Meet Our Staff
Yad Leah is powered, fueled, and driven by volunteers. As volunteers, we joined the Yad Leah crew because we’re all passionate about changing the lives of needy Israeli families. We spend our respective weekends, vacations, lunch breaks at work, time after school, and free time to volunteer a bit (or a lot) for Yad Leah. Volunteering takes time, but it’s very fulfilling!
Hey, let’s get to know each other! Keep reading to find out about us, and feel free to drop us a line and tell us a bit about yourself. Hey, maybe you’ll be our next volunteer…
Jessica Katz is the director of Yad Leah’s international office in Clifton, NJ. Did she intend to start Yad Leah? “Well, it was originally intended to be a family mitzvah project, but… out activities kinda snowballed.” Going from her living room to a full warehouse was a bit of hard transition, but her five kids encouraged her along the way. Jessica sometimes says that Yad Leah’s marketing director is her 11 year old daughter who tells all her teachers about the organization and stops potential donors at every clothing drive in an attempt to fundraise. Needless to say, she’s been pretty successful!
Plans for the future? “Today we’re serving nearly thirty communities, but requests from other communities keep coming in. With assistance from our American friends, I see Yad Leah developing a larger network of clothing distribution sites servicing every community in need while still retaining our volunteer-based core.”
Karen Thaler is the director of Yad Leah’s Israel office. Karen is an old childhood friend of Jessica’s from when they grew up in Teaneck, NJ. Karen made aliyah to Israel where she now lives with her mishpacha in Beitar, Illit.
Karen loves Israel, and that’s why she was so disturbed when she heard about the economic situation of many of the Israelis in her very own neighborhood. “I asked Jessica to send me a couple suitcases of clothing to Israel, but I never asked for a whole boat load of clothes!” Karen says jokingly. Does she have any regrets? “Only that I didn’t start it earlier… it took me ten years living here to realize the need.” Pretty impressive for someone who was known as a community activist even before Yad Leah!
Devora Widman, Director of Finances – Devora’s been our director of finances almost before we had finances to direct. “Devora’s incredibly dedicated,” says Jessica Katz, “she’s really been with us from day one until today.” Devora who’s a professional accountant volunteers part of her time to use her professional skills to advance Yad Leah’s mission.
But as Devora says, “working together with such a passionate team and for such a great cause, I couldn’t imagine it otherwise.” Besides, with Devora being Jessica’s neighbor, the commute couldn’t really get shorter than that!