Ohr Naava is comprised of a team of professional educators and caring individuals who serve as role models and mentors. Private appointments can be made with each staff member to discuss personal matters. Traveling from New Jersey, Monsey, Long Island, and Brooklyn, our faculty is dedicated to giving their audience an enriched learning experience. Our staff is trained to discuss matters on all levels, and they make themselves available on a daily basis. In addition, well-known guest lecturers from both America and abroad are invited to speak in Ohr Naava regularly.
Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein
Founder and Director of Ohr Naava
Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein has become an icon in the Jewish world of fearless vision, deep conviction, and unfailing warmth. Now celebrating an over-three-decades career in chinuch, the dynamic educator—with his trademark passion, clarity, and love—has touched the hearts and souls of thousands of students from all shades of the religious spectrum.
Eight years ago, upon grasping a profound paucity in the spiritual and social resources available to today's Jewish women, Rabbi Wallerstein dared to step out of the box—and found Ohr Naava, at a time when no comparable center existed.
With his legendary foresight and gumption, the center has since mushroomed into a panoptic umbrella organization, composed of numerous programs addressing the gamut of Jewish women's needs, including Ateres Naava Seminary, Bnot Chaya Academy, the Ohr Naava Shidduch Initiative, GalTime for teens, and many more. Today, Rabbi Wallerstein has become an internationally sought-after speaker, traveling the world and inspiring men and women from all walks of life. Dubbed a "holistic doctor" thanks to his multifaceted approach to growth, struggle, and spiritual healing, on a typical day, he can be found in schools, shuls, community centers, and even mental institutions worldwide, lighting up lives—one neshamah at a time.
Yanky Elefant is Executive Director of Ohr Naava. Born and bred in Boro Park, Yanky attended Mir Yeshiva and studied accounting at Touro College. Brother of Mrs. Estee Wallerstein and therefore Ohr Naava "family," he is currently CEO of MT Packaging, a full-service packaging firm catering to manufacturers. Astoundingly, he still finds extensive time to serve—on a volunteer basis—as the beloved Executive Director of Ohr Naava, and his impressive business acumen, resourcefulness and generosity have proved critical in ensuring the continued success of Ohr Naava's operations.
Yanky devotes days and nights to the organization's success, masterminding every major decision and new endeavor. He and his wonderful wife Lisa play a fundamental role in Ohr Naava shidduchim, and have been the driving force behind countless beautiful marriages. The Elefants reside in Brooklyn, NY, where they enjoy their five children.
Director of Programing
Mrs. Daphne Hanson, LMSW, is the co-founder and Director of Programming at Ohr Naava and Ateres Naava Seminary. After spending several years studying in Eretz Yisroel, Daphne returned to the U.S. to complete her Master’s Degree in Social Work, which she has utilized in various Jewish institutions. At Ateres Naava, Daphne teaches Torah & Psychology, Michtav M’Eliyahu, Tznius, and Relationships, subjects which she has taught since Ohr Naava’s founding. Daphne and her family live in Brooklyn, NY.
Mrs. Sharona BenHaim
Director of Operations
Director of Operations at Ohr Naava, Mrs. Sharona BenHaim, is no stranger to Jewish outreach: she grew up in a family strongly affiliated with organizations like Arachim and Gateways, and gained invaluable hands-on experience in drawing people closer to Judaism. Professionally, Sharona served as the executive director of a nonprofit organization for a number of years before cultivating a high-profile corporate career in sales and administration. Before joining Ohr Naava, she held a lucrative position in a prestigious diamond company, but upon hearing Rabbi Wallerstein speak for the first time many years ago, her dream became to work for Ohr Naava and make a difference in Klal Yisrael by enabling its finest "jewels" to sparkle. She currently resides in Woodmere with her husband and children.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Mrs. Judy Bodner is a certified life coach who specializes in dating, relationships and building self-esteem. Judy is on staff at Ohr Naava, Ateres Naava and Bnot Chaya Academy, where she offers engaging, highly relevant classes and one-on-one student counseling. Her home, nicknamed "Judy's Place," has become a warm go-to haven where girls can spend Shabbos or Yom Tov or just find an inviting place to relax. Judy has also been a shadchan for the past 20 years. She resides in Monsey with her husband Pinny, where they enjoy much nachas from their children and grandchildren.
Mrs. Jackie Bitton, a shining star on the motivational speaker's circuit, hails from New York and has been involved in Jewish women's education and Jewish outreach activities for over a decade. After spending most of that time inspiring individuals and communities in San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington, she moved back to the New York area where she and her family now live. Jackie is currently Dean of Students at YDE Girls Yeshivah in Brooklyn and teaches a popular weekly Torah class for women in her community. An alumna of SKA HALB High School for girls, she is a frequent lecturer to women of all backgrounds and ages throughout the United States, Canada and Israel, and her passionate and humorous presentations have made her a highly popular speaker on a wide variety of topics.
Miss Chevi Garfinkel
An acclaimed educator with over 15 years of experience, Miss Chevi Garfinkel lectures throughout the United States, Canada and Eretz Yisroel, and is a regular teacher in Shulamis and Bruriah High Schools. During the summer, Miss Garfinkel directs Camp Frontier, an innovative teenage hiking camp that merges wholesome fun with transformative learning. At Ohr Naava, Chevi has taught tefilla and moadim on a bi-monthly basis since the organization's inception, and her humorous yet hard-hitting style keeps attendees coming back for more. You'll know a girl has been at Miss Garfinkel's shiur if there is a thoughtful look in her eyes and a smile on her face.
Mrs. Malkey Wallerstein attended BYA High School, BJJ Seminary, and NYU University. An outstanding speaker, she has been involved in adult and young adult education for over two decades. Her classes in Ateres Naava, which include Igeres HaRamban, Mesilas Yesharim, and Neviim/Kesuvim, encourage questions, discussion and exploration of ideas by working through the actual text. She also teaches Parasha and High School Biology in the Brooklyn area. She is the wife of Rabbi Eliezer Wallerstein, and lives in Flatbush with her husband and children.
Mrs. Ivy Kalazan is a dynamic lecturer who brilliantly uncovers the depth and meaning behind mitzvot that are often kept by rote. After graduating summa cum laude from Touro College with a B.S. in mathematics, Ivy spent over 25 years teaching Jewish philosophy from a logical perspective. Drawing from the teachings of Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller, Rav Noach Orlowek and Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, her analytical style appeals to both the mind and heart, and her classes have been solicited by educational institutions worldwide, including Yeshiva University of Los Angeles and Neve Yerushalayim in Israel. She presently teaches in Ohr Naava, The New Seminary, The Jewish Renaissance Center and Maalot seminaries in Brooklyn.
A former collegiate athlete, Rabbi Label Lam is a graduate of Colgate University who also studied at Harvard Extension School. While pursuing a Master's in Education, Rabbi Lam studied for many years at Yeshiva Ohr Somayach, preparing to launch a career in Jewish education.
Today, Rabbi Lam engages audiences across the world. A former full-time lecturer for Arachim Seminars, Rabbi Lam has inspired businessmen, university students and even prisoners through Ohr Somayach International and HaMaayan Institute for almost two decades. He is the co-founder of Foundations for Jewish Learning, an organization that manages outreach project in the United States and abroad.
Rabbi Lam's lectures are peppered with rich personal anecdotes and characterized by wit, wisdom, and an infectious love for the Jewish people. His insights on the weekly Parsha are received by over 15,000 people worldwide, and can be found at www.torah.org. Rabbi Lam lives in Spring Valley, NY, with his wife, Chaya, and 10 children.
Mrs. Blima Lichtig has been studying and teaching and dance for over 30 years. A well-known choreographer who's worked with various musicians and singers, Blima brings energy, skill, and passion to her craft, teaching dance locally year-round and in various vacation venues in the summer. She also gives private dance lessons to brides and their family members so they can feel confident on their special day. Blima resides with her husband in Brooklyn, NY.
Rabbi Chaim Tuvia Hanson is a former native of Queens (you know, the place next door where you don't want to go using the Belt Parkway). He is a member of Kollel Gur Aryeh and a proud Ohr Naava shadchan, working to represent Ohr Naava girls in particular and facilitate their dating experience. Rabbi Hanson resides in Flatbush with his wife Daphne and family.