Meet our dedicated ImmerseNYC Team, our Board of Directors and Advisory Board.
Rabbi Sara Luria, Founder and Executive Director
As a trained community organizer, birth doula, and chaplain, Sara incorporates into her work a passion for justice, belief in the centrality of relationships, and dedication to marking transformative, sacred experiences. Sara served as the community organizing rabbinic intern at East End Temple in Manhattan from 2010-2012. Before entering rabbinical school, she worked as a Jewish educator in the Bay Area. Sara is an alumna of the JOIN for Justice year-long fellowship that trains young Jewish leaders in community organizing, and graduated with honors from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
Sara lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Isaac, and their young children, Caleb, Eva, and Judah.
Pippi Kessler, Program Director
As an educational consultant and speaker, Pippi has trained hundreds of educators and parents across the country to be better leaders and communicators. Most recently, she was the Program Director at Ma’yan, a program of the JCC in Manhattan, and currently is a lead consultant there. She is also the Director of Rowe Young People’s Camp, a summer program for 8-11-year-olds in western Massachusetts. She was the National Coordinator for The Mothers Circle program at the Jewish Outreach Institute, and brings her expertise in designing educational programs to ImmerseNYC.
She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Social-Organizational Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Leah Spigelman, Immersion Coordinator
Leah Spigelman brings extensive grant management and program coordination experience at a range of international development, peacebuilding, and Jewish communal organizations. She has managed grants across Africa at the International Rescue Committee and American Jewish World Service, and in Liberia, for the Liberia Peacebuilding Fund. She has also worked with the Burmese community doing human rights work based out of Thailand.
Leah holds a master’s degree with concentrations in human security and international negotiation and conflict resolution from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a BA in political science from Vassar College. Leah is also an improviser, performer, and writer, and deeply values the lessons of improv in active listening, collaboration, and being present.
Board of Directors
Debbie Cosgrove, Chair
Debbie Cosgrove received a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Judaic Studies from JTS. In addition to teaching for several years at Jewish day schools both in NYC and Chicago, Debbie has also worked in curriculum development and school admissions. She is currently a teacher of adult education classes for the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and Park Ave Synagogue, and serves on the Board of the Jewish Women's Foundation of New York as the Grant Chair for both NYC and Israel grants. She is also involved with UJA-Federation. Debbie is the wife of Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove and the mother of four adorable children!
Anne has been deeply involved in communal Jewish life since studying for a year at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem in the late 1990’s. She and her family lived in Portland Maine for 7 years, during which Anne was president of the board of the local communal mikveh, Mikvat Shalom. Anne also served on the board of Shaarey Tphiloh in Portland. After a family move to Silver Spring, Maryland, Anne was active in the founding of MoEd, an educational program designed to provide a Jewish afterschool experience for children in public school. She is also a proud member of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA). Anne feels honored to help ImmerseNYC enable more Jewish men and women to access the transformative power of mikveh. Professionally, Anne works for American Express, where she runs large change management initiatives focused on improving the workplace experience. She holds a masters from CUNY’s Graduate Center, and completed her BA at the University of Chicago. Anne now lives in Washington Heights with her family.
Sally Kaplan is a Vice President and Trustee of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City and Co-chair of the Synergy Manhattan Rabbinic and Lay Advisory Council at UJA-Federation of New York. She is a former professional in UJA-Federation's Caring Commission where she managed a multi-million dollar portfolio, overseeing grants in spiritual and end-of-life care in New York and Israel. She served on the Palliative Care Steering Committee of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and has been a featured speaker on end of life issues for health care, congregational, and Jewish community audiences. Sally is currently studying at the Center for Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and serving as a chaplain at the Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Rachel Tessler Lopatin founded and operated the Adam Strauss Memorial Mikveh at the Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. She recently moved to New York with her family as her husband assumed the role of president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.
Julie R. Sissman
Julie R. Sissman is an Organization & Leadership Consultant who works with large organizations, like IBM, and small ones, like start-up non-profits. Julie is active in the Jewish giving circle movement, as a leader of HEKDESH, a giving circle of alumni of the Dorot Fellowship in Israel, a member of Natan and the Jewish Women's Foundation of NY, and a co-coordinator of the Tzedakah Roundtable at Schechter Manhattan. She serves as the vice president of the Board and co-president of the Parents' Association at Schechter Manhattan, and is a Mikveh Guide and Board member of ImmerseNYC. Julie received her MA in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University, and her BA with Distinction from the University of Michigan. Julie has sung with the Riverside Choral Society since 1994, and lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband and two daughters.
Rebecca (Becca) Youngerman has spent her career focused on community building, leadership development and issue advocacy work in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Cleveland and San Francisco. Becca is passionate about creating inclusive and welcoming Jewish communities and is proud to serve on the ImmerseNYC and Big Tent Judaism boards to help advance this work. She received a Masters in Public Administration and a B.A. in Political Science from American University’s School of Public Affairs and spent her junior year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Becca is part of the inaugural cohort of the Schusterman Fellowship and is a member of the ROI community. A proud native of Madison, WI and a current resident of Brooklyn, Becca enjoys local food, swimming, and traveling.
Zahara Zahav is the Program Manager and Network Organizer of Rabbis Without Borders (RWB). Passionate about harnessing the power of community for broader social change, Zahara’s work at RWB is centered on deepening the network’s commitment to serving all people. An alum of both the Pardes Institute and Yeshivat Hadar yearlong Torah study programs, Zahara is dedicated to building spiritually and politically awake Jewish spaces. As an AVODAH fellow, Zahara worked as a program and development associate at Footsteps, an organization for people transitioning out of the ultra-Orthodox community. She currently sits on the Shalom Bayit Leadership Team as a part of the Jews For Racial and Economic Justice Shalom Bayit campaign, which seeks justice for home care workers and their employers. Born in Key West, Florida, Zahara is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.
Nancy K. Zaro
Since moving to Westchester in 1984 to raise her family, Nancy has held various communal leadership roles within her community synagogue as well as chairing a multitude of events throughout the county for UJA Federation. Hadassah, JNF, Hillels of Westchester, FIDF and more. Raised in a traditional and Zionistic home in central Connecticut; at 16 years of age she accompanied her father to hear a renowned UJA speaker, Elaine Winik. This was Nancy's 'ah ha' moment, she said to her father, "I want to do what she does”. Nancy has also worked professionally for the Westchester Jewish Council from 2006- 2013 as associate director. The Westchester Jewish Council is the JCRC for the 150,000 Jews presently living in Westchester. Her responsibilities included board development, fundraising, inter-faith outreach, event coordination and extensive program development. Nancy presently lives in Greenwich Ct. She and her husband Joseph have 3 grown children all living in the New York area.
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue
Rabbi Jeffrey Fox, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Maharat
Stephanie Garry, Chief Administrative Officer/Community Relations Liaison, Plaza Jewish Community Chapel
Sally Gottesman, Cofounder and Board Chair, Moving Traditions
Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen, Director of Communal Engagement, Central Synagogue