Until we can hop on a plane again, join UJA’s Ruby Lions for a virtual experience that will educate and delight. Guided by UJA’s overseas partner, the Jewish Agency, we will dive into the unique history and contemporary culture of the Jews in Rome, Berlin, and Johannesburg.
No need to pack your bags; leave your passport in your drawer. Just bring your passion for travel and your curiosity about the world.
This series welcomes donors who give a gift of $10,000 or more, individually or as a family, to UJA's 2021 Annual Campaign.
Liat is an organizational and social psychologist with a Ph.D. in social psychology. Her professional background is in directing and facilitating various social organizations, processes, and projects. Liat has also been a professor for last 16 years at academic institutions including Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Sapir College.
Between 2016 and 2018, Liat worked as a group facilitator assisting process in the task force of Living Together, an organization dealing with Israeli society. From 2012 to 2016 Liat served as CEO and professional director at Hetz Shikum at the Community, a company working with mental illness rehabilitation.
She has also served as a mentor in the Rothschild Ambassadors organization and as a research consultant. In addition, Liat has served as lecturer and head of research at several academic and non-academic institutions and worked as part of the organizational development team at Intel.
Liat’s other professional experience includes roles at the School for Overseas Students at the Hebrew University, at ISEF, in Jewish-Arab dialogue, at the Brandeis Bardin Institute, and as an emissary to the former Soviet Union, public activist, and volunteer at a mother-to-mother program.
In addition, Liat was a co-founder of the secular-religious residential community Eliav, in the Lachish regional council.
The second woman to be elected as president of UCEI, Italian Jewry's communal representative body, Noemi di Segni marked her second anniversary in that post in 2018. In January, Noemi spoke out courageously against the honoring the pro-fascist monarch, King Victor Emmanuel III, who signed the 1938 "racial laws" in Italy that targeted the Jewish community. “We expressed this position not just as Jewish people, but as Italians," she told The Algemeiner in an interview. “If you forget what happened eighty years ago, you’ll forget what happened yesterday.”
Day to day, Noemi is occupied with the demands of her role, from ensuring continued high-quality Jewish education to assisting Jewish families experiencing hardship. She is particularly proud of Italy's National Jewish Museum, which opened last December in the city of Ferrara, describing it as "the story of how Jews in Italy have lived and are still living."
Anastassia (“Nastia”) Pletoukhina was born in Moscow and moved to northern Germany with her parents. She found out she had Jewish heritage when she was 12 years old and began to explore her roots. She later moved to Berlin not only to get her master’s degree but also to have access to more Jewish activities and social networks that would facilitate her formal conversion to Judaism.
Nastia is an alumna of The Jewish Agency’s Nevatim leadership-training program in Germany. Through Nevatim, she founded “Studentim,” a center for German-Jewish university students. Today, Studentim is Berlin’s largest provider of Jewish education to college students.
Nastia has held a range of professional roles in the Jewish community, including manager of the Berlin Community Youth Center and educational manager for Maccabia Europe in Berlin. Today she directs programming for The Jewish Agency’s center in Berlin.
Giovanni Terracina was born on November, 7, 1965, in Rome, where he still lives with his life-companion and their child. He belongs to an ancient Jewish Roman family that can trace back its presence in Rome to the 16th century.
After obtaining his diploma from the Roman hotel and catering school, Giovanni began his apprenticeship in hotels and restaurants there; this is when he started collaborating with chef Mario Zorzetto, who had worked for both the Aga Kahn and Aristotle Onassis. In 1985, Giovanni moved to Israel to gain experience in the Kfar Etzion Kibbutz. Back in Italy after two years, he started a collaboration with the Cultural Department through the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane, promoting the rebirth of small Jewish communities in the countryside. In the same period, he assisted the rabbinic office of the Roman Jewish community in maintaining Kashrut standards, thus shaping the two main elements that make up the framework of his career: on one side, the theory and practice of the classics of international cuisine, and on the other, in-depth knowledge of Jewish tradition, focusing on oenogastronomy in particular.
In 1992, Giovanni co-founded King David Catering, where he remains CEO. It quickly became a landmark for both the Roman and the entire Italian Jewish community. After providing service for numerous celebrations connected with Jewish life, King David Catering built an international reputation as well, quickly becoming the choice for gala dinners, for international Jewish organizations, and for national events. Every Israeli president, prime minister, and chief rabbi who has visited Italy has tasted their food. Under Giovanni’s leadership, Le Bon Ton catering (the commercial name for King David Catering), stands out for its capability to combine oenogastronomic Italian excellence while maintaining Jewish standards, along with a continuous drive for innovation and experimentation.
In time, Giovanni’s need to match the proper wine with food he serves fostered his interest in wine in general, and kosher wine in particular. Since the late 1990s, he has secured exclusive sale rights for several top-level Italian and international wines.
In 2008, with author Bruna Tedeschi for her book La Mia Cucina Ebraico Romanesca (My Roman-Jewish Cookbook), Giovanni paired wine for every recipe in the book, and took care of the final section dedicated to kosher wine.
In 2015 he was featured among the authors of La Dieta Kasher (The Kosher Diet), organizing the "wine and health" section.
Alongside running his company, Giovanni is often requested for kosher food courses in Italy and abroad, for speeches in kosher-related conferences and tv shows, and to act as the food and beverage manager in Kosher and even non-Jewish venues.
For the last twenty years, he has organized Gusto Kosher each November in Rome, dedicated entirely to the diffusion of Jewish and Israeli oenogastronomy.
UJA Ruby Lion Chairs
Jill Bodian, Debbi Buslik, Eva Galpern, Juli Karson
Chair, Laurie Girsky