We are proud of the 500+ young people who have graduated from our school.

From college, graduate schools, the business world, non-profit organizations and the IDF to our very own RZJHS board members and faculty, CJHS and RZJHS alumni continue to tackle the new challenges they face as independent young adults. We are proud of our alumni and keep in frequent contact with them and their families. They visit the school often to see former teachers, speak to current classes and to give their younger siblings rides home. If you would like to read more about how our alumni are affecting positive change in our communities, scroll down to get to know these incredible individuals.

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Alumni: Keep in touch with us here and subscribe to the weekly E-news. If you would like to be more involved in alumni events, please contact our Development office at 847.324.3720.




Nadav Sprague, Class of 2013

This article appeared in the 2019 "Tiger Talk," our annual school newsletter.


Gateway to the Great OutdoorsNadav Sprague is no stranger to the outdoors.
He grew up attending canoeing camps and taking canoe trips in Canada with his father. When he set out for college at Washington University in St. Louis, he knew he wanted to nurture his growing passion for the environment. What he didn’t anticipate was channeling the positive impact of outdoor experiences to empower others and instill values of environmentalism, leadership, teamwork, and physical activity.
After earning his Wilderness First Responder certificate through the National Outdoor Leadership School, Nadav and fellow Washington University self-proclaimed “nerdy science students” decided to support the St. Louis community by developing Gateway to the Great Outdoors (GGO), a nonprofit that partners with primary schools to promote science-literacy, environmental stewardship, and health for students. GGO recruits and trains university mentors who go into partner classrooms to conduct weekly science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) lessons. These volunteers also lead monthly field trips with the classroom teachers.
“We provide STEAM enrichment experiences and experiential outdoor education opportunities for kids that most likely would never have those opportunities at home or in the classroom,” says Nadav, GGO’s CEO.
Gateway to the Great Outdoors serves low-income urban youth. Schools eligible for GGO’s services have 90% or more of their students on the free or reduced lunch program. Ninety-seven percent of the students are African American, 13% of whom identify as black and Hispanic.
In 2016, GGO’s participants reported such positive transformations that Nadav was inspired to keep going with the program: what started as a school project is now a rapidly growing organization, currently serving public schools in St. Louis and Chicago. This past summer they hired three St. Louis public school teachers through AmeriCorps to redevelop their curriculum to include state science standards, next generation science standards, EPA, and other environmental organization standards. GGO served over 550 students during the 2018-19 school year and is projected to serve 600-650 students in the 2019-20 school year.
Nadav says that his passion for science began at RZJHS with “amazing teachers, especially Mrs. Eliaser, who taught three of my classes. RZJHS instilled in me a love of the sciences as well as the desire to make the world a better place. The teachers at RZJHS inspired me to teach this way, and what’s great about GGO is that we are connecting to our community in many ways; we are trying to inspire young people to protect the environment by becoming stewards to the environment.”
Just as his teachers provided inspiration to him, Nadav strives to build relationships between GGO mentors, students, and classroom teachers. In addition to learning about the environment and healthy lifestyles, students also learn about leadership. The result, per feedback surveys, is increased attention span, better classroom behavior, and improved grades in other classes. “Teachers love the program, too. They bring the activities home to their own children,” Nadav says.
In the summer of 2019, Nadav was a research assistant at the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Nadav is utilizing research from his work with GGO for his Masters degree in public health at Washington University in St. Louis Brown School, and he recently published a pilot study that illustrates the impact GGO makes on students’ lives. “It’s exciting to see us grow in a sustainable fashion and continue to make a difference.”
Gateway to the Great Outdoors is funded by grants, individual donors, and partner universities. On November 16, GGO is hosted a Gala/Trivia Night at The Menomonee Club for Boys & Girls in Chicago.
Jeremy Goodman, Class of 2014

This article appeared in the 2019 "Tiger Talk," our annual school newsletter.


Alumni Jeremy GoodmanJeremy Goodman reunited with the RZJHS community as the school’s first student-turned-teacher this school year. 
Walking into his freshman history class, Jeremy Goodman had no idea that the course, and his teacher, Roman Marchenko, would shape his professional path. Always a strong student, Mr. Goodman admits that as a younger kid, he grew comfortable doing the minimum necessary to earn good grades. That all changed with Mr. Marchenko, who encouraged Mr. Goodman’s discovery of his academic appetite.
“For the first time, I was going above and beyond. I felt accomplished,” says Mr. Goodman about his commitment to high school history lessons. As his enthusiasm for history and politics grew, he experienced the joy of coming to class every day, excited to study and apply what he was learning to his own life. Participating in Model UN affirmed his interest in these topics.
Junior year, when he found himself back in Mr. Marchenko’s classroom, Mr. Goodman realized the influence a teacher can have on students. “The way he taught,” Mr. Goodman says, “he really got me. He helped me find my passion and feel proud of my hard work.” It is this positive impact that inspired Mr. Goodman to become a teacher himself.
After graduating from Rochelle Zell, Mr. Goodman pursued history and political science in the school of education at the University of Michigan, where he graduated in 2018. Now he is RZJHS’s first alumnus to return as faculty. He carries a full schedule: teaching three social studies classes, advising the debate team, and coaching basketball.
“Sports have always been a major part of my life,” Mr. Goodman says. At Michigan, he was the president of the club basketball team. At RZJHS, he was on the basketball and soccer teams, and he grew particularly close with his basketball coach, Marty Dello.
And so it is with mutual glee that the two now work together—Mr. Goodman as Coach Dello’s assistant coach for the Rochelle Zell boys varsity basketball team. “Jeremy was a very good athlete who played extremely hard every time he was on the court or the soccer field,” says Coach Dello. “I don’t recall ever seeing Jeremy not give 100%. I look forward to watching him pass his knowledge and passion on to our players, and I am thrilled he can be a positive role model for our school, community, and basketball program.”
Mr. Goodman is driven to support students as they realize their own ambitions—both in and out of the classroom. Turning his love of history into a helping profession energizes him, which is evident in his commitment to building positive relationships with his students. Dello notes Goodman’s age as an advantage that allows him to relate to students on many levels, including their socio-emotional development.
The fact that he is beginning his social studies teaching career in a politically heated climate is not lost on Mr. Goodman. “More so than in the past, students are politically interested and engaged. Knowing what’s happening in the world, and what it takes to be a strong citizen is important. The more context you have, the more you can grasp these contemporary issues. This material is more urgent and relevant than ever.”
Mr. Goodman credits his four years as a student at RZJHS as solid training for teaching challenging subjects and facilitating difficult conversations. “Academically, one of the strongest parts of the RZJHS education is the emphasis on critical thinking, not just taking things at face value,” he says. “We learn to really analyze through a lens of Jewish values and Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.”
Returning to this environment is part of the appeal for Mr. Goodman: “It’s important to take a holistic approach, like RZJHS does, to not only present content, but to also build better Jews, and set students up for success,” he says. “Graduates are always welcomed back with open arms. Our community extends well beyond four years, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.”
Yoni Maltsman, Class of 2018
yonimaltsmanYoni Maltsman has been making waves as an engineering student at Harvey Mudd College, where he is raising awareness about ethical concerns in corporate opportunities for new graduates. Yoni's Career Fair "Conscience" preparation session focused on companies whose data-mining software is used for ICE workplace raids or whose practices are under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission. "Prior to this year’s career fair, there have been plenty of opportunities to perfect résumés, cover letters and interview strategies," Yoni said in an interview. "While this is super important, it’s also necessary to have a discussion on navigating the political, moral and deeply personal dimensions of considering whom to work for."      READ MORE>>


Zach Erlichman, Class of 2013


This article originally appeared in the 2018 school newsletter.


"I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in May 2017 with a major in biology. Since then, I have started medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine. The path was definitely difficult at times, but many of my experiences at RZJHS made me much more prepared for the workload and the level of independent management that comes with it. I learned that basic classes are very important, but fostering relationships with faculty/students and being involved in a multitude of discussions you find yourself passionate about creates a more impactful learning experience. I hope to one day be a surgeon and help patients be educated and active advocates for themselves in discussions. RZJHS taught me the path to a conclusion was just as important as the final decision."


"Teachers at RZJHS helped me find meaning to every word I wrote or said in a discussion. Going back over my work, I made sure that I was precise, concise, and clear. We also looked at the many nuances in writing and the ability to look at experiences from multiple lenses. Not only did this apply to my written work but in seeing patients, these critical thinking skills were essential."


"Understanding perspective has made all the difference in some patient cases I have had so far. I had one patient who did not speak English and had just immigrated after the disaster in Haiti. I had to use a translator for the entire time and understanding the slight differences in words made a huge difference to diagnosis. In addition, considering the multitude of factors contributing to this patient’s health, we were able to identify other important factors such as lack of health insurance and adequate food security as playing large, somewhat indirect roles. In some patients, being open to opinion can make all the difference."


"In the Talmud, we learned that even an opinion ultimately deemed “wrong” was still included and necessary in the discussion in order to make the most meaning for the end result. A doctor should never be an additional source of scrutiny and judgment, so the openness I learned at RZJHS laid the foundation for providing this type of care."

Rachel Braun, Class of 2009

Braun Rubenstein Hudson ValleyCongratulations to Rabbi Rachel Braun Rubenstein (CJHS '09), named one of Hudson Valley's "20 to Watch in 2020." As the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, she has distinguished herself as an effective advocate for the Jewish community and partnered with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in combating anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. District Attorney David Hoovler praised her for the important work she has done with his office, and also for the energy and determination he says she has brought to many tasks and that make her an influential figure in the region. “She’s young, energetic, willing to go anywhere, and do anything to get her point across,” Hoovler said. “Most importantly she is one of the few leaders of any organizations I’ve met that is willing to listen and willing to step out of her comfort zone to effectuate change.” READ MORE>>


Braun Rubenstein RabbiThis article originally appeared in the 2018 school newsletter.

"I attended Washington University in St. Louis, focusing on International Studies and Political Science. I spent my time in college traveling, including one summer on an exchange program in the former republic of Georgia, one summer studying art and religion in Paris, and a semester studying in Morocco. I learned Arabic with dreams of becoming a political advisor on the Middle East, but while studying in Morocco, I took some time to really think about what I wanted out of my future career. I found myself most fulfilled when I had the opportunity to really talk with people about their passions, their beliefs, and their struggles. I thought back to who I had always turned to in my own life, and the rabbis of RZJHS were at the top of the list. So, when I came home I nixed my plans of Law School and applied to Rabbinical School instead!"


"I began my rabbinic studies at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. I fell in love in LA with a rabbinical student who found a job in the small town of Middletown, New York, leading me to my next chapter at the Jewish Theological Seminary! I transferred to JTS in the Fall of 2015, spending a semester studying in Jerusalem before returning to New York to finish my studies. In the Summer of 2016 I married that rabbinical student, Rabbi Marcus Rubenstein in a small outdoor ceremony in Glenview."


In May 2018, I was ordained from The Rabbinical School at JTS, with a Masters of Jewish Education from the Davidson School. I am now working as the Director of Jewish Education and Engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, NY, finding ways to engage our Jewish population in Jewish life, learning, and community.


I am forever grateful to RZJHS for laying for me a foundation of skills, from Hebrew to Talmud, that would set me up for a successful and fulfilling career in the rabbinate. But more than anything, my rabbis, teachers, and mentors at RZJHS set me on the path toward becoming a rabbi, modeling everyday what it means to create an intentional learning community. I hope to spend my rabbinate trying to give to others what RZJHS gave to me.

Leah Cardona, Class of 2009


This article originally appeared in the 2018 school newsletter."Ever since I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to be a Food Scientist. I graduated from Michigan State University in May of 2014 with my Bachelor’s degree in Food Science with a Food Technology concentration and a Jewish Studies Specialization. With my degree, I was able to get a job in the food industry for product development. For the past three years I’ve worked for Pepsico on Gatorade research and development as a product developer. I’ve recently accepted a new job with Kraft Heinz, working on Lunchables, P3 and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I’m thankful for the teachers, friends and family who helped me make my dream a reality. It is very rewarding to see consumers at the grocery store purchasing products I’ve worked on and taking them home to their families."


"I fell in love with running after participating in cross country my senior year at CJHS. I’ve actively been running the past four years completing five marathons, 15 half marathons and many more 10Ks and 5Ks. This summer I decided to continue to challenge myself and train for my first triathlon. When I’m not working or training, I’m planning my wedding with my fiancé and family. We’re getting married in September of 2019 and we couldn’t be more excited!" 

cardona marriedUpdate: Mazal Tov to Leah Cardona Venus and Scott Venus who were married in September!

"I have had the privilege to watch the school grow from a small community, operating out of a single hallway and a few trailers, to one with its own state-of-the-art facility
that is not only an icon in the Chicago community but recognized nationwide as a top tier high school." - Jason Wiznitzer, '06, Board Member