Our Team

We believe in a pluralism that begins with the diversity of our staff


Meet the Team

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Emily Block 
Assistant Executive Director

Emily comes to Cornell Hillel after previously working as the Assistant Director of Jewish Student Life at Rollins College Hillel where she served as the inaugural solo director for almost 4 years. Emily is a Connecticut native- having attended the University of Connecticut for her undergraduate degree, which she received in Political Science and Human Rights, as well as her Masters in Public Administration with a focus in nonprofit management. She was also active in her Hillel in college, serving as president of the student board, as a member of the Board of Directors and finally as the Assistant Director. It was through her experience with Hillel that her passion for enhancing and empowering Jewish life on college campuses grew.

Rabbi Ari Weiss
Executive Director

Rabbi Ari Weiss is a Jewish educator, thought leader and social entrepreneur. He has led multiple initiatives in the Jewish educational, social justice, and innovation ecosystems that engage young adults and connect them to Jewish values, ideas, and community.

Ari is married to Dr. Sara Kranzler. They are the proud parents of Adir and Batya.

Susanna Cohen 
Director of Development

Susanna (Susu) is a proud Mid-Westerner and Cornell graduate ’12. As a student, she was a passionate Hillel leader, best remembered for co-founding the Big Red Bar Mitzvah. With a decade of experience in development, she is thrilled to work for an organization that is so close to her heart. She loves connecting with parents and alumni and working with stakeholders to enrich Hillel’s programs and ensure the continuity of Jewish life at Cornell.


Susu enjoys visiting Ithaca while working remotely in New York City where she lives with her husband David and their son Remy.

Rabbi Hayley Goldstein 
BASE Rabbi

Rabbi Hayley Goldstein and her partner Lizzie run Base Ithaca. Hayley grew up outside of Minneapolis, MN and received a BA in Religious Studies from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado and Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew College in Newton, MA. She is a SVARA-trained educator and ran the first-ever Queer Talmud class in the heart of Jerusalem. Hayley can be found learning and teaching Talmud, preparing delicious chicken for Shabbos, singing complex niggunim, or ushering in Shabbat by cleaning the house to the music of Usher.

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Nikki Michaelson
Director of Jewish Experiences

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nikki has spent almost a decade working with Jewish young adults, both in Israel and the United States. She loves pluralistic, experiential Jewish education, and  seeks to continually connect with both the communities and individuals she works with. With a Masters in Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill focusing on inclusion, she has spent the last number of years in North Carolina with the Durham JCC. Aside from work, Nikki loves reading, singing, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking and folk music. She's excited to be back up north and would love to take you out for coffee.  

Michelle Pasternak
Director of Operations

Michelle grew up in Brooklyn, New York having always been immersed in Jewish life and culture. She began her journey as an entrepreneur with a focus on operational management while simultaneously raising a family.  Following a career in the private sector honing her expertise in administration, finance and personnel, she was inspired to join Hillel. Michelle with her partner, Chaim, moved from Miami and settled in as empty nesters here in Ithaca.  Together, they have three children, all emerging adults who are finding their own way in the world.  Michelle enjoys running, gardening, baking and most of all checking items off her to-do lists in her extremely, organized planner. As a member of the team at Cornell Hillel, Michelle looks forward to an enriching experience. She hopes to meet and get to know each and every individual that passes through the Hillel office.  

(607) 255-9712
Yehoshua Hooper
IACT Coordinator

Yehoshua (Yosh) Hooper grew up being a third-culture kid, constantly exploring new places and creating art along the way. He received his MA in Jewish Education, Nonprofit Development and Art Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City. During his time at JTS, he did a joint MA program with the iCenter in Israel education and is also a Birthright Fellow. Yosh is part of the artist residency program at JTS and worked at the Jewish Art Museum which fueled his passions for uniting Torah studies with the fine arts. Yosh loves to travel and there is no place like Israel.  He has lead various Birthright trips, studied abroad for a year at Tel Aviv University, and after his MA he spent two years studying at Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Here in Ithaca, you’ll find Yosh either hiking on trails, slacklining, or in his art studio. He can’t wait to be leading our Cornell Hillel Birthright trips. Join him for some Yerba mate or a fresh cup of coffee.

Rabbi Daniel Kasdan  
JLIC Educator

Rabbi Daniel Kasdan grew up in the Jewish hub of Teaneck, New Jersey. He graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. At Brandeis, he was the president of the Brandeis Orthodox Organization, and was a very active member of Brandeis Hillel. Rabbi Kasdan received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and a Master’s degree in Medieval Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. 


On campus, Rabbi Kasdan loves teaching a variety of Jewish classes and learning with students one-on-one. In his free time, Rabbi Kasdan enjoys reading, learning Torah, playing with his daughter Shani and son Izzy, and watching James Bond and Star Wars movies.

Sarah Kasdan 
JLIC Educator

Sarah Kasdan was born and bred in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH. She attended Brandeis University where she majored in psychology and education. At Brandeis, Sarah was a minyan coordinator for the Orthodox minyan, an active participant in the Brandeis Hillel community, and a volunteer Girl Scout troop leader. After graduating, Sarah taught 4th grade for two years at a Jewish Day school in New Jersey. 


At Cornell, Sarah loves teaching classes, hosting Shabbat and holiday meals in her home, and coordinating the Jewish Learning Fellowship. In her free time, Sarah enjoys baking, doing Pilates, and exploring Ithaca with her husband Daniel and daughter Shani and son Izzy.

Joanna Sherman
 Springboard Innovation Fellow

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Joanna graduated from Northwestern University in 2021 and majored in Learning and Organizational Change with a minor in Spanish. While at Northwestern, she was a senator for Student Government, served as Vice President for the Northwestern Hillel Exec Board, and studied abroad in Barcelona her junior year.⁠
Joanna loves coffee chats (but actually only drinks tea), Peloton, and baking desserts and challah. Her life goal is to travel to all of Buzzfeed’s top 27 ice cream shops in the world - she is currently at 13!


Omer is the Israel fellow for Cornell Hillel. He grew up and lived in Tel Aviv until he moved to Ithaca. He graduated from Tel Aviv University majoring in the History of the Middle East and the state of Israel. Before that he worked for the Israel scouts movement, “Zofim”, as a branch manager in Tel Aviv for 3 years. He also volunteered for an orphanage in Sri Lanka which he considers once in a lifetime meaningful experience.

In his free time, Omer likes reading, listening to music, traveling to new places and broadening his general knowledge. He speaks Hebrew, English, and Arabic. Email Omer to grab a coffee with Omer on campus to get to know him better, and learn more about Israel!

Omer Perry 
 Morris J. Escoll '16 Israel Fellow

Lizzie Sivitz
Base Senior Educator

Lizzie works with her partner, Rabbi Hayley, to run Base at Cornell Hillel. Lizzie is from Bainbridge Island, WA. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue comedy writing. Deciding that telling jokes was more fun around the Shabbat table than in the club, she moved to Tel Aviv in 2018, where she met Rabbi Hayley. Together Rabbi Hayley and Lizzie created Nireh Or, a weekly creative response to the Parsha, which you can find on Instagram and Facebook. Lizzie spends her free time traveling, drawing, painting, printmaking, and baking.

Jacob Kaplan-Lipkin
Slifka Rabbinic Fellow

Jacob is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he also plans to earn a Masters in Bible. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jacob graduated from Stanford University in 2019. At Stanford, he served as the President of the Jewish Student Association and was involved in Hillel. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, watching and playing basketball, reading short stories, and trying to podcast through Central Park. Jacob would be happy to take you out for coffee at your favorite spot to help him make up his mind about the best coffee on campus!