Without Ilana, Yoni, and Rebecca, Shefa would not be where it is today. They had the vision, drive, and determination to turn this idea of a school into a highly-regarded institution and community that exceeded their wildest expectations. Since 2014, Shefa has helped hundreds of students with language-based learning disabilities reach their full potential by meeting them where they are, and giving them the specific tools they need to succeed and thrive. Under their leadership, Shefa has become a thought leader and changemaker in both Jewish and special education. We are thrilled to honor them at our 2024 Benefit.

Ilana Ruskay-Kidd
Founder and Head of School
Ilana has been serving the Jewish educational community in New York City in multiple capacities for over 20 years. Before founding the Shefa School, she served as the Director of The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC in Manhattan. Prior to being named to this position, she worked at the JCC as Director of Young Families and then as Senior Director of Family Life, supervising programs serving families and children from birth to eighteen years old. Ilana began her teaching career at the Central Park East School in Harlem and went on to become a founding teacher at the Ella Baker School, an alternative public school in Manhattan. She then worked as an Early Childhood Curriculum Consultant for the Children’s Aid Society, where she developed curricula with directors and teachers in daycare, Head Start and private nursery school programs throughout the city. In 2016, Ilana was a recipient of the Covenant Award.
Ilana received her B.A. from Harvard College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Bank Street College. She was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives there with her husband and three children.

Yoni Schwab
Assistant Head of School
Yoni has been involved in every aspect of Shefa’s development since its founding and currently oversees many departments and functions of the school, including psychology, events, admissions, communications, tuition and financial aid, IT, and main office operations. He is an Adjunct Clinical Supervisor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Yeshiva University and maintains a private clinical practice. Yoni previously served as the Psychologist at The Windward School and on the faculty of the Windward Teacher Training Institute. He was also a consultant to Jewish and Israeli nonprofits at Perry Davis Associates.
Yoni received BA’s from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at Rutgers University. Yoni’s research focused on social-emotional learning and behavior management and is a sought-after presenter on a range of topics, including ADHD, anxiety, limit setting and learning disabilities. He was named a Wexner Foundation Field Fellow in 2018. Yoni loves living in Riverdale with his wife Jessica, a 4th grade teacher. They are proud parents to three adult children, Hillel, Ezra, and Sarit (Shefa ‘20).

Rebecca Ritter
Head of Teaching and Learning
Rebecca has overseen Shefa’s academic program since its founding and in recent years has focused specifically on faculty professional development, Shefa’s teacher residency program, and the launching of the Shefa Center. She has been working to support underserved students for the past 15 years – both as a classroom teacher and instructional leader in NYC low-income public and independent schools. Rebecca’s areas of expertise include language-based learning disabilities, designing and facilitating professional development, mentoring and coaching, and school culture. Rebecca has conducted and published research on professional growth in schools and has served as a co-instructor in the school leadership Masters program at Bank Street College.
Rebecca holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a Masters Degree in School Leadership from Bank Street College, as well as an NYS certification as a School Building Leader (SBL). She is a proud graduate of the NYC Jewish day school system and is thrilled to be serving this community. She, her husband and their four children live in New York City.