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MATT BARAM

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Born and raised in a small Connecticut town, Matt has spent the past decade+ building Jewish community in Los Angeles. Matt is so excited to be the Executive Director of Hillel 818, where he helps grow the Jewish community in the Valley, guiding students from CSUN, Pierce College, and Valley College on their Jewish journeys. He is a Jewish day school, youth group, summer camp, Hillel and Birthright veteran, and spent eight years at Sinai Temple as the Atid and Teen Director. Matt earned a Masters of Arts in Education from the American Jewish University, and a B.S. in Advertising from Boston University, where he was active at Hillel as President of the Conservative Minyan, a member of the Religious Life Council, and guitar player and songwriter for Jewish rock band "The Rif." Matt is a TV & movie fanatic, die-hard NBA buff, and Johnny Cash impersonator who is always on the lookout for the next great lunch spot. Matt spends most of his free time with his wife Alayna and his baby boy Jaden Max.

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EVAN TAKSAR LEVENTAL

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR ADVANCEMENT

A San Fernando Valley native, Evan is thrilled to be joining the team at Hillel 818! Prior to starting with Hillel, she worked as an Assistant Director at Camp Alonim.  Evan received a dual-Master’s Degree in Jewish Professional Leadership and Near Eastern & Judaic Studies from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University. A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder (Go Buffs!), Evan was heavily involved in Hillel at CU-Boulder, serving as Vice President of its student board. She knows firsthand how impactful being involved with Hillel can be, and is excited to help students find personal, relevant and meaningful connections to Judaism. Evan loves to spend time hanging out with friends, buying too many cookbooks, hiking with her dog Molly, and scouring Los Angeles top to bottom for the perfect taco. 

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Meg Wells

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: PROGRAMMING & ENGAGEMENT

Meg joins the Hillel818 team after three years at Hillel at the University of Rochester(‘17-20) and two pandemic-filled years working for a synagogue in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Meg is excited to call Los Angeles home in partnership with her fiance and pup Mani (short for Manischewitz). Meg has been creating Jewish experiences and community in some way for over a decade and finds the work to not only be meaningful professionally but something that adds color to her life personally as well. When Meg is not at work or playing with Mani, you can usually find her at the rock climbing gym or on the hunt for the perfect iced chai tea! Feel free to ask Meg how she links Jewish texts to the Marvel Cinematic Universe! 

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Ben Braunstein

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Raised in the 818 area code, Ben is super excited to be part of the Hillel 818 team! Ben has a BA in Modern Jewish studies from CSUN, but has also studied at Pierce College and AmericanJewish University. He is currently continuing his education in a Business Administration program at University of Minnesota (Online). Before joining Hillel, Ben was the Facilities and Operations Manager at Valley Beth Shalom, and before that the Assistant director at URJ 6 Points West summer camp. Benspends his free time sailing and building things in his workshop.

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MAX WINER

PIERCE AND VALLEY COLLEGE ENGAGEMENT ASSOCIATE

Max is the Springboard Innovation Fellow for Hillel 818! He is from Fresno, California and has been involved in Jewish summer camps and Jewish life forever. He attended Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR (go Beavers!) where he majored in Music Production and Technologies and Religious Studies. When not working, Max loves to play, write and record music! You can also find him outdoors, hiking and disc golfing! Max is always happy to talk music and books, and whatever else you want to talk about!

He is super excited to join of the 818 community through fun programs, coffee chats, and deep conversations!

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DIANA MORDEHAY

JEWISH AGENCY ISRAEL FELLOW

Diana was born an raised in Azerbaijan, then six years ago made Aliyah to Israel. She just moved her from Tel Aviv! From an early age, her parents taught her the importance of keeping connected to her Jewish education. This inspired her to earn her Bachelor degree in Special Education from Kibbutzim College of Education and has spent the past year working as the social instructor at Gvanim Association, helping students with disabilities to develop skills for independent life and full self-realization.

She speaks four languages! Other than English, she also speaks Russian, Hebrew, and Azeri, so feel free to start a conversation with her in any of these languages!

She loves to travel, meet new people, and learn about different culture. Set up a meeting and get to know Diana!

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RABBI BRYAN & SONDRA BORENSTEIN

OU-JLIC and ALEVY FAMILY FOUNDATION RABBINIC COUPLE

Rabbi Bryan was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. As a teenager, he took summer school classes at all 3 campuses where he now works; California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles Valley College, and Pierce College. After YULA, he spent a year and a half in Israel studying at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim. Returning to the United States, he continued his learning at Yeshivat Torah M’Tzion while attending Touro College and received a degree in Business Management. When not in the office, Rabbi Bryan can often be found working out or hiking in the local mountains. ​If you haven’t already, feel free to stop by and introduce yourself - they are always looking for an excuse to grab a cup of coffee!

​Sondra has lived majority of her life in Ventura County, and after graduating high school decided that San Diego would be her new home. In San Diego, Sondra pursued a Political Science degree while dancing for her university’s dance team. She was active member of her sorority, Alpha Phi, and over a decade later, her sorority sisters were in full attendance at her wedding! During Sondra’s junior year of college, she had the life-changing opportunity to study abroad at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A genuine mover and shaker, Sondra has launched many programs and opportunities for Jewish students and young professionals to gather and to create community. You can find Sondra giving Torah-based classes, practicing yoga (she is a certified yoga instructor), snowboarding and skiing or discussing sustainability and green living.

Hillel 818 Professional Staff: