About Us
One of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America, the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) is an international exhibition of cinema that celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture and experience through the moving image. In addition to the annual festival, the WJFF presents an ongoing, year-round film series, in our home venue at the DCJCC.

The WJFF annually serves over 15,000 people through 80+ screenings, nearly all of which are regional, US or world premieres. Most screenings are followed by discussions with guest filmmakers and subject matter experts.

WJFF Staff

Ilya-Tovbis-2Ilya Tovbis became the Washington Jewish Film Festival Director in 2012. He has extensive programming experience in both the Jewish and broader film worlds, having previously worked with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), The Picture House, The JCC of NY’s Israel Film Center and the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Prior to coming on as the WJFF Director, Ilya was the Director of Programming at The Picture House, a historic arthouse cinema located in Southern Westchester. The theater annually attracted over 25,000 people to a varied selection of programming with a focus on international, documentary and independent film.

Before his tenure with The Picture House, Ilya worked at two of the nation’s most prestigious Jewish film programs — the SFJFF and The JCC in Manhattan’s Israel Film Center (IFC). The SFJFF is the country’s oldest and largest Jewish Film Festival, while the IFC is the preeminent US body focused on the promotion of Israeli cinema.

Alexis RodriguezAlexis Rodriguez is the WJFF Outreach and Communications Manager. He has a background in arts marketing and is passionate about bringing organizations closer to their communities.

Prior to joining the DCJCC, he worked on grassroots marketing and public relations strategies at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore. He also helped develop and manage their Brainiacs program, an audience engagement initiative that helped boost retention among new subscribers.

Alexis graduated from American University with an MA in Arts Management in 2015 and a BA in Marketing from the University of Puerto Rico in 2012.

lsinger_webphotoLily Singer is returning for her second year at the WJFF, handling hospitality and guest relations as well as the Manager of Theater Operations and Guest Hospitality. She comes with 8 years of film festival production experience from over 30 festivals.  Previously she has run the Screenings Department at the Tribeca Film Festival, managed Theater Operations for the Miami International Film Festival and the Doha Film Institute, in Qatar, and has just recently concluded her contract with the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, as Festival Director.  After the Washington Jewish Film Festival she will begin her sixth season as the Director of Guest Relations and Guest Services at the Nantucket Film Festival, in Massachusetts.  While passionate about film, her first love – and degree, is in painting and photography.  She continues to create art both personally and professionally.

Kaitlin Whitman is the WJFF Administrative Manager. She brings a wealth of arts administration and film festival experience to WJFF and a passion for sharing the transformative power of film. Prior to joining WJFF, she worked at American University as the Photography Lab Manager where students learned how to process and print their own images in a darkroom.

Before that, Kaitlin worked at the DC Environmental Film Festival in programming and a variety of other roles for five years. She regularly volunteers with festivals across the city, attends as many as possible, and consults on film projects.

Kaitlin graduated from American University with a MA in Arts Management in 2014 and a BA in Visual Media and Cinema Studies in 2009.

Tressa Copple is the WJFF Administrative Coordinator. She is a dedicated non-profiteer with an extensive administrative background in tenants’ rights, homeless assistance, and refugee and immigrant services. She also has a decade of experience doing outreach and fundraising at concerts and festivals with Amnesty International’s Rhythm N’ Rights in Nebraska and Chicago. Tressa is excited about her new role in the Film and Music Departments of the DCJCC where she can apply her passion for music and love of film.

LMK photoLisa Kurdziel is the WJFF Box Office Manager. She has 13 years of experience working in D.C. in fundraising, logistics, event design and execution, strategic planning, project management and political strategy. Ms. Kurdziel has worked in official capacities in both houses of Capitol Hill, as well as in a fundraising capacity for over a dozen Members of Congress, political Campaigns and national and international organizations. She has also led event management, operations, and scheduling and advance operations for dozens of political, non-profit and corporate entities. An avid runner and triathlete, Ms. Kurdziel is a native of Atlanta, GA, and a graduate of Boston University.

WJFF Film Council


Dina Gold, Co-Chair

Dina Gold, a former television journalist with the BBC in London, recently became a US citizen. She now works as a senior editor at “Moment” magazine.


Sid Moskowitz, Co-Chair

Sid Moskowitz, a retired Trademark Attorney, presently invests in real estate. He is enamored with the DCJCC and all it does for the Washington DC community and the Washington Jewish Film Festival for the great films that it brings to our community throughout the year.


Patty Abramson

Patty Abramson a long time board member of the DCJCC where she has been active with Theater J and a former co-chair of its Council, the J’s annual Gala, and the Executive Committee. Prior to retiring she was a founding partner and Managing Director of the Women’s Growth Capital Fund, and co-founder of WomenAngels.net. She also spent more than 20 years in the marketing and communications field as President of Abramson Communications and asVice President of Hager, Sharp & Abramson


Michele Berman

Michele Berman is a long time board member of the DCJCC where she has been active with Theater J and former co-chair of its Council, the J’s annual Gala, Nominating Committee and Executive Committee. She also serves as a Vice Chair of the Arena Stage Board of Trustees. She is very excited to be working on this 25th anniversary year of the film festival.


Anne Clemons

Having just completed a 5 year term as co-chair of the Greater Washington Forum on Israeli Arab Issues (GWFIA), Anne Clemons is new to the WJFF Council.  She has been a board member of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Women’s Philanthropy Committee, The Planning and Allocation Committee/Jewish Identity Division, and the Jewish Youth Philanthropy Institute (JYPI).  She is a member of AIPAC and Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, MD.  Anne is one the original founders of Operation Embrace, a non-profit organization that provides assistance and support to injured survivors of terror in Israel.  She is an accountant and business consultant in private practice and lives in Potomac, MD.


Ed Cohen

Ed Cohen is a lifetime thespian; classically trained at NNHS and UR. Cohen began a 41 year sabbatical to practice tax law before auditioning for Hollywood and Broadway. Told he needed Film Council experience, he is currently completing his 6th year on the WJFF Film Council. Spending his winters in Palm Springs may be the closest he gets to Hollywood. Cohen says, “It’s a pleasure working with the members of our Film Council to bring great films to the DC area.” 


Sara Cohen

Sara Cohen is a native Washingtonian and practicing dentist in a 50+ year old D.C. family practice founded by her father and grandfather. Her grandparents were active members of the DCJCC in its early days. Inspired by the combination of art and science in her work, she believes art and film in particular are the perfect emissaries to give voice to the Jewish experience. She is an active fundraiser for Jewish education and culture, working with the development office of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and the Capital and Endowment Campaign Committee of the DCJCC.  She is married to Norm J. Rich, Vice President of the DCJCC and with four grade school children, is doing her best to create Jewish leaders of the future!


Myrna L. Fawcett

Myrna Fawcett is one of the newest members of the WJFF council. However, she has a long history with the DCJCC as a member of the Board of Directors and one of the founding members of the Theater J council. In her professional career, Myrna specializes in Elderlaw and representation of adults with special needs. She is a member of the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York bars, and of the National Academy of Elder Lawyers.


Stephanie Flack

Stephanie Flack is an environmental consultant who got her feet wet in the film festival world serving as Executive Director of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, the largest and longest running festival of its type in the U.S.  Before her time with the festival, she worked for 19 years with The Nature Conservancy to protect important natural areas and river systems in the Chesapeake Bay region.  In her ambitious youth, Stephanie made a goal to watch all of AFI’s “Top 100 Films” by the age of 30, and proudly reports that she got 75% of the way there. She continues to work towards that goal, though her pace has slowed now that she has to fight her husband and three kids for control of the DVR.


Liza Levy


Joy Midman

Joy Midman is the founding executive director of the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health and mental health policy advocate for over 40 years. Washington, D.C. resident active in Jewish communal, political and social justice organizations and causes.  Proud mother of Daniel!


Barbara Silverstein

Subsequent to practicing law, I decided to embrace my brain’s right side, designing hats, jewelry, and purses, gardening, writing, reading, and binging on films…my favorite form of entertainment.


Richard Solloway

Richard Solloway has worked with nonprofits as a grantmaker, consultant, board member and active volunteer for over 40 years. He is President of Solloway & Associates specializing in strategic planning and grants management with a foci on federal grants and international programs. He is a former Board Member of the DCJCC. Richard has a particular interest in exploring Jewish culture throughout the world and is excited to bring his interests to WJFF. He is a retired Foreign Service Officer and has lived and travelled extensively outside the U.S


Diane Wattenberg

Diane (pictured on her way to see Avatar) spent her childhood seeing movies at the Capitol, Palace and Columbia theaters on F Street.

As a teen, her Saturday afternoons were spent at the Sheridan theater on Georgia Avenue. She saw her first Bergman film (Wild Strawberries) at the Takoma theater. And she still loves going to the movies.

Aviva Kempner, WJFF Founder and Advisor

Aviva Kempner’s career goal is to make films about under-known Jewish heroes. She produced and conceived Partisans of Vilna, wrote, produced and directed the critically acclaimed Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. Kempner directed, wrote and produced the Emmy nominated and Peabody awarded The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and its new DVD version. She premiering her latest film, The Rosenwald Schools at the 2015 WJFF.

Miriam Mörsel Nathan, WJFF Director Emerita

Miriam Mörsel Nathan co-founded the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1990 with Founding Director Aviva Kempner.  In addition to her work as Festival Director, she served as a Juror for the Mayor’s Award for Films of the Jewish Experience at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and was Co-Curator of the Israeli Film Festival for the Kennedy Center Celebration of Israel’s 50th Anniversary. A poet and visual artist, Miriam’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and is in private collections both nationally and abroad.

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For ticket and pass inquiries, please contact the WJFF Box Office at boxoffice@wjff.org or 202-777-3250. The WJFF Box Office is open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm.