Meet the Staff
Rabbi Abigail Treu
Director, The Center for Jewish Living and The David H. Sonabend Center for Israel
Rabbi Abigail Treu comes to JCC Manhattan from the National Ramah Commission, where she built an alumni and community network engaging thousands of Ramah alumni and friends as Director of Strategic Advancement and Reshet Ramah. She previously served as a Rabbinic Fellow at The Jewish Theological Seminary teaching, writing, and leading High Holiday services, as well as in a number of development roles. Abby has served on the board of Big Tent Judaism, working to build Jewish communities welcoming to all kinds of Jewish families, as well as on the Women’s Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly, and is an alumna of the Clergy Training Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In 2005 she co-authored, with Dov Peretz Elkins, The Bible’s Top 50 Ideas, and she has written a number of articles and op-eds. An avid knitter and yoga enthusiast, she lives in Manhattan with her husband and three children.
Susie Kessler, Program Director of Makom
Former coordinator of the National Center for Jewish Healing, Susie brings knowledge of spiritual support and Jewish wisdom to all of her program areas. Her passion is helping people grow and heal from the inside-out by uncovering and exploring their spiritual journey as well as teaching techniques and practices that can help them find their deepest connection to themselves, to each other and to the Divine. It is her belief that this kind of growth is the fertile ground that allows for true social change. Susie has been a member of the Upper West Side Jewish Community for over 40 years and a member of the JCC staff since the building opened.
Sarah-Kay Lacks, Senior Director of Institutional Programs
A ten year veteran of the JCC, Sarah-Kay’s role involves working broadly with staff to create large scale community events. Prior to working at the JCC, Sarah-Kay spent four years in city government at the Department of Parks & Recreation as the Director of Recruitment and Citywide Program Coordinator. Sarah-Kay received her BA from Vassar College with a double major in Religion and Urban Studies and holds an MA in Public and Non-profit Management from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Adina Marom, Director of Ulpan
Born in Israel and educated in Israel and the US. Taught Hebrew Language at all language levels at Columbia University, Yeshiva University, and Hunter College in NYC, and since 2003 is a full-time faculty member at the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU. In addition, serves as Ulpan Director and Supervisor at the JCC Ulpan Center in Manhattan. An active participant in the National Association of Professors of Hebrew.
Rabbi Miriam Farber Wajnberg
Director of Adult Jewish Learning and Interfaith Engagement
Rabbi Wajnberg received rabbinical ordination and her Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. An alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Rabbi Wajnberg worked as a community organizer with the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations and has served Jewish communities in Los Angeles, Washington state, Montana, and New York.
Program Assistant, The Center for Jewish Living and The David H. Sonabend Center for Israel
Rachel comes to the JCC from the theatre world, where she is a musical theatre writer, playwright, and producer. She holds an MFA from NYU - Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and a BA from NYU - Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Rachel was actively involved in The Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, having served as the president of Keshet and Koach.
Sammy Kanter, Director of 20s and 30s and Birthright Passport Programs
Sammy has been at the JCC Manhattan since September of 2015. Prior to this role, he led the Becker Center at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, a new, groundbreaking initiative to reexamine how Jewish Cincinnati attracts, connects, and engages young adults. He was in the inaugural class of both the Birthright Israel Fellows program and Cincinnati’s Jewish Non-Profit Leadership Institute, and he is currently a Facilitation Fellow with Jewish Council of Public Affairs’ Resetting the Table. Sammy holds a B.S. in Journalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and he is certified indoor cycling instructor.