Ethiopia AB: Meet our group!

In the fall of 2012, 20 students made a decision to go on a trip that would change their lives and outlook on the world forever. Under the leadership of Maryland Hillel staff Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, two student fellows, Samanatha Gottlieb and Rebekah Barber, and the Joint Distribution Committee, these students would travel to Ethiopia and experience a new part of the world and themselves. This is the story of that group:

In 4 short days, 19 fellow University of Maryland students and myself, Diana Peisach, will travel to Ethiopia with the help and guidance of Maryland Hillel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for a new type of winter break, an “Alternative Break”. Through this incredible program they have created, we will spend 8 days split between the cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar participating in social justice and interacting with the local community. Through volunteering in schools, visiting new clean water well sites, meeting Dr. Rick Hodes and many other activities, we will learn more about the community and efforts of the JDC in Ethiopia, while hopefully making an impact ourselves. As our departure date nears, feelings of both excitement and nervousness are most definitely surging through each member of our group. With a collection of students as outstanding and devoted as the 20 selected for this trip, I know we will all do great. So before I go on any further, I would like to introduce our Winter 2013 Ethiopia Alternative Break group!

Samantha Gottlieb: Hey my name is Sami Gottlieb and I am from Syosset, NY. I am currently a junior Biology major with a minor in Sustainability Studies at the University of Maryland. Although I have plans to one day attend medical school, I would love to do some sort of non-profit work either before or after. I went with the JDC last year to Ukraine and had the most amazing time so I cannot wait to work with them again! I love seeing the world and learning about all the ways that I can make a difference.

Rebekah Barber: Hi!  My name is Rebekah Barber and I’m from Seattle, Washington!  I’m a candidate for a double-degree in Economics and Government & Politics.  I’m currently part of the UMD Mock Trial team and I’m a member of the greatest sorority on campus, Sigma Delta Tau!   I play intramural sports, and my coed volleyball team, Safe Sets, just won the championship this past spring!  Last spring break I traveled to Ukraine with 20 other incredible students and had the most inspiring and eye opening experience, as we repaired the JDC’s Chesed center and connected with the greater Ukrainian community!  I’m psyched for another Alternative Break and even more stoked to be leading a service trip with an amazing team!

Jamie Austin: Hi! My name is Jaime Austin and I am from Marietta, Georgia. I am a sophomore American Studies major and hope to double major in history and eventually become a history teacher. At the University of Maryland I am involved with College Park Scholars and Lakeland STARS, as well as, Sigma Delta Tau. This is my first time going on an alternative break and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with you all!

Shoshana Beacken: Hi, I am Shoshana Beacken and I'm from Randolph, New Jersey where I attended the Hebrew Academy of Morris County and graduated from Randolph High School. Currently, I am a Sophomore majoring in Biology at the University of Maryland. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in either dentistry or medicine. This will be my first time traveling to Ethiopia, and I could not be more excited to go on this amazing trip!!

Tara Feld: Hi! My name is Tara Feld and I am from Los Angeles, California. I am currently a junior Psychology major and I hope to go to school to become a Physician's Assistant after I graduate. On campus, I am involved with a number of student organizations such as TerPAC, Challah for Hunger and Better Together. I have always had a passion for volunteering and I cannot wait for this opportunity to go to Ethiopia!

Brina Furman: My name is Brina Furman and I was born and raised in the lovely city of Baltimore, Maryland. I am a senior Sociology major with a minor in Special Education at UMD, with the hopes of attending graduate school for Social Work. I have a horrible shopping addiction, true passion for mac n cheese, and would do anything to get paid to travel the world. This is my first time to Africa and I am absolutely beyond excited for the opportunity.

Dillon Hagius: Hi. My name is Dillon Hagius and I am senior international business major in the process of applying to law schools. I went on JDC-UMD's Ukraine trip last spring break, so I am looking forward to learning about the JDC's work in Ethiopia. This year, I am leading a Hillel fellowship in conjunction with the National Collation for the Homeless, so I am particularly interested in learning about the legwork that goes in to running a successful NGO/NPO.

Tatiana Hasson: I am Tatiana Hasson and I was born and raised in Boston, MA. I am a sophomore Community health major but I took a gap year in Israel after high school, where I spent my time learning, traveling and volunteering. I am very involved in extra-curriculars on campus, particularly among the Jewish community. I am part of the Jewish Student Union, Shalom Zionists at Maryland, and I am an engagement intern for HIllel. I love meeting new people, experiencing new things, and giving to those who are less privelaged than I am. I am really looking forward to an awesome, meaningful trip in Ethiopia!

Danielle Horn: Hi! My name is Danielle Horn and I am from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. I am a sophomore double majoring in Middle School Education and Family Science. During my time at the University of Maryland I have been very involved in Hillel and the Alternative Break program is an amazing opportunity that is offered. I enjoy traveling and my curiosity for Ethiopia peeked when I was a counselor for Ethiopian girls this summer. I can’t wait to learn about the community there and share wonderful experiences with my group members!

Elizabeth Horwitz: Hi. My name is Elizabeth Horwitz and I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. I am a senior studying History at the University of Maryland. I am extremely passionate about traveling and love to learn about new cultures and connect with people from all over the world. I am really excited for this opportunity to go to Ethiopia and experience apart of the world that I haven't been to.

Lexie Kahn: Hi! My name is Lexie Kahn and I am originally from New York City. I am currently a junior Supply Chain Management and Communications double major at the University of Maryland. I am extremely passionate about my Judaism and social justice and cannot wait to bring the two together in Ethiopia! Though I have participated in other alternative breaks before, I am very excited for the new challenges and experiences that this one will bring!

Zoe Klein: My name is Zoe Klein and I am from Dallas, Texas. I am currently a junior Psychology major, as well as pre-med. During my gap year in Israel I had the opportunity to work with young Ethiopian girls twice a week and I am counting down the days until I can learn more about their country's culture and people firsthand! I am greatly looking forward to getting to know everyone and seeing a whole new part of the world!

Rebecca Kraut: Hi, my name is Becca Kraut and I am a freshman at UMD.  I am from Baltimore, MD and have two older sisters.  I am still undecided as for my major, but I love it here!  Hillel is one of my favorite spots on campus, I think the Jewish community it builds is a huge asset to Jewish life at Maryland.  I volunteered last year at an Ethiopian absorption center in Israel and so I cannot wait to learn more about their culture and where they come from.  I am excited for this trip and ready to be challenged and inspired! 

 Akiva Lichtenberg: I am from Teaneck, NJ and am now a sophomore majoring in psychology and taking premed courses. I am also in the Global Public Health Scholars program which sparked my interest in this trip and in health issues in underdeveloped countries. I have also heard of Dr. Hodes and have done JDC programming in the past and am excited to do more work with them in Ethiopia.

Jessica Loesberg: I am Jessica Loesberg and I'm from Lawrenceville, New Jersey and a double major in history and communication with a minor in Spanish. On campus, I am part of the Global Communities Living and Learning Program, a campus tour guide, a brother of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, member of the History Undergraduate Association and various other activities. I love traveling and cannot wait to experience our trip to Ethiopia!

 Ilana Lupovitch: I am Ilana Lupovitch from Chicago, Illinois where I graduated from Ida Crown Jewish Academy. I am currently majoring in Public Health, but I will be applying to nursing school next fall. I am part of Global Communities, which is a living and learning program here at Maryland which has really sparked my interest for global studies. I one day hope to travel the world as a nurse to help other people. I am the oldest of four kids in my family. I seriously CANNOT WAIT to go to Ethiopia with everyone!

Diana Peisach: Hi! My name is Diana Peisach and I am from Baltimore Maryland. I am a senior Communications major and will be graduating this Spring. Throughout college I have been highly active in my sorority Sigma Delta Tau and the Jewish Student Union. Although I have always participated in community service work, this will be my first alternative break trip. I am so excited for everything we are about to experience in Ethiopia and the impact it will have on us all!

Mira Chaya Rosen: Hey! My name is Mira Chaya Rosen (you guys can call me Mira if you want) and I'm from Los Alamitos, CA. I am currently a freshman architecture major but I'm not really sure what I want to do after college yet. I absolutely love to travel and experience new cultures so I can't wait to go on this trip with you guys!

Elissa Rosner: Hi! My name is Elissa Rosner and I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a sophomore majoring in Psychology and I am currently pre-dental. I am in the Global Public Health Scholars program and this is what sparked my interest in going to Ethiopia. I have never been on an alternative break trip before but I am so excited to go and experience another culture!

Jared Stein: Hi. My name is Jared and I am originally from Boston. I often find myself in new and intriguing situations and I love trying new things, even if they are outside of my comfort zone. I spent a year in Israel after high school volunteering, traveling, and studying, that shaped much of who I am today. At the University of Maryland I have stayed busy working with Hillel, Habitat for Humanity and many more organizations! I am excited for the incredible opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and for all of the experiences that await us there!

We are all so excited for this incredible trip and can't wait to share our experiences with you! Stay tuned for much more to come.


Diana Peisach






Written By

January 5, 2013 at 7:08 PM




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