The Fellowship
Senior Fellows and Staff
Contact JIF
Terms of Use
Site Credits

JIF in the News
Jewish Internet Movie Awards
Join the Mailing List
Special Thanks

   
The Fellowship

The Jewish Impact Films Fellowship was established by leading Hollywood producers to empower the next generation of young Jewish thinkers to use creative media, specifically short internet-based films, to effectively communicate new messaging about Judaism and Israel.

Based in Los Angeles, the Jewish Impact Films Fellowship recently completed its first three week program, generating over fifty unique projects. Click here to learn about how to apply to our next fellowship.

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Senior Fellows and Staff

Senior Fellows
David Sacks
Mitchell R. Julis
Jason Venokur
David N. Weiss

Michael Borkow
Rabbi Yaacov Deyo
Brian Ash
Avery Pack
Stacy L. Sokol
Yariv Newman
Daniel Kaufman

Staff
Sheryl Giffis Program Coordinator
Yaron Kaplan Production Supervisor
Arthur Bonner Production Coordinator
Matthew Magee Production Coordinator
John Freund Director of Operations

David Sacks
Born and raised in New York City, David Sacks attended Harvard College, graduating with a degree in Government in 1984. While there he began his comedy writing career as an editor of the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon. Upon graduating, David moved to Los Angeles and began writing for television.

Among the shows he's worked for are "The Simpsons", where he won an Emmy Award, and "Third Rock from the Sun" for which he won a Golden Globe Award. He is currently a producer on "Malcolm in the Middle". David is the co-founder and Senior Lecturer of The Happy Minyan of Los Angeles. David is married and has four children.

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Mitchell R. Julis

A founding partner of Canyon Capital Advisors LLC, Mitch focuses on the firm's secondary market investments and direct investment activities. The firm pursues a credit-oriented value investment strategy and manages over $9 billion in various investment limited partnerships, some of which fall into the popularly known category of “hedge fund.” Mitch has been a special situation value investor since 1983 in special situation debt and equity securities in the public and private markets, including bankruptcies, reorganizations and restructurings. Prior to the formation of Canyon and its predecessors, Mitch was a Senior Vice President of Drexel Burnham Lambert, where he directed a group of professionals responsible for a portfolio of approximately $500 million in distressed and special situation securities. Before 1983, he was a bankruptcy and creditors' rights attorney at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York. Mitch has authored a number of articles published in law journals and other periodicals on the subject of bankruptcy and distressed credit investing. He is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard Law School (J.D., magna cum laude) and Harvard Business School (M.B.A., honors).

Mitch is currently completing a book project on value investing for Wiley Finance with Professor Michael Kirschenheiter of Purdue University.

He and his wife Joleen have been involved with Aish HaTorah for about 7 years and are currently focusing on supporting and broadening Aish.com. Additionally, Joleen is on the Executive Committee of Jewish Family Services - Aleinu Family Resource Center. Mitch is a Vice President on the Board of Directors of the Maimonides Academy.

Mitch and Joleen have four children – Elliot, Esther, Maia and Rose.

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Jason Venokur
Jason Venokur graduated from Dartmouth College in 1992. He spent eleven years on the west coast, writing movies for Dreamworks, Warner Bros, Fox and Vanguard Films. In 1996, he started as a staff writer on NBC's "3rd Rock from the Sun", and left five years later as Executive Producer, along with his partner, Dave Goetsch.

Since then, he has developed three sitcoms along with Goetsch and brother, Ross Venokur. The three, along with David Sacks, developed UPN's critically acclaimed "Game Over". Sacks and Jason also created "Jewish Comedy Camp", along with Steve Burg, founder of the Jewish Student Union. "Jewish Comedy Camp" will open this fall to high school students interested in the history and creation of Jewish Comedy.

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David N. Weiss
David N. Weiss (co-writer, "Shrek 2") with his partner, J. David Stem, wrote "The Rugrats Movie," and co-wrote "Rugrats in Paris," two of the highest grossing traditional animated features of all time. The duo were co-writers on the Academy Award nominated, "Jimmy Neutron" and received an Emmy nom as head writers of the "Rugrats" series, where they penned the acclaimed perennial "Rugrats Channukah."

The team co-wrote Paramount's "Clockstoppers," Revolution Studios' upcoming "Are We There Yet," (starring Ice Cube) and "Daddy Day Camp", (sequel to Revolution's "Daddy Day Care"). They are currently developing live-action projects with Tom Shadyac, Warner Bros. and Disney.

In television, the writing duo served as executive story editors on the series, "Cybill" and as co-producers on The WB's "Mission Hill." Mr. Weiss received his graduate degree from USC's School of Cinema/TV. Prior to teaming with Mr. Stem, he wrote and directed several award-winning shorts and penned the screenplay for the popular "All Dogs Go To Heaven."

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Michael Borkow
Michael Borkow, a television comedy writer, is currently under an overall deal at the Twentieth Century Fox Television studio to develop new projects and assist on the studio’s current shows. At present, Michael is working as a writer/producer on the new Andy Richter sitcom, “Quintuplets.” Previously, Michael has worked on "Malcolm in the Middle", "Friends" (Executive Producer, '97-'98 season), and "Roseanne."

Michael is a graduate of Harvard College and the Columbia University School of Law, and is the founder of the Israel Volunteer Corps.

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Rabbi Yaacov Deyo
Rabbi Yaacov Deyo attended Philips Academy Andover and Harvard where he conducted thesis research in Nicaraguan land reform. He went on to complete a year long grant project in conflict reconciliation in Northern Ireland, as well as stints building and testing high performance sailboats, coaching Irish crew teams, and running a homeless shelter in Boston. He received Rabbinical Ordination in 1996 in Jerusalem after seven years of study.

As the Educational Director of Aish HaTorah in Los Angeles in 1999 he and his students created SpeedDating, a new concept in dating which has since spawned a new industry. He is the author of a Harper-Collins book describing the process. Just returned from a year long sabbatical in Jerusalem, he now lives in LA with his wife Sue and daughter Avigial.

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Brian Ash
Bronx raised and Yeshiva educated, Brian Ash is president of Outer Boroughs Entertainment, a versatile producer of multi-media entertainment. Five years in music videos led to a production deal with the late George Jackson’s UBO Network. There, Brian created “IndiePlanet”, an animated series later syndicated by Sci-Fi Network and featured theatrically with “X-Men: The Movie”.

In 2001, Brian received World Animation Celebration’s Best Animated Drama award for “The Road to Graceland” a trilogy of animated prequels to the Warner Bros. release, “3000 Miles to Graceland”. Starring Kevin Costner and Christian Slater, the project marked the first time a major film’s cast created original content for the internet.

Making the move to features, Brian served as a co-producer and writer on Universal Pictures’ and Roc-A-Fella Films’ “Paper Soldiers” and has written screenplays for Lion’s Gate Films and Urban Entertainment with co-writer Myles Reiff. An alumnus of NYU Film School, Brian currently lives in LA with his wife, theatrical milliner, Avigayil Metal and is working on a new animated project for Warner Bros.

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Avery Pack
Avery Pack is the founder of Petakim, an innovative nonprofit that provides Internet strategy consulting to Jewish organizations as well as develops technology driven ideas that connect young Jewish adults to each others' ideas. Run by young leaders in technology, marketing, and Jewish education, Petakim aims to amplify the broadcast of young Jewish ideas through imaginative distribution.

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Stacy L. Sokol (Corporate Counsel)
When David Sacks casually mentioned the idea of Jewish Impact Films to Stacy in a chance encounter in line for coffee one morning, Stacy, a corporate attorney in Century City, California offered to act as its corporate counsel to form and organize the company and help it obtain its tax exempt status.

Hailing from Miami Beach, Florida, Stacy is a graduate of Stanford University and UCLA Law School. When not setting up non-profits, Stacy forms new companies and represents clients in complex business and real estate deals. Stacy is married to Miriam Sokol, also an attorney Stacy and Miriam have five children.

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Yariv Newman
Born in Beershiva, Israel raised in West Hills, CA. Receiving a very early start at age 16 in the entertainment industry as an intern for Digital Domain working on the location based attractions as Terminator 2:3D. There he learned all different aspects of production design, pre-visualization and visual effects. Under the supervision of vice president Steve Schklair, he was hired to stay on at Digital Domain’s new media division as assistant designer on Barbie Fashion Designer, which ranks among the best-selling software titles ever produced for the children’s market. In 1998, he joined Station X Studios for commercials & video game cinematics working for such clients as Activision and Budwiser.

Transitioning to video game industry, in 2000, he joined the 3DO Company’s New World Computing division to serve as a lead artist on the award winning Heroes of Might & Magic 4. Later he served as art director on the 8 part saga Heroes Chronicles. In 2003, Yariv left working fulltime behind to pursue a degree in Transportation/ Product Design Art Center College of Design. Working on sponsored projects by Razor, Nelson Watering Products, Honda, Nickelodeon, and Audi. Yariv applies these disciplines to the entertainment industry by working freelance as conceptual designer on feature films ranging from Troy to The Aviator. In his junior year, he serves as an instructor in communication sketching at Art [email protected] teaching potential designers and working professionals. He is currently working on a series of educational Anatomical Design DVDs with his instructor Rey Bustos.

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Daniel Kaufman
Jumping between entertainment and advertising, Daniel Kaufman represents a unique breed of content innovators. He has directed more than 120 commercials for such clients as Budweiser, Comcast and Paramount Pictures and with ad agencies like McCann-Erickson, Goodby-Silverstein & Partners and TBWA/Chiat-Day. His spots have won many accolades, even being inducted into the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In several instances, Mr. Kaufman has been asked to write some of the campaigns he has directed. In 2003, he was appointed the American Creative Director of Yomiko, Japan’s third largest ad agency.

Daniel wrote the book To Be A Man (Simon & Shuster, 1994) a photo essay exploring the issues of male identity and conflicting gender expectations. His photographic work has been viewed in solo and group shows around the country and internationally.

Mr. Kaufman’s short-films have won awards and screened all over the world. He has also directed stage as well as some television.

As an actor, Daniel trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has more than fifty professional stage credits as well as numerous film and television appearances.

Mr. Kaufman was graduated Magna Cum Laude from U.C. Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts (BA). He has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film Directing from UCLA and is also an Acting Associate to the Guildhall School, in London (MFA).

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Sheryl Giffis  (Program Coordinator)
A native Angelino, Sheryl graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric. She has taught creative writing at the Park School in Baltimore, Maryland, announced classical music on public radio KBAQ 89.5 FM in Phoenix, Arizona, trained in financial sales at Morgan Stanley in Beverly Hills and worked as a freelance writer and copy editor for several public and private organizations across the U.S. Her articles and poems have appeared in Horizons Magazine, Guest Informant's In Baltimore, Restaurateur Magazine, Builder/Architect and The Modern Review.

For three years, she ran film director John Dahl’s office in New York and then LA, working with Miramax and New Regency on the films "Rounders" and "Joyride." In 2002-2003, she spent the year in Jerusalem at a women’s yeshiva studying Torah and spirituality. Upon her return, she became the director of the Jewish Learning Institute in Pacific Palisades, a Chabad adult education learning program.

She is the founder of Be Great Life Coaching, a coaching practice dedicated to helping people discover and express their highest gifts.

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Yaron G. Kaplan (Production Supervisor)
Raised in New York City, Yaron Graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2001. At that point he moved out to Hollywood. He along with his writing partner Arthur Bonner wrote and directed music videos for both hip-hop artist Afroman, and the Moshav Band. He has been working steadily in both television and film.

In the summer of 2000 Yaron filmed a documentary in Vietnam that returned American veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the battlefields that caused it. This documentary is being at used as a tool of recovery at Veterans Affairs hospitals for others who suffer but will never make the trip.

Yaron has also written, directed and produced multiple short films. He just finished producing his first feature film, and is in pre-production for Four-gotten Country, with his partners Arthur Bonner and Matthew Magee.

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Arthur W. Bonner III (Production Coordinator)
Born in Alabama and raised in South Los Angeles, Arthur graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2001. At that point he returned to Los Angeles where along with his writing partner, Yaron, they have produced projects including music videos for hip-hop artist Afroman and the Moshav Band. Arthur was Unit Production Manager on a recently completed feature film.

Arthur has written, directed and produced multiple short films. He has been working steadily in the both television and film.

Arthur, a prolific writer, is also a co-writer with Yaron Kaplan and Matthew Magee on a film currently in pre-production Four-gotten Country.

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Matthew J. Magee (Production Coordinator)
Matthew was born and raised in Magee, Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2001. He has been working on and directing films in Jackson, Mississippi since graduating.

Matthew is also an accomplished fiddler and guitar player. Having already recorded a few albums, Matthew is currently working on an album with Yaron Kaplan.

Matthew, a co-writer with Yaron Kaplan and Arthur Bonner, is currently in pre-production for Four-gotten Country, which will be filmed in his hometown of Magee.

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John Freund (Director of Operations)
John Freund graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. Since that time, he has worked as a Production Assistant both in house and on set with various independent productions, ranging from commercials to independent features. John has been involved in the film world both in New York City, where he currently resides, as well as for a brief period in New Olreans. In addition to serving the JIF community, John is also working on a feature-length script which he hopes will one day land him in Hollywood (feet first).

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Contact JIF

To contact us, please send us an email at: [email protected].

Or click here to join our mailing list.

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Terms of Use

Would you like to use a JIF film to advertise a program your organization is sponsoring? If so, then e-mail your request along with a description of your organization and the program you have in mind and we will review it and get back to you!

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Site Credits

Avery Pack, Petakim - Internet Strategy Consulting and Design
David Sacks - Content Supervisor
Yariv Newman - Animation Supervisor, Jewish Impact Films Theater painting
Miriam Avetikova - Banner Ads
Dalia Garih - Donation page, JIF frame logo, Shabbos Kodesh Art Cards
Michael Blumenthal - Movie Contest Poster
Shlomo Heimler - JIF Logo

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Special Thanks

Mitch and Joleen Julis for being our special angels.

Judy Sacks for all her wisdom, love, input and unerring insight.

The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles for their incredible support.

Chip Mosher and all the amazing people at Mac Enthusiasts (https://www.macenthusiasts.com) for their generosity and help throughout the process.

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