Ariele Mortkowitz is passionate about the ways women interact with their faith and their community and has dedicated herself to the pursuit of fulfilling female Jewish spiritual and communal experiences. As a volunteer mikvah guide since 2004, Ariele saw how the mikvah ritual can augment an individual’s spiritual journey and create a space for personal connections, leading her to create the Agam Center in 2016 as an expansion of what a mikvah can be to a community, and creating a Jewish communal home for women's spirituality, wellness, education, and connection. Further committed to creating more unique spaces for women in Judaism, Ariele is excited about SVIVAH, where she gets to "collect" inspirational teachers, healers, counselors, and guides devoted to improving the lives of women and then share them with the audience of Jewish women* that has been waiting for them. Ariele has a nonprofit background in strategic planning and organizational growth. She received a certificate in Spiritual Entrepreneurship from Columbia Business School through the Clal Glean START program and is also a certified JOFA/Yeshivat Chovevei Torah/Yeshivat Maharat premarital teacher. Originally a “Jersey Girl”, Ariele moved to DC with her husband, David Hain, in 2004 where they live with three little people who ask the best questions. Ariele wishes she had more time to read more good books, plays a mean game of Uno, and loves to cook too much, ensuring that there is always room for one more at her table.
You can reach Ariele here.
Rabbanit Aliza Sperling
Rabbanit Aliza Sperling is a teacher of Jewish texts and thought to adults and children throughout the DC area, and designs innovative text-based curricula and educational programs for various Jewish schools and organizations. She is a graduate of the executive track at Yeshivat Maharat, a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation, and an iCenter fellow. She also authored a halachic analysis of whether a blind person may read Torah for the collective in Braille. She is currently part of the faculty at Yeshivat Maharat.
Read more about HerTorah here.
Sophie is a sophomore student at American University in Washington, DC. She has a passion for helping others, photography and graphic design! At school she is involved in the AU Design Club and serves as the Design Team Director for Her Campus at AU. Sophie is also an intern here at SVIVAH! Formerly she was involved with B’nai Brith Youth Organization and worked at her temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a Hebrew tutor and teacher’s helper. In her free time she likes to travel, spend time with family, doodle, hang out with friends and focus on personal health and well being.
Board of Directors
SVIVAH is first-and-foremost a lay-led collective. From its start, it has been an exercise in responsiveness; seeking to uncover, understand, validate, and explore the varying needs and interests of women along their Jewish life journeys. While we do have a group of passionate and committed creators and guides, each member of the Guidance Team considers herself a follower rather than a leader - beholden to the larger community of women and devoted to representing the voices of our collective to the best of her abilities. Our growing Guidance Team commits to being comprised of representatives of our entire collective, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table in our community. Reach them at any time at TalkToUs@gmail.com if you have suggestions or would like to be involved.
Jessica loves to build organizations that bring people from diverse backgrounds together. An International Affairs professional by training, Jessica has worked and lived in several countries. She co-founded DCMinyan and Sela Public Charter School and is thrilled to be supporting an organization for and by women. She lives in Takoma DC with her husband and two children.
ELIZABTH BODLINE BARON
Elizabeth Bodine-Baron is a native Texan who moved to DC from Los Angeles in 2017. In her work life, she studies complex networks and social media for public policy. In her work with Svivah, she wants to help grow a true community of Jewish women to support each other in all aspects of life: social connections, religious life, and work/life balance.
Sandra joins the SVIVAH from Capital Camps and Hillel International after transitioning from the field of Urban Planning. Sandra studied for her Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem where she lived for eight years and has a Bachelor’s degree from Queens College in Urban Studies with a minor in Jewish Studies. She lives in Washington DC with her husband Adam and their two sons.
Andrea Deck is a DC native who currently works with HoneymoonIsrael, helping to make the Jewish community more accessible to couples around the DMV. She is a passionate supporter of Jewish women in the area- serving on the board of Svivah and JWI to connect more deeply to the incredible and diverse community of Jewish women in the DMV.
Lisa is working hard to grow this fantastic community. So hard, that she hasn’t gotten to her bio just yet.
Helping to build a sustaining community of Jewish women is as important to me as it is selfish. I am my happiest when I have a place like Svivah that gets my mind and heart and works hard to nurture both.
For much of my life, I’ve had my girl friends and my Jewish friends, but not my Jewish girl friends. Those women that I could really go deep with - and not have to hold back on all that weird God and mikvah stuff. SVIVAH is opening up that community for me. For my daughter. For us.
One of the primary goals at SVIVAH is to bring together women from various points on the Jewish woman’s life journey so that we can all learn from each other and gain strength from the experience of others. It is precisely for this reason that we continually consult with our advisory committee. We consider ourselves so blessed to be able to learn from and engage with experts who have so much knowledge and experience to share. Their expertise offers insight to our community of women in a variety of ways, lifting us all up with their wisdom in the process.