USC Hillel Professional Staff
Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director
CEO Jewish Alumni Association
Dave Cohn began his service as Executive Director of USC Hillel in the summer of 2019. Prior to returning to USC, Dave oversaw a period of growth and transformation in engagement as Director of Emory Hillel, retooling its Campus Engagement Internship and achieving recognized excellence in breadth and depth of student engagement from Hillel International.
A Chicago native, the inspiration for Dave’s dedication to Jewish communal work grew from his many years as a camper and staff member at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI), a Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin. Prior his time at Emory, he worked in development and strategic projects for Hillel at UCLA and spent years as a music educator in public school and synagogue settings.
Dave completed his MPA at USC and is a proud member of the Trojan Family. He also holds degrees in Jewish Nonprofit Management from HUC-JIR and in music from the University of Illinois. He’s married to Sarah Ruben, an early childhood educator, and they are proud parents to their daughter, Selah. When not at Hillel, Dave can be found adventuring in the outdoors, cruising the farmer’s market for some fresh produce, and traveling the world with his family.
Liora Petel is the Operations Director at USC Hillel. Originally from Detroit, Liora has lived all over the US devoting herself to working in the nonprofit Jewish sector. Liora has worked at the American Jewish University’s Elderhostel program, at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Special Events and the most amazing five years at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center, wearing many different hats. Liora received her BA in Business from the American Jewish University and her MBA from the University of New Orleans with a concentration in Human Resources. Management. Liora and her husband Eli have three children, and she actively volunteers for her children’s school, sports teams and their synagogue. She is a diehard lover of chocolate, travel and adventure and always has a wild and crazy story to tell.
Associate Director of Student Wellness
Rebecca Ruben is a clinical social worker and graduate of the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Prior to joining USC Hillel, she worked with young adults at Glendale Community College, the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a variety of K-12 schools in Los Angeles and Orange County. Before earning her MSW, Rebecca worked in non-profit development and event management. She has served as a volunteer lay leader with the Anti-Defamation League and is an alumnus of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles New Leaders Project.
Rebecca’s therapeutic approach is grounded in the belief that we all have the capacity to grow and heal. Her clinical interests include anxiety and depression, sexual identity, career development, life transitions, the grief process, perfectionism, relationship issues, and stress management. She enjoys helping students increase self-awareness, improve relationships and overall functioning, and work toward building a meaningful life.
IACT Birthright Coordinator
Emily Joachim is originally from Danville, CA but spent the last four years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo majoring in Art and Design with a concentration in Graphic Design. While in San Luis Obispo, Emily served on the board of various Jewish organizations including Hillel of San Luis Obispo. Her connection to her Jewish identity was discovered in college and prompted her interest in working at Hillel. Emily just got back from her first time in Israel this past summer and is so excited to be the new Birthright Israel Coordinator at USC Hillel. Emily is so excited to be working closely with students to recruit as many people as possible to go on Birthright trips with her in the winter and summer!
Gal is the new Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at USC Hillel. First joining the Hillel family in 2018, Gal previously served as the Israel Fellow at the University of Minnesota Hillel. During her time in Minnesota, Gal worked with a variety of students, strengthening their connections to Israel by facilitating deep conversations and creating learning opportunities.
Gal received her BA in Political Science from Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan. While in college, Gal worked at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv as a group facilitator and museum guide for army soldiers and Israeli students. This experience influenced her to continue her educational work with the Jewish community in the U.S.
Gal enjoys cooking Israeli food, and she is super excited for you to try it! Yalla!
Andrew joined USC Hillel's professional team in 2018 as the Assistant Director and has been a part of the Hillel family since 2015. During his time at Central Florida Hillel in Orlando, Florida (2015-2018) he served as the Israel Engagement Coordinator and Director of Jewish Student Life. Andrew gained valuable experience educating on topics including Israel and Jewish philosophy and encouraged students to explore their personal connection to their heritage and tradition. Andrew mastered the delicate balance between hosting large-scale programs designed to reach hundreds of students while still helping each individual connect on an intimate level with the Jewish community and their Judaism.
Prior to joining the global Hillel team, Andrew worked as a Jewish leadership professional with Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity. He traveled across the United States, Europe, and Israel expanding the fraternity’s global brand and consulted hundreds of Jewish leaders on matters of leadership development, civic engagement, and Jewish pride. This rewarding experience cemented his ambition to become a career Jewish professional. Andrew grew up in San Diego, CA and graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Psychology. He has traveled to Israel over 15 times for professional, leisure, and learning experiences. Andrew loves being involved with sports, traveling, and spending time with friends.
Assistant Director of Advancement
A Colorado native, Jordyn has a diverse professional background in volunteer recruitment and management, marketing, and development. Before joining the USC team, Jordyn worked for the Girl Scouts of Colorado, The Broadmoor World Arena, and served as the Regional Coordinator for Rock the Earth, an environmental advocacy organization who partners with the music industry. Jordyn graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University at Buffalo in 2014, earning Political Science and Global Gender Studies degrees. Fight on!
USC Hillel BSWI Graduate Intern
Erica Houston is thrilled to be interning at USC Hillel during the 2020-2021 school year. She is currently a second year student in the Master of Social Work program at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the Jewish Non-Profit Management program at Hebrew Union College. Last year, Erica served as a Clinical Intern at Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles working with older adults. Prior to her time in graduate school, Erica worked with kids and teens at synagogues in New Jersey and Los Angeles. She graduated from Boston University in 2015 with a degree in journalism and political science.
Erica grew up attending the URJ Camp Harlam in Pennsylvania and spent 7 amazing years on staff, eventually becoming a Supervisor. Camp is where Erica fell in love with Judaism, honed her leadership skills, and met her husband. Erica is passionate about reading, traveling, gluten-free baking, and cats.
Springboard Ezra Fellow
Emma Dorn earned her Bachelor's in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine in 2020. She is a Southern California native with a love for the SoCal sunshine. During her time at UCI, she served as UCI Hillel's Jewish Life Coordinator and Hillel President. She fell in love with Jewish learning and texts after her second trip to Israel, where she attended the Shalom Hartman Institute's winter conference. She loves language learning, and is currently working on Spanish, Japanese, Russian, American Sign Language, and Hebrew. Emma is very excited to be a part of the Trojan family and USC Hillel! #fighton
Dr Esther Jilovsky
Esther is a final year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and is delighted to be serving as USC Hillel’s rabbinic intern in 2020-21. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, she pursued an academic career in Jewish Studies before deciding to train for the rabbinate. She has a BA(Hons) in German from the University of Melbourne, a Master of Studies in Jewish Studies from the University of Oxford and was awarded her PhD by the University of London in 2011. She is author of Remembering the Holocaust: Generations, Witnessing and Place (Bloomsbury 2015) and co-editor of In the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation (Vallentine Mitchell 2016), one of the first books to deal with the experience of the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Over the past four years of rabbinical school, Esther has cultivated her passion for studying Torah and Jewish texts of all kinds, as well as her love for languages—she speaks fluent German, pretty good Hebrew and is not bad at Aramaic! She also enjoys writing for a range of audiences, and most recently has contributed to the 929 English website and a Times of Israel blog, and wrote the section on Eve for the cookbook Feeding Women of the Bible, Feeding Ourselves: A Jewish Food Hero Cookbook (Turner 2020).