New teacher profile: Rabbi Liat Yardeni-Funk

Rabbi Liat Yardeni-Funk
Photo courtesy of Rabbi Liat Yardeni-Funk.

Sam Kaplan

Staff Writer

Although this is only Rabbi Liat Yardeni-Funk’s first year working at Milken, the new Director of Israel Programs has been a part of the Milken community for the past seven years.

Yardeni-Funk first came to Milken as an intern while in rabbinical school. Two years later, she was offered the position of rabbi at the Stephen S. Wise elementary school, where she then worked for the next five years.

One of Yardeni-Funk’s most notable accomplishments is that she became the first director of the Yozma program at Milken. After Hurricane Katrina, she and Dr. Jonathan Cassie, Assistant Head of School, planned a trip to help out victims of the terrible natural disaster. 117 students and faculty traveled to Mississippi to build homes, feed the homeless and restock the pantry shelves at a shelter.

“A task force was established, and we investigated whether a trip to the region was feasible. We had been meeting three times a week for the last four months to decide what we could do to bring relief, healing and hope to this region,” Yardeni-Funk said.

Yardeni-Funk was born in Jerusalem and attended an all-girl yeshiva while growing up. What stood out most for her was a disagreement with one of her rabbis. Her rabbi expressed his concern in her desire to study Talmud and to serve in the Israeli army as an officer. However, Yardeni-Funk rejected her rabbi’s remarks and ending up serving as a second lieutenant in the Israeli Intelligence during the Lebanon War. She now enjoys teaching Talmud to adults and children, including Jewish women groups and youth organizations.

This summer, Yardeni-Funk took part in the Nofim trip, a trip to Israel with other Milken faculty members. She went on the trip in preparation of her new position at Milken.

“I had an amazing and transformative summer,” Yardeni-Funk said.

In addition to being the Director of Israel Programs, Rabbi Yardeni-Funk has also become the Faculty Advisor for the Israel Club and Yozma Israel Projects.

However, her biggest accomplishment thus far has been creating a new trip for seniors who were a part of the Tiferet program. After March of the Living, a free extended 10-day trip in Israel will be offered to students who went on Tiferet in tenth grade. Students will have the chance to choose two out of five amazing tracts to study: Archeology, High Tech Technology and Innovation, Politics, Culture and Art and Great Outdoor Adventure. Twelfth graders interested in going will not have to worry about missing AP tests, as they will be postponed in light of the trip.

Yardeni-Funk’s goal is to build the Israel program into something that makes students want to take part in Tiferet, along with the other amazing opportunities that are offered. She looks forward to developing stronger relationships with people at Milken and continuing her success as the Director of Israel Programs.