Born and raised in a small Connecticut town, and married to the amazing Alayna, Matt has spent the past decade building Jewish community in Los Angeles. Matt is so excited to be the new Executive Director of Hillel 818, and looks forward to helping grow 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.
EVAN TAKSAR LEVENTAL
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.
MANAGER OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
Ally is so excited to be part of the Hillel 818 team as the Manager of Student Engagement. Originally from Mission Viejo, Ally moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University, where she majored in English and Jewish Studies. On campus she was involved in Hillel, Greek life, performing arts, and served as a tour guide and orientation leader. She then went on to earn her Master’s in Experiential Education & Jewish Cultural Arts from The George Washington University. Ally began her career with Hillel as the IACT Israel Engagement Associate at Santa Barbara Hillel, supporting students in their Jewish journeys and connections with Israel. She has led multiple Jewish immersive experience trips, including Birthright Israel.
Ally is passionate about creating welcoming, meaningful Jewish spaces and experiences for all and looks forward to enriching Jewish student life in the LA Valley. She loves traveling and has studied abroad in Prague and Jerusalem. Ally enjoys experimenting with cooking and baking, listening to podcasts, staying active outdoors, and watching too much reality TV. She can’t wait to get to know y’all over coffee and conversation!
Julia Martini is the Communications Coordinator at Hillel 818. She spends most of her time making sure Hillel's social media pages and website are full of incredible content, but can also be found helping to run our weekly lunches at Los Angeles Valley College and Pierce College, and is excited to grow Hillel 818's presence on those campuses! She grew up in the Valley, left to study international affairs at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and then came right back. She is excited to stay in the San Fernando Valley and work at Hillel 818!
When she's not at Hillel, she loves to listen to music and go to concerts. So feel free to stop by or meet for coffee to talk all things Hillel 818 (or Drake's music!).
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.
A San Francisco Bay Area native (go Giants - sorry!) Rebecca's involvement with Hillel goes back to her undergraduate days at Brandeis University, and later as Assistant Director of Student Activities at Harvard Hillel. After many intervening years, she's thrilled to be back as the Operations Manager for an organization she really believes in.
Call or stop by on weekdays to say hello and for general assistance, and if you speak Israeli folk dance, cooking, or Torah reading, even better!