Who We Are

Our Staff

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Naftuli Moster

Executive Director

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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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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Hannah Miranda Miller

Director of Community Engagement and Organizing

Hannah raises awareness through events and briefings, maintains engagement with organization contacts, and represents Yaffed at external functions. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian Regional Studies from Barnard College and a masters from Columbia University. Having previously worked within Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox communities, Hannah was a direct witness to the negative impacts produced by the lack of secular education there. Hannah holds great respect for institutions of Jewish learning and ultra-Orthodox traditions, maintaining that the larger Jewish community will be strengthened if every Hasidic child gains practical skills as a result of having received sound general education. Hannah bakes a mean gluten-free challah, and is a lover of halva, long walks across NYC, and studying languages.

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Robert Colonna

Development Manager

Robert oversees all fundraising campaigns including grants, major gifts, and the annual gala, while also managing the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Robert holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Secondary Education, is certified in Managing Performance, and is currently in the process of completing his Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential which demonstrates his professional commitment to fundraising and philanthropy work. Bolstered by his background studying education, Robert stands firmly with Yaffed’s objective that it is essential for every student to receive a strong secular education. Robert gains personal enjoyment from a variety of activities, including playing the guitar, photography, hiking, and running.

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Talya Hyman

Strategic Communications Associate

Talya is responsible for the creation and management of written and visual content and messaging. A recent Yeshiva University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Talya studied English/journalism in parallel to her university’s inbuilt religious curriculum. This Torah u’Madda (Torah and secular knowledge) worldview is also what guides Talya’s personal philosophy and work at Yaffed, as she believes that all Jewish people should be given substantial secular learning opportunities so that their religious knowledge and values can elevate and inform the broader world. She never says no to sour candy or pickles, but Talya finds the most fulfillment from immersing herself in Torah and spirituality, writing, and the meaningful times she spends with her family and friends.

Our Board

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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

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

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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Yitzchok Pinkesz

was born in Brooklyn, NY. He was raised in a Hasidic family and attended Hasidic schools for elementary through high-school. When he left high-school he pursued a computer science degree at Yeshiva University. While at YU he was active in the Yeshiva University Medical Ethics Society and Computer Science Club. He joined YAFFED when it started in 2012. In the summer of 2017, he joined Microsoft in Redmond, WA. Starting with his time at YU, Yitzchok was actively involved in child 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.

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.

Yaffed Rabbinic Advisors and Rabbinic Partners:

1. Agree with Yaffed that all children are entitled to and deserve an education that includes instruction in general studies (which includes but is not limited to English, math, and science).

2. Share Yaffed’s values that a Jewish education and instruction in general studies subjects do not contradict each other in any way. Judaic and general studies can and should coexist harmoniously in the curriculum of every Jewish school

3. Share Yaffed’s respect for the importance of Judaic studies and the specific cultural and religious values and customs of New York’s ultra-Orthodox communities

4. Share Yaffed’s belief that New York yeshivas must operate in full compliance with all New York State and City education laws

Yaffed Rabbinical Council:

Advisory Council:

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