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Who We Are

Our Staff

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Beatrice Weber

Executive Director

Beatrice Weber was raised in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and was married off to a Rabbi in an arranged marriage before graduating high school. Despite harsh opposition from the community and her family, she left her marriage several years ago and currently lives in Brooklyn with the two youngest of her ten children. Beatrice holds an MBA and an undergraduate degree in Psychology and speaks and writes about women’s empowerment and education issues in the Ultra-Orthodox community. In September 2019, she filed a lawsuit against her nine-year-old son’s Hasidic Yeshiva and the NYC Department of Education contending that he was not receiving an adequate education.

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Naftuli Moster

Founder & Executive Director Emeritus

Naftuli oversees all organization communications and fundraising activities, and manages staff and strategy. He is the recipient of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in social work, and is currently a Wexner Field Fellow, a leadership development program for Jewish professionals, and an ROI Community member, a professional development network for Jewish leaders and entrepreneurs. As the founder of Yaffed and director of its ongoing initiatives, Naftuli is able to work everyday for a mission he feels most passionate about. Naftuli’s friends and family know that nothing brings him more joy than vacuuming the house, though he has not been able to devote nearly enough time to the task in recent years.

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Phylisa Wisdom

Director of Development and Government Affairs

As the Director of Development and Government Affairs, Phylisa oversees all fundraising activity and advocacy efforts. She is committed to driving resources to Yaffed’s critical education equity work, and has spent her career improving access to education through work in the government, private educational, and nonprofit sectors. Phylisa holds a Masters in Public Policy from King’s College London, and a Bachelors in Social Sciences from California State University-San Marcos.

She is an avid reader, active in local politics, and a fervent believer in every child’s right to a complete, holistic, culturally-competent education. Phylisa grew up in San Diego, California, and has lived and worked across the east coast, in London, and in Melbourne. If you give her enough time, she will remind you that Brooklyn is a beach town. 

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Vanessa Meghnagi

Director of Operations and Planning

Vanessa works closely with the executive director on organization strategy, and supervises all operational functions and planning. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Social Studies from Hunter College, Vanessa has spent many years interacting with the victims of educational neglect produced by the yeshiva system. This exposure has empowered her to fight for the educational rights of current and future yeshiva students to live lives of self-determination that can support their incredible potential. The greatest joy in Vanessa’s life comes from her five children who can often be seen throwing things over her head during Zoom meetings.

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Chris Hazen

Legal Counsel

Chris Hazen provides legal advice and counsel on organizational activities and policies. He graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law with a J.D., and holds a B.A. in Government and Politics from Saint John’s University. Previously Of Counsel to the Law Firm of Steifman, L.L.P., he worked on class action and administrative litigation. Chris has worked for New York City’s Administration For Children Services (ACS) as a staff attorney, and briefly taught social studies in a well-regarded Yeshiva. His prior experience protecting neglected and abused New York children, coupled with his experience in a Yeshiva, made YAFFED an obvious next stop in his legal career. Chris’ proudest accomplishments remain winning the heart of his wife, and fathering his two beautiful sons.

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Shaindy Weichman

Parent Ambassador

Shaindy Weichman grew up in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox community. By 19 years old, she was already a wife and mother. Later, Shaindy endured a four-year-long custody battle. As part of the case, Shaindy sought to be granted the right to enroll her son in a school that provided students with a basic secular education, unlike the ultra-Orthodox yeshiva he had been attending since the age of three, that did not. Despite ultimately losing the custody battle, and the right to change her son’s school, today Shaindy is a strong advocate for her community’s right, and access, to a basic secular education.

Our Board

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Anita Altman

Anita Altman is an activist and a life-long New Yorker. She is a graduate of CCNY and the New School for Social Research. A recent retiree, Ms. Altman had an almost 50-year career in New York City government and the nonprofit sector. For almost 3 decades she held a prominent position as a Jewish communal professional on the staff of UJA-Federation of New York.

There she played an instrumental role in organizing a Jewish response to the AIDS epidemic, helped put family violence in the Jewish community and addressing the needs and fostering inclusion for people with disabilities on the communal agenda, as well as championed programming to help enable seniors to age in their own communities. For 25 years she was responsible for the Rose Biller scholarship program, which has provided financial assistance to hundreds of Footsteps members. Ms. Altman was a recipient of the 2008 Woman of Valor award from the New York Board of Rabbis and is the founder of the ReelAbilities film festival.

There she played an instrumental role in organizing a Jewish response to the AIDS epidemic, helped put family violence in the Jewish community and addressing the needs and fostering inclusion for people with disabilities on the communal agenda, as well as championed programming to help enable seniors to age in their own communities. For 25 years she was responsible for the Rose Biller scholarship program, which has provided financial assistance to hundreds of Footsteps members. Ms. Altman was a recipient of the 2008 Woman of Valor award from the New York Board of Rabbis and is the founder of the ReelAbilities film festival.

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Chana Silberstein

Chana Silberstein worked for the Board of Jewish Education for 26 years, where she rose to become the director of the Division of Informal and Family Education. Her accomplishments include: growing “Mishpacha,” a program of engagement for parents; pioneering “Shibbolim,” a leadership training program for Soviet emigres; and creating “Programs to Go” and “Ethnic Journeys,” programs that brought experiential Jewish education into schools. For Chana, as a passionate child advocate, Jewish education is not a job but a calling.

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Shlomo Noskow

Shlomo Noskow is an emergency physician living in New York. He works for the Brooklyn Hospital Center and as a traveling physician for NES+ Health. Dr. Noskow attended Hasidic yeshivas growing up and consequently was not offered any secular education in high school. After overcoming major obstacles, he was able to pursue higher education and ended up obtaining his medical degree. He strongly believes that every child has the right to a robust and well-rounded education.

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Emily Pinkesz

Emily Pinkesz was born in Brooklyn, NY. She was raised in a Hasidic family and attended Hasidic schools for elementary through high-school. When she left high-school, she pursued a computer science degree at Yeshiva University. While at YU she was active in the Yeshiva University Medical Ethics Society and Computer Science Club. She joined YAFFED when it started in 2012. In the summer of 2017, she started working for Microsoft in Redmond, WA. Starting with her time at YU, Emily was actively involved in children’s education rights advocacy and organ donation advocacy.

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Malkie Schwartz

Malkie Schwartz is an attorney who works at the Hunter College Foundation and is the Director of the Eva Kastan Grove Fellowship Program at Hunter College. In her role as Director, she works with policymakers, politicians, and advocates to engage students in projects that advance the public good. Malkie was raised Lubavitch in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. In 2000, Malkie chose to leave her community of origin, and three years later founded Footsteps, the first organization in North America to assist people who wish to leave the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and live in mainstream society.

Malkie also served as Director of Community Engagement at the Institute of Southern Jewish life in Jackson, Mississippi from 2009-2015. Now, 19 years after leaving her community, Malkie continues to care about the issues that affect people who leave—as well as those who choose to stay—in insular religious communities of all faiths.

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Phylisa Wisdom

Phylisa Wisdom has spent her career in education, specifically in work improving access to intervention services for marginalized students and communities. Currently, she is the Director of External Relations at Literacy Trust, a NYC nonprofit dedicated to providing high quality literacy professional development and programming to NYC schools.  She is committed to driving resources to education equity work, and is active in NYC politics and movement work to this end. She has a MA Public Policy from King’s College London, and a BA in Social Sciences from California State University-San Marcos.

Phylisa grew up in San Diego, California, and has lived and worked across the east coast, in London, and in Melbourne. As a student, she was active in Union for Reform Judaism youth groups, where she learned the power of advocacy, activism, and care for community. She is an avid reader, a former-sometimes freelance writer, and a fervent believer in every student’s right to a complete, holistic, culturally-competent education.

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Alex Kerdman

Alex Kerdman is a regulatory lawyer working for a leading financial services firm. Born in the Soviet Union, Alex immigrated to the United States as a teenager and attended New York City public schools. He studied finance and accounting at NYU and earned a law degree from Fordham.

Alex benefited greatly from the excellent public school education he received, and is passionate about providing adequate education opportunities for all of our children. 

Rabbinical Council

Yaffed Rabbinical Council (YRC) is an interdenominational body of rabbis united by their abiding commitment to Jewish learning and shared concern about the lack of adequate general studies (secular) education in Hasidic yeshivas. 

YRC members are committed to supporting Yaffed’s mission by offering ongoing counsel as well as support in name and deed to the organization, thereby offering Yaffed enhanced recognition in the eyes of the public at large- from policymakers to community leaders. The YRC’s diverse range of voices bring increased exposure and awareness about Yaffed, helping the organization ensure that yeshivas sufficiently prepare their students for economic self-sufficiency and meaningful societal participation.

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