Meet the Team
Click a team member below to find out more:
Michelle Barnett MBE
Michelle is a true example of the values and ideals that GIFT aspires to. Having been educated at Haberdashers she took a gap year to study at Brovender’s Seminary in Jerusalem before gaining an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Manchester, an MA in Social Work from Brunel University and an MA in Psychotherapy and Counselling from Regents College.
Shocked by the volume of wasted food in supermarkets and restaurants and inspired by R’Naftali Schiff’s vision, GIFT started from Michelle’s kitchen table in 2004, gathering excess bread from bakeries each week and redistributing it to struggling families whilst continuing her work as a probation officer.
However, very soon it became apparent that her passion for giving and her need to inspire others, were too strong and Michelle became GIFT’s very first employee.
15 years later that passion has created an organisation that has left an indelible mark on the Jewish community and the name Michelle Barnett synonymous with giving. The opportunities and acts of giving that GIFT has created now rank in their hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of families in need across the community have benefited from the thousands of hours that GIFT’s army of volunteers have given, supporting them in numerous important ways.
In her personal life, Michelle’s long-suffering husband Danny has supported her in dedicating much of her married life to GIFT whilst also successfully raised their 3 talented children, all who are deeply imbued with a sense of giving, making Michelle the embodiment of the phrase - To Live is to Give
Rabbi Sandor Milun
Born and raised in South Africa, he graduated with a degree in accounting and economics. After acquiring a black belt in judo, Sandor went on to represent South Africa at the Maccabi games in Israel in 1997. After living for 6 years in Israel, he then joined the Jewish Experience of Madison (JEM) in 2007 as program director and after 3 and a half years living on campus with 5000 Jewish students moved to London and took a role in JLE’s campus department. In 2014 Sandor became JLE’s Campus Director.
Sandor’s life vision: developing opportunities and engaging our youth in the community ensuring positive change through social action and education, fits perfectly with GIFT’s mission to inspire and enable giving. Sandor joined the GIFT team in March 2019. His energy, enthusiasm and enterprising nature coupled with his determined mindset are a natural fit to spearhead the GIFT team.
Fun fact: Sandor has been writing a blog for 889 consecutive weeks, having never missed a week in 17 years.
After taking her gap year in 2003-4 to study at Michlala Seminary in Jerusalem, Shira returned to the UK to attend Central School of Speech and Drama. Her love of volunteering caused her to spend all her free time (and some of the time she should have been in lectures) supporting every charity under the sun (ironically except for GIFT).
Shira is a passionate, heartfelt and effective educator, having previously been a Madricha for Aish UK, Bnei Akiva and Kinloss, she combined her easy going and warm personality with her love of educating and in 2006 took up the post of ‘Informal Educator’ in Hasmonean High School.
In 2008 Shira and her husband Rafi moved to St Johns Wood to become the Youth Directors (a week before her eldest daughter was born), a post she thoroughly enjoyed before becoming Directors of Young Professionals where she and Rafi created numerous successful networking and single events and education programmes.
Shira and Rafi are also raising their 3 children, all of who enjoy volunteering at GIFT packathons. They say that their mum has the best job in the world but Shira knows this is actually because of all the sweets in the warehouse.
Secondary Schools Manager
Barry brings to the team 20 years’ experience of working and volunteering within the Jewish community. Prior to joining GIFT he spent 12 years with Tribe both locally at Finchley United Synagogue (Kinloss) and working at head office for the United Synagogue. He spent 3 years studying in various yeshivot in Israel and has written and taught numerous leadership and volunteering sessions that have been used in Jewish education around the world.
Having grown up watching his mum as a school teacher and his father on the shul board running children’s services, Barry has always been driven in working with and educating children and teenagers. Most importantly he has always wanted to empower them to go and do more for others and this is reflected in his work and school presentations. Happy to help, Barry is a strong team player who will always get his hands dirty. During the pandemic he was helping run the US Chesed’s Essential Food Parcels Project and clocked up many miles supporting deliveries for numerous charities.
He lives in Hendon with his wife Chaya (a barrister, book reader, influencer and charity advocate) and their two children Michoel and Amalia who from a young age have always given them time as volunteers.
Rabbi Avrohom Zeidman
Rabbi Avrohom Zeidman has a wealth of experience teaching all ages and stages of life. As a previous Head Boy of Hasmonean, he gained 3 semicha’s after studying in various yeshivot in Israel. On his return to the UK he worked for both Seed and the United Synagogue educating young people, young professionals and parents.
During this time Rabbi Zeidman designed many youth programmes and ran sessions for a wide demographic displaying his passion for teaching. A strong creative personality, he created ‘Simcha cards’ selling more than 20,000 and compiled and designed the artwork for the very popular book ‘Foundations’, now used as a syllabus in many Jewish High schools in the UK.
Rabbi Zeidman’s time with GIFT has seen him create an entire curriculum based around educating the next generation of givers, which the GIFT Education team teach in a variety of schools. Inventor (amongst others) of the unique sessions Small Change, Big Difference and the increasingly popular Supermarket Shopping Challenge, his enthusiasm is infectious and teachers often comment how inspired the students are after one of his sessions. Married to Rivka, a trainee Psychotherapist and father to 5 lovely children, Rabbi Zeidman is also a talented balloon modeller and beatboxer. He used to be a vegetarian, but isn’t now.
All the way from Toronto, Avital has a background in Events, Communications and Film. Having studied Special Events Management and Film Production, she is goal oriented and organized, constantly looking to be part of the action and improve things along the way. Back in Toronto Avital worked at Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University (CFTAU) for over 2 and a half years, preparing her to take on her role at GIFT.
Avital moved to London in May 2022, pursuing a dream and a new-found adventure. Along with being Canadian, she is Moroccan Israeli, speaking Hebrew fluently and proudly Sephardi. Being in London has reignited the spark of how beautiful Judaism really is for Avital.
As a 24 year old mother and wife, Anabelle is passionate about her judaism, helping others and most importantly, being there for her loved ones. Born in Manhattan and having moved to the South of France at a young age, she is fluent in both English and French.
After majoring in Digital Marketing and Brand Management, she decided to stay in London for her career and for the richer family life it offers. With experience in education, public relations and social media, she enjoys communicating with others and exchanging ideas.
Community Engagement Co-ordinator
Before moving to London from her life in Manchester 3 years ago, Roxanne worked for Chabad for 17 years. Her accomplishments were far ranging, from setting up a day centre for the elderly to recruiting and coordinating a large pool of volunteers. Roxanne organised a number of services and coordinated her volunteers to help take residents to hospital appointments, make home visits and to bereavement counselling appointments when required.
In 2003 Roxanne became a registered Jewish Chaplin at Wythenshawe Hospital and her weekly visits soon became the highlight of her week. Roxanne’s natural empathy and positive manner, coupled with her gregarious, out-going nature and her deep care for people made a huge difference to the lives of those she engaged with.
In 2016 Roxanne made a life changing decision to leave Manchester and come to live in London. Soon after, she joined the team at GIFT initially as the Volunteer Coordinator and more recently as Events and Projects Coordinator. Roxanne is a natural born giver and an excellent networker and organiser and is delighted to have found another organisation that inspires and motivates her.
Roxanne’s infectious and bubbly personality makes everybody’s day a bit brighter and the team can always be assured that whilst Roxanne works for GIFT, no-one is ever going to celebrate their birthday without a dutch pound and some interesting singing.
Keren grew up in Stamford Hill and gained a BA Honors in Fashion Management from Nottingham University. After a year of working in Fashion PR at Browns in Central London, Keren decided to spend 9 months in Jerusalem studying at Seminary and volunteering for Shalva, a not-for-profit that supports individuals with disabilities.
It was during her experience at Shalva, that Keren realised her love and passion for giving. Upon her return to London she spent another year working in PR and was involved with a range of Yong Professional charity committees.
When the opportunity to work for GIFT came about, Keren jumped at the chance to steer her career towards work with greater meaning and fulfilment.
Outside of work, Keren cites her passions to be noodles, chocolate, baking and shopping - but not necessarily in that order.
Bnei Mitzvah Coordinator
Esther was born and bred in Gateshead and after studying in Seminary in Israel, Esther spent a year in Johannesburg South Africa where she worked as an informal Educator at King David High School Johannesburg.
She then moved to NY to work for Meor Manhattan as a women’s educator. She met her husband Akiva in Israel and lived there for 4 years after their wedding while working for different programs which enabled students from around the world to come and explore their Jewish Identity in Israel.
Esther is so excited to join the team at GIFT UK where Giving, Community and Jewish education are all combined. Esther loves connecting with people, and laughing and singing are her favorite things to do.
Sarah has worked in the Jewish charity sector for over a decade running fundraising events and educational trips internationally.
She is passionate about improving the world that her children grow up in.
GIFT Giving Hub Manager
Marshall has been an active volunteer within the not-for-profit sector for over 30 years, working with both Jewish and Zionist causes. He is an active fundraiser and organiser, having led teams on a variety of community projects. Marshall has previously managed and delivered large-scale community events, procurement initiatives and environmental policy changes for the main Jewish bodies in the UK. In his spare time, Marshall enjoys walking, cinema and reading.
Family Liaison Officer
With both of her children now at high school Carly decided it was time for a career change and thought what better place to do so than at GIFT.
Carly has a degree in Education studies and actually enjoyed home schooling during lockdown.
After university Carly spent 10 years working for the John Lewis Partnership where she undertook many roles including managing customer services and assisting in the opening of stores across London. For the last 12 years Carly has worked as a bookkeeper and in project management. Carly prides herself on her organisation skills. A notepad and pen is never far away.
Carly is passionate about volunteering and throws herself into community life whether it be a shul event, being a school governor or signing up on a meal rota.
In her spare time Carly enjoys walking, swimming, reading and going to the theatre.
After earning a Master’s in France where she grew up, Miriam moved to London where she became the admin backbone of the International Federation of Actors for two decades, and then of Campus Dept at JLE for close to 10 years.
Her particular blend of values and abilities, coupled with her passion for Yiddishkeit and Chessed, is perfectly aligned with GIFT’s mission as she simply lives to give and strongly believes in giving back to the community.
GIFT Giving Hub Assistant
Josh has been with GIFT for over 2 years, working hard to ensure that all our recipients receive their food parcels every week. Josh studied Educational Research at Greenwich and his interests include current affairs and football. Josh loves listening to music and spending time with his nephews and nieces when he is not working at GIFT.
Born and raised in Manchester, Sophie attended Yavneh High School and went on to study media and fashion make up in Manchester’s northern quarter. In 2011, inspired by an Aish trip she became a Madricha for Aish Manchester whilst starting a freelance makeup business.
In 2012 Sophie decided to further her Jewish education and took a year out studying at Midreshet Tehillah Seminary in Har Nof.
In 2013 Sophie married Alex Woolfstein spending 6 months in Israel before returning to Manchester, where they now live in Whitefield with their 2 young children. Sophie has been working for GIFT since 2014 and loves being involved with GIFT Manchester’s various programmes such as the Foodbank, Bat Chayil programme and various education initiatives across primary schools and high schools.
Sophie’s bubbly yet determined personality has helped make a difference to GIFT Manchester and she has enjoyed watching it grow over the last few years. She relishes meeting new people and understanding what makes them tick and as such has recently started to mentor for Keren, a charity supporting vulnerable girls in the Manchester community supporting girls within the Jewish community.
Born and raised in Manchester, Aliza graduated from Yavneh Girls High School, and went on to study in Michlalah Seminary in Beit V’gan, Jerusalem. Upon returning from seminary she became a big sister for the charity Camp Simcha, helping to support families whose children suffer from serious illnesses.
In 2011 Aliza married Moishe Noe and now has 2 beautiful boys. Aliza joined GIFT Manchester in 2017 and loves the variety of work that is involved with running a busy regional office. She often wears many hats but particularly enjoys her involvement in the Bat Chayil Program and the education sessions run by GIFT in Primary and Secondary schools across Manchester.
Aliza enjoys entertaining Shabbat guests and prides herself on being a friendly and approachable person. Aliza has a love of baking and can often be found whipping up a batch of brownies for the office to enjoy.
Hannah was born and educated in Liverpool at the Kind David School. After a year’s study at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, Hannah moved to London to continue her studies at the University of London. After graduating, Hannah made Aliyah with her husband, Yisrael. Hannah now lives in Jerusalem with her 6 children. In the past, Hannah has held various key educational, charitable and communal roles.
Her creative and innovative programmes have drawn hundreds of participants and she continues to inspire and promote personal and communal growth in all areas of Jewish living.
Hannah is the powerhouse behind GIFT Israel’s success - and a constant source of amazement from the rest of the GIFT team as to ‘how does she do all of that?’