Meet The Staff | Center for Jewish Life

Meet The Staff

Rabbi Julie Roth

CJL Executive Director and Jewish Chaplain at Princeton University

Rabbi Julie enjoys nothing more than meeting with students, faculty, and alumni, and her passion for pluralism, Jewish life, and multi-culturalism make campus work an ideal match. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rabbi Julie and holds a B.A. in Comparative Religion from Brown University and was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2005.

Marni Blitz

Associate Director

Marni is thrilled to advise the CJL student board and several affiliated student groups, to supervise the CEI and JRC engagement interns, and to oversee the dynamic and diverse programming in our community. She works closely with a wide variety of campus partners to enrich the experiences of all Princeton students.

Robin Rudofker

Director of Institutional Advancement

Robin joined the CJL staff in 2012, bringing nearly 20 years of fundraising and marketing experience in the Jewish community to her work as the CJL’s chief resource development professional. A graduate of both Brandeis University and Drexel University, she is deeply committed to informing our many stakeholders

Rabbi Ira Dounn

Senior Jewish Educator

Rabbi Ira cannot wait to get to know you and what inspires you! He comes to the CJL from BBYO, where he served as South Jersey Regional Director in Cherry Hill, NJ and Director of Jewish Enrichment based in Washington, DC. He was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR) in New York. He and his wife Shaina enjoy exploring the outdoors, seeing movies, and bowling.

Rabbi Matityahu Kahn

Co-Director and Torah Educator of OU Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Princeton

Rabbi Matityahu Kahn was born and raised in the Jerusalem area to parents who made Aliyah from Brooklyn on the last day of their "sheva brachot”.
After high school Rabbi Mati studied in Yeshivat Otniel through the Hesder army program, completing his IDF service in the paratroopers. When returning to Yeshiva after the Army, he completed a B.A. in Talmud and Jewish philosophy, while studying for the Israeli Rabbinical tests.

Shira Kahn

Co-Director and Torah Educator of OU Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Princeton

Shira Kahn was born in Jerusalem and raised in Chashmonaim. She fell in love with the world of learning when studying for her Bat Mitzvah with her father in the Beit Midrash program in her high school. After high school she did two years of national service in Tsfat; guiding hikes, learning and volunteering in Israel “Livnot U’Lehibanot service for Birthright Groups. Shira then continued to learn in Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for two years enjoying the intense exposure to Talmud and Chasidut. She enjoyed this so much that she has since participated in three more Beit Midrash learning programs.

Debra F. Orel

Event and Marketing Manager

Debbie joined CJL in 2018, bringing over 20 years of business and marketing experience to the CJL.  Debbie's professional career includes small business owner, Marketing Director at one of the largest JCCs in the country and most recently Executive Director at a synagogue in Princeton.  Debbie's passion for Jewish connection and community began at  Camp Ramah, and continued throughout USY, BBYO, Hillel, study abroad at Tel Aviv University, and ulpan and post-graduate work in Israel. Debbie and her husband Craig Provorny have a blended family with one son and fours daughters ranging in age from 30 to 18 years old.  In her spare time Debbie enjoys the gym, traveling and spending time with her family. Strengthening Jewish peoplehood has always been an important part of her life and she is thrilled to continue that precious work here at CJL.

Orly Chesney

Executive Assistant

Orly has extensive experience supporting CEOs in in Israel and the United States in various global industries such as Communications, Finance, and Bio-tech.

Orly was born in Tel Aviv and served in the Israeli Air Force as an air traffic controller and volunteered for several years as a traffic officer in the Israel Police. She has a BS in Social Science from the University of Maryland and a piano diploma from Tel Aviv music academy. Orly has a grown daughter who lives in Portland, Oregon and in her free time she likes to play piano, tennis, and watch movies.

Orly is very enthusiastic about being part of the CJL’s mission of amplifying young students' connections to Israel and Jewish meaning.

Susan Johanesen

Finance and Database Manager

Susan Johanesen joined the CJL in 2009 after 25 years of owning and operating an office support business. In her role as Executive Assistant, she provides support to the Executive Director and Development Director, maintains development databases, does the bookkeeping and handles the many other functions that keep the office running.

Ruth Palmer

CJL Administrator

Residing at the CJL, Ruth is a member of Princeton University's Office of Religious Life (ORL). Ruth is delighted to be part of a staff committed to creating a community that is supportive of students and welcoming to all. Ruth began her Princeton career in 2007 as part of the first Whitman College staff. Ruth holds a B.A. in Telecommunications from Indiana University, Bloomington.