Rabbi Chaim Mintz Founder, Director, Spiritual Leader and Advisor - With nearly 50 years of experience in education, Rabbi Chaim Mintz is the Founder of Oorah. A native of Scranton, PA, Rabbi Chaim Mintz underwent over a decade of Rabbinical training at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, MD. Following his ordination, he was sent to establish the school's branch in Toronto, Canada. Over 40 years ago, Rabbi Mintz was appointed "Mashgiach," Dean of Men, at the prestigious Yeshiva of Staten Island, a position he continues to maintain.
His journey into outreach began when he came to the conclusion that he had a responsibility to share the treasure of Judaism with Jews who may never have had the chance to discover its beauty and richness. Rabbi Mintz has taught, nurtured, and guided many thousands of families and individuals over the years.
Eliyohu Mintz, son of our founder, Rabbi Chaim Mintz, has been involved in helping his father's outreach efforts ever since he was a young boy, joining as his father visited homes to encourage families to send children to yeshivos and developing novel fundraising programs to help fund the tuitions for those children.
As he matured, Eliyohu recognized that his father's outreach efforts could be expanded and more effectively funded by formally organizing both these efforts, and so, Oorah was born.
His vision was to create entities that would fund Oorah’s work and, as funds allowed, to expand that work. Cucumber Communications was the first such undertaking. Oorah’s unique, breakthrough Chinese Auction and marketing campaigns were his brainchild as well.
Eliyohu’s innate organizational and management skills, creative genius, and dynamic leadership has developed Oorah from an organization subsidizing school and camp tuitions for several dozen children to a multifaceted Kiruv and social organization reaching thousands – under the watchful eye and ongoing guidance of his father.
With his genial personality and charming South African accent (never mind his impressive credentials!), Mr. Avi Gordon is a valuable asset to Oorah’s management. Avi holds multiple degrees in finance, accounting and law from South Africa, in addition to attending business school in the States. Avi brings many years of operations and management experience with several prestigious national and multinational corporations to his position as Oorah’s Chief Operating Officer.
“After years of chasing the corporate dream, I realized it is about people and not profits,” Avi says. “What could be more satisfying that to be a part of an organization that spends its every waking hour bringing smiles to children’s faces and helping them find meaning and unbridled love in very challenging times?”
Rabbi Biderman has been involved in Oorah for decades and has served as an independent Director of Oorah since 2007. Professionally, he serves as Managing Editor of Mesorah Publication, the world leading publisher of English-language works of Judaic interest.
He is a published author and noted lecturer. Additionally, Rabbi Biderman is involved, in a voluntary capacity, in nearly a score of local, national and international social, educational and philanthropic groups, formally serving as an Officer or Director of six of them. Rabbi Biderman has previously served as a member and officer of a New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Neighborhood Advisory Board. He earned his Masters in Talmudic Jurisprudence and his Rabbinic Ordination from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem in New York City.
Stephen Schwartz is our general counsel and in-house legal expert, a role for which he is well-suited with his many years of experience in the legal field as prosecutor for townships and most recently, as counsel for a private school for disabled students. Mr. Schwartz works in conjunction with Oorah’s board, executive team and staff to direct all legal affairs for the organization.
Though he hasn’t been here long, he’s already had the opportunity to see many of our programs in action at TheZone’s Yom Tov events, and gains immense personal satisfaction from working for an organization that is dedicated to helping people grow. Mr. Schwartz lives in Clifton, NJ with his wife and three young children.
With years of kiruv experience behind him, Rabbi Lichtenstein oversees all recipients of benefits from Oorah's programming, such as the weekly Torah Spot classes in Staten Island. He also supervises all full-time and part-time Oorah Outreach employees and volunteers.
Rabbi Lichtenstein, a seasoned speaker, made a memorable appearance on the annual Oorah-thon this past year, and has involved his whole family in the kiruv effort – check out his boys with Fiveish in the 2011 Oorah Auction catalog.
For over five years, Rabbi Weinstein has researched and overseen all new outreach programs for Oorah.
Many new programs were brought to fruition with his vision and drive, and indeed, most people only get to see him as a moving blur in constant motion in and around the corporate office. We’re proud to have Rabbi Weinstein aboard as a member of the Kiruv Department.
Whether he’s assisting families with school placement or overseeing the Torah Mates program, Rabbi Yoffe has seen plenty of warm, inspiring stories happen right before his eyes. As someone who has been with Oorah for nine years, Rabbi Yoffe finds his job in the Kiruv Department richly rewarding.
Rabbi Beer has been with us for a little over four years, and yet he still gets enthralled every time he senses someone interested in drawing closer to their heritage. “I know at that moment that I have a chance to help a lost neshama find its path.” He lives in Lakewood with his musical family, where they enjoy zemiros at the shabbos table with a lush mix of harmonies.
Since his inception nearly five years ago, Fiveish has become an icon of successful marketing in the Jewish world. Having taken all forms of media by storm, he was a sensation during the 2009-10 Auction season, where anyone who wasn’t living in a cave was on the lookout for the whereabouts of Oorah’s walking and talking 6’4” five dollar bill.
Now an entity unto himself, Fiveish has carved out a loveable niche in the dog-eat-dog world of competitive marketing, and is cherished by young and old alike.
As Oorah’s “shadchan of shadchanim,” Mrs. Sonenschein helps singles of Baal Teshuva background find their life's mate through The Rebbetzins program. In her spare time, Mrs. Sonenschein is kept well on her toes by her three energetic boys.
Since starting at Oorah nine years ago, Mrs. Gewirtz can certainly say she’s seen the evolution of the marketing team and all it does throughout the year. She is known for her keen, creative ability to think outside the box, and has been part of Oorah’s most successful campaigns to date. She’s also one of the most patient people in the room, and is generous with her time, encouraging others to grow through their contributions to the team.
As someone who puts her all into her job, she delights in seeing it in action as well – namely, in the excitement of campers in TheZone as they discover the magic of Shabbos for the very first time. Though she takes work pretty seriously, she is known to play a very wicked game of basketball, and takes pride in making up memorable nicknames for her five kids.
For those who don’t know her, Mrs. Abend is a powerhouse. For those of us who do, we know her as a woman who doesn’t rest until the job is done absolutely perfectly. With her network of connections cast widely in the musical, textile, toy, food and art industries, she is able to procure the most interesting, wonderful, curious, beautiful and delicious things to help Oorah’s fundraising efforts. Mrs. Abend doesn’t have any spare time.
Mrs. Barker has been with Oorah for three years. She enjoys her work in the Marketing Department, which is also a built in creative outlet, social scene, and Parisian café. Being employed at a non-profit affords her the chance to see her work in action, whether by visiting TheZone camp, co-directing the Oorah-thon, or hearing the many moving accounts of those whose lives Oorah has touched. In her spare time, she cajoles her five kids to stand still long enough to photograph them in various parks in the Ocean County vicinity.
Rabbi Broyde has been involved with Oorah for over 10 years. He has been focusing on assisting families with school tuition over the past 4 years. He has forged many personal relationships with these families and has been instrumental in fulfilling Oorah's goal of helping Jewish children attend yeshivas and day schools. Rabbi Broyde doesn't stop with tuition assistance, he follows up with the children and their families all through the year to offer his assistance.
Mrs. Zahner brings over 25 years of sales experience with her to Oorah’s Kiruv Department. In the course of her two years here, she has felt a true sense of accomplishment in providing children with a memorable summer experience that they’ll treasure for a lifetime. She was most touched when fielding a call from a teen who wanted to be in a Jewish camp so badly, that upon learning that we simply had no more space, he insisted that he could rough it in a sleeping bag. As a mother (and grandmother!) Mrs. Zahner can certainly appreciate how each member of the next generation serves as precious links in our mesorah.
After a stint as a school principal for over three decades, Rabbi Speiser is certainly well-outfitted for his job as the manager of Oorah’s Marketing department. Since joining the Oorah family a year ago, Rabbi Speiser brings exemplary organizational and communication skills to a fast-paced, energetic environment. He enjoys working with and facilitating the progress of the amazing dedicated team’s schedule and workload, and is proud of what they produce. He spends his spare time with his family, including several delightful grandchildren.
For the past four years, Mrs. Sicherman has brought her spectacular vision and flair to Oorah on all fronts. She was responsible for creating the resort ambiance at what is now the girls’ division of TheZone camp, the modern look of The Torah Spot in Staten Island, and is presently working on TheZone’s boys’ grounds. Mrs. Sicherman enjoys the diversity and the unique styles that Oorah prides itself with, and loves the fact that they aren’t afraid to experiment with contemporary spaces or bold colors.
Her work often serves as a springboard for outreach, as was the case of a couple who attended Torah Spot. They were so blown away by the modern décor that they decided to make their baby’s bris there – where Rabbi Chaim Mintz served as sandek. Mrs. Sicherman wrote a series of design articles for Binah Magazine, and enjoys camping out in her backyard.
For over eight years, Mrs. Landau has been at the forefront of Kars4kids – from planning and budgeting advertising to overseeing receivables, and all other aspects of the program. Since joining Oorah, she’s seen the tremendous growth of the company as car donations come in from people across America. She’s also fielded many hundreds of interesting calls about the renowned jingle, which has both delighted and dismayed listeners throughout the country. Whenever Mrs. Landau is let out of the office, she can be found on errands with her four children, her nose pressed firmly against her BlackBerry.
Though her responsibilities are primarily hiring, payroll, and enforcing office policy, Mrs. Stern finds plenty of time to give back to Oorah on a personal level. Over the years, she’s instructed classes at Shabbat With Oorah, volunteered as a Torah Mate, and has also infused her home with Oorah values: she is the proud mother of a staff member of TheZone. Though she’s transplanted herself from the West Coast to the Northeast, the brutal winter weather hasn’t spoiled her – she’s got a sunny California smile and kind word for all who meet her.
For the last year, Mrs. Homnick has contributed to Oorah with her talent, creativity and panache, producing dazzling, mind-provoking material to market what it is that we do. Possessing a unique wit, aptitude for layouts in all media, combined with quickly meeting deadlines has garnered Mrs. Homnick the reputation of having the fastest mouse in the Big Room. While she enjoys her work in the arts intrinsically, she feels that her work at Oorah runs deeper than being with any standard design firm – it’s about helping others. When she’s not at her desk, she likes drawing monochromatic pictures with charcoals, far away from her computer.
Though Mrs. Keller has been with us for eight years, she is as prudent and as cautious as the day she arrived. And that’s good news for us – as head bookkeeper for our organization, every penny she saves us is a penny earned. A native of London, England, she is also often consulted when employees are doing research of common behavior across the pond. The stories she hears through the Kiruv Department help to elevate her job to be more than just adding and subtracting numbers; one instance she found to be particularly moving was when a woman was able to establish a modest mode of dress for herself, ending a months-long struggle. In her spare time, Mrs. Keller enjoys writing short stories about non-profit bookkeepers.
Though he’s only joined Oorah this past year, Rabbi Krawiec has already gained a sincere appreciation of what it is that we accomplish here. He thoroughly enjoys the atmosphere of shared camaraderie that permeates every corner of Oorah, and that everyone is infused with the same sense of purpose: to bring Jewish kids and their families closer to their heritage. In his spare time, Rabbi Krawiec finds solace in gardening on his small patch of grass.
For just about ten years, the world has been tuning into the annual Oorah-thon to hear the sensational and completely unscripted words that Rabbi Schwarz has to say. Since he came on board here, Rabbi Schwarz has brought joy to thousands of children and their families at many Oorah functions throughout the year. Being a creative individual has permitted him the opportunity to be included in some of the Marketing Department’s more intense brainstorming sessions, where he’s sometimes able to pick up a free lunch. Rabbi Schwarz is also distantly related to Fiveish, the resemblance to whom is striking.
For over twelve years, Rabbi and Mrs. Cohen have selflessly managed Oorah’s headquarters in Israel. Due to the time difference, they often find themselves maintaining ridiculous hours, turning their days and nights upside down. The way they see it, for every schedule gone awry, it means another child helped by Oorah – and that is what motivates them. The Cohens often serve as the voice of reason when the Marketing Department has issues to discuss regarding matters such as Auction, TheZone camp, Shabbat With Oorah, and much more.
When asked why they fundraise for an American organization in Israel when it’s usually the other way around, they answer, with their characteristic smiles, that Klal Yisroel is one body, supporting each other no matter where in the world they are. They also play host to the dozens of Oorah children who graduate high school and make their way to study in Israel for the year.
Mr. Kaponadze has been adding his own unique, fresh style to Oorah’s print and web materials for over two years. His professional touch has brought our media to the next level, making every campaign he’s worked on a tremendous success – so it comes as no surprise that he pursues art in his free time as well, including safrus (the intricate calligraphy used in writing Jewish scriptures).
Mrs. Abrahamson has only been at Oorah for a little over a year, but it feels like she’s been here always. Her ability to organize, simplify and stay calm under insane pressure has made her a staple in her department, and the way she arranges the camp programs, concerts makes it look easy. She also has an envious relationship with the company printers, whose language she speaks fluently. In her free time, Mrs. Abrahamson enjoys baking with her three children.