Meet Our Professionals


Cara Behneman,
Executive Director

Cara joined the UMBC Hillel family in the Fall of 2009 as our Jewish Student Life Coordinator, becoming our Assistant Director in 2011, and is now the Executive Director of UMBC Hillel. Cara was recognized as a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award recipient in 2013 for her outstanding work and leadership in developing the young adult Jewish community of Baltimore. Cara is very passionate about creating a warm and inclusive environment at UMBC Hillel where students feel empowered to create their own Jewish journeys.

Cara grew up just south of Annapolis, Maryland. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland, College park. After which she worked at UMCP for a year managing student residential communities. Cara continued her education at North Carolina State University where she achieved a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration. Cara is currently working towards her second Master’s degree in Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service at Towson University.

Cara has worked in various areas of higher education including a year with Hillel at University of Arizona. She absolutely loves working with students on UMBC’s campus. Cara likes dinosaurs, baseball and pumpkin-flavored anything! Cara is passionate about issues surrounding the environment, human rights, and women’s equality and enjoys all types of Jewish learning. If you’re interesting in getting together for coffee or just to chat, you can reach Cara at (410) 455-1329 or by email at


Lesley Levin,
Jewish Student Life Coordinator

Lesley Levin has been the Jewish Student Life Coordinator at UMBC Hillel since August 2015. An alumna of The Ohio State University, Lesley has consistently served in the Jewish communal field since 2007 where she worked for the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Jewish Teen Initiative and Temple Judea of Palm Beach Gardens. Prior to basking in the beautiful Florida weather, Lesley honed her leadership skills and love of grilled cheese in the Jewish camping world at Camps Airy and Louise. Lesley’s favorite part of working at UMBC Hillel is celebrating the holidays creatively on campus with students. If you would like to meet Lesley and talk about the Nationals, Gilmore Girls, or how delicious chocolate rugelach are, then contact her at


Rabbi David Eckstein, Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Educator

Rabbi David Eckstein, Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Educator

David Eckstein has served as Director, Community Engagement at the Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE) in New York City. He has also served as a Presidential Fellow for Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, rabbinic intern at Anshe Shalom B’nai Israel Congregation of Chicago, as well as other Jewish organizations. David is thrilled to teach at UMBC each Wednesday at 12pm. He can be reached at

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