor for children of various ages. Orli is passionate, enthusiastic, energetic and loves to create and share a warm home away from home for the incoming students. Orli and her adorable family have enjoyed several years of inspiring times at Israel XP since making aliyah in 2014!
Rabbi Yitzie Klapper
Director of Alumni Affairs and Mashgiach Ruchani
Rabbi Yitzie Klapper, originally from Queens, NY, is the Director of Alumni Affairs and Mashgiach Ruchani. Rabbi Klapper was formerly Men’s Campus Director and Av Bayit for 4 years. After studying for two years in Yeshivat Shaalvim, he yisreceived his BS in Business Management from Yeshiva University. Rabbi Klapper then went on to earn a Master’s degree from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration of Yeshiva University, as well as semicha from YU/RIETS. Rabbi Klapper has previously served as the Director of Student Activities at HAFTR. In addition, he is very active in the summer camp scene having worked in many different capacities. Rabbi Klapper is extremely passionate about both formal and informal Jewish education. He brings an excitement and enthusiasm, which will make the students experience at the Israel XP BIU truly unforgettable. Together, with his wife Tova and their family, the Klappers made aliyah to join the BIU XP family!
Rabbi Roy Sasson
Rabbi Roy Sasson, Men’s Advisor, was born in Tel-Aviv and grew up in North Miami Beach. He attended Hillel High School and received a bachelors degree in Digital Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida. Roy started his own Digital Marketing company while he was in college, which he continues to run today. Despite a busy work schedule, Roy continued to feed his passion for Torah by dedicating his mornings at the Yeshiva Toras Chaim. In 2011 Roy founded a kids Torah learning program at his local synagogue for a wide range of ages, where he developed his passion for teaching. Since Roy made Aliyah to join the Israel Xp family with his wife and kids in 2014, he continues his learning at Kisse Rachamim in Bnai Brak and loves to learn with Israel XP students, while maintaining a successful career in digital marketing.
Mrs. Miriam Siegel
Miriam Siegel, women’s advisor, is a unique and valuable resource for our students. Mrs. Siegel is a black belt in several forms of karate and self defense, with experience teaching dance and physical education, all of which she teaches to Israel XP students during extracurricular hours. Mrs. Siegel is also certified in Israel as a women’s empowerment coach and a licensed craniosacral therapist with her own private practice. Miriam is beloved as a friend, mentor and role model. She lives with her family in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Originally from Boca Raton, Florida, Rivka attended Weinbaum/Katz Yeshiva High School before heading to Israel to study in Midreshet Tehillah. After seminary, she made aliyah and spent a year working with Israeli children in Sheirut Leumi. Together with Yonatan Siev and their rambunctious daughters, Rivka has had the pleasure of living on Men’s campus for three years. Her hobbies include running after her four kids, baking cookies, and arts and crafts. After years of working in business administration, Rivka is thrilled to serve as the XP Staff as the Daytime Campus Coordinator.
Yael Magder was a former Madricha on Bar Ilan 2016/2017. After having an incredible year on the Bar Ilan Experience, she decided to maintain her connection with the XP alumni in the New York area. Yael currently works as an alumni associate, meeting with students and coordinating events on a consistent basis. Yael is currently studying at Baruch College in NYC and hopes to return back to Israel upon completing her degree.
Bar Ilan University Faculty
Rabbi Ari Kahn
Director of Foreign Student Programs,
Rabbi Ari Kahn is the Director of Foreign Student Programs at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where he also is a senior lecturer in Jewish studies. Rabbi Kahn received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, where he studied with Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik. He also holds a BA in psychology and an MS in Talmud.Rabbi Kahn is a renowned speaker, and has lectured worldwide. Having authored hundreds of articles on the weekly parsha with a readership in excess of 10,000, Rabbi Kahn is also the author of “Explorations,” an in-depth analysis of the weekly Torah reading, “Emanations,” an in-depth analysis of the Jewish holidays, and “Echoes of Eden,” a projected 5-volume set of parsha analysis. Rabbi Kahn combines the mystical explorations of kabbala and chassidism with a highly-intellectual and broad-minded approach to Torah study, incorporating psychology, literature and Jewish history into his observations as well.
He has lived in Israel since 1984 with his wife Naomi and 5 children.
Dr. Neal Bauer
Dr. Neal Bauer earned his B.A. at Queens College, CUNY in Psychology, M.A. in Psychology of Education at Teacher’s College, Columbia University and completed his doctorate at LIU Post. Dr. Bauer completed training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy at New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, and did his internship in neuropsychology at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center. In clinical practice, Dr. Bauer works with a range of individuals, treating various presenting issues such as depression and anxiety to life transitions and medical-related concerns. Dr. Bauer taught at Touro College in Brooklyn on the topics of cognition, behavioral neuroscience, and developmental psychology. There, he also served as the Special Needs Coordinator. When not teaching or practicing psychology, Dr. Bauer spends time with his family and enjoys the hills of Jerusalem.
Director of Administration
Mrs. Alyta Pitaru, Director of Administration, was born in Petach Tikva Israel, raised in an English speaking household by parents who emigrated from England. She did her national service as a Coordinator of a Bnei Akiva branch in Moshav Netzer Hazahi in Gush Katif. She attended Bar Ilan University earning a BA in Land of Israel Studies and Jewish History. Alyta has been the director of administration for overseas students at Bar Ilan university since 1997.
Dr. Chana G. Tannenbaum
Academic Coordinator and senior lecturer
Dr. Chana G. Tannenbaum is Academic Coordinator and a senior lecturer at Bar Ilan University. Dr. Tannenbaum has an Ed.D in Education, an M.A.. In Ancient Jewish History and a B.A. In Judaic Studies. In 1993, she received the Baumel Award, a prize bestowed upon the most outstanding faculty member at Yeshiva University. Since making making Aliyah in 1997 with her family, Dr. Tannenbaum has taught in many one year programs, served as the founding Dean of Shaalvim for Women, and lectured to adult women all over the country. She has been with this program for over fifteen years.
Dr. Gabriel Danzig
Earned his BA in Classics from University of Chicago, his MA in Ancient Greek from Bryn Mawr College, his MA in Social Thought from University of Chicago and his PhD in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University. An author of several books and articles, Dr. Danzig will bring history to life in the classroom. Even students who are afraid of Classics may find a new level of comfort in his class. And for those who embrace them, this may be a dream come true.
Dr. Adam S. Ferziger
Earned his B.A. in Political Science/Jewish History and his M.A. in Modern Jewish History from Yeshiva University, his Ph.D. in Modern Jewish History from Bar Ilan University and his Rabbinical Ordination from Yeshiva University. He is the recipient of numerous prizes, fellowships and grants. A chairman of International Academic Conferences and lecturer at several scientific academic conferences, Rabbi Ferziger has published dozens of publications.
Fifteen years ago, Chani Hadad made aliyah from New York. She brought with her a husband, five children (now six), an MA in Humanities from New York University, another MA in English from Brooklyn College, experience as an English instructor at Yeshiva University, CUNY, SUNY, and Touro, and a burning desire to continue teaching literature. Currently, she is just a year and a dissertation away from earning her PhD in English Lit at Bar Ilan.
Dr. Kenneth Mischel
Dr. Kenneth Mischel received his BA in Philosophy & Science from the University of Pennsylvania and his MS and PhD degrees in Financial Economics from Columbia University. After earning his PhD, Kenneth was a professor in the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York. A committed Zionist, Kenneth (and his family) decided to give up the life of a tenured professor in America for the privilege of contributing to the development of the state of Israel. After making Aliyah, Dr Mischel created and managed high-frequency trading algorithms. He also created the automated pension advice system that is used by a major Israeli bank. Most recently, he founded WakeUp Pension, Israel’s first objective “robo” pension advisor.
Kayla Rapps is currently a PhD candidate at Bar-Ilan University, researching the neural epigenetic mechanisms of weight loss. Her research is funded by the Israel Science Foundation. She has been awarded the President’s Scholarship during these studies. She earned her BSc with Honours in Kinesiology at York University in Toronto and her MSc in Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University. She lives in the southern part of Israel with her husband and two daughters.
Dr. Tamara Lefcourt Ruby
Tammy has a Ph.D. in pure mathematics from U. Penn. She teaches calculus/precalculus and statistics in the Israel XP program. Her main research interest is teaching and learning undergraduate mathematics, with particular focus on the academic preparation of secondary mathematics teachers. BXP (Before XP). Tammy was the chair of the Mathematics Education Program at the Efrata College of Education in Jerusalem, and before making Aliyah in 2000, she was on the math faculties at UT-Austin and Harvard universities. She currently spends summer term at Harvard working with the Math for Teaching Master’s degree program. Tammy and her husband Shawn have three adult children and a dog and live in Zichron Yaakov. Her family believes that everyone should have a place where they can show up for Shabbat without an invitation. They have adopted six lone soldiers (and counting) over the years.
Dr. Frances Shalit
Earned her B.A. from Columbia University, her M.Sc. in Life Sciences from the Weizmann Institute of Science and her Ph.D. in Neuroimmunology, from Bar-Ilan University. Her expertise ranges from genetics, Biology, Immunology and Human Physiology to technology and business development.
Earned her BA in Jewish Studies from Stern College for Women and her MA in Bible from The Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University. She trained as a Hidden Sparks Coach and worked with classroom teachers to teach them to identify and work with students with specialized learning needs. She is a seasoned educator with a passion for making her course material relevant and current. In addition to lecturing at Bar Ilan, she is also a successful hi tech recruiter.
Dr. Zvi Shimon
A very popular Bible lecturer at Bar Ilan University. He was awarded a president’s scholarship during his doctoral studies and his dissertation was awarded the Churgin award for best dissertation in Bible by the Bar Ilan Bible department. He received his baccalaureate from Bar Ilan University, a Masters degree from Yeshiva University and his Ph.D. from Bar Ilan University. Dr. Zvi Shimon lectures regularly at national and international Bible conferences including the Herzog study days and conferences of the Society of Biblical Literature. His book “Human Choice: Biblical Narrative and the Drama of Choice” (Heb.) by Magnes Press presents a new approach to biblical theology focusing on the role of human choice in the biblical narrative. He is an alumnus of Yeshivat Har Etzion where he studied for seven years and authored a weekly article for the Virtual Beit Midrash of Yeshivat Har Etzion.
Rabbi Ari Yablok
Judaic studies lecturer and MSW
Rabbi Ari Yablok, Judaic studies lecturer and program social worker, made aliyah from Teaneck, NJ in 2009 and currently lives with his wife, Ayelet, and five children in Giv’at Shmuel. After studying for two years in Yeshivat Shaalvim, Rav Ari received a BA in Judaic studies from Yeshiva University, an MSW from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and semicha from Yeshiva University’s RIETS. Rav Ari has many years of experience working with the international student body of Bar-Ilan University, including serving as IsraelXP’s Av Bayit and Campus Director. Rav Ari is also a senior product content writer for a hi-tech company, a clinical therapist, and a musician.
Israel XP Madrichim
Alegría Cohen Chocrón
Alegría Cohen Chocrón was born in Venezuela. After finishing school, Alegría came to Israel to study at Midreshet Lindembaum, and after that she made Alia, attending ulpan at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. She spent the last year doing Sherut Leumi at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in the dialysis ward in Jerusalem. Alegría will be in the mechina at Bar Ilan University along with her exciting madricha position at Israel XP !
Sarah Epstein was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Upon graduation, she spent a year and a half at Darchei Binah, followed by Stern College for Women where she received her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. She made Aliyah after two years of working at ORA, then worked as Rakezet Chevratit in MMY. She is so excited to join the Israel XP staff as a madricha this coming year!
Joshua Lent made Aliyah after high school from Cedarhurst, New York, and spent two years in Mechinat Atzmonah. Joshua then served three years as a combat soldier in Sayeret Givati in the IDF. This upcoming year along with his exciting position as a madrich in Bar Ilan he will be starting a degree in psychology/special education in the Bar Ilan University.
Yisrael grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and made aliyah after high school at the age of 17. After spending 2 years learning at Yeshivat Shaalvim, Yisrael drafted to the Ground Security Division of the Israeli Air Force, where he served for 3 years. He is currently studying Biology and Chemistry at Bar Ilan University. He is looking forward to a great year of learning and personal growth at the Bat Ilan XP!
Avrumi Lewis made aliyah from Atlanta, GA. He did the hesder program with Yeshivas Kerem B’Yavneh and served a year and a half in the Nachal brigade. After the army, Avrumi was a madrich at Yeshivat Ashreinu while learning at Lev Hatorah. He is currently studying psychology/criminology at Bar Ilan University.
Yasmin Lugassy was born in Jerusalem. After school she did Sherut Leumi in Efrat and helped kids who have just made Aliyah to learn Hebrew and Israeli culture. She will be studying at the Bar Ilan University’s Midrasha and very excited to be a madricha at Israel XP!