Meet the Staff
Rabbi Julie Roth
Marni Blitz, Associate Director, has been with the Center for Jewish Life - Hillel at Princeton University since 2007.. Marni was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland where she graduated from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Marni holds a B.A. in International Relations from Emory University and an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from NYU. Before coming to Princeton, Marni was the Director of Education at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck. Marni currently lives in Robbinsville, NJ with her husband, Neil, and her two daughters, Daniella and Rebecca. Marni is the 2010 recipient of the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence award for her commitment to fulfilling Hillel’s mission of service to Jewish students around the globe. Marni joyfully adheres to an "open door" policy, so please feel free to stop in at any time and say hello!
Rabbi Elie Bercuson
Rabbi Elie Bercuson, JLIC Educator, is a native of Ottawa, Ontario, where he developed passions for ice hockey, running in cold weather, and the French language. He holds a Bachelor of Humanities in Philosophy and Classics from Carleton University in Ottawa and an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from Yeshiva University. He has been granted semikhah (ordination) both by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University and by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, with whom he studied at Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat. He has worked as a rabbinic intern at the Riverdale Jewish Center in the Bronx, Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, CT, and Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. Amongst the weapons in his arsenal are certification in the shechitah (kosher slaughter) of birds and training in military chaplaincy. His daytime reveries usually include a tailored linen suit, a fine beverage, some Bob Dylan, and his wife and son.
Ilana Bercuson, JLIC Educator, grew up in nearby Highland Park, NJ, and went to high school at Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.S. in Family Studies and minor in Jewish Studies. After college she delighted in studying at Nishmat, where she immersed herself in both Jewish texts and the city of Jerusalem. She has worked in development at Hadassah-WZOA, and as part of the rabbinic intern couple at Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. She recently completed an M.A. in Educational Psychology at Hunter College, CUNY. Ilana enjoys the outdoors - hiking and taking strolls - and also the indoors - cooking and conversation. She is excited to have the Princeton community over to her home, so that she, Elie, and Dov will not have to eat alone all the time.
Rabbi Sara Rich
Rabbi Sara Rich, Director of Education, joined the CJL team in 2011. She was ordained from the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. As a student, Sara served as a student rabbi in Williamsport, PA (home of Little League!) and Brampton, Ontario. She also worked at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Greene Family Camp and as a chaplain intern at the Bellevue Hospital Center. Sara earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of MD, College Park and an M.A. in Hebrew Literature from HUC-JIJR. Today, Sara resides in Highland Park, NJ with her husband Ezra and their baby daughter (and Kesher mascot) Miriam. Rabbi Sara offers a number of classes and fellowships at the CJL and is always available to meet one-on-one for coffee at her second office, the Starbucks on Nassau St.
Slav Leibin, Israel Fellow, was born in Belarus and made Aliya with his family in 1991. He grew up in Netanya and moved to Jerusalem 4 years ago. Slav served for three years in IDF as a recruiting commander, responsible for building educational programs and training future military commanders. He worked in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for 2 years as a tour guide and diplomatic liaison. Slav completed the Stand With Us fellowship that trains young leaders in Israel advocacy. Slav earned a B.A. in International Relations and Communications in Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In college he was a member of the Debate team and wrote for the University's newspaper. Slav enjoys traveling and has been to China, New Zealand and all over Europe. He volunteers in his community with a number of organizations, specializing in neighborhood environmental issues and helping the elderly. Slav's door is always open to meet new people and hear new ideas and to share his Israeli experience!
Ya'arah Pinhas graduated from List College, a Joint Program between The Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University with two Bachelor degrees in Jewish History and Anthropology respectively. Since then she has worked and volunteered in multiple settings and countries educating youth, promoting inter-cultural exchange and researching Jewish liturgy and music. She has lived in Israel for ten years and has traveled to Senegal, Gambia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. She loves learning about different cultures, traditions, and rituals and seeing how music can be a uniting force in creating dialogue. She is excited to join the Center for Jewish Life and Princeton University communities as the Social Justice Fellow, and she is looking forward to being asked: What is social justice through a Jewish lens? And, how can I make an impact in my community and the world?
Robin Rudofker joined the CJL staff as Development Director in February 2012. Robin was raised in Cheltenham, PA where she developed a deep love for sports and especially for her hometown teams - The Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers and Phillies. Robin earned a B.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University and an M.B.A. in Marketing from Drexel University. Prior to her arrival at the CJL, she worked for 16 years at the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey as Chief Development Officer and Marketing Director. Robin lives in Vorhees, NJ with her husband, Jim, and their two sons, Matthew and Isaac. When she's not busy raising critically-needed funds to grow the programs of the CJL, Robin enjoys Pilates, tennis, dancing, and movies. She loves all types of music and is a die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan!
Susan Johanesen joined the CJL in July 2009 after 25 years of owning and operating an office support business. In her role as Executive Assistant, she provides support to the Executive Director and Development Director, maintains development databases, does the bookkeeping and handles the many other functions that keep the office running. If you're not sure who to ask, she is happy to help you. She enjoys writing fiction and recently received a B.A. in English. In her free time she tutors writing and study skills, working with adult learners at community colleges. Susan has three children, one working with an internet media company New York City, one pursuing an archetecture degree at UVA, and one an Assistant Professor of Geology at SUNY-Fredonia. She loves camping with her two granddaughters, ages three and six, in the summer and exploring NYC and Brooklyn with them throughout the year.
Tenise Fagan, Administrative Assistant, was born in New York City and moved to the Mercer County area as a young child. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in International Marketing, from Rider University. Tenise has marketing and event planning experience from working at Quakerbridge Mall during its first major renovation. In her spare time, Tenise loves to learn new things, go on mini adventures and conduct what she calls her "mad scientist" experiments. Spending time with her family and friends, going to concerts, and generally having a good time are some of her favorite pastimes.
Ruth Palmer is the CJL's administrator and a member of Princeton University's Office of Religious Life (ORL). Ruth is delighted to be part of a staff committed to creating a community that is so supportive of students and welcoming to all. Ruth started her Princeton career in 2007 as part of the first Whitman College staff. Ruth resides just a few miles north of Princeton in Montgomery Township with her husband Bob and two daughters, Rebecca and Laura. Ruth holds a B.A. in Telecommunications from Indiana University, Bloomington. Most of her career was spent at AT&T as a manager supporting business long distance customers. Before coming to Princeton, Ruth devoted a few years to the homefront, also serving as a school volunteer, freelance writer and substitute teacher. Ruth is currently looking forward to becoming an empty nester this fall as her youngest daughter, Laura, heads off to college as a member of the class of 2019. Her other daughter, Rebecca, will be in her first year of grad school. Ruth currently enjoys volunteering her time for the Red Cross. Ruth also enjoys biking, hiking, and anything outdoors. Ruth looks forward to getting to know the class of 2019 and welcomes you to Princeton!