Our Staff

Rachie Karesh, LCSW

Executive Director

Rachel Karesh, LCSW, holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Rachie has worked and excelled in Social Work over the past 15 years. Her experience includes working as a social worker in a therapeutic post high school program for at-risk teens, providing mental health support and mentorship at Meor HaTorah Seminary in Israel, working as a school social worker at Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School, and working as the camp social worker at Moshava Wild Rose.

For the past 10 years, Rachie has worked as the Clinical Director at Upward Community. She has developed a full-service organization that provides children, teens, and young adults with prevention, enrichment and intervention services. Rachie was instrumental in the building and opening of the Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center at Upward Community and was responsible for all assessments, counseling, and crisis intervention of the teens referred to the Counseling Center.

Rachie now serves as the Executive Director of Upward Community. In her new role, she is responsible for designing, developing and implementing strategic plans for the organization. As well, she manages the day-to-day operations of the organization including staff relationship management, collaboration with the Board of Directors of Upward Community, all in an effort to reach new heights and help even more families in more comprehensive ways.

Lynn Shyman, LCSW

Clinical Supervisor

Lynn is a psychotherapist with certification in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She was formerly the Director of Counseling Services in the Skokie Center of Jewish Child and Family Services where she provided clinical supervision, staff training, and administrative oversight.

Lynn also works with children and families in the midst of divorce and other family challenges. As a trained divorce mediator, Lynn has been a referring member of the Mediation Council of Illinois. Lynn looks forward to working with the staff starting in August 2020 working in the Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center.

Shuli Tsadok, LCSW

Clinical Director

Shuli Tsadok, LCSW, received her masters in social work from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Shuli completed her first year of her internship training in Israel. Shuli spent her second year as an intern at Upward Community. Under the guidance of Upward Community, she worked as a clinician in Arie Crown Hebrew Day School and Ida Crown Jewish Academy where she provided individual counseling and educational programming for students. After finishing her Masters degree, Shuli continued working in Ida Crown Jewish Academy as the school social worker for seven years. Shuli worked with students on an individual basis and also taught the Barry and Harriet Ray Steps to Healthy Living Curriculum. Shuli re-joined the Upward Community staff in July 2017 as a Clinician for our Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center. Shuli is looking forward to expanding her role at Upward Community as the new full time Clinical Director.

Shira Berkowitz, LCSW

Director of School Based Services and Clinician

Shira Berkowitz, LCSW, graduated from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at The University of Illinois and Chicago. While in school, Shira founded and directed a mentorship program in Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov, Chicago. She then moved to New York and worked at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services as a social worker in the Preventative Care Department.

In 2003, Shira joined The SAFE Foundation as a Prevention Skills teacher for their Project SAFE School Program, then became Director of the Program in 2010. While working with Project SAFE, Shira also served as the School Social Worker in Magen David High School for a number of years. In March of 2019 the Proejct SAFE School Program changed hands, and Shira became the Program Director of both Darcheinu and Our Path SEL under Amudim. In the summers Shira works at Camp Nageelah Midwest as the camp Social Worker. Shira also maintains a private practice for young adults.

Shira returned to Chicago in July 2015 where she lives with her husband and 6 children. She joined the Upward Community team as the Director of School-Based Programs, working to implement the Barry and Harriet Ray Steps to Healthy Living Curriculum in all the local participating Jewish day schools. In her position at Upward Community, Shira works with each school to tailor-make a curriculum that fits with their schedules and their unique needs as a school community. She is responsible for the training and consultation with all of the teachers/guidance staff and implementing the Upward Community prevention classes in the schools. She also sees adolescent clients as a clinician in our Counseling Center.

Rabbi Yechiel Bresler – MMHC

Assistant Director of School Based Services and Clinician

Yechiel Bresler is originally from St. Louis, MO. He spent two years in Yeshiva in Sha’alvim in Israel, after which he studied at Yeshiva University. He recently completed his Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. For the past 2 years, Yechiel has worked in 2 Modern Orthodox Boys High School’s Guidance Department’s on the east coast. He was also previously Rabbinic Intern at Rinat Yisrael, a Shul in Teaneck, NJ. Yechiel and his wife Davina served as the OU-JLIC Fellows at Rutgers for one year as well.

Yechiel is joining the Upward Community team, Septemeber 2019, as a Clinician and a facilitator for our Steps to Healthy Living curriculum. In addition to his work at Upward Community, Yechiel is the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation KINS in West Rogers Park. Yechiel moved to Chicago this summer with his wife Davina and their two sons; Tani and Tzachi.

Aimee Shemano-Krupp

Manager of Operations

Aimee came to work for Upward Community in Sept of 2018. Before that for twelve years, Aimee owned and operated a children’s Designer Consignment store in Highland Park called Principessa. Aimee closed the doors of her own shop of 12 years and began working for Upward Community as their Manager of Operations. She has a Bachelor’s from Tulane University and majored in English and Jewish Studies. Aimee is married to her husband Andy for 26 years and has a freshman daughter Chloe at Michigan State University. In her free time she is active in Hadassah and currently sits on their National Young Leadership Council.

Lounge Staff
Rivkah Efron

High School Girls Lounge

Rivkah Efron was born and raised in Skokie and now lives in Chicago with her husband and 5 children. Rivkah has worked in her family’s Optometry business in serval capacities and roles since she was a child. This experience in her family’s business allowed her to develop a strong sense of commitment and pride in all her endeavors along with the versatility to work in any setting and modality. Rivkah’s love for people is apparent and magnetic which made her the perfect fit for the many roles she played in the early Upward Community girls programming. After several years of the raving successes of Rivkah’s volunteer work, measured by the increases in attendance and additional programs, Upward Community had no other choice, but to add her to the growing wonderful staff.

Adam McKenna

High School Boys Lounge

Adam McKenna is an ER Nurse turned Software Engineer currently working at Ticketmaster in Rolling Meadows. Before getting married, he worked at various hospitals around the UK, and spent two years learning at Machon Yaakov Yeshiva in Har Nof.

Adam grew up both in Israel and England. He and his wife have been in West Rogers Park for just under two years where he is a member of Ohel Shalom Torah Center.

Adam is enjoying his new role running the boys lounge and contribute his efforts to provide a space where everyone feels welcome.

 

Clinic Staff
Jenny Hagage, MSW

Clinician

Jenny Hagage, MSW, received her Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University. She has a lot of experience working with children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults at the ARK, Upward Community, and several day schools in Chicago, including Hillel Torah, Lubavitch Girls High School, and Ida Crown Jewish Academy. Jenny taught the Barry and Harriet Ray Steps to Healthy Living Curriculum at the Lubavitch Girls High School.

Jenny also spent a year working at Ida Crown Jewish Academy as the Mechanechet, where she supported students both spiritually and emotionally. In addition, she ran the Ida Crown Girls Club where she developed and implemented special programming during and outside school hours to help foster camaraderie and inclusion among the girls of all grades. Jenny is excited to be expanding her role at Upward Community working as a therapist in the Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center.

Shoshana Rifkind, MSW, LCSW

Clinician

Shoshana Rifkind MSW, LCSW obtained her BA in Psychology from City University Staten Island and her Masters of Social Work from Adelphi University School of Social Work. She has worked as a Clinical Social Worker for over 25 years in diverse settings such as a psychiatric hospital, an elementary school, as Director of Clinical Services in a Vocational Rehabilitation Center and as a clinical therapist and supervisor for consultants serving Medicaid and Medicare recipients. Shoshana served as school social worker and Director of Student Social and Emotional Services at Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School for seventeen years.

Currently, Shoshana maintains a private practice where she specializes in the treatment of women, children and adolescents struggling with feelings of anxiety, depression, social skill and communication skill deficits, stress management and women s issues. Shoshana takes a strength based eclectic approach using CBT, DBT, psychodynamic theory and systems approach to optimize coping and life enhancement. She enjoys devoting part of her time to servicing clientele as a clinical therapist for children and adolescents at the Upward Community Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center.

Leora Singer, LMSW

Clinician

Jenny Hagage, MSW, received her Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University. She has a lot of experience working with children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults at the ARK, Upward Community, and several day schools in Chicago, including Hillel Torah, Lubavitch Girls High School, and Ida Crown Jewish Academy. Jenny taught the Barry and Harriet Ray Steps to Healthy Living Curriculum at the Lubavitch Girls High School.

Jenny also spent a year working at Ida Crown Jewish Academy as the Mechanechet, where she supported students both spiritually and emotionally. In addition, she ran the Ida Crown Girls Club where she developed and implemented special programming during and outside school hours to help foster camaraderie and inclusion among the girls of all grades. Jenny is excited to be expanding her role at Upward Community working as a therapist in the Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center.

Tzorti Steimetz, LMSW

Clinician

Tzorti Steinmetz, has a masters in Social Work from Long Island University. Her initial internship as the social worker in a dorm for teens at risk gave her the clarity she needed to know that she loves working with teens. When she moved to Chicago, she taught in a local high school and served as grade advisor which provided further insight into the exciting and ever changing world of young adolescents. Tzorti joined Upward Community’s team of clinicians in 2017 and has thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Upward Community mission and connecting with each of her clients. She uses modalities such as CBT, DBT as well as art and drama to aid in the therapeutic process. She also works as the junior high social worker in Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov which further expands her perspective into the life of a teenage girl.

Yael Tobin, LPC

Clinician

Yael Tobin, MACP, received her master’s degree in counseling psychology from North Park University. Originally, from St. Louis, MO, Yael held the position of Dorm Counselor at Blitstein Institute in Chicago for two years. There she lent students a listening ear, and guided them on how to properly advocate for themselves and communicate effectively with others. Yael spent her internship at Upward Community, and under their guidance was placed as a clinician in Arie Crown Hebrew Day School. At Arie Crown, Yael offered students individual counseling, interpersonal skills groups, and educational programming. Currently, Yael continues to see adolescen clients in our Mozes and Helen Stern Counseling Center.

 

Eli Brand

Intern

Eli recently moved with his family to West Rogers Park from Queens, NY, where he studied in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim for nearly ten years. During his time in Yeshiva, Eli completed his Master’s degree in Jewish Education from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Social Work at Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Eli is excited to bring his warm, approachable, and empathic nature to the Upward Community team, where he hopes to have a meaningful and positive impact. As part of Eli’s internship, he will be directing our new Middle School Boys Lounge starting summer 2020.

 

Upward Community Interns
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Upward Community is proud to offer an internship program for those pursuing a masters degree in social work or mental health services. Our interns are placed in a variety of local schools to help the guidance staff and be an extra resource for the students. In the past interns have joined us from schools such as Loyola, Wurzweiler, University of Illinois and more. The interns facilitate workshops and see children individually in the schools, as well as receive high quality training and supervision at the Upward Community office. Please contact us to apply.