In 2004, Melissa and her husband Adam were searching for a Jewish community that would enrich the lives of their entire family and draw on Jewish tradition to engage the world in a meaningful way. When they could not find an existing community that met all of these needs, they joined with an immensely talented and inspiring group of people, led by Rabbi Sharon Brous, to create something beautiful.
Melissa focuses on the strategic direction of the community. She works closely with the board and acts as Rabbi Brous’s partner in guiding the overall vision of IKAR and ensuring that it is reflected in all IKAR events and initiatives.
Prior to joining IKAR professionally, Melissa was Assistant Dean at the University of Southern California Law School. Previously, she was Directing Attorney of Public Counsel’s Child Care Law Project, a senior consultant for a national human resources consulting firm, and an adjunct professor at Loyola Marymount's MBA program. Melissa is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California Law School. Melissa is married to Adam Wergeles, a lawyer, and has two daughters with whom she took a family “sabbatical” in 2007 that included six and a half months of travel and volunteering in Africa, Southeast Asia and Israel.
She now has the rare pleasure of blending her life’s passion with her profession, even though she’s still shocked to think of herself as a professional Jew.
Contact Melissa at melissa [at] ikar-la [dot] org.
Abbe Meryl Feder
Director of Operations
Abbe's leadership in the Jewish Community started in High School when she served as the National President of Young Judaea. Abbe graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in Behavioral Science and Law, and a certificate in Jewish Studies. She continued her studies at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in her hometown of New York City. Abbe continues to pursue her acting career, and has been called the “greatest actress of her generation” by her grandmother. Prior to joining the IKAR team, Abbe worked for a nationally known musician, and was a program leader for The Young Storytellers Foundation, which promotes literacy and self esteem among underserved elementary school students. Abbe is married to filmmaker Isaac Feder.
Contact Abbe at abbe [at] ikar-la [dot] org.
Program & Communications Coordinator
Summers at Young Judaea and years of progressive Jewish education do often pay off. After receiving the Judaics department award at his high school graduation, David left his home in Houston, Texas and jetted off to Israel. He spent a gap year exploring Tel Aviv’s GLBT and Nightlife scene before arriving at Emerson College, where he served as President for his fledgling Hillel organization. In 2012, David received a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in writing for film, comic books, and television. He has written for GLBT & Jewish publications and even Vietnamese Gossip TV. He writes two blogs about nightlife and entertainment, respectively, and hopes to find time to neurotically write about how he doesn’t have time to write. Since stepping into IKAR’s Hallel Service, David has not stepped out. He considers IKAR his community and his anchor in the big city.
Contact David at David [at] ikar-la [dot] org.
Director of Operations - ECC
Orly comes to us with years of experience as a Jewish educator. She has served as the Director of Young Family Programming at a synagogue in Atlanta.She has also served as part of the administrative team at the Pressman Early Childhood Center here in Los Angeles.Orly and her family moved to Los Angeles three years ago so that her husband, Steve, could attend rabbinic school. Their daughter Dinah will be starting at the IKAR ECC in the fall, and the whole family is thrilled to be a part of the IKAR family.
Contact Orly at orly [at] ikar-la [dot] org.
Events Team Leader
Michelle Miracle (yes, that is her real name), is a Denver native who found her way to LA six years ago to pursue acting, comedy, and voice-over. She has a degree in Speech Communication, a background in television post-production, project management, and restaurants. Michelle performs sketch comedy, improv and stand-up everywhere from cruise ships to comedy festivals. She is currently working on a “tight five” about working as the “Shabbas Goy,” and if you’re nice to her, she’ll save you a bagel.
Contact Michelle at michelle [at] ikar-la [dot] org.
Alexandra (known to most as Allie) was born and raised in Seattle. After graduating from the University of Washington with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, she moved south for some much needed sun. She was very involved with her childhood synagogue, as well as with USY and Hillel UW. After years of working in customer service for companies including Starbucks, Disney, and Macy’s, Allie is thrilled to be part of the IKAR staff and community.
Contact Allie at alexandra [at] ikar-la [dot] org.
Diana Phillips is a writer of creative nonfiction, a life-long Anglophile and an avid Dolly Parton fan. She graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in Television-Radio-Film and has worked as a journalist, event coordinator and TV producer prior to joining the staff at IKAR.
Contact Diana at dphillips [at] ikar-la [dot] org
Director of Parenting and Admissions - ECC
Beth grew up in Las Vegas. She has a wealth of experience in the field of Jewish early childhood education as a teacher, an administrator, an assistant principal, and nursery school director. She began her career as an English teacher at Harvard-Westlake, and then joined the staff of the nursery schools at Temple Israel of Hollywood and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. She is excited to be building IKAR's early childhood program, which embraces Jewish values and tradition, global awareness and involvement, and respect for children and their families.
Director of Curriculum - ECC
Joni was a founding parent of the IKAR ECC. She has been an early childhood educator and supervisor for over 10 years in Chicago and Los Angeles. Her passion for the field of early childhood began at Indiana University, where she received a degree in Early Childhood Development. After beginning her teaching career at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago, she completed a master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Roosevelt University. Several years later, Joni and her husband, Danny, moved to Los Angeles, where she taught nursery school and served as a Parent & Me facilitator at Stephen S. Wise Temple, while simultaneously falling in love with the IKAR community. Most recently, she has been a volunteer member of our IKAR ECC team and a Parent & Me facilitator for our community. Joni's daughter, Evyn, was a member of IKAR's inaugural ECC class, and her son, Samson, can't believe his luck that he has joined the 2-year-old class in the fall of 2012.