Makom is organized by Rabbi Aaron Levy and a six-member Leadership Team (Board of Directors), working collaboratively to plan and run programs, and engaging in a strategic planning process to make Makom a sustainable community and organization.
A number of other community members are involved in guiding our planning process and initiating creative programs. If you are interested in contributing to these processes, please let us know. We’d love to hear your ideas, concerns, and thoughts on Makom.
Rabbi Aaron Levy
Rabbi Aaron fuses Jewish tradition and progressive values in his teaching and life. As the descendant of both Sephardic (Judeo-Spanish, by way of the Island of Rhodes) and Ashkenazic (Polish & Russian) immigrants to Turtle Island (North America), he personally embodies Jewish multiculturalism. He warmly welcomes diverse Jews and non-Jews to explore their own paths in Jewish life and community.
Rabbi Aaron highlights Judaism’s joy through musical, participatory prayer and teaches in an open-minded and intellectually engaging style. An avid drummer, hiker, cyclist, and vegan, he lives near the old Jewish neighbourhood of Kensington Market with his family.
Rabbi Aaron brings experience living and working in a variety of cities and Jewish communities; he previously served as Madrikh Ruhani/Spiritual Leader of Associated Hebrew Schools, was the founding rabbi of Annex Shul, served as campus rabbi at three Hillels, and led wilderness backpacking trips. He currently sits on the Downtown Jewish Community Council, Toronto Board of Rabbis, and the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Eshel, promoting LGBTQ inclusion in Orthodox and traditional Jewish communities.
Originally from Rockville, Maryland, he received BAs from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and was ordained in 2004 in the first graduating class of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah – The Open Orthodox Rabbinical School in New York City.
Rabbi Aaron is available for spiritual guidance, halakhic advice, and pastoral counseling for Makom members. He also facilitates personally meaningful lifecycle events: baby namings, benei mitzvah (bar and bat mitzvahs), weddings, funerals, and gravestone unveilings.
Rabbi Aaron would love to hear from you. Email him at aaron@makomTO.org
Adina Gamse has been involved in Makom since 2016, when she moved to Toronto for a postdoctoral fellowship at U of T. She was elected to Makom’s Board of Directors in 2017 and transitioned to full-time staff in 2020, right as the pandemic hit. She is enjoying meeting everyone in person!
Adina has a PhD in Mathematics and loves introducing non-mathematicians to the joys of her subject; she combines this with her love of Jewish learning in her Limmud sessions on Mathematics and Mishna. In her free time she enjoys trampolining and flying trapeze.
Director of Youth Education and Programming
Racheli Mandelker has a deep connection to their Jewish roots in Toronto, with their family’s history in and around Kensington Market. Their grandmother grew up next to the Kiever Synagogue over 90 years ago and their parents were married at the Anshei Minsk synagogue. Racheli’s passion for Jewish education led them to study Early Childhood Education at Toronto Metropolitan University before pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching at Brandeis University. Racheli also has a wealth of experience in Jewish education including Jewish Day school and afterschool programming.
Racheli is excited to bring their expertise and passion to Makom. They are committed to creating safe, inclusive, and engaging learning environments where each child can thrive.
Board of Directors
Alan Sless, President
Alan Sless is a partner in the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Alan practises commercial real estate law, and has extensive experience in acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, development, joint ventures, co-ownerships and financing involving real estate, including condominium projects, shopping centres, office and industrial complexes. Alan is a member of the Firm’s Bank of Nova Scotia Client Team, HSBC Bank Canada National Client Team and Commercial Lending Practice Group.
Josh Patlik, Secretary
Josh Patlik is a lawyer. He has been a member of Makom since 2017, and is excited to serve the Makom community as a board member.
Lihor Simkewitz, Treasurer
Ilana Newman Hernandez
Ilana is an academic reference librarian and has worked mostly in the humanities, social sciences, and law. Her personal interests include Balkan, Georgian, and Corsican choral music, and the social history of Jewish communities throughout the diaspora. Originally from the US, she currently lives in East York with her husband. Ilana has been involved with Makom since 2010, and is excited to serve the community as a member of the board.