Our Staff

waga brok jewish agency israel fellow illini hillel

Jewish Agency

Israel Fellow

Born in Ethiopia, Waga made Aliyah to Israel as a part of Operation Solomon in 1991 and grew up in Afula. She completed her BA in Special Education and in Experiential Education. Her work experience includes working as a counselor at a boarding school, as a summer camp coordinator in Kimama, and as a counselor at the JCC in Detroit. In addition, she has been a volunteer in the community with high school students in Nazareth Ilit. In her spare time, she loves to travel and spend time with her family watching movies or reading books.

jeremy spiegel program director illini hillel

Director of Jewish Student Life

Jeremy was born in Washington, D.C. but lived for most of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio, before returning to the University of Maryland for college.  He was an active member in AEPi and graduated with degrees in Journalism and History.  After college, Jeremy spent two years in Madrid, Spain, teaching English as a Second Language and American Culture to Spanish high school students.  His time in Europe instilled a love of travel, as he has now been to 20 countries around the world. Jeremy also loves to read books in both English and Spanish and play or watch nearly any sport. He is an excited Illini fan, even though they are conference rivals with Maryland. 

Abby Chargo

Springboard Fellow:

Program Coordinator

Born and raised in the freezing cold tundra people like to call Minne-SNOW-ta, Abby Chargo is a proud Minnesotan. She recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Strategic Communications and a minor in Jewish Studies. Throughout her sophomore year of college, she studied abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, where she began to develop her true passion for Judaism, Jewish learning and her love of Torah. In her free time, you can find Abby going on walks, cooking new dishes and taking Zumba classes!

erez cohen executive director illini hillel

Executive Director

Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Erez has a BA in Political Science and an MA in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. His professional experience includes working in a community center in Tel Aviv, volunteering as a Project Manager in East Africa, serving as the Israel Fellow at UIUC Hillel and fundraising for the Jaffa Institute. Erez is happily married and enjoys travelling (with around 20 countries and 20 US states under his wing), reading and writing Wikipedia articles in Hebrew. 

carly froomkin burak assistant director illini hillel

Assistant Director

Carly was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio.  She has a BA in Judaic Studies from the University of Cincinnati and an MA in Comparative Religion from Western Michigan University.  While studying for her degrees, Carly studied abroad in Israel (at Tel Aviv University), Japan and Egypt.  She enjoys traveling, meeting new people, hanging out with friends, reading and music - especially classic rock.  Carly is entering her                  in the position and excited to continue meeting Jewish students and working with them throughout their own Jewish experience.

tenth year

virni bryson office manager illini hillel

Office Manager

Virni was born in St. Louis, Mo. and raised in Southeast Mo. for 10 years and has been a resident of Champaign-Urbana for over 30 years. She studied at Parkland College and started her career in office management. Virni worked as an Administrative Professional for Presence Health. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening with her husband and raising her two daughters. Virni also enjoys cooking for a small group of seniors who are no longer able to cook for themselves.

rabbi ariel naveh senior jewish educator illini hillel

Senior Jewish Educator

Rabbi Ariel Naveh (although he’d 100% prefer Rabbi Ari, or Ari, or hey you over there with the tall and the big hair!) was ordained from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 2015. While there, he studied the history of Jewish philosophy and ancient and modern poetry. Born and raised on Long Island, Rabbi Ari has always expressed his Jewish commitments through social justice and advocacy work. He believes strongly that we have a specific historical mandate to work towards justice for all people. He’s worked at the Hillel at the University of North Carolina, and at Goucher College in Baltimore, and was honored to work with Bend the Arc’s chapter in New York. In his spare time, he loves to cook, ride his bike, watch movies, and follow politics way, way too closely. Come get coffee with Rabbi Ari, or not coffee if that’s your thing too, and tell him what your story is all about.  He’s all ears.

sammi cutler senior development manager illini hillel

Danielle was born and raised in Wayne, New Jersey. She has a B.S. in Integrated Elementary and Special Education from the University of Hartford in Connecticut where she became a student Intern for Hillel during her senior year. While studying for her degree, Danielle had the opportunity to study abroad in England and Costa Rica. Danielle enjoys traveling to new places, learning about new topics, participating in sports, and immersing herself into new cultures. Shortly after graduating from UHart, Danielle picked up her belongings and moved to Canada to hold the position of Program and Engagement Coordinator at the University of Western Ontario Hillel. While Danielle fancied her Canadian experience, she is now excited to be part of the Illini Hillel family as the Engagement Associate. She would be delighted to meet any UIUC students and young professionals, so make sure to stop by and visit her at the Cohen Center.

sammi cutler senior development manager illini hillel

Senior Development Manager

Sammi is the Senior Development Manager at Illini Hillel, implementing development and fundraising activities. Sammi grew up in West Bloomfield, MI and graduated from the University of Michigan with her MSW and certificate in Jewish Communal Leadership. Sammi also received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan majoring in Psychology and Judaic Studies. Sammi was the Young Adult Engagement Associate at JUF since July 2014. She played a key role in engaging recent college graduates, suburban young adults, and other 20-30 something's to strengthen the young adult Jewish community of Chicago. Sammi enjoys spending time with her friends, working out, checking out new restaurants, and finding the best ice cream in Chicago.


Rabbi Shlomo Barya Nadiv Schachter, the son of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is a musmach of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and a certified Shochet and menakker.  Rabbi Shlomo Schachter specializes in creativity within Jewish texts, balancing Halachic examination with Chassidic insights and parables.  Rabbi Schachter is also an American Football Coach in Israel; defensive coordinator of the three time IFL champion Judean Rebels as well as the defensive line coach of the Israeli National Team.  Rabbi Schachter particularly enjoys speaking on the subjects of Do It Yourself "DIY" Mitzvot, Football and the Torah, Organic Theology and the Halachic legacy of his father.  Rabbi Schachter holds a degree in Modern Religious Thought from Oberlin College where he was a three year varsity letter winner at defensive end while still keeping Shabbos.

OU-JLIC Jewish Educator

Born in Skokie, IL, Ahava received her Master's Degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She moved to Israel in 2001, and while studying at Nishmat The Center for Advanced Jewish Studies for Women in Jerusalem for 7 years, she worked in Israeli policy making, giving recommendations to the Prime Minister’s Office.  Ahava's diplomatic specialty is humanitarian crisis relief missions, and she led Israeli delegations to Haiti and Serbia as well as working with the US state department's relief efforts in Gaza. Ahava loves the arts, particularly fashion, and in 2013 opened her own fashion label, AhavaZ Designs.  Ahava loves teaching Torat Eretz Yisrael as well as examining pressing women's issues within today's Jewish world.

rabbi shlomo schachter rebbetzin ahava zarembski schachter ou jlic rabbi illini hillel
The Margie K. and Louis N. Cohen Center for Jewish Life
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