A native of Los Angeles, MELISSA BURGER made aliyah with her family prior to starting high school. After spending her two years of national service teaching children with disabilities, she attended the Efrata College of Education In Jerusalem, earning a dual Bachelor’s degree in regular and special education. She began her career teaching both verbal and non-verbal students with cerebral palsy and related disabilities. Upon her move to Florida in 2001, Melissa joined the Kesher Team as a kindergarten teacher under the direction of Mrs. Jeri Becker. Three years ago she joyfully celebrated the high school graduation of her students from that class, and continues to celebrate their ongoing success.
Melissa is constantly engaged in learning and embraces knowledge from each and every person she meets, striving to provide education that is on the cutting edge. She has gained knowledge from CARD, TEACCH Autism Program, Michelle Gacia Winner/Social Thinking, Broward and Miami Dade Public School trainings, behaviorists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, reading specialists and her colleagues.
Melissa brought back to Kesher what she gained through CAJE’s leadership training, a two-year program preparing her to support professional development of the staff. Fostering collaboration amongst her colleagues in the lower school, she created opportunities for the teachers to learn from each other, perfect best practices and ensure consistency of teaching methods and philosophies. Over the past three years, under the direction of Mrs. Thabatta Mizrahi, she led the Lower School Team as the curriculum coordinator, helping to guide the individualized educational continuum optimal for student achievement through academic, spiritual and emotional growth.
Melissa believes in her students’ ability to succeed and strives to empower them to reach their potential. She feels honored to have the privilege of working with the children and their parents, and is thankful to her students for being her best teachers. Melissa lives in Hollywood, with her husband Aron and their children.
DANNY BENOLIEL is a sales representative for M & R Distributors International, Inc., a wholesale and distribution company of fragrances and perfumes located in Miami, Florida. He attended the University of Arizona for three years, and transferred to Florida International University where he graduated.
Danny started his professional career early with a construction company called Amicon Construction while attending school full time. Amicon Construction specialized in high-end interior commercial build outs. During his time there, he was a hybrid of an assistant Project Manager and assistant Superintendent. He worked on iconic landmarks all over Miami, from projects in Design District/Wynwood, to high-rises in Brickell, renovating several floors and consulates, to high profile offices in Coral Gables and Coconut Grove, to historic landmarks on Ocean Drive and in the MiMo District in Miami. Danny worked with Amicon for over two years and there he learned many management traits, and how to get his hands dirty when needed. He eventually took his talents to M & R Distributors International, Inc. where he has been working for almost three years. He started with a very select clientele base, with a majority of just regional customers, and has expanded his clientele base to other countries such as Panama, Chile, China, and to several Islands in the Caribbean. With the support of his new wife, Yael, he looks forward to continue to expand and grow within M & R Distributors International, Inc. and within his family. He claims, “I would not be where I am today without Yael, my parents, Max and Ruthy, and the help of Kesher.”
DAVID BENOLIEL is a passionate Zionist who loves hummus and works in his family business, managing most of the purchasing as well as brand innovation to lead the sales department at M&R Distributors International, Inc. In high school David struggled with focusing for long periods of time and with test taking. He never reached past “NETA 2” in his Hebrew classes, but he went off to college speaking better Hebrew than most of his classmates because of the Kesher Program. Kesher created new opportunities for David to find his niche, and to discover ways to excel in life. His mother’s commendable involvement in Wizo has influenced him to be very involved in looking for ways to help Israel and to fundraise for worthy causes. David struggles with ADHD, but Kesher gave him the confidence that brought out his best traits, which are drive, grit, and a great sense of humor. Aside from succeeding in his professional career, he is a world class hummus guru and expert. He lives happily with his lovely wife, Alex. School may have not been the easiest times for David, but Kesher played a huge role in making David who he is today.
Born and raised in Miami Florida, JOSEPH FALIC attended Scheck Hillel Community School from 1st through 12th grades, and Kesher from 9th through 11th grades. He is a proud Kesher graduate. Joseph is an avid athlete, and was a member of the football, basketball, and golf teams in high school. Upon graduation, Joseph attended The University of Arizona and then transferred to Tel Aviv University. After his sophomore year, he decided to join the family business, Duty Free Americas, and has been working there now for 8 years. Joseph is happily married. He and his wife Lea live in Bal Harbour, Florida with their two young sons.
DANNY FURRER, born and raised in Miami, FL , attended Samuel Scheck Hillel Community day School from PK—4 through 12th grade, and was a Kesher student from 9th through 12th grades. Kesher greatly impacted Danny. He became a better writer, and Kesher helped him to understand how to prioritize, and to determine what his priorities were. Kesher also helped him to understand his values, and sharpen his critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Upon graduating, Danny attended Florida International University, where he excelled in his academics, earning him a place on both the President’s and Dean’s lists for all of his undergraduate years. He graduated Cum Laude in 2015, earning a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management.
Professionally, in 2015 Danny began his career as a Marketing Agent at Rosenhaus Sports/ KCB Sports Marketing , a world renown sports agency that focuses on career management and marketing and endorsements of over 100 NFL athletes . Since 2017, he has been an account executive at JPay Inc., where they offer convenient and affordable correctional services, including money transfer, email, videos, tablets, music, education and parole and probation payments.
JESSICA BARAN is a Senior in Kesher at Scheck Hillel Community School, which she has attended since 6th grade. For the past four years, Jessica has volunteered in the Early Childhood Education Program where she has enjoyed pursuing her passion of working with pre-school children. During her time as an assistant with ECE, Jessica has been able to learn a great deal about inspiring young minds from the dedicated teachers she worked alongside. Her time volunteering was highlighted by being able to put a smile on the preschoolers’ faces. Additionally, in the past few years, Jessica has been assisting with Kesher’s Annual Journal Dinner activities. In her middle school years, Jessica was a cast member of the Scheck Hillel Performing Arts Program where she enjoyed performing in various productions. Outside of school, Jessica has been active in the MAR-JCC’s Bamachol Dance Program as a Rikudim dancer and performer at the festivals for the past 10 years. She also loves volunteering as an assistant dance instructor with the younger dancers, which she has been doing for the past three years. Throughout her past four summers, Jessica has enjoyed working with young children as a camp counselor at both Beth Torah BRC and the MAR-JCC. She has also joined in activities with Beth Torah’s USY program. In addition, for the past few years Jessica has enjoyed participating and volunteering in a variety of activities with the Friendship Circle, where she was on the Teen Leadership Board. Jessica looks forward to continuing to expand her involvement in community activities, as well as, pursuing a career in the field of early childhood education. Last but certainly not least, Jessica is incredibly proud and appreciative to have been a part of the Kesher family which has allowed her to blossom in many ways. She would like to thank all the wonderful people that have supported her along her journey in Scheck Hillel, especially her amazing teachers.
AMANDA SCHECK is a proud senior at Scheck Hillel Community Day School where she has attended since PK-2. She serves as president of various clubs including the Entrepreneurship Club, and of course Best Buddies, which she has been enthusiastically involved with for several years. In addition, Amanda is the cofounder of Project Receive, a fundraising effort with fellow Hillel student Sarah Savir, selling acai bowls and other healthy snacks to high school students, where 100 percent of sales is donated to local charities, including the Kosher Food Bank, the Birthday Club, and Kids Court.
She is a dedicated volunteer at the JCS Kosher Food Bank and participates in many other tikkun olam projects with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and JServe.
Amanda served as captain of Hillel’s varsity volleyball team and also played on the varsity football team. In addition to her academic commitments as an Honor Society student and an AP scholar, Amanda is very passionate and devoted to the Best Buddies Club.
Amanda’s experience as the Best Buddies chapter president not only allows her to create lifetime friendships with the Kesher students, but also helped her determine that, in addition to entrepreneurship, she is intent to incorporate and join social impact projects in her future endeavors.
Kesher’s Annual Journal Dinner is our biggest and most important fundraising event of the year. Honorees are chosen from our community and school and are recognized for their commitment and philanthropy to Kesher. Additionally, we award volunteers who have devoted their time at Kesher. Our dinner never disappoints, and is known throughout the community to be a wonderful and enjoyable evening. The event begins with a full cocktail hour, followed by a sit down dinner and program.