Sarah Emerson Helfand named new Executive Director


BP Photo by Ezra Fax

CONNECTED: Mrs. Helfand is married to Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Avi Helfand and is the sister of YULA Boys Head of School Rabbi Dov Emerson. She spoke with Rabbi David Block during Open House Nov. 5.

Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal announced Friday that Ms. Sarah Emerson Helfand has been chosen as Shalhevet’s new Executive Director, replacing Mrs. Robyn Lewis who is leaving to become Executive Director of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills.  Ms. Helfand is the wife of Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Avi Helfand and the sister of Rabbi Dov Emerson, head of school of YULA Boys High School.  Below is the email Rabbi Segal sent to the Shalhevet community:

Dear Shalhevet Community,

I am excited to announce that after a rigorous selection process, we have chosen Sarah Emerson Helfand as our new Executive Director.  (I have included a short biography below.)

Sarah’s reputation as a “connector” par excellence in the Los Angeles Jewish community and beyond truly precedes her – but she even further impressed our committee with her capability, resourcefulness, talent, passion, and experience.  We could not be more thrilled to welcome someone of Sarah’s caliber to the team.

I must say that we enjoyed the privilege of considering a number of truly outstanding candidates.  The Executive Director position encompasses so many areas within the school and requires someone with exceedingly high executive skills and functioning. But we looked beyond that – we wanted someone who would refuse to let us rest on our laurels, to push our current team to unexplored territories and unimagined heights. We have found that person in Sarah, and look forward to the myriad ways in which she will energize this school.

Of course, we have to reiterate our appreciation of the incredible Robyn Lewis – as I’ve said often in the last several months, our loss is decidedly Beth Jacob’s gain.  Over the next few months, Robyn and Sarah will work closely to ensure a smooth and efficient transition.


Sarah Emerson moved to LA with her family over six years ago from New York. A lawyer by training, Sarah most recently worked as a senior development officer at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center where she focused on both campaign management and leadership development.  Prior to her time at Cedar-Sinai, Sarah served as the inaugural West Coast Regional Director for Yeshiva University.  While living in New York, Sarah practiced corporate tax law at Milbank Tweed Hadley and McCloy, and then made the move to non-profit management in the capacity of Beren Campus Director for the Center for the Jewish Future.  Originally from Memphis, TN, Sarah graduated from the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South and then attended Michlala College for Women in Jerusalem.  She earned her BA from Stern College for Women and her JD from NYU School of Law. She and her husband, Avi Helfand, have three children, Ezra, Shoshana and Noam and live in Beverlywood.