Rabbi Kenny Weiss (he/him) - Executive Director
Rabbi Kenny Weiss is the Rabbi and Executive Director for Houston Hillel. Kenny is also
a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Houston. Prior to arriving at Houston
Hillel in 2001, Kenny served as a congregational rabbi in Bucks County, Pennsylvania,
and Washington, D.C. He earned a degree in Communication from the University
of California at San Diego, a Secondary Social Studies Teaching Credential from
the University of Colorado in Boulder, along with a Masters Degree in Hebrew Letters
and Rabbinical Ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
in New York. (Whew, that’s a lot of school!)
Kenny does a lot of local and national stuff to benefit Jewish life for college students
and Jewish twentysomethings, but he'd rather tell you that he's married to
Rabbi Amy Weiss, Founder and Executive Director of Undies for Everyone.
Amy and Kenny enjoy spending time with their sons, Eli and Joshua.
When he’s not hanging out with college students, you can find Kenny running around Rice in preparation for the Houston half-marathon, biking around Houston, figuring out a bouldering problem at the local rock climbing gym, or listening to the Grateful Dead while building something in his garage.
Jesse Plichta-Kellar (she/her) - Assistant Executive Director
Our Assistant Executive Director, Jesse Plichta-Kellar, comes to us from Virginia Beach, Virginia by way of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Jesse holds a B.A. in German and Public History from Longwood University, in Farmville, Virginia and an M.B.A. from the same institution.
Before joining Houston Hillel, Jesse worked as the engagement associate at Dickinson Hillel, in Carlisle Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate student in rural Virginia, Jesse did not have access to a previously organized Jewish group on campus, so she ran many of her own events for the small Jewish community there. As she was graduating in 2020, Jesse realized she could transition her passion for inclusive Jewish life to a professional capacity. Jesse is excited to continue in Houston her work around fostering positive Jewish experiences for community members with diverse Jewish journeys and interests.
When she’s not planning trivia nights, holidays, and other events for Jewston and QJews, Jesse can be found swing dancing, baking, or working on her sewing projects.
Carly Fleck (she/her) - Springboard Innovation Fellow
Carly Fleck grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan before attending Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she majored in Communication Studies.
During her time at GVSU, Carly found a Jewish Community within Hillel, something she had never experienced before. Quickly gaining interest in Hillel, Carly became Hillel's Social Media Editor as well as Vice President. In 2019, Carly interned with the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids as a Communications Specialist.
Becoming more and more involved within the Jewish community, Carly began to realize that Hillel was not just an extracurricular club, but also a passion.
Outside of her professional life, you can find Carly walking her pug, practicing photography, and trying new restaurants.
Carly is excited to bring her creative thinking and enthusiasm for Judaism to Houston Hillel.
Daniel Kimel (he/him) - Jewish Agency Israel Fellow to Houston Hillel
Contact Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Keene (she/her) - QJews Program Director
Sara's educational journey has traversed Alvin Community College, Lone Star College, UH and UHD. Her nonprofit experience includes serving as 1st Vice-President of the Texas Locksmiths' Association (TLA), and Program Manager for Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers - Southwest (VIC). As part of the TLA she coordinated educational trade shows, public outreach, and was editor for the newsletter. At VIC, she worked with different organizations to expand services available to seniors with limited transportation means.
In her personal life she has coordinated annual drives to support various causes including pet food, the Houston Areas Women's Center, and Texas Children's Hospital - Oncology.
Sara is a native Houstonian who has traveled to a dozen countries, and was fortunate to add five new places in 2022. She enjoys all hikes from the Sequoias to Golan Heights, and everything in between. She is constantly exploring and learning. Her favorite holiday is Sukkot and she looks forward to building, decorating, and inviting new faces to the sukkah each year.
Sara believes in tikkun olam and that kindness should guide decisions. She enjoys continuing to build a welcoming environment for all, and encourages all who would like to be part of the journey to contact her.
Contact Sara at email@example.com.