Hillel of San Diego Agency Staff

Rabbi Gary Oren

Executive Director
Rabbi Gary Ezra Oren is former Vice President and Dean of AJU’s Whizin Center for Continuing Education, and currently the Executive Director for Hillel of San Diego. Rabbi Oren is an alumnus of California State University, Fullerton where he completed his undergraduate degree, and Tel Aviv University where he studied towards an M.A. of Middle Eastern Studies. In 2008 he received rabbinical ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Prior to his time as Dean of the Whizin Center, Rabbi Oren spent 7 years serving as the Rabbi of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California.

Gary enjoys reading, playing golf, volunteering and is very proud of his three children; Ya’ara, Elan, and Nadav.

Jennifer Paul

Annual Campaign Manager
Originally from New York, Jennifer now lives in San Diego with her husband and two children. Jennifer earned her B.S. in TV/Radio and her Masters in Corporate Communications from Ithaca College in upstate NY. She also has a certificate in non-profit management from Georgetown University. Jennifer served as the Director of Alumni Engagement at Georgetown University for over 5 years where she managed a team that oversaw Homecoming Weekend, Reunion and alumni volunteers. Prior to working at Georgetown, Jennifer worked in marketing and management positions at Kaplan test Prep & Admissions and Student Advantage. In her spare time she loves to dance, exercise, travel, bake and spend time with her family.

Lauren Gutin

Development Assistant
Lauren is originally from Redondo Beach, California but grew up in Henderson, Nevada. She studied Interdisciplinary Studies: Journalism, Psychology, Counseling & School Psychology at San Diego State University. While at SDSU, she was very active at Hillel and served as the President of Students Supporting Israel. She has previously worked at Beth El Synagogue, JCC La Jolla, and Tifereth Israel Synagogue. Hillel has always been her home away from home and she can’t wait to share her Jewish and Israel experiences with the students. Lauren enjoys doing yoga, going to the beach and exploring the foodie scene in San Diego.

CSU San Marcos Staff

Wendy McCreary

Campus Director, CSUSM
Wendy grew up in San Marcos, California and loves working with the Jewish community in her home town. Wendy earned a B.A. at UC San Diego in Communication with a minor in Visual Arts: Film and Video in 2009 and a Masters in Communication at San Diego State in 2011, where she was also an active member of Hillel. Before becoming a Hillel professional, Wendy worked for Girl Scouts of San Diego in their camp and outdoor programs and as an Outreach Coordinator for a federal GEAR UP grant at Palomar College. When Wendy is not working she enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies, and being outdoors.

Nikki Golomb

Springboard Ezra Fellow
Nikki grew up in Olney, MD and attended University of Delaware, where she studied International Relations and Jewish studies, and was student President of UD Hillel. She loves traveling and writing, and has a blog with Times of Israel. After university, Nikki took a gap year during which she spent 5 months in Israel interning at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, learning, and volunteering; afterwards, she volunteered in Greece where she taught English to refugees. They were both life-changing experiences, and she is excited to continue on her journey as the Springboard Ezra Fellow at CSU San Marcos and UC San Diego Hillel!

Shir Azaria

Jewish Agency Israel Fellow
Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Shir comes to CSU San Marcos and UC San Diego from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, where she was involved in Ben Gurion Hillel‘s social practicum supported by Rothschild Ambassadors. Shir has a large family with five siblings. She loves working out and dreams of running a half marathon one day.

SDSU Staff

Rabbi Gary Oren

Campus Director, SDSU
Rabbi Gary Ezra Oren is former Vice President and Dean of AJU’s Whizin Center for Continuing Education, and currently the Executive Director for Hillel of San Diego. Rabbi Oren is an alumnus of California State University, Fullerton where he completed his undergraduate degree, and Tel Aviv University where he studied towards an M.A. of Middle Eastern Studies. In 2008 he received rabbinical ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Prior to his time as Dean of the Whizin Center, Rabbi Oren spent 7 years serving as the Rabbi of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California.

Gary enjoys reading, playing golf, volunteering and is very proud of his three children; Ya’ara, Elan, and Nadav.

Edden Dembsky

Director of Student Life
Edden is originally from Oak Park,California and new to the San Diego area. She recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a double major in Communication and Judaic studies. Edden has a deep background in Jewish culture from Jewish youth groups to sleep away camp and is very excited to bring her ideas to San Diego Hillel. Edden was very involved in Hillel at the U of A and loved the opportunities to build Jewish community away from home. This experience was what motivated her to want to create this feeling for other students. Edden loves to spend her free time hiking, going to the beach, eating lots of desserts and of course, binge-watching netflix.

Elad Kanfi

Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow
Elad recently finished his legal internship and is now studying for the bar examination. For the last semester of law school he participated in the student exchange program at UM. When he finished law school he took a year off to travel and open a business in Australia. He hopes to make a positive impact on students at the University, and show people everywhere just how amazing Israel is.

Shoshana Rice

Springboard Ezra Fellow
Originally from Chicago, Shoshana studied English and art in Ohio at the College of Wooster. There, she was Hillel president, on the newspaper, active in the outdoors club and her local sorority, and co-founder of an Israel discussion group. After graduation, she went to Israel on Birthright and then spent six months in Tel Aviv working at the magazine Timeout Israel. On her Birthright trip, she was moved by her experience engaging with young Jews developing their Jewish identities and returned to the U.S. with a passionate drive to pursue Jewish education. Now after working as a 5th grade Hebrew school teacher, in the Shorashim office, and staffing a Birthright trip, she can’t wait to continue creating inspiring ways to get the younger generation excited about Judaism at SDSU.

USD Staff

Glenda Sacks Jaffe

Campus Director, USD
Glenda is originally from Cape Town, South Africa and has lived in San Diego since 1987. She has been happily involved in Jewish communal work for most of this time. She has a BA in psychology and a Masters in Education , both from the University of Cape Town.When not working, Glenda is passionate about Israeli dancing and going on long walks and talks. She enjoys studying Hebrew and Jewish texts and is an avid reader of biographies and novels.

Shoshana Rice

Springboard Ezra Fellow
Originally from Chicago, Shoshana studied English and art in Ohio at the College of Wooster. There, she was Hillel president, on the newspaper, active in the outdoors club and her local sorority, and co-founder of an Israel discussion group. After graduation, she went to Israel on Birthright and then spent six months in Tel Aviv working at the magazine Timeout Israel. On her Birthright trip, she was moved by her experience engaging with young Jews developing their Jewish identities and returned to the U.S. with a passionate drive to pursue Jewish education. Now after working as a 5th grade Hebrew school teacher, in the Shorashim office, and staffing a Birthright trip, she can’t wait to continue creating inspiring ways to get the younger generation excited about Judaism at SDSU.

Elad Kanfi

Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow
Elad recently finished his legal internship and is now studying for the bar examination. For the last semester of law school he participated in the student exchange program at UM. When he finished law school he took a year off to travel and open a business in Australia. He hopes to make a positive impact on students at the University, and show people everywhere just how amazing Israel is.

UC San Diego Staff

Lisa Motenko

Campus Director, UCSD
A native Californian, Lisa graduated from UCLA with degrees in Psychology and Hebrew and received her Masters from Middlebury College in Spanish. Lisa began her career in the Jewish world at Berkeley Hillel and most recently worked for Honeymoon Israel as the Director of Community Engagement for the SF Bay Area. She is passionate about building community, facilitating important conversations, and exploring creative ways to engage with Judaism. Lisa also loves to travel and has spent significant time living in both Spain and Israel. In her free time, you can find Lisa eating cheese, dancing, reading, playing guitar, speaking Spanish, or spending time outdoors with her adorable husband, sweet toddler, and feisty dog.

Shir Azaria

Jewish Agency Israel Fellow
Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Shir comes to UC San Diego and CSU San Marcos from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, where she was involved in Ben Gurion Hillel‘s social practicum supported by Rothschild Ambassadors. Shir has a large family with five siblings. She loves working out and dreams of running a half marathon one day.

Nikki Golomb

Springboard Ezra Fellow
Nikki grew up in Olney, MD and attended University of Delaware, where she studied International Relations and Jewish studies, and was student President of UD Hillel. She loves traveling and writing, and has a blog with Times of Israel. After university, Nikki took a gap year during which she spent 5 months in Israel interning at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, learning, and volunteering; afterwards, she volunteered in Greece where she taught English to refugees. They were both life-changing experiences, and she is excited to continue on her journey as the Springboard Ezra Fellow at CSU San Marcos and UC San Diego Hillel!