About Us

After 10 years of amazing programing on MEOR’s 21 leading college campuses and Olami’s collegiate network, Meor Manhattan provides a very much needed division of alumni programming. Meor Manhattan aims to create a vibrant Jewish community of young professionals through educational programs, trips and events right in the heart of New York City.

MEET THE TEAM

Our STaff

Rabbi Shmuel Lynn Executive Director
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Rabbi Shmuel Lynn
Executive Director

Born in the Big Apple, raised in Palm Beach, graduate of Duke University and NYU’s Tisch Film School, Rabbi Shmuel Lynn figured out early on in his career that most people are really writing and directing in Hollywood on the side in the hopes of one day becoming a Rabbi. He’s one of the few who made it.   Five years in Hollywood led Rabbi Lynn to the epiphany that what you see in the world and what the world wants you to see are sets on a stage and behind it lies a surprise much grander than the Wizard of Oz. A short hiatus in Jerusalem led to a longer one, and yet again to an even longer one, culminating in his engagement and marriage to Ruthi.

Annette De La Torre Raij Chief Operating Officer
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Annette De La Torre Raij
Chief Operating Officer

Annette is a California born and bred girl.  She was one of Rabbi Lynn’s students years ago while studying at the University of Pennsylvania.  After attending Penn she attended Neve and went on to law school.  Five years into her big law career as an international corporate lawyer she decided to leave corporate America to join us here at MM at JEC as our Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Officer.

Now you can find her behind the scenes helping operations run smoothly.  When she’s not in the office you can find her waddling around with her husband and three toddlers on an outdoor adventure.

Rabbi Jack Cohen Senior Educator
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Rabbi Jack Cohen
Senior Educator

Rabbi Jack has been teaching Meor students since 2008 — and loving every minute.  He himself was one of the 1st Meor students at Penn (an ongoing debate with Rabbi Rick Fox), helping Rabbi Lynn recruit for the first Maimonides program.  He returned after his studies in Jerusalem to become one of the rabbis on campus (and at the time, the only one with the inside scoop on the bar scene). In college, Rabbi Jack double majored in physics and philosophy, and recently took time off from work to pursue a masters in education from Harvard, which he uses to better help people learn about themselves and learn Torah in a deep and relevant way.  Rabbi Jack teaches all week all over the city, empowering young professionals to create learning opportunities for their peers, and constantly strives to evolve and refine the educational design of Meor Manhattan’s programs.  Together with his wife Calanit and their kids Leah and Moshe, the Cohens are excited to be living in Murray Hill close to the epicenter of the Meor Manhattan community.

Rabbi Avi Blachman Educator
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Rabbi Avi Blachman
Educator

Rabbi Blachman was born and raised in Israel, Jerusalem.  He has studied at Yeshiva Chevron and continued to study at Rav Berkowitz. Along side this, he endured in many business endeavors. He started his own ice cream company.  Since then, he has moved to the Upper West Side with his wife Rivka and two beautiful kids.  He runs the Manhattan Midrash men’s learning program and loves every Jew!

Rabbi Yoni Spinka
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Rabbi Yoni Spinka

Born and bread in London – Rabbi Yoni Spinka has made his way to revolutionize Manhattan. With his dedicated years experience at Upenn Meor – Rabbi Spinka will be hosting, entertaining and learning with young jews all over the city.

Jackie Engel Senior Women's Educator
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Jackie Engel
Senior Women's Educator

Jackie had a private practice in Sydney Australia and worked as the resident “Psychologist” on the national “Today Show”, a TV breakfast current affairs program for 2 years. Her background includes working with youth off the streets, consulting to private and public hospitals and facilitating therapeutic groups. Jackie also consulted and did organizational work for the police, media personalities and other non profit organizations. She was a keynote speaker for 3 consecutive years for the National Young Leaders Foundation in Australia.

Faigy Blumstein Female Educator
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Faigy Blumstein
Female Educator

Faigy has been working with the JEC Meor Manhattan for 8 years now! She is from Long Island, although born in Brooklyn and loves teaching and learning.  She prides herself on trying out new recipes and loves hosting for Shabbat. She is married to Elimelech Blumstein and has a boatload of kids (5 to be exact). By day she is a school psychologist for the Board of Education.  She spends endless summers staffing trips to Israel which she loves.  Her favourite things are skiing and starbucks and a good hashtag every now and again!

Ariella Azaraf Educator
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Ariella Azaraf
Educator

Ariella joined the Meor Manhattan team early this year. As a Clinical Social Worker, Ariella enjoys connecting psychology and spirituality in her classes. Ariella works at a school as social worker at Manhattan Day School,  as well as private practice in Midtown. Ariella’s energy and passion for Torah and spirituality is real and authentic. After running Heritage Retreats for 3 years, Ariella feels passionate about educating strong Jewish women and empowering them to learn the beauty of being Jewish.

Daniella Doffman Marketing and Recruitment
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Daniella Doffman
Marketing and Recruitment

Daniella was born and raised in England, she attended the University of Nottingham where she got her BA in Sociology and Politics.  She has been an active Jewish leader from a very young age, being involved in Bnai Akiva as a Madricha, Jewish society President in her first year at college and Head rep for Aish UK during her college time.  She went on to work for Aish UK for a year after college and attended Forum of Jewish Leadership who set up the young Jewish leaders in England with internships in America.  She attended Jewish Student Leaders Conference in 2014 where she made close connections with staff and has moved across the pond to work for Meor Manhattan in marketing and recruitment.  She loves music and planning wild adventures.

Alexis Drattell Program Coordinator
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Alexis Drattell
Program Coordinator

Alexis hails from Long Island, New York, and graduated with a BFA degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was fortunate enough to spend her junior and senior years abroad in Milan, Italy, minoring in History of Art and Italian.

Through her abroad experience she realized how important the Jewish community was to her and sought to get more involved. Upon returning from Italy, she found Meor Manhattan at the JEC and was an attendee on Rabbi Lynn’s summer 2016 trip to Poland which changed everything for her.

Almost two years after her first encounter with MM, she decided to leave her career in Public Relations in the hospitality world for a more meaningful position as Program Manager at MM at the JEC. As she continues to grow and learn about Judaism, she hopes to inspire the community here as well.

Taly Zycer Recruitment Coordinator
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Taly Zycer
Recruitment Coordinator

Taly was born and raised in Chile.  A natural burning desire to bring Jews together she has spent a lot of her life connecting and learning with young Jews. She studied Business at Adolfo Ibaniez University and a semester in Stern in NYC. She worked for NCSY as an advisor for 7 years and has made the jump to New York City to engage with the Meor Manhattan community.  Taly loves to travel and has been to over 20 countries.

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