Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi


Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi is a senior psychologist and holds a master's degree in public administration. She holds a doctorate in education from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a master's degree in educational psychology from the Hebrew University and an additional master's in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, for which she was a Wexner fellow. Her areas of expertise include leading system-wide psychological processes, leading changes in systems, development of professional identity and culture, and individual and group leadership training. Nir Sagi directed the Mandel School for Educational Leadership from 2008-2012. She was previously the chief psychologist of the Ministry of Education.


Dr. Einav Aizikovitsh-Udi

Faculty Member

Dr. Einav Aizikovitsh-Udi is a researcher, educator, and social activist. She holds a doctorate in mathematics education from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2011), and completed her post-doctoral research at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She is also a graduate of programs of the ICEF Education Fund and the MOFET Institute, and is an expert in leading knowledge communities and communities of practice. Einav’s research focuses on mathematics teaching and on the impact of multidisciplinary approaches on the professional development of teaching staff in education in general and in mathematics education in particular. In addition to her position at the Mandel Foundation–Israel, for the last decade Einav has been working at the Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where she focuses on the development of teaching staff and on the integration of technology into mathematics education. Her responsibilities include developing models, tools, and courses for hybrid education and distance learning; raising awareness about the importance of gender equality in mathematics education; facilitating teacher communities; creating courses and methodologies for the professional development of teachers; and running conferences. Einav volunteers for Nitzotzot, a nonprofit that develops professional motivation and potential among youth, where she focuses on raising awareness about gender equality via mathematics teaching. She also participated in the Hashkafa initiative for teacher leadership, as a researcher and facilitator at Ben-Gurion University's laboratory for the study of pedagogy. Einav's work in facilitating teacher communities at schools throughout the Negev has introduced her to the challenges facing various populations in the region and to their inherent potential. This experience has given her the desire to be a part of leading change and leadership development in the Negev.

Kassim Alsraiha

Faculty Member

Kassim Alsraiha is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His field of research is state and religion in the Middle East, with a focus on the Gulf States. Kassim holds a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Middle Eastern and African History. In the framework of his master’s thesis, he studied the Arab-Bedouin population of the Negev, focusing on tribal law. Kassim is one of the founders of AHD, the Association of Academics for the Development of Arab Society in the Negev, and is one of the founders of the AHD School for Scientific Excellence in the Bedouin community in the Negev. He has worked at Ben-Gurion University’s Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Research, and has published articles and book chapters on the topics of religion and state, minorities and leadership.

Professor Dana Arieli

Faculty Member

Professor Dana Arieli is the dean of the faculty of design at the Holon Institute of Technology. She is a researcher and photographer who specializes in the interrelations between art and politics in democratic and totalitarian political systems around the world. Previously, she headed the department of history and theory at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and was a faculty member of the department of political science at Tel Aviv University. Professor Arieli completed her doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where her dissertation was titled "Between Aesthetics to Politics: National-Socialism and Plastic Arts," and was a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University. Beyond her extensive experience in research and teaching, she initiates, curates and exhibits her works at leading exhibitions in Israel and the world. Her writings focus on art and culture, with an emphasis on the culture of memory and on extreme situations, such as war, terror, and trauma.

Professor Smadar Ben-Asher

Faculty Member

Professor Smadar Ben-Asher is an expert educational psychologist and a researcher of the social representation of minority groups who, within the public discourse, are fighting for their place in Israeli society. Her doctoral dissertation dealt with the internal dialogue of a minority group (the kibbutz society) that maintained functional patterns intended to preserve the group through conflict. Additional research dealt with the parents of Navy commando soldiers who fought their sons' battle against the health threat caused by diving in the polluted Kishon river; with the coping methods of settlers evicted from their homes in the Gaza Strip before and after implementation of the Disengagement Plan; with the group of Bedouin consultants who are required to blaze their professional trail in a traditional society; and with the liberal and republican streams in Israeli society and their attitudes toward the role of IDF widows in the preservation of national myths. Ben-Asher was the director of the educational psychological services in two local authorities and was the regional psychologist in the South at the time of the disengagement from Gaza. She is an adjunct lecturer in the educational psychology and counseling track at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and heads the MEd program in educational counseling at the Achva Academic College.

Dr. Rotem Bresler-Gonen

Faculty Member

Dr. Rotem Bresler-Gonen is a Beer Sheva native and currently lives in the Negev. She is a researcher and lecturer in public policy and administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She completed her doctoral studies in 2005 at the London School of Economic and Political Science, researching political appointments in local government. Her research focuses on issues of administration and politics in local government, the connection between local and central government, and the challenges of local democracy. Bresler-Gonen directs a program to train heads of local authorities at the Hebrew University’s Federmann School of Public Policy and Government in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior. For over a decade, she has served as an adviser to the Ministry of Interior and other ministries, as well as a consultant to local authorities on a variety of issues.

Dr. Ruth Calderon

Faculty Member

Dr. Ruth Calderon is an educator and Talmud scholar working to promote Hebrew, Israeli, and Jewish culture, to cultivate the study of Torah in the secular world, and to create a liberal, humanistic public space that is rich in culture. She served in the 19th Knesset as a Member of Knesset for the Yesh Atid party and as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. Ruth founded Beit Midrash Elul in Jerusalem and Alma – Home for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv. She also served as the head of the culture and education department of the National Library of Israel. In recognition of her work, Ruth was awarded the AVI CHAI Prize for Jewish Education, the Samuel Rothberg Prize for Jewish Education, and honorary doctorates from Brandeis University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Hebrew College in Boston. Ruth is the author of A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales and A Talmudic Alpha Beta, which present personal readings of Talmudic stories. Her children's books, The Princess and the Rock and A Rainy Day Story, present adaptations of Talmudic and Chassidic stories for children. Ruth holds a master's degree and doctorate in Talmud from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership.

Dr. Hagit Damari

Faculty Member

​Hagit Damari holds a PhD in sociology and anthropology from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where she lectures in the gender studies program. Her research deals with the relationship between cultural-political negotiations and the body. Hagit served as the executive director of Hagar: Jewish-Arab Education for Equality, and led the development and establishment of a bi-lingual Jewish-Arab educational system in Beer Sheva. She initiated and oversaw the production of Israel's first anthology of children's stories in Hebrew and Arabic, which was published in two volumes: Sweet Tea with Mint and Other Stories, and I Am from There and Other Stories. She is involved in artistic projects as a conceptual consultant and as a writer of texts for exhibitions.

Israel Sorek

Faculty Member

Israel Sorek is a graduate of cohort 2 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. He is the founder and director of Be’Machshava Techila (Think Ahead) - an institute for applied philosophy. Sorek taught philosophy and educational philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he also trained teachers of philosophy. He founded and edited the journal A-Formally, a platform for social, educational and leadership issues, and was coordinator of the Human Dignity forum at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Sorek was a faculty member and dean of fellows at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership and co-directed the Mandel Leadership Institute’s IDF Educational Leadership Development Program in its first two years. Sorek's work includes, among others, the training of group instructors, incorporating theater and philosophy in their training. His published work (in Hebrew) includes "Values," which appeared in Crossroads, 1997, and "Philosophy as a Practical Science," published in Educational Deliberations, 2005.

Dr. Gili Zivan

Faculty Member

​Dr. Gili (Mivtzari) Zivan has been involved in teaching Bible, Talmud, Midrash and Jewish thought for many years. She served as the director of the Yaacov Herzog Center for Jewish Studies from 2001–2008, during which time she co-founded the Tzahali Academy, a pre-military preparatory program for religious women, and the Ofek program for Jewish identity for Russian-speaking students. Gili currently lectures, facilitates workshops and conducts Beit Midrash programs for the Herzog Center and in other settings throughout Israel. She has published numerous articles on faith in an age of doubt; religion and pluralism; faith and bereavement; religious Zionism, and more. Gili’s book Religion without Illusion, an adaptation of her doctoral dissertation, was published in 2005. She is a social activist in the field of Jewish-Arab coexistence and an advocate for the inclusion of women in Jewish lifecycle events, Torah study, and leadership. A former member of the Board of Kolech – the Religious Women's Forum, Gili has published a variety of articles on Judaism and gender. As part of her work as a faculty member of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, she teaches and tutors fellows.


Nahed Ashqar-Sharary

Visiting Faculty Member

Nahed Ashqar-Sharary is a lecturer and researcher who specializes in Islamic feminism, with an emphasis on Palestinian feminism in Israel. In 2020, she won the Dan David Prize for her research on the critical religious identities of Muslim women in Israel. Her research explores the ways in which the Islamic religious identities of women affect the woman herself, her relationship with her family, and the society in which she lives. Nahed holds a bachelor's and master's degree in social work, and is completing her doctoral dissertation at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, under the supervision of Professor Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder. She is a visiting faculty member of the Mandel Program for Regional Leadership in Al-Kasum, Neve Midbar and Segev Shalom.

Professor Avi Kaplan

Visiting Faculty Member

Professor Avi Kaplan is Professor of Educational Psychology at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA. Previously, Avi was a faculty member in the Department of Education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where he was Chair of School Counseling. Avi's research focuses on motivation and identity, environmental effects on motivation and identity formation, and interventions that promote people's active and informed role in their own identity formation and motivation. Avi is a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, is the Vice President of the Division of Educational Psychology (Division 15) of the American Psychological Association, and is the former editor of The Journal of Experimental Education.

Senior Staff

Hadas Kedar

Senior Staff Member

Hadas Kedar is a cultural entrepreneur and researcher in the field of curatorship. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and from the University of Middlesex in London, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Research Platform for Curatorial and Cross-disciplinary Cultural Studies, a joint program of the department of art at the University of Reading (UK) and the postgraduate program in curating at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland. Kedar's research explores local art in areas that are remote from dominant cultural centers, and focuses on the Negev and on collaborative and place-specific cultural activities in the desert. After being awarded the Israeli Ministry of Culture’s “Artist of the Community” scholarship, she returned to Arad, the city where she was raised, and established the “Arad Art and Architecture” residency program and “Arad Contemporary Art Center,” in cooperation with the municipality. Kedar has participated in and curated exhibitions in Israel and abroad. These include “Summer Harvest” (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), “Rulers” (Camden Arts Centre, London), and “Sipookation” (Kav 16 Community Gallery for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv-Yaffo). She has also chaired and participated in conferences on the relationship between art, politics, and the economy. These include “Art, Power and Knowledge” (Tel Aviv Museum of Art), “Protest and Art” (Israel Museum), and “Contemporary Political Art” (Van Leer Institute). Since 2019, Kedar has been the director and curator of “Studio Bank” – a temporary art complex in a building in Tel Aviv, comprised of work and exhibition space for 40 artists from a wide range of disciplines. She is also a lecturer in the department of visual and material culture of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.


Hani Botrashvili-Hotoveli

Administrative Manager

Hani Botrashvili-Hotoveli studied alternative medicine and is currently studying for her bachelor's degree in multidisciplinary studies in the humanities and social sciences at Sapir College. Hani has worked in administration and office work since 2000. A married mother of one, she lives in Beer Sheva.

Shira David

Programs Coordinator

Shira David holds a bachelor's degree in human resource management from the Sapir Academic College. Prior to joining the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, she was a legal assistant at a law firm in Beer Sheva. She also has experience as a guide for tourism projects and other organizations in the Negev. She lives in the Old City of Beer Sheva.

Dan Glasserman

Professional Assistant

Dan Glasserman was born on Kibbutz Hatzerim and lives today in Beer Sheva. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and linguistics from Tel Aviv University. Prior to joining the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, Dan worked for civil society organizations, conducting research on distributive justice in Israel and especially in the Negev, and monitoring the implementation of government decisions in this area.

Tal Shemesh

Secretary and Receptionist

Tal Shemesh holds a bachelor's degree in economics and management from the Ashkelon Academic College. Prior to joining the Mandel Leadership Center in the Negev, she was a personal banker at Bank Hapoalim in Beer Sheva. Before that, she served as the assistant to the director general and as an administrative manager at Beit Moriah in Beer Sheva, and worked as a national civilian service coordinator for the Bat Ami organization.

Housekeeping and Maintenance

Miryam Yitzhak


Married and the mother of two daughters, Miryam Yitzhak was born and raised in Beer Sheva. She has vast experience in the management of school cleaning crews and of nursing staff for the elderly under the National Insurance Institute. Miryam joined the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev upon its establishment in 2006.