Phil Cohen - Founder

As an Israeli-American, the pursuit of Jewish knowledge and the love of Israel has always been a part of my life. This love of education and desire to share my learnings developed in my teen-years, when I became both an assistant teacher in an after-school youth program and a Hebrew School teacher.  While a student at the University of Wisconsin, I became a regional youth advisor within Wisconsin BBYO and a counselor at Camp Ramah Wisconsin Summer Camp. This passion for Jewish camping, learning and youth activities led to my first full-time position as an Assistant Director at BBYO Wisconsin.  


From 1994-1996, after leading the Milwaukee Jewish Community Israel Summer Program, I had the opportunity to become the National Director of an important international travel program for teens – the Masada Israel Programs based in NYC. For 6 years prior to opening Dugmah, I worked at Young Judaea Global as the National

Year Round Director, managing and overseeing 13 regional offices throughout the U.S. During that period, I guided, taught and cared for thousands of children who traveled with us through Europe and Israel.


In 2002, with over 20 years of experience in Jewish learning, teaching, mentoring and managing, I started DUGMAH. Simultaneously, I attained my Masters in Administration, with a focus on training and resource development, from the New School’s Milano School of Management. Today, our various educational programs employ more than 100 full and part-time team members who, together, serve as mentors, educators, and role models. I believe that DUGMAH enables our students to “find their voice” Jewish and otherwise - and become global citizens, as well as role models for their peers.

I live in Manhattan with my wife, Jennifer, and our two boys, Elan and Reuben.

Rachel Yehaskel Brecher - Educational Coordinator

Rachel Yehaskel Brecher has been a part of the DUGMAH family for more than 8 years. She has a passion for Judaism and loves instilling that excitement in her students. Rachel graduated from NYU with a degree in Hebrew literature. She has always been involved in teaching the younger generation about what it means to be Jewish and the importance of our heritage. Rachel started out as a tutor for DUGMAH and has since moved forward to expand the curriculum, which subsequently led to her overseeing the educational vision of DUGMAH and into her current role as Educational Coordinator. Rachel also continues to work with students individually, which she enjoys most of all!


Rachel lives in New York with her husband and two boys.