The Layers Project Magazine

Insights Into The Lives of Jewish Women

Who We Are

Shira Lankin Sheps, MSW - Founder, Publisher & CEO

Where I’ve Been:

I graduated from Hunter College School of Social Work with my MSW in clinical social work. After working in the clinical field, marketing and photojournalism, I decided to start The Layers Project to help break down stigma and promote healing within our Jewish community.

Why I’m Here:

I feel strongly about presenting women, who are so often shown as shallow characters or fully removed from Jewish media spaces, as three-dimensional individuals whose lives are full and rich with resilience. Together with my incredible team, we have launched The Layers Project Magazine as a space for all Jewish women to discuss our triumphs and challenges in an authentic and honest way.

What I Do:

Here at the magazine, I am responsible for maintaining our signature tone of empathy in all our pieces, innovating new media and content, directing our art, managing the backend of the site and social media, and steering the business side of our endeavor.

Hannah Dreyfus - Editor In Chief

Where I’ve Been:

I graduated from Stern College for Women with a degree in English Literature and a focus in Journalism. There, I served as the Editor in Chief of the Stern College Observer. After graduating, I took up shop as a Staff Writer for the New York Jewish Week, tackling women’s issues and Orthodox communal life, among other beats. I have a special interest in investigative journalism — I manage a fund dedicated to the undertaking — and the ever-evolving art of creative nonfiction. I believe a story worth telling can be told in endless ways.

Why I’m Here:

I care about empowering women. I especially care about empowering women with words. I am here to help sharpen and enhance your stories. I care deeply about the Jewish community and hope this work can be as healing as it is elucidating. From my years working as a journalist, I have learned that people do not fit neatly into boxes. Every person is a story, with threads of vulnerability, fear, pain and love tying us together. Focusing on similarities, rather than differences, will engender empathy and build strength — as individuals and as a collective. I believe The Layer’s Project Magazine can move us towards that goal.

What I Do:

I am in charge of all the editorial content that is published in The Layer’s Project Magazine. I will work with editors, correspond with writers, and edit diligently to ensure diverse, consistently high-quality content.

Rachel Hercman, LCSW - Clinical Director and Editor

Where I’ve Been:

I earned my MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work and I have a clinical focus on relationship and sexual health, self-esteem and trauma. My background in mental health and medical settings informs my appreciation for the mind-body connection in our functioning. I am currently in private practice in Manhattan and I enjoy working with a diverse clientele.

Why I’m Here:

Change is happening. Topics that used to be limited to scared whispers are now getting a voice of recognition. From the time I began following Layers Project, I felt moved by the stories and the poignant responses from readers. It felt like every post removed another brick from the walls that isolate us from each other. Seeing this transformative power, I am excited to be part of the team in furthering these uplifting conversations and experiences for our readers.

What I Do:

I aim to provide content that speaks to our common life experiences, challenges, and lessons. With guest authors, interviews, and an Ask-the-Therapist, I aspire to present perspectives that offer clinical insight, understanding, and sensitivity.

Chana Shestack - Features Editor

Where I’ve Been:

After graduating from Stern College with a BA in History, I earned a Master’s in Biblical and Talmudic Studies from Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS). I currently work as communications associate for SINAI Schools and serve as the rebbetzin of Congregation Ahavat Achim in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

Why I’m Here:

I believe in the power of sharing your story because I know that sometimes all it takes is knowing someone else understands what you’re going through to help you take that step you need to take. We are privileged to live in a time where a simple google search or a post on a Facebook group summons forth a virtual group of wise women offering advice and encouragement. I’ve benefited from the ability to hear a multitude of voices and experiences and I know so many women who seek out these spaces for a virtual hug or words of wisdom. The Layers Project takes the concept of these communities to a new level, creating a space where women have room for more, space to really showcase and share our humanity, creativity, humor, and grit. I’m here because I want to be a part of building that community and showcasing our uniqueness against the backdrop of our shared experiences.

What I Do:

I help women tell their stories and share their journeys in The Layers Project magazine. I listen as you think aloud, I reach out when I hear you have something to say, and I make sure that all of our voices resonate in this space.

Shoshana Gertler - Fiction Editor

Where I’ve Been:

I graduated from The New School with an MFA in fiction. Before that, I studied Tanach and Jewish history in Stern College for Women. I organize intimate writing workshops to foster an encouraging environment for professional writers.

Why I’m Here:

I have long felt a shortage in the Jewish community of places to showcase professional and high-quality artistic content, including writing, fashion, and fine arts. Outside of the professional world, I have seen many talented women with skills that they utilize only as recreational pursuits, and I’m determined to bring those creators into the spotlight to applaud their talent and motivate more women to pursue the arts professionally.

What I Do:

As the fiction editor of the magazine, I am responsible for drawing in those talented writers of fiction and poetry — from short story to serial, haiku to spoken-word — on a range of topics that delve into the authenticity of humanity that is integral to The Layers Project Magazine’s unique voice. I work with writers to provide them with editorial guidance from the moment of submission until publication.