Meet the members of the New Beginnings: Intra-Jewish Dialogue Steering Committee!
Anna Press is a senior policy advisor with the provincial government, who has also worked for the federal government and at universities. She has participated in anti-racism initiatives, from a research program in Germany and Poland on Holocaust education to creating a documentary about Jewish jokes. After graduating with a B.A. in Cognitive Science and a B.Ed. in teaching Spanish and Social Studies, she taught for two years in Turkey. This caused her to question identity, privilege, and learn more about ethnic conflict leading her to complete a Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada.
Elena Lifshits Carrera joins Mosaic from an international development, human rights and conflict reconciliation perspective. A Global Affairs professional she began her career as a film editor, making the switch to communications for development before she returned to the Munk School of Global Affairs to get her Maters degree. Passionate about rights, equality and delivery of sustainable methods of development, Elena currently focuses on policy research and analysis of innovation in international aid. Having lived in Israel for eight years Elena cares deeply for the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and hopes to one day see an implementable solution embraced by governments and the international community.
Jamie Levin earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto and an MsC from the London School of Economics. Since graduating, Jamie has held the Azrieli Institute Post-Doctoral Fellowship and the Leonard Davis Institute Post Doctoral Fellowship at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Jamie’s research lies at the intersection of international peacemaking and the use of force in international relations. His PhD research focused on the role of weapons in the resolution of civil wars. Contrary to the prevailing literature on disarmament, Jamie argued that the retention of weapons can provide a stabilizing effect on the resolution of internal conflict. His post-doctoral research explores the evolution of Israeli diplomacy regarding the use of force. Originally, Israeli rhetoric borrowed heavily from the just war tradition, which emphasizes a reluctance to use force, a commitment to the preservation of human life, and the minimization of damage and loss of property. Today, Israel increasingly stresses the difficulty of reducing the human costs of war. Jamie’s research proposes to explain how and why Israeli diplomacy has changed over time. His work has been published in both the academic press and popular media, including: Journal of Peace Conflict and Development, International Politics, International Peacekeeping, International Studies Review, The Palestine Israel Journal, The Toronto Star, The National Post, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, and The Walrus.
Matt Gordner is a PhD Student in the department of political science at the University of Toronto studying Middle Eastern and North African politics, as well as an American Political Science Association Middle East and North Africa Civil Society Fellow. He is currently based in Tunis, Tunisia, where he conducts research for his dissertation alongside a Visiting Lectureship at the Mediterranean School of Business where he teaches a revisionist history of Tunisia from the pre-colonial times to the present. Matt has MA degrees in political science and Middle Eastern history from the University of Alberta and Tel Aviv University, respectively. In 2009, he established The Piece by Piece Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that organizes dialogues on sensitive issues of local and global scope, and he spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Israel and Palestine on a Dorot Fellowship. Matt has organized a number of Israeli-Palestinian and intra-Jewish dialogues in the past, and he looks forward to working with the Mosaic Institute alongside a team of young people dedicated to promoting peace and community awareness on these important issues.
Matthew Lipton is a final year student at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus majoring in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies, with a double minor in Political Science and Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health. His academic interests lie in Conflict Resolution, International Security Studies, Human Security, and the politics of the Middle East. Matthew served as a national election observer in the June 2015 Turkish General Elections, and volunteered in South-eastern Turkey providing humanitarian aid to victims of displacement. Matthew is a strong believer in the power of creating meaningful discourse on divisive issues as a path to facilitate mutual understanding between divergent actors. Also working as a creative consultant, Matthew hopes to pursue his passion for music at the same time as his academic ambitions.
Spencer Burger is a JD/MBA student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and will be articling at Stikeman Elliott LLP. He is passionate about Canadian and international political issues, having previously served as Policy Advisor to Minister James Moore, the former Minister of Industry. Spencer is also a student leader on campus and has been involved in mobilizing opposition to BDS and enhancing financial aid at the Law School. He sees the Mosaic initiative as playing a crucial role in reinforcing the Jewish community’s sense of unity around core community values.
Mattan Lustgarten joined the Intra-Jewish dialogue project in 2015. He has been a member of the Hashomer Hatzair Canada for many years and has been involved in the Heart to Heart program which brings Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children together each summer at Camp Shomria in Ontario. He received an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Queen’s University and is currently studying medicine at the University of Toronto. Mattan loves canoe trips, cycling, and finding a reason to be back at camp each summer.