Our Advisory Board
Jewish Heritage Alliance Advisory Board Members reflect our mission and work. We are about telling the story of Sefarad, a story we believe is historically "missing in action". That the important historical period of Sefarad (Jews of the Iberian Peninsula comprised of today's Spain and Portugal), and the profound effects and consequences of that period, by and large are overlooked and underreported by historiographers.
JHA will gather and deliver information relating to this important segment of Jewish and world history. From the early beginnings when the Jews first arrived at the Iberian Peninsula, through the erratic precarious times and events, including the "Golden Age", one of the greatest periods of Jewish history, a period of immense achievements, to the pogroms and forced conversions, leading to the exile. We continue following in the footsteps of the exiles, depicting their travails, illustrating how these brave, tenacious people settled, flourished and created the new world.
In our on-going effort to deliver the Saga of Sefarad to the public domain, we rely on the knowledge, research and experience of our Advisory Board, a group dedicated to the Sefarad Saga, each with unique credentials and in-depth knowledge of the subject.
PLEASE NOTE that this is a work in progress, and we invite you to come back from time to be updated.
Jewish Heritage Alliance "In the Footsteps of the Jews of Sefarad" project, is the brainchild of Michael Steinberger. Michael hails from the tourism industry where he enjoyed over 4 decade's experience. Having been born in Israel and living his adult life in diaspora, helped in shaping Michael's commitment for Jewish heritage and this project. Michael's interest in Sefarad (Jews of the Iberian Peninsula) was motivated by the far-reaching events of this segment of Jewish and world history and the profound consequences this period produced, including today's Conversos (descendants of Jews forced to convert to Christianity 530 years ago), especially those making their way back to their Jewish roots.
Steinberger's vision is derived from the supposition and belief that the Sefarad narrative, both historical and the present-day consequences, are not sufficiently reflected in the annals of Jewish or world history thereby lacking the proper imprint and standing it deserves. Steinberger launched Jewish Heritage Alliance with the underlying mission to deliver this epic story and all its consequences and effects to the public domain. To extend the scope and reach of the mission, Steinberger is created a strategic alliance partnering with organizations, institutions, and individuals, covering the private and public sectors, including religious, secular, historic, academia and governments.
Rabbi Ariel Yeshurun
Ariel Yeshurun is a graduate of the Shehebar Sephardic Center and the Hebron Yeshiva Rabbinic College in Jerusalem. He completed his studies at Amiel-Strauss Institute for diaspora leadership training for rabbis. Rabbi Yeshurun received his Rabbinic Ordination studies as well as holds a Rabbinic Advocate license from the Israeli Ministry of Justice. Rabbi Yeshurun served in the IDF, has a Bachelors of Science degree, and finished the first two years of medical school. Ariel Yeshurun served as rabbi for 11 years at 'Shaarei Tsedek' Jewish Congregation in the Caribbean island of Curaçao. He is the founder of the JCLC (Jewish Community Learning Center), a Miami based adult Jewish education center. He is the president of the board of the Rabbinical Association of the greater Miami Jewish Federation and a member of the National Council of AIPAC. In addition Rabbi Yeshurun is the founder of “For Women By Women” a Miami based support group for divorced women. He also serves on the board of the Leo Martin March of the Living, and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) as well as on the advisory board of Kosher Miami (KM) and ‘Yehi Or,’ a JCS family abuse prevention and treatment program. Rabbi Yeshurun is currently the congregational rabbi of 'Skylake Synagogue' in North Miami Beach.
Our Emissary for Portugal
Ruth Calvão is our Ambassador to Portugal and points beyond. Ruth brings many years of unique experience in the subject of Jewish history of the Iberian Peninsula. Hers is a special journey that combines her personal life experience with her dedicated, lifelong work, to promote and safeguard the relevance of the Saga of Sefarad, past, present and future.
Born in Lisbon, Capital City of Portugal, Ms. Calvao studied anthropology and was always fascinated with Jewish traditions and culture. What makes Ms. Calvao a true, living expert on the subject of Sefarad is that she was born a Christian and like many of her fellow Conversos, has embarked on an individual journey for her Jewish identity. Ruth made Aliya and moved to Israel in 1977 where she married and raised children in a Jewish environment.
Ruth brings extensive experience in working with EU and Israeli Institutes and Government bodies, both national and local, NGOs and Philanthropic Institutes in Europe and the Middle East. She is a recognized, and well-respected authority on Jewish history in Portugal and beyond. Ruth Calvão is a founding member and heads the Project Development and Outreach of the Centro de Estudos Judaicos de Trás -os- Montes, Rotas Históricas e Culturais Ibéricas (Center for Jewish Studies in Trás-os-Montes, Iberian Historical and Cultural Routes). Ruth has 35 year hands-on experience coordinating projects and budgets; both with governmental and private organizations, including endless voluntary work during this period. She pioneered many innovative initiatives which focus on how an individual or a community tell their story using tools such as community theatre and arts to implement social change. She is a dedicated mother and grandmother and splits her time between Israel and Portugal.
Rabbi Peter Tarlow, PhD
Emissary, Latino Community Outreach
Rabbi Peter Tarlow, PhD, is our Ambassador at large, responsible for Latino and Jewish Communities Outreach Projects. Peter was the director and rabbi of Texas A&M Hilel for thirty years. He retired on July 1, 2013, and became its Rabbi Emeritus. Upon retirement he assumed the leadership of the Center for Latino – Jewish Relations. Tarlow writes a weekly bilingual social religious commentary that is read throughout the United States and Latin American and he also writes a monthly philosophy column for the Bryan Eagle. Tarlow is also a chaplain for the College Station police department.
Tarlow now helps emerging Jewish communities throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and he is currently working with Jewish communities in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru and the United States. He is an expert on Sephardic and Crypto-Jewish history and works in conjunction with universities around Texas to lecture on Sephardic history and culture. He also lectures on the impact of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions on both European and American Jewry. Tarlow also lectures on Sephardic, and Crypto – Jewish literature and culture at major Texas Universities and for Jewish and Latino organizations throughout Texas.
In April of 2013, Tarlow was asked to accept the role as the Envoy for the Office of Chancellor of the Texas A&M system, John Sharp. As such he represented the Texas A&M system, as requested by the Chancellor, around the world. In 2015 he began teaching at the Texas A&M Medical School’s Department of Humanities, and in 2016, Governor Gregg Abbot of Texas named Tarlow as the Chairman of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.
Sefarad Emissary and Outreach
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D. comes from a long and distinguished rabbinical lineage dating back to fifteenth century Spain and Provence. Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, his family migrated throughout the ages through Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. Rabbi Abadie was born in Beirut Lebanon, and grew up in Mexico City, coming to the United States where he earned his B.A. in Health Sciences in 1983, B.Sc. in 1984 in Bible Studies, Hebrew Teacher's diploma in 1985, and a Master's degree in Philosophy in 1986. Rabbi Abadie received his Rabbinic ordination in 1986 from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He graduated SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 1990 with an M.D. degree. He did his residency in Internal Medicine, and later his fellowship in Gastroenterology at Maimonides Medical Center.
Rabbi Abadie is the founding Rabbi and Spiritual Leader Emeritus of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in New York City, the Head of School of the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan and the Rabbinic Advisor of the Moise Safra Community Center in Manhattan. He was also a member of the Board and an Officer of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). As a member of the board of the American Sephardi Federation and the World Sephardic Educational Center, he lectures on Sephardic Judaism, history, and comparative traditional law. He appeared on many Television and Radio Programs including CNN, ABC, Spanish Radio, CCTV and Television programs, America Teve Canal 41, and Israeli Media, Galei Zahal, Arutz 10 and 7. He was featured in the Jewish Voice Weekly, Image Magazine, the Jewish Week, Hamevasser, Israel Hayom, Hamodia, LaMishpaha Magazine and many others. He received the Jerusalem Medal, Orden Del Merito Civil, the highest civil decoration by His Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and many others.
Born in Havana Cuba into an upper class Roman Catholic family of Spanish origins, Genie moved to Miami at the age of 5. As an adult she made her way back to her Jewish roots, tracing her Crypto-Jewish heritage through 22 generations, dating all the way back to 1405 to Pre-Inquisition Spain and Portugal.
She is the author of the book “My 15 Grandmothers” as well as “How I found My 15 Grandmothers A Step by Step Guide”, including her latest book “Pyre to Fire” winning the 2015 and 2018 Latino Author Book Awards. She also writes for several on line sites including www.esefarad.com as well as the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Crypto Jewry.
She has spoken at the Knesset in Israel and lectures around the world bringing awareness to the topic of the Jews returning from the Inquisition. Her work has been showcased in many publications, including the Jerusalem Post, The Miami Herald and other publications around the world. She was awarded the State of Florida Genealogy award for her outstanding achievements and advances in the Pioneer work she accomplished in Genealogy. Most recently, she was awarded the coveted Medal of the Four Sephardic Synagogues from Jerusalem for her decades of work in recuperation of Sephardic Memory
Genie is currently the Director of the Converso Genealogy Project which is in the process of digitizing all the Inquisition files around the world so that others may also find their roots .This important project was given the Seal of Approval by the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy in Israel, an Organization that has championed this cause.
David Hatchwell Altaras
Global Community Outreach
David Hatchwell Altaras has held several positions in the global Jewish community in recent years. He was the President of the Jewish Community of Madrid from 2011 to 2017. He served on the Executive Planning Committee of Taglit Birthright and the board of Maccabi World Union. He is currently member of the Genesis Prize’s selection committee and the Peres Center International Board of Governors.
In 2015 Mr. Hatchwell co-founded and currently chairs the Fundación HispanoJudía that is dedicated to building the Museo HispanoJudío with the goal of establishing bridges of mutual understanding between the Spanish speaking and the Jewish worlds.
Mr. Hatchwell Altaras is also a co-founder of ACOM (Acción y Comunicación para Oriente Medio), the leading pro-Israel public diplomacy platform, established in Spain in 2007.
He serves on the Board of SIGNAL, the foremost institution that works on the Sino-Israeli academic exchange. Since 2009, he has been an active member of the Madrid Vivo Foundation, a think tank dedicated to interfaith dialogue between Catholics and other religions including Judaism.
David and his family have contributed to many philanthropic projects in Israel, Spain and China over the last 30 years. He is a frequent speaker at international Jewish gatherings including AIPAC, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Israel President’s Conferences.
In his professional life, Mr. Hatchwell Altaras serves as President of Excem Grupo, a diversified international group started by his late father, leading philanthropist and visionary, Mauricio Hatchwell Toledano (Z”L). The Group was established in 1971 as a Spanish trading and investment firm.
Since September 2016 Mr. Hatchwell is the Chairman of the Real Estate Investment Trust “SIR”, based in Spain and specialized in co-living. He also chairs a REIT called SITUR which is the number one Hostel owner and operator in the Iberian Peninsula.
David Hatchwell is an investor and a member of the International Advisory Board of OurCrowd, the leading equity crowdfunding platform in the world since 2016.
He has been a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization) since 2005, where he has served as Madrid´s Chapter Chair.
Prof Dr. Haim Shaked
Liaison Academic Community
Haim Shaked was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he graduated with a B.A. Cum Laude (1962) and an M.A. Cum Laude (1966) in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. In 1969, he was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), on completion of his studies in its Department of History, chaired then by the eminent late Professor Bernard Lewis. Dr. Shaked's doctoral thesis dealt with a unique manuscript biography of the Sudanese Mahdi.
Dr. Shaked was on the faculty of Tel Aviv University (TAU) where he attained the rank of Full Professor (tenured). He was a co-founder (1966) and later (1973-80) Head of the Moshe Dayan Center/Shiloah Institute for Middle Eastern and African Studies. He also served as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and member of TAU's Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee as well as the University Senate and its Steering Committee (1975-80). As dean, Dr. Shaked oversaw, among other academic units, the School of Judaic Studies, including several departments and research institutes devoted to various aspects of Judaic Studies (e.g., history, literature, language, archaeology).
Dr. Shaked's academic specialization is in the modern history and politics of the Middle East; Islam as a political force; and Arab-Israeli relations. He was the co-founder and editor of the annual publication Middle East Contemporary Survey (24 volumes published).
Dr. Shaked is currently a tenured Professor of International Studies at the University of Miami and the Founding Director of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, as well as Director of the George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies at the UM's College of Arts and Sciences.
Ariel Bentata is the vice chair of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and general campaign chair. He has also served as treasurer and an executive committee member, as well as the federation's major gift chair. He is a member of the board and executive committee and the international division. He is a recipient of the Stanley C. Myers Presidents' Leadership Award and was a member of The Jewish Federations of North America National Young Leadership Cabinet. He also served as chairman of the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center, leading its capital campaign to build a new educational and cultural building along with completing major renovations to existing buildings. Bentata is founding and managing partner of investments for Accesso, LLC, a full-service, vertically integrated commercial real estate investment management company.
Joseph R. Miller Molina is President of the Bay Islands Trust Company, Honduras, the fastest growing local financial institution. Founder of BIT Capital Management, native to the Bay Islands of Honduras. Joseph is the President of the Caribbean American Club, an NGO established in 1962 in Tampa, Florida, and the Chairman of the Bay Islands Heritage Foundation. Joseph is also a principal at "Of Joseph PB&T;" a private wealth management firm and family office. Over 20 years of international business experience -active investor in the Bay Islands, the greater Caribbean region, the United States, and parts of Latin America. Experience in tourism, real estate, transportation, banking, and business development. Excellent access to the major business, financial, and government leaders across the Caribbean.
Saby Behar was the President of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. His community involvement dates to the late '70's when as a native Peruvian, he became a leader of the Latin American Jewish Community of Miami. In addition to his leadership in the International Campaign Division, Saby's involvement in The Federation has included the Young Leadership Committee, Planning and Allocation, The Board and the Executive Board of Directors. Saby was a member of the Executive of the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet and a Wexner Fellow as well as a member of the Executive of the Jewish Federations of North America and a Board Member of the Jewish Agency for Israel. His involvement as of late has been with organizations dedicated to educating Jewish teenagers, college students and young professionals.
Esther Serok Ed.D
Esther Serok Ed.D is a researcher and teacher at the Seymour Fox School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently returned from North America where she served as the representative of the World Zionist Organization Executive in North America and the president of the Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America.
She represents Hadassah at the Women’s Zionist Organization of America at the WZO extended executive and in the Presidium for over 20 years. She directs the Jewish Education and women empowerment programs at the Hadassah Youth Aliyah villages for the last 22 years. Researched the Ladino culture, collecting Ladino folk tales.
Esther taught summer courses at Teachers College- Columbia University and Hebrew Union College both in New York and was invited to serve as an International Scholar at the Elbenwood Center for the Study of the Family as Educator at TC –Colombia University in NY. She specializes in family education, had developed a unique model of studying the family as an educator and working with migrating families. She published several articles on Jewish Family Education and various curricular unites in Teaching Israel. She participates and lectures in International Academic conferences around the world regarding the challenges and advantages of families in multicultural societies. She was the first executive director of the Tali Education Fund. Dr. Serok is a graduate of Hebrew University, a certified high school teacher for Hebrew literature and language. Received her Ed.D in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.