Meet our 2024 Fellows!

The Tribe 12 Fellowship is an accelerator for entrepreneurial people in their 20s & 30s in Philadelphia’s Jewish community. Tribe 12 Fellows apply the tangible skills they learn and the network they build to create a capstone project of their own design: a new or existing business, non-profit, community, project or anything in between!

 

The 2024 Fellows and their ventures:

 

Shira Collings (She/They)

Venture: A Space for Jews on The Margins

About the Venture: The project idea is to create a space centering the experiences of Jews who have been marginalized within mainstream Jewish communities as well as society more broadly. This includes LGBTQ+ Jews, neuro-divergent and disabled Jews, Jews with marginalized reproductive identities including childless and childfree Jews, and more. This will be a space where marginalized identities and experiences are not only included but celebrated and recognized as an important part of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish life.

One way that this space will center the experiences of marginalized Jews is through offering ceremonies and rituals commemorating non-traditional lifecycle events, including gender transition, coming out, recovery from mental and physical illness, discovery of one’s neurodivergence, decisions to be childfree, reproductive loss, and more. This space will also offer events and activities focused around marginalized identities and stigmatized experiences that are not often recognized within mainstream Jewish spaces. For example, some offerings could include grief Shabbat dinners for those who would like to honor a loss as part of their Shabbat practice, as well as discussions of movies and books portraying marginalized Jewish characters.

This space is intended to be a community where whatever someone feels has made them “not Jewish enough” or excluded from more mainstream Jewish spaces is the precise reason they belong in this space. It will be a community where the experience of being marginalized and othered is recognized as an inherently Jewish experience and one that can be looked at and recognized through a Jewish lens, even when it is occurring on account of other identities besides being Jewish.

About Shira: Shira Collings is a Jewish, queer, neurodivergent psychotherapist. In both their personal and professional life, they are passionate about fostering a sense of connection and belonging among those who have faced marginalization and exclusion. As a therapist, Shira specializes in eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image. Her approach focuses on supporting individuals in challenging oppressive societal messaging around body weight and size and the ways this intersects with other forms of oppression. She has provided training and consultation as well as published articles on LGBTQ+ affirming, neurodiversity affirming, and fat affirming eating disorder care.

She currently facilitates a support group for neurodivergent adults with eating disorders. Shira’s enthusiasm for building community for those with marginalized identities continues outside of their clinical work. They are currently in training to become a Secular Humanistic Jewish Officiant through the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, and they plan to officiate ceremonies commemorating non-traditional lifecycle events including gender transition, recovery from mental and physical illness, and decisions to be childfree. They belong to Folkshul, Philadelphia’s Humanistic synagogue, and are active in Tribe 12. Additionally, she is involved in animal rescue; she and her husband foster kittens and volunteer for Fishtails Animal Rescue.

 

Jessie Duke (She/Her)

Venture: Bendichas Manos

About the Venture: Bendichas Manos is a ceremonial cacao company Jess started in September 2021. Jess sources Indigenous grown Criollo cacao from a Mayan women’s collective in Guatemala, and then mixes and blends it with other herbs. Right now, Bindichas Manos sells direct to consumers on its website with a small number of recurring/subscription customers. Jess has also done several private cacao ceremonies for retreats, organizations, and private events, with a focus on Jewish holidays. Jess has never done any marketing and has relied almost exclusively on word of mouth. In 2024 Bendichas Manos will focus on reaching a wider audience with powerful storytelling and a powerful marketing strategy that is inviting and educational. Jess is committed to the mission of supporting more people in creating time and space for heart-opening, so that involves increasing subscriptions, as well as selling wholesale to restaurants, coffee shops, retailers, and hospitality. Jess is committed to making the company profitable and sustainable so it can grow and support her first, and then a team of others.

About Jessie: Jessie Duke (she/her) is a ceremonialist & entrepreneur dedicated to fostering connection & openness that enable people to uniquely contribute what is theirs to contribute to the world. Motivated by her own continual journey of sickness, healing, contraction, & expansion, she is at her best when serving a cup of cacao & creating space for others to slow down & drop in. As the founder of “Bendichas Manos” (‘blessed hands’ in Ladino), a ceremonial cacao company, Jessie partners with Mayan women’s collective Ruk’u’x’Ulew, & encourages the recognition of the power of our hands as extensions of our hearts.

Jessie advocates for incorporating personalized ritual with cacao to create even one small moment for embodied safety, intention, rooting & grounding in everyday life. She emphasizes the importance of centering, slowing down, & listening to enhance capacity for cultivating deeper relationships with oneself, loved ones, ancestors, communities, & the natural world. Exploring topics like Judaism, relationships, herbs, trauma & healing, Jessie embraces life, business, relationships, & deassimiliation as profoundly ‘psychedelic’ ceremonies. She is grateful for every opportunity to engage in her ongoing journey of experiencing, learning, growing, & changing. She is most at home dancing & singing, on a beach or by a bonfire, with a yellow dragonfruit or a bowl of acaí in hand.

 

Abrielle Fuerst (She/Her)

Venture: Wandering Fighter, LLC

About the Venture: Wandering Fighter, LLC is a woman-owned self-defense and empowerment company running corporate seminars for women across the country, as well as ongoing programs within Philadelphia at large – most heavily concentrated within the local Jewish communities. Program options include martial arts classes for children as young as three through adulthood (with the option to advance through second-degree black belt and begin training as junior instructors), adult empowerment and women’s self-defense (especially within the Orthodox circles, providing training opportunities for women unable to/uncomfortable with a coed setting), and trauma empowerment through martial arts. Wandering Fighter’s founder Abrielle Fuerst holds a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, a life-coaching certificate through Rabbi Schonbuch’s Torah Psychology School of Coaching and Counselling, and seventeen years teaching experience. Currently, Wandering Fighter works with 60-200 students each week, depending on the season.

About Abrielle: Abrielle is the founder of Wandering Fighter, LLC; a woman-owned self-defense and empowerment company. She holds a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo with belts in kung fu, kuk sool won and hapkido, and experience in krav maga, judo, karate and Brazilian jiu jitsu. She has been teaching martial arts since she was 15, and now travels the country running women’s empowerment programs. She is the author of young adult novels Crow Dancer and Lady Shadow, with a publication in the anthology Strange Fire: Jewish Voices from the Pandemic. This is an excerpt from her upcoming memoir, Weddings in my Coffee Cup. Abrielle is a relentless community builder and effervescent nomad, who currently calls Philly home.

 

Jenny Oswald (She/Her)

Venture: Go With Jenny O

About the Venture: Following the pandemic, Jenny was searching for ways to bring her love of travel back into her life in a bigger way. At first, she researched how to become a travel agent. After learning more about that process, she decided that working on commission was not the way that she wanted to run her business. The goal of Go with Jenny O is to help people travel in a way that works for them, in a completely customized manner. It doesn’t matter if it’s budget or luxury, domestic or international, Jenny wants to encourage more people to travel and #useyourpto. Jenny offers fully customizable packages to help plan trips. This can range from simple research around the best place to go within a certain budget, to a detailed itinerary about exactly which restaurants and activities to book each day. This may also include assisting with group management for larger group trips (family reunions, bachelor/ette parties, etc.). With her event planning and project management experience, as well as her own passion for travel, Jenny wants to make travel accessible rather than overwhelming.

About Jenny:  Jenny is a lifelong Philly suburb resident, an avid reader, a fan of group fitness classes, a Swiftie, and above all else, a lover of lists. Jenny has been an organizer her entire life. From her very first entrepreneurial venture (a babysitting business at age 11), to her current work as a PMP-certified project manager, Jenny is never without a project to work on. After overcoming a fear of sleeping away from home as a child, travel also became a huge part of Jenny’s life. And planning trips quickly became Jenny’s absolute favorite hobby. Starting Go with Jenny O is the culmination of Jenny’s two lifelong passions- travel and organization. Jenny believes that getting out into the world and seeing new places, meeting new people, and learning about other places and cultures, is not only incredibly fun, but also incredibly important. The world is a globally connected place, but truly understanding and appreciating the similarities and differences requires some hands-on exploration. So, where to next? The question is not will there be a list — the question is how many lists will there be?

 

 

Jessica Charwin (She/Her) & Ed Johnston (He/Him)

Venture: Cultura Coffee

About the Venture: While working for a sustainable tourism startup in Colombia, Ed and Jess found a coffee culture and a brew that was unlike anything they had ever experienced. This inspired the idea for Cultura Coffee, a social impact coffee brand that would leverage our connections to bring home ethically-sourced specialty coffee produced with sustainable and traditional methods by small holder farms. Rooted in Philly, as a woman and minority-owned business, we hope to bring superior coffee and coffee culture to our home city and positive change to our communities.

About Jessica: Jessica is a marketing and communications professional with about a decade of experience in the corporate and the startup worlds. Outside of work, she is an avid traveler, aspiring polyglot, and an amateur cook/foodie. Jessica has always been interested in entrepreneurship and started a business in high-school as a henna artist and entertainer that helped her make it through college. After traveling around the world for my work and education, she settled in Philly with Ed, her partner of 14 years.

About Ed: Ed has travelled the world, worked in a lot of places (including as an underwater welder at the bottom of the sea), changed gears, and now works in tech as a python developer. Ed likes to tell stories and he is detail oriented. One thing Ed’s life has taught him is that he is a craftsman– he loves to build things, be it a physical thing, or not. Ed lives in East Falls with his partner, Jess, with whom he is partnering with on his venture.

 

Alex Spielman (He/Him)

Venture: Spielman Photography

About the Venture: Alex is enthusiastic about his “Conservation Through Wildlife Photography Partnerships” plan, expanding my wildlife photography business by collaborating with wildlife refuges, parks, hotels, and local businesses. This initiative not only facilitates business growth but also aims to raise awareness of these extraordinary places and the remarkable animals inhabiting them. Fundraising plays a crucial role in this project, with a portion of proceeds supporting conservation projects in partner organizations. Educational outreach could includes talks, presentations, and exhibitions of work in refuges, parks, hotels, and businesses, inspiring conservation advocacy. Additionally, collaborative projects and marketing efforts with partners will amplify the reach and contribute to conservation awareness.

About Alex: Alex Spielman currently lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with his wife and their new three month old baby boy. He loves the outdoors and going on walks with his newborn at both local parks or into town. Alex additionally loves spending time outside taking pictures of local wildlife. This has lead to his passion in wildlife photography. Nature has always been a source of endless fascination for him, and his mission extends beyond mere wildlife photography; he seeks to share the beauty of wildlife with a wider audience. He aims to inspire an appreciation and respect for nature in all its diverse forms. His passion is deeply rooted in capturing those captivating moments where animals thrive within their natural habitats.

 

Matthew Saul Pohubka (He/Him)

Venture: Anonymous By Saul

About the Venture: There’s a gap in the Philly pizza scene: stella pizzas, which are shaped like a star, with their edges stuffed with things like cheese, meat, etc. They’re incredibly versatile pies that offer a unique experience to the customer and a level of culinary flexibility for the chef. There’s also an incredible market for more intimate, sustainable dining experiences. For this reason, the market is ripe for a small restaurant with 12-16 seats, where all diners are served by the 3-5 kitchen staff working each day, with a menu that features stella and Neapolitan style pizza, seasonal appetizers and entrees, and an occasional tasting menu. Matt also wants to drive special focus to Jewish-inspired dishes around certain Jewish holidays as an homage to his heritage and the ever-growing popularity of “fusion” dishes. Additionally, he’d like to have a “community fridge” and, as possible, wants to offer an “open kitchen” to provide dignified meals and/or cooking classes to unhoused/hungry neighbors by partnering with local shelters and nonprofits. Lastly, he would love to develop a scaling/funding model that allows him to do profit-shares and donate a certain percentage of profits to a rotating list of local nonprofits.

About Matthew: Matt is an experienced and dedicated chef with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts degree from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in West Philly. He was born and raised in Northeast Philly by his “village:” his mom who is a Hebrew School teacher and Philadelphia Family Court administrator, his dad who is a first generation American veteran and mechanic whose parents escaped a German concentration camp, and his grandparents who raised him on the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and V’ahavta L’re’acha Kamocha (loving your neighbor as you do yourself). Since he was a little boy, his love of food and the art of cooking has guided him on the path towards becoming a chef. But Matt’s greatest dream is to be able to use his cooking skills to help the local community of Philadelphia, guided by his Jewish values. He’s particularly passionate about addressing hunger, homelessness, and food waste as a bridge between his Jewish values, his skills in the kitchen, and his hope to help improve the lives of his neighbors.

 

Marlee Waleik  (She/Her)

Venture: Jewish Artists Collective

About the Venture: Marlee and her Moishe House co-resident, Gavriela Weitzman, have been bouncing the idea around for a few months of starting a Jewish Artists Collective in Philadelphia. Since Marlee and Gavi both come from artistic backgrounds (Marlee from theatre and Gavi from visual arts), they think that collaborations between various mediums of art is important in today’s increasingly divided world. They want to have a space where Jewish artists can come together to workshop their art, work together on projects, and potentially create one giant project that spans multiple art forms. Opportunities for artists to create together are few, and they want to create a workshop space where Jewish artists can unite to create beautiful and important art.

About Marlee: Marlee Waleik is in her 2nd year as a resident of Moishe House Philadelphia and loves her role as community leader! She is committed to curating a warm and fun environment where all people feel welcomed and comfortable. With her co-residents, Marlee loves running events that are artistic, educational, spiritual, and most of all – silly. A personal philosophy of hers is that her programming needs to feel like hanging out with one’s closest friends, and she wants everyone to leave her events feeling happy and supported. She loves art, film, and theatre that is wacky and eccentric – and her background in the performing arts continues to fill her daily life. She listens to all types of music and dreams of being in her own band one day. She loves trying new things, meeting new people, and being Jewish!

 

Alex Braslavsky (He/Him)

Venture: Immersive Theatre Experience

About the Venture: The goal is to create an immersive theatre experience. There was a prototype in September as part of Philadelphia Fringe Festival (the show ended up winning Best Comedy & Improv award!) and now the work is to turn it into a full production. Alex is hoping to figure out: finding a venue, marketing the event, connecting with theatre groups in the area, creating a budget, etc.

About Alex: Alex is a performer, educator, producer, etc. He has been teaching improv for almost a decade now to both adults and young people. He is excited to create immersive experiences for people in Philadelphia. He has trained, performed, and taught all around the country including Baltimore, NYC, Seattle, Phoenix, Buffalo, Providence, and more.

 

Rachel Yakobashvili (She/Her)

Venture: Dinah

About the Venture: Dinah – an organization that came out of the Tribe 12 Fellowship just a few years ago – is at a really exciting place where there organization has grown beyond its original design and are ready to expand operations and impact. Dinah has started to gain regional and national attention for its work serving Jewish survivors of domestic violence in the Philadelphia area and now needs to scale its operations to meet the growing demands of the work. Dinah needs to meet this moment with a sound strategic plan, a re-imagined staffing and board governance structure, sustainable funding, and committed partnerships. As such, Rachel, Dinah’s Director of Programs and Partnerships, is excited to embark on an “intrapreneurship” journey to help build the foundation for Dinah’s growth, especially in the realm of community legal education and local, regional, state, and national advocacy.

About Rachel: Rachel Yakobashvili currently serves as the Director of Programs and Partnerships at Dinah as well as the Quality Control and Training Manager at Friendship Place. She is passionate about ending all forms of systemic violence that stem from patriarchy, racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry and systems of oppression. She has previously worked and volunteered with numerous nonprofits, including but not limited to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Jewish Relief Agency, Jewish Women International, JEVS Human Services, and JFNA Changemakers.

Rachel grew up in Northeast Philadelphia with her parents who immigrated from the Republic of Georgia and Moldova after the fall of the Soviet Union, so Rachel speaks Russian as her native tongue. She received her Master of Public Administration, Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, and Bachelor in International Affairs from George Washington University. In her professional life, Rachel is most excited by strategic planning and visioning as well as improving program evaluation practices to better measure social impact and inform future decision-making. In her down time, Rachel likes to cook, take care of her dog and her 50+ plants, plan long-weekend trips, and binge TV shows.

 

Sara Elysa Schmuckler (She/Her)

Venture: On Your Voice LLC

About the Venture: Sara’s venture is to expand her pre-existing speech therapy private practice, On Your Voice LLC, into a private pay vocal health and wellness coaching model, guiding and empowering female identifying professionals from functional to optimal voice users enhancing their ability to express their authentic perspectives with the world. Sara is committed to providing voice training and community building for women and trans women aiming to integrate her 10+ years of expertise in vocal anatomy/physiology and clinical therapy, and 25+ years of vocal performance and movement and theater background to create a holistic program to evoke confidence, courage, poise and effective communication in other’s affirming ventures.

About Sara: Sara’s journey unfolded during the pandemic when she moved from a full time job in a skilled nursing facility to establish a private practice focusing on rehabilitative voice and speech therapy services.  As a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist, Sara continues to hone her skills in the medical setting at Jefferson University Hospital’s Department of Rehabilitation. Sara earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Temple University in Philadelphia and Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology from Towson University in Maryland. She also holds a Certificate of Distinction in Vocal pedagogy from Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Pan American Vocology Association (PAVA) and Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA).

Sara is an avid crafter and is constantly finding ways to add more personality and character into her home.  She also choreographs musicals at local middle schools and high schools and finds the exploration of voice and movement together to be the purest form of harmony.  Sara now lives in Elkins Park with her husband, English yellow lab, Rosie, and two young kids, Talula and Thomas.  Sara feels invigorated everyday by seeing life through her kids’ imaginative eyes and intimately experiencing their amazing physical, emotional, educational and psychological development first hand. Sara hopes that by chasing her dreams, she ignites inspiration in her children to explore and embrace their unique paths.

 

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Tribe 12 connects people in their 20s/30s to Jewish life and community in Philadelphia today so they will choose to stay connected tomorrow. We welcome people who identify as Jewish, whose partner is Jewish, or who are exploring Judaism. Tribe 12 seeks to include all individuals regardless of gender or identity expression, religious history and practice, and financial circumstances. We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including disabled individuals, to engage fully. If you require any accommodations please see our page on accommodations. Feel free to contact us with any questions at info@tribe12.org

 

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