About Gesher

For more than 40 years, Gesher has been bridging the gaps between different segments of Israeli society. Gesher’s message is, “Be different, be together”; remain true to yourself while coexisting with those who are different from you.

Gesher’s innovative programming targets current leaders of Israel, future leaders of Israel and the Israeli public. Through its programming, Gesher advances a vibrant and inclusive vision of Judaism in Israel. Our dynamic, often life-changing educational and cultural programs foster a society based on mutual respect, dialogue, acceptance and co-existence.  In facilitating dialogue and mediation between Jews of all kinds of backgrounds, we have reached and affected over 1 million Jews since Gesher’s founding.

As articulated profoundly by Gesher’s Founder and President Emeritus, Dr. Danny Tropper:

“Our Jewish identity, which should serve to unite the diverse Jewish people in Israel, has instead been the cause of a deep rift between communities. This split has resulted in anger and alienation and is tearing the nation apart. Healing the rift can only come by way of enlightened Jewish education that can become the common denominator for genuine dialogue between different sectors of the nation.”

Gesher is the only organization on the forefront of creating the social change necessary to ensure the future safety and vibrancy of Israel and the Jewish people. As Israel becomes more fragmented and diaspora Jews are looking to Israel for their own connection and/or future security, Gesher is bridging the huge divide not only between Jews in Israel but also between Jews around the world.


Ilan Geal-Dor
Executive Director

Ilan has an MBA in psychology from Bar Ilan University and a degree in business studies from the Hebrew University.  He is a member of the Bet Shemesh City Council, where he lives with his wife and 6 children. Ilan sits on the Board of several social organizations such as the National Service Association, Eshkolot, and Heled and was the Chairman of the city’s Partnership2gether project. A mediator and senior teacher of Bible Studies, Ilan has been the Executive Director of Gesher since 2011.

JJ Sussman International Director

JJ joins Gesher after having worked in Israel’s High-Tech sector for the last eighteen years at leading firms including SanDisk, Jerusalem Global and Israel Seed Partners. JJ has always been involved in projects to help the Jewish people including leading the efforts to start a new school in Modiin and raising the funds to a build a new shul there as well.  Prior to becoming the International Director for Gesher, JJ was the International Director for Unity Day during its first year. Having made aliyah from New York 20 years ago, JJ now lives in Modiin together with his wife and six children.

Shira Sherez Zik Director of Gesher Leadership Institute

Shira has a Bachelors degree in Jewish History and a Masters Degree in Non-profit and Social Organization Management from the Hebrew University. She also has a teaching certificate and is a certified group facilitator. Shira is a social activist in Jerusalem and a member of the “Rashut Harabim” forum, which promotes Jewish renewal in Jerusalem. Working at Gesher since 2002, Shira is currently the director of the Gesher Leadership Institute.

Andy Hillel
Executive Director Gesher UK

Andy has a rich background in Finance and Management after 30 years working for The City. He now is the executive director of Gesher UK. Andy lives in London with his wife Tracy, daughter and three sons.


Alon Ziv
Director of Education

Alon is the Director of the Education Department at Gesher. He has been a Gesher facilitator for the past four years and now leads the Programming Department. He has many years of experience in Education including his most recent role as head of the Jerusalem Municipal Scholarship Fund. Alon lives in Nachlaot, Jerusalem.

Chani Zisman
Director of Haredi Initiatives

Efi Vogel

Efi received his B.A. in Economics and Accounting from Hebrew University and MBA in Business Administration from The Open University. Before joining Gesher, Efi was a Finance Director in the First International Bank of Israel and as a well as CFO for Torah Betzion Or Olam. Efi lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and 6 children.

Amy Sharvit
Program Coordinator

Amy is coordinator of the Gesher Leadership Institute. She is an active board member in a private family foundation on inequality and climate issues based in the United States and Israel. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit management from Hebrew University. Amy made Aliyah from New York in 1994, and lives in Jerusalem with her husband and two boys.

Board of Directors

The Gesher Foundation USA

Jonathan Tulkoff

Jonathan is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Commodity Asset Management and the Founder and President of Uniwire International, a trading and marketing firm. Jonathan serves on the Finance Committee of SAR Academy and on the Board of Shir Chadash in Jerusalem. Jonathan is also very active with FIDF.

Matthew J. Maryles

Matthew is an executive of Wolf Maryles & Associates and is former Partner/ Managing Director of Oppenheimer and Co. Matt is the Trustee and Chairman of the Audit Committee of YU, Trustee and former CEO of American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, former Executive Committee member and Treasurer of UJA-Federation of New York and past President of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.


Ludwig Bravmann

Ludwig is the Managing Director of Investments of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. He is a Vice-Chairman of the Board of Yeshiva University, Chairman of SAR Academy, Board Member of NJOP, and Board Member of Shalva. He is a former Board Member of the UJA Federation of New York.

David Cheifetz

David is the Director of Global CRM Initiative at McKinsey & Company.  He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from Hunter College of the City University of New York. He is an activist of issues related to sexual abuse in the Jewish Community, and is the founder and president of organization Mi Li – Who Is For Me.

Seth Damski

Seth is the founder and managing partner at Old City Capital. He joined Gesher’s Board four years ago after trying to start his own organization bridging the divide between different segments of the Jewish world.  He is an active supporter of Aish, Meor and many other philanthropic causes.

Heather Goldman

Heather is the co-CEO of Capstak Inc. She served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa for three-and-a-half years. Heather is a past Board Chair and a Member of the Honorary Board of University Settlement and is the co-Founder and Chairman of Israel Financial Institute.

Matt Greenwood

Matt is the Chief Innovation Officer at Two Sigma Investments, Inc. He and his wife are active supporters of Camp Ramah and are active in their children’s schools.

Ira S. Kellman

Ira is a retired attorney, businessman and real estate developer. He was Gesher’s second President  for ten years. Ira is very involved with Livnot U’lihibanot, Yachad, Manhattan Day school, and The Jewish Center.

Jerry Kestenbaum

Jerry is the founder and CEO of BuildingLink.com. During graduate school, Jerry connected with Gesher as a facilitator in Israel and joined Gesher’s Board many decades later where he as served in many roles.

Cara Lebewohl

Cara is a financial advisor after having spent ten years as a non-profit professional. She has a MBA from John Hopkins University and a BA from Brandeis University.

David Tropper

David is the former President and CEO of Coda Resources. He is a former Board Member of the Riverdale Jewish Center and together with his wife, Ina, is very involved in and supportive of SAR Academy as well as AMIT.

Rabbi Charlie Savenor

Rabbi Savenor is the Director of Congregational Education at the Park Avenue Synagogue.  He currently serves on the National Rabbinic Cabinet of United Jewish Communities and Brandeis University’s Alumni Admissions Council. He was ordained at JTS in 1996 with a concentration in Education and earned a Masters of Education at Columbia University, Teachers College in 2008.

Richard Joel

Alan J. Eisenman

Alan is the COO of AB Bernstein Private Wealth. He is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County and is on the Board of Palestinian Media Watch. Alan is also a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Maks and Lea Rothstein Foundation, where he currently serves as Finance Chair.

Michael Kann

Michael is the President of KL Capital, Inc, which invests in manufacturing and distribution businesses. He is a graduate of Brandeis University and Columbia University School of Business. Michael is active involved with the Wesley Hills Synagogue, Israel Bonds Young Leadership Division, Board of JCC-Rockland and the Adolf Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland.

Shalom Bronstein

Shalom is the CEO of Shalom Bronstein Inc. He is the President of American Friends Keren Malki Foundation (home therapy for handicapped children). Shalom is a Member of the Board of Shvut Ami and Co-Chair of Teaneck Advisory Board on Community Relations.

British Friends of Gesher

Ian Carno

Born in Johannesburg, Ian obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Witwatersrand after which he qualified as a chartered accountant in 1990. In 2000, Ian founded Commodity Trading Company Republic House AG, which he then sold to First Quantum Minerals in 2010. Ian lives in London with his wife Ilana and his three children.


Boris Ben Ari
Vice Chairman

Born in Finland, Boris is now the Financial Director of a leading London based food importer, exporter and trading company Ivory & Ledoux Ltd. Having served in the IDF, Boris now lives in London with his wife, Tricia. They have four children.


Grant Kurland

Born in Cape Town, Grant became the youngest ever JV partner in one of the world’s most successful food franchises, Nando’s, after having studied Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town. Grant went on to found Bayport Financial Services in 2001. Grant lives in London with his wife Debbi and two children Erin and Ryan.


Geoff Melamet

Geoff began his career as an investment analyst on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange before moving to the UK in 1984 and founding the HMSA Group who offer impartial independent advice to investors and entrepreneurs worldwide. 

Geoff is a trustee of Gesher and Yad Vashem UK and was previously a trustee of UJS Hillel. Geoff has two children and currently lives in London with his wife Joseffa.


Gesher Israel

Yitzhak Nachshoni

Yitzhak is the Editor in Chief of the ‘Merkaz Hainyanim’ as well as a commentator on many of the Haredi radio stations. He was a participant in a Gesher Leadership Institute Course in 2016.

Daniel Goldman

Daniel is the founder and Managing Partner at Goldrock Capital. Born in London, Daniel emigrated to Israel in 1992. He now lives in Beit Shemesh, where he was very involved in building and shaping the city. Daniel is active in many organizations that promote understanding and tolerance among all sectors of society. He lives with hi wife and five children.

Chaim Billet

Chaim is a businessman. He lives in Jerusalem and has been involved with Gesher since it was first established.

Dr. Izhak Lax

Itzhak is a founding partner in Nevet – The BioMedical Investment Ltd. and is also the owner of Ishon – Consultation, Management & Holding Ltd. He is the chairman of the Maccabi Healthcare Services Foundation and of the Weitz Center for Development Studies. Yitzhak received an LL.B from Bar Ilan University’s Law School in 1992, and an MBA from Bar Ilan University in 2007. He holds a PhD in Economy from the International University of Business & Law and lectures in the Faculty of Management at Bar-Ilan University.

Orit Adato

Orit is the founder and director of Adato Consulting Ltd., which provides international consulting on prison management in general and terrorist inmates in particular, as well as on leadership in Israel and abroad. She is a former Lt-Gen (res.) in IDF, former head of IDF Women’s Corps and former Chief Commissioner of Israel Prison Service. Orit is the Chairperson of the Gesher Leadership Institute steering committee and is one of the Institute’s founders.

Liz Pushett

Liz is a facilitator at the Shefer School of Parenting and is the representative of the Morris Family Foundation.  Until recently, she was director of the Gush Etzion branch of the Big Brother, Big Sister mentoring program.  Liz is a graduate of the school of social work at the Hebrew University and is currently the Chairperson of the Gsharim.com media leadership track. Liz has five children and lives in Efrat.

Laurie Hanover

Laurie is the Director of Finance at Netafim. Previously, she served as senior vice president and director of finance at Tnuva. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the Wharton School of Business and a Bachelor-of-Arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, both from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, Laurie holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from New York University.

Rabbi Danny Tropper
Founder and President Emeritus

Founder (in 1970) and President Emeritus of Gesher, Rabbi Tropper is the driving force behind the initiatives and activities of Gesher, which have influenced more than one million Israelis by promoting mutual understanding and tolerance in Israeli society.  He received his ordination from Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik and his Ph.D. in Jewish History from Yeshiva University (1970).  Rabbi Tropper has published scholarly articles and op-ed pieces in Israel and the Diaspora.  He is a sought-after lecturer in schools, the IDF and public forums.  He has been awarded many prizes for his life’s work of promoting dialogue and tolerance in the Jewish people.


In 1970, Rabbi Danny Tropper ran the first Gesher seminar in Kfar Etzion for students from a secular school and a national religious school. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Israeli students have gone through Gesher programming and have been effected by Gesher’s educational seminars.

Since then, Gesher has shifted its focus and widened its scope. Forty years ago Gesher was an educational organization focused on secular and national religious youth. Now, a social/educational impact organization, Gesher works with secular, national religious and Haredi youth, IDF soldiers, leaders and opinion shapers. Gesher also works with Diaspora Jewry and the Israeli society as a whole to promote cohesive living and existence throughout the Jewish nation