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Alex Varvak

Brooklyn, NY

Alex was born in Kiev, Ukraine, then came to New York in his teens by way of Italy during the great wave of Soviet Jewish emigration in the late 1980’s. The question of Jewish affiliation and belonging to the Jewish world was something that naturally piqued his curiosity and informed his choices later in life. After finishing his education, Alex moved to Israel with his family.  Learning Hebrew, and becoming an Israeli was challenging and exciting at the same time. Alex is currently living in Brooklyn and working as an industrial research scientist. He enjoys hiking, traveling, and stimulating conversations. He would like to be more involved in the life of the local Russian Jewish community and hopes to share in learning about key Jewish questions of the day.


Alina Tokar
Livingston, NJ


Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Alina happily lived her early childhood knowing that she was Jewish and not knowing what being Jewish meant.  Just as many other Jewish families of the late 80’s and early 90’s, her parents decided that “enough was enough” and off they went to Israel.  Growing up in the Jewish State, she formed her Jewish identity, learned her history, and celebrated her holidays. She did what most people in Israel do, without putting any effort in doing so.   Fast-forward eleven years, and they decided that yet another immigration is in order.  They packed one more time and came to the US.  Though her formative years were in Israel her adulthood started here.  As an adult she started to appreciate that which the Jewish State gave to her and that which she always took for granted.  It became a mission to retain her love of land, history, heritage, and tradition. She wants to pass that love, appreciation, and pride to her kids.  Now she is a wife, a mom, a daughter and a professional. She is looking for ways to stay honest to her mission and this is why she is here.


Ed Gershman
Philadelphia, PA


Ed Gershman was born in Svalava (Ukraine) in the Carpathian Mountains region. He was raised in Kishinev, Moldova and emigrated from the former Soviet Union to Philadelphia in 1977 at the age of 7 with his parents and twin sister. Eddie and his wife Angels have 4 kids ranging from 13 - 29 yrs of age. He and his wife are strong believers of Jewish education and have watched all of their children attend the Jewish Day School system.  Ed is a supporter and advocate of Holocaust Awareness education especially on college campuses. While originally a Philadelphian (Yo Philly!) Ed has lived in Pittsburgh, PA and in New York City.


He began his career in media and marketing working at various Jewish Community Centers including the highly regarded 92nd St Y in Manhattan.  In addition to his work in nonprofit, Ed has worked in the sports and media industry and currently oversees a group of home care agencies throughout the Mid-Atlantic area. Ed believes in the beauty of our community, our culture, and our faith.

Elena Soloveitchik
Glen Rock, NJ


Elena Soloveitchik was born in Moscow and moved to the US at the age of 21 upon graduating from Moscow State University. In the US, Elena earned her MBA in Finance from Baruch College and has been working in the financial services industry in NYC. Elena was a longtime Brooklyn resident prior to moving to North NJ with her husband and their two daughters in 2013. Although she no longer lives in New York, Elena maintains strong personal ties to the City. Elena enjoys spending time with her friends and family, attending various cultural events, and traveling.

Eugene Fooksman
Menlo Park, CA


Eugene Fooksman is the founder of the Fooksman Family Foundation and a software pioneer. His philanthropic work follows decades of leadership in Silicon Valley, including the role of a key developer of WhatsApp.

Born in St Petersburg, Russia to a civil engineer and molecular scientist, Eugene immigrated to the US with his family in 1999. The Fooksmans settled in the Bay Area, where Eugene’s career in startup life began. His professional success was soon complemented by philanthropic activity, driven by his commitment to Jewish continuity and the future of Israel.

This commitment has grown throughout Eugene’s Jewish journey: from his leadership in a Zionist youth group in St Petersburg to his immersion in America’s Russian-speaking Jewish community. The life-changing connections he has forged, combined with his deepening emotional investment in Israel, have informed and inspired his philanthropic interests, leading to the establishment of the philanthropic foundation in 2018. With an eye for innovation that fuels social change, his driving force is a positive impact on Israel as a strong nation-state, and support of the Jewish world at large – in all its diversity.

Alongside his investments, consultancy, and philanthropic work, Eugene enjoys spending time with his two children and experiencing the world through travel.

Fred Berlin

Livingston, NJ

After immigrating to New York from Lvov, Ukraine in 1994, Fred received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Binghamton University and a doctorate from SGU School of Medicine. Fred completed his residency followed by a fellowship in Vascular and Interventional Radiology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan and is currently a partner in a busy private practice in New Jersey, residing in Livingston, NJ with his wife Lena and 3 children: David 6, Arielle 4 and Noah 2. When not working, Fred enjoys traveling with his family and friends as much as possible, learning foreign languages and exercising; currently training for a March ‘21 triathlon in Hawaii. Fred is looking forward to being a part of JPA, learning and making new friends in the process.


Irina Shrayer
Armonk, NY


Irina came to NYC from a small Ukrainian town with her family, where she lived on Shalom Aleichem street. She is an avid believer in the uniqueness of the Jewish people and has come to appreciate the special role of Russian speaking Jews within the historical arch of our people. Irina is very focused on supporting the State of Israel, the ultimate home for the Jewish people. She is a Senate Club member of AIPAC, actively lobbying members of Congress and Senate for a strong US-Israel relationship. She is involved with several Zionist and Jewish organizations such as Brothers for Life, Club Z, and her local Chabad. Irina holds a business degree from NYU and spent over a decade on Wall Street in marketing and product development. She currently resides in Westchester, NY.

Julia Lyakhovich

Brooklyn, NY

Julia Lyakhovich was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to the US in 1999 with her husband and son. She graduated from Moscow Institute of Electronic Machine-building (МИЭМ) with a Masters in Computer Engineering. Currently, she works at the Consolidated Edison in IT. 

Before coming to the US, she was not connected with her Jewish heritage besides possessing the inherited knowledge of how the 5th "grafa" has been affecting hers and her family's life. Since then, she has been using every opportunity to educate herself and instill Jewish values in her children, ages 16 and 29.

Julia enjoys all types of outdoor activities, challenging travels to remote places, opera, theater and museums, as well as organizing friends’ outings.


Katrina Krimgold
Brooklyn, NY


Katrina was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and immigrated to the United States in 1996. She holds a BBA and MS in Finance from Pace University. She spent the last 20 professional years working in portfolio management and analytics. She lives in Brooklyn NY with her husband and wonderful twins


Konstantin Igel
New York, NY


Konstantin was born in Tashkent where he grew up prior to moving to New York in 1995. His family was rooted in Poland and Ukraine prior to being dislocated east. New York became home to his family: his wife and two kids of 20 and 12 yo. They are active members of the Temple Israel community, where their kids also enjoy their Jewish studies among many friends. In NY, he graduated from what is now NYU School of Engineering followed by a career at one of the major investment banks, and several years working in the alternative investment management sector. He enjoys traveling, learning about the world through the lens of history, arts, and local cuisine. He spends a good amount of time hiking and piloting GA aircraft. He is excited to join JPA to learn more about our roots, debate where we are going as a community, and bring the new knowledge back to my children.


Lana Simkina
New York, NY


Lana grew up in Kiev, Ukraine prior to moving to Moscow where she studied Physical Chemistry in Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys.  She immigrated to the US with her family in 1994 but returned to Russia shortly thereafter to work for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow facilitating U.S. investment in the newly opened Russian market.  Following her work at the Embassy, she graduated with an MBA degree from Georgetown University and built a career in investment banking with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, financial restructurings, and other corporate finance advisory.  Lana has advised clients in a range of industries, including aerospace & defense, niche manufacturing, tools & machinery, metals and metal services, government services, and business services, among others.  Currently, Lana is Managing Director with an investment banking boutique Eureka Capital Partners, LLC.  Lana lives in Manhattan with her 12-year old twin boys Max and Jacob.  She enjoys a good conversation, theater, travel, hiking, rock scrambling and is an avid fiction reader. 

Lana first learned that she was Jewish by accident when she sneaked into her first-grade classroom to check her grades in the class register and realized that the notation next to her name was "evr", which was different from most kids in her class.  This prompted initial discussions about Jewish heritage with her parents and eventually, lead to further on- and off- identity searching throughout her adult life.  Having recently lost her husband of 15 years to cancer, Lana looks to re-engage in discovery of Jewish thought and community, in part, as a source of resilience and meaning for her family. 


Lana Vegman
Short Hills, NJ


Lana Vegman immigrated to Brooklyn, NY in 1991 from Riga, Latvia with her parents and grandparents.  She attended elementary through high school in Brooklyn and then went away to college to Philadelphia, PA. Lana holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Lana works in the pharmaceutical industry and is currently Director, General Medicine North America Publications at Sanofi US.

Lana currently lives in Short Hills, NJ with her husband Igor, two boys - Matthew (12) and Ilan (8) and Cooper, their 1.5 yr old golden doodle. Pre-pandemic, Lana’s hobbies included Broadway shows, kickboxing and planning her next vacation. Her current list of hobbies includes daily Zoom meetings, family board games, cooking new dishes, and still planning her next vacation


Lev Luvishis

Santa Rosa, CA


Lev immigrated from Russia in the early 2000s and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and three wonderful daughters. Lev graduated with MS in Computer Networking and works as a Senior Network Engineer at a large global company that specializes in Business Process Outsourcing. 

During his free time Lev enjoys spending time with family and friends, biking, traveling, and learning. Lev has been also coaching Lego Robotics teams and enjoys working with kids teaching them not only robotics and programming, but also teamwork, setting goals and how to work towards reaching those goals. 

Lev is grateful to have an opportunity to join JPA with the Spring 2021 Cohort as one of its first members from West Coast.


Liliya Brom
Livingston, NJ


Originally from Kishenev, Moldova, Liliya immigrated to the US with her parents and sister in 1989.  Some of her fondest childhood memories are from the extended immigration period in Austria and Italy.  She was brought up in NJ and while she was exposed to the Jewish culture and religion within the community, tradition was really the focus in her family. She lived in Boston while working on her PharmD degree and has since built a career in the pharmaceutical industry, though, as it turns out she is much more inspired by the fashion industry!  She and her husband now live in Livingston, NJ with their very awesome three kids, Olivia, Reese and Liev.  She does her best to find a healthy balance, to find positivity and joy in the simple things and looks forward to this upcoming experience with the JPA.

Marina Garbarskiy

Walnut Creek, CA


Marina was born in Odessa, Ukraine and came to San Francisco in 1989 via Austria and Italy. She grew up always being involved in the Jewish community from summer camps to after school programs. In 2006 she graduated from FIT in NYC with a bachelors in Intl trade and fashion marketing. She now lives in Walnut Creek, California where she and her husband raise their little mensches (Ilan, 8 and Emilia, 3). She isvery excited to be a part of JPA.



Michael Pesochinsky
Brooklyn, NY


Michael immigrated to America in 1989 from Odessa, Ukraine. He went to Edward R. Murrow HS. He graduated Pace University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems. Currently, he works in the retail liquor industry. He lives in Mill Basin, Brooklyn with his wife and their three boys ages 15,11 and 3. He likes to travel and participate in various sports activities. He is looking forward to this JPA Experience



Natalie Shkolnik

New York, NY


Natalie was born in Kiev, Ukraine.  She and her parents immigrated to the United States as Jewish refugees when she was four.  She grew up immersed in the Russian Jewish community in and around Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Her experience there as a Russian, Jewish emigre is a source of warmth and comfort to this day.


After high school, she earned her undergraduate degree in Finance and International Business at NYU Stern School of Business and her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. By profession, she is a corporate/commercial litigator and a partner at the law firm Wilk Auslander LLP.  She represents and advises companies facing regulatory challenges, or in business disputes with other companies.  Much of her work is international, including in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Russia, and Ukraine.


Three years ago, she was blessed with the birth of her son, Dylan. She is a single mom, living on the Upper West Side. Prior to the shutdown this year, she loved living in NYC and took full advantage of the museums, galleries, Broadway shows, walking through the parks, and experiencing the diversity of this amazing city.  And, of course, experiencing all of that with Dylan made it all the more meaningful.

Norbert Gershkovich
Brooklyn, NY


Norbert was born in Uzhgorod, Ukraine and immigrated with his parents and brother to the United States in 1989 via Italy. Norbert attended E.R. Murrow high school and went on to SUNY at Stony Brook for a B.S. in Biochemistry. After graduating, he worked as a Union electrician for ten years until getting his electrical license and starting a small family business. For the past ten years he has been the Principal of Zin Electrical, Inc. completing various electrical projects in NYC. He lives in Brooklyn and travels Upstate with his two children and enjoys all types of activities hiking, skiing, kayaking, BBQ and anything else that builds a connection with them and people around him. Norbert understands how important it is to have a connection with HaShem and to continue the Jewish tradition. He took his kids out of public school and put them in Yeshiva so that they can learn the traditions and connect to other people who are trying hard to keep the Jewish traditions alive. He is excited to join JPA, learn, and contribute to the community in any way he can.


Oksana Londorenko
Brooklyn, NY


Oksana was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan. Due to regional conflict in the final years of Soviet Union, she moved to Kiev, Ukraine where she graduated from high school, and later to Moscow to study Applied Mathematics at Gubkin Russian State Institute of Oil and Gas. She immigrated to the USA with her mother in 1992. Oksana holds an advanced degree in Mathematics from Polytechnic University (currently Tandon School of Engineering, NYU). She works as a quantitative developer at a major financial firm. Oksana is married and has 3 wonderful children ages 12, 10 and 8. She is active in the school community, passionate about Mathematics, loves Opera, travel, and dance. Oksana is very excited to join the JPA community to expand her knowledge and perspective.


Olga Abezgauz
Chicago, IL


Born in Chelyabinsk Russia, Olga immigrated as a child with her family to Chicago in 1992 where she has lived ever since. During college years, her involvement with Hillel led to identity search and appreciation for the Jewish culture, religion, and community here in Chicago and at large. She has served as a volunteer in various organizations and helped build what is today the Russian Jewish Division of Jewish United Fund in Chicago. She and her husband are raising two wonderful children and hope to instill Jewish values and celebrate their heritage as a family.


Olga Schwartz

Woodland Hills, CA

Olga was born in Far East Russia into a very cold climate.  In 2009 Olga immigrated to the United States and eventually ended up in Los Angeles where she loved the weather compared to the place where she was born. Olga received a BS in Accounting.

Through her career she met her husband Dimitri with a very similar background and education (He is an active CPA) they married and have a daughter who is 1.5 years old. They enjoy traveling, reading, Yoga, and hiking.  


Sofia Jouravel
Chicago, IL

Sofia emigrated from St. Petersburg in 1988, growing up in NYC and California's Bay Area before moving to Chicago after graduating from UC Berkeley.  Sofia's career transitioned from the pharmaceutical industry to public health and the sustainable food industry prior to her current role as the Director of the Russian Jewish Division of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. She enjoys cultivating community, championing local and sustainable food systems, and exploring food culture locally and abroad with her husband and aspiring foodie toddler.  


Tamara Goldberg
Brooklyn, NY


Tamara was born in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to the United States with her parents and sister in 1992.  She attended Beer Hagolah Yeshiva throughout her elementary and middle school years. Tamara graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Long Island University and became a full-time faculty at LIU in 2007. She spent 12 years as a Professor of Pharmacy and recently transitioned into Pharmaceutical Industry while pursuing her MBA degree. Tamara lives in Brooklyn with her husband and 3 kids. She is excited to be part of the 2021 JPA cohort and have meaningful conversations with Russian Jewish Parents across the country.

Tatyana Bukrinsky

Huntington Beach, CA


Tatyana was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and came to the United States in 1997. After graduating high school in Fort Myers, Florida, she moved to Los Angeles to complete her college education. Tatyana is a graduate of University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and is a Senior Manager of Pharmacy Controls with Kaiser Permanente. She lives in Huntington Beach, California with her husband and two children, Vivienne (6) and Adrian (4). In her free time she enjoys playing tennis, exploring outdoors and spending time with her family. She is passionate about mental, spiritual and physical well-being and is an avid podcasts listener, particularly anything by Wondery. 


T'Yana Taylor
Los Angeles, CA

Bio coming soon

Vadim Lisak

Livingston, NJ


Vadim immigrated from Ukraine in 1993. His Jewish identity was formed after attending Jewish summer camps organized by the Sochnut. He was inspired to learn Hebrew, Judaism, and even Jewish folk dance. He currently resides in Livingston, NJ with his wife - Natalie and 3 kids - Eitan, Yoni and Mia. He is looking forward to the JPA experience, to meeting new people and learning more about our rich history, values, and traditions. Vadim holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and Mathematics from Binghamton University. Vadim is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley’s Technology Division.


Yana Rathman
San Francisco, CA


Yana was born in Kyiv, Ukraine and came to San Francisco with her parents in 1989.

After a career in high-tech industry at large companies and startups Yana decided to go back to school and received a degree in Instructional Technologies/Education. 

Yana is actively involved with the San Francisco Jewish community. She served on the board of Governors for Jewish Federation, was a member of Limmud FSU org committee, collaborated with Jewish Community Library of SF on programming and more.  Yana is also dedicating her time to education and civil society projects in Ukraine through various philanthropy organizations. 

She lives in San Francisco in the landmark Victorian home with her family and 2 labradoodles.


Yelena Maltser
Brooklyn, NY


Yelena was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and emigrated to the United States in 1992.  Her family settled in Brooklyn, NY, where she attended a public high school.  She graduated from the NYU Stern School of Business in 2000, and from NYU Law School in 2003. She spent most of her career working in the investment management practice of a boutique law firm in New York City.  She currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.  She is excited to learn with JPA. 

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