Since joining JIMENA in 2010, Sarah Levin has played a lead role in organizational development through strategic planning, program development and management, fundraising, establishing a staffed LA chapter, developing partnerships with national communal organizations and universities, and managing board members, staff, speakers bureau, and volunteers. Sarah produced and launched JIMENA’s multi-lingual Oral History and Digital Experiences Program, and various education, advocacy, social media, fundraising and community outreach campaigns. Sarah has coordinated and produced over 100 cultural events nation-wide and effectively increased JIMENA’s visibility.  In 2013 and 2014, Sarah provided briefs on Jewish refugees from Arab countries to the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and she guest lectured at Ben Gurion University and Bar Ilan University.

Prior to joining JIMENA, Sarah spent six years in Tel Aviv, Israel where she contributed to social service causes in a variety of capacities through her work at various non-profit organizations, mainly NATAL: Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War. Sarah has utilized her dynamic skill sets and passion for Jewish preservation and environmental causes through her involvement in a number of organizations and initiatives including: Jewish Council for Youth Services, fair trade initiatives in Israel, UJA’s Partnership 2000, San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Yezidis International, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and Openlands Project. A descendent of a Holocaust survivor and Turkish Jews, Sarah is firmly dedicated to preservation of Jewish culture and Israel advocacy.

DSCF3074 2Maya Shemtov recently graduated with a M.A. in Conflict Resolution from King’s College
London department of Middle Eastern Studies. Her passion for conflict resolution and international affairs developed out of an undergraduate focus on Psychology and Global Studies at Brandeis University.  She has pursued this passion through working across the bay at the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies.  As the Outreach Coordinator at the Berkeley Institute, she organized a wide range of events spanning a variety of topics and disciplines within Jewish and Israel Studies.  She was also responsible for the Institute’s publicity and facilitated their undergraduate student fellowship.  Previously, she worked at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at Hasting’s University in San Francisco, and facilitated for the Sharing Perspectives Foundation’s program, European Refuge(es).

 Maya grew up in Palo Alto, but has always been very connected to her family history.  As an Israeli-American with Sephardic and Ashkenazi origins, she has always had a deep connection to her Iraqi ancestry.  Maya is excited to continue her journey with the JIMENA community.
maya at jimena dot org

8ae8ef2c-9446-4d8b-9bd4-ab0cddb1444eShani Winston recently graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from San Francisco State University. Her passion for women’s rights was sparked during her second year at SF State. From that moment on, Shani played an active role on her college campus as Director of Associated Students Women’s Center for three years while also being a full time student. Shani immersed herself in public sector internships with the city of San Francisco. At the San Francisco Hall of Justice, Shani had the opportunity to shadow a Judge. Following that, she became a public policy fellow at San Francisco Department on the Status of Women with a focus on gender equality in the workplace.

Coming from southern California to San Francisco, Shani was surprised at how little the Bay Area Jewish community and her campus community knew about Mizrahi Jews. Shani is both Mizrahi and Ashkenazi and has a deep connection to her Moroccan and Iraqi ancestry. She takes an intersectional feminist approach to her work. Shani strives to empower, learn, and grow with the JIMENA community.

Posseunnamedssing three citizenships (Israeli, Turkish and American) and a close connection to all three places, Odin grew up in Michigan and spent summers overseas with his Ladino-speaking family. As an alumni of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’s New Leaders Program, Odin has participated in Israel advocacy work beyond the Jewish community. After graduating with his MFA from the Columbia University film program, Odin’s documentary work has him allowed him to tell the stories of refugees from around the world, including Jews from North Africa and the Middle East. He looks forward to programming events that celebrate the Sephardic and Mizrahi traditions, and partnering with the many other wonderful Jewish organizations in the Los Angeles area.

nicole-headshot Nicole Hakimi is a native New Yorker and descendant of Aramaic-speaking Iranian Jews. She holds double degrees from Brooklyn College, where she served as President of the Hillel and Jewish Students’ Union. This marked the beginning of almost two decades serving the Jewish community in a number of professional and volunteer capacities. While working for Hillel, Nicole was the primary recruitment professional, fostering relationships with students and creating innovative programs to draw them to Jewish community.

At JIMENA, Nicole manages the Jewish Day School Program, facilitating the implementation of valuable programming fostering educational experiences that celebrate the culture and history of Sephardic & Mizrahi Jews and Jewish Multiculturalism in Jewish Day Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Since arriving in the Bay Area with her husband and two children, Nicole has volunteered at the Bar Yohai Sephardic Minyan, particularly in recruitment efforts and monthly women’s programming, and on several projects at the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School. She has also spearheaded the Silicon Valley Kosher Coop. In her spare time, she is an avid Mah Jongg player.

Hadeel KoukyBorn in 1991, Hadeel Kouky studied Law and English Literature at the University of Aleppo in Syria. Prior to the Arab Spring, Hadeel used social media to be became one of the most prominent and outspoken anti-Assad dissident voices in Syria.  On March 10, 2011, Hadeel was arrested for distributing pro-democracy flyers and was jailed for 40 days. Just three months after her release, she was arrested and jailed again for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations . After realizing that she was wanted by Syrian intelligence forces, Hadeel fled Syria and relocated to Cairo. While residing in Egypt, Hadeel was beaten and threatened in her apartment by Bashar Assad’s armed militia.

In March 2012, Hadeel testified at the United Nations, providing details of her experience in Syria and briefing the UN on the current situation of Syrians. With the help of the U.S state department, Hadeel was granted a Humanitarian parole and move to the U.S in August, 2012. Hadeel, who lives in Washington DC with her husband and one year old daughter, continues to advocate on issues related to democracy, Human rights and minority rights in the Middle East.



Board Members

Gina Waldman, President
Carmella Pardo, Los Angeles Chair
Ralph Avi Goldwasser, Advisory Board Chair
Rachel Wahba
Raphael Sisa
Lauren Karp
Linda Cederbaum
Joseph Dabby
Joseph Samuels
Elliot Levy
Dan Waldman

Advisory Board Members

Profesor Robert Alter
Eric Benhamou
Elliott Benjamin
Ralph Avi Goldwasser
Professor Henry Green
David Hindawi
Charles Jacobs
Rabbi Brian Lurie
Nathaniel Malka
Amichai Magen
Varda Rabin
Paula Sadok

Speakers Bureau

The foundation of JIMENA is built upon the dedication and involvement of our volunteer Speakers Bureau. Through their individual work to ensure the preservation and advancement of the heritage and history of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, JIMENA speakers are fulfilling our mission of educating and advocating on behalf of the 850,000 Jews refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.