DeLeT-Pardes Educators Alumni Joint Conference
Hazak Hazak V’Nithazek: Exploring our Identity, Strengthening our
Mark Baker graduated in the first cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. He began his career
teaching Rabbinics at The Weber School in Atlanta. By the middle of his second year he became
the head of Judaic Studies. In 2004, Mark was named one of the five “rising stars in the Jewish
community” by the Atlanta Jewish Times. While in Atlanta, he helped found and teach as part of
Pardes-Atlanta, a monthly study group for Pardes alumni and other interested young adults. Mark
was part of the Hartman Institute for high school teachers for several years. He was one of a
select group who did the Day School Leadership Summer Training Institute at The Jewish
Theological Seminary of America, to train day school administrators (sponsored by The AVI
CHAI Foundation). He received his Rabbinic ordination in 2005. After four years in Atlanta, he
moved home to Boston, and now serves as Head of School at Gann Academy (outside of Boston)
and teaches Rabbinic Literature.
Sonya Basseri teaches Kindergarten General and Judaic studies at the Seattle Hebrew Academy
in Seattle, Washington. She also serves as a mentor teacher and facilitates monthly study groups
for SHA's mentor teachers. Sonya believes in creating a classroom community that fosters self-
discovery, confidence, independence, kindness, and a love of learning within the context of
Jewish values. In her spare time, Sonya enjoys running, rowing, cooking, eating, reading fiction,
and spending time with her family.
Rivka Ben Daniel
A native of Iraq, Rivka Ben Daniel moved to Israel as a small child. She received her bachelor of
arts in Hebrew literature and linguistics from Haifa University and her masters in educational
psychology from California State University Northridge. Rivka is also a graduate of the Day
School Leadership Training Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
Her past experiences include: Teaching and curriculum writing at A.J. Heschel Middle School,
Northridge; Director of the Union Hebrew High School in Los Angeles; and instructor at the UC
Universities overseas program in Haifa University in Israel and various Ulpan programs in Israel
and in LA . In all, Rivka has taught students from age 4 through 74, instilling in their hearts a
love of Judaism, Hebrew and Eretz Israel.
As Heschel West's Director of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Rivka is focused on preparing the next
generation of Jewish leaders and, as she says, "keeping the flame of Judaism burning."
David Bernstein holds a BA and MA in History and a PhD in Religious Education from
New York University. He also attended Yeshivat HaMivtar. David has been the Dean of
Pardes since 1998. Previously, he was the director of Midreshet Lindenbaum, popularly
known as Brovender's, for 12 years. David was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel School
for Jewish Education in Jerusalem from 1996-1998. Before making Aliyah in 1984, he
was the director of informal education at the Ramaz Upper School in New York City, where he
created and taught an integrated course in world and Jewish history.
Michal was in the fifth cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. She has been teaching middle
and high school at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park, KS. She was recently
appointed Department Chair of Judaic Studies 6-12, and she is the advisor for the school’s Moot
Beit Din team. Michal had a career as a business analyst in the financial industry prior to coming
Jamie Faith Woods
A Jewish day school graduate herself, Jamie attended a Solomon Schechter Day school in
Poughkeepsie, NY. In 2002 Jamie became a DeLeT fellow, working in first grade general studies
and fifth grade humash at JCDSRI. She completed her Masters of Arts in Teaching at Brandeis
University in 2005. This is Jamie's fifth year teaching fifth grade general studies at JCDSRI. In
2008 ago she began and led a professional learning community at JCDSRI, focused on examining
their own problems of practice, using set protocols to guide their meetings. In 2009 she presented
on this topic at the DeLeT alumni conference in California. In 2010 she was on a panel at the
national Jewish day school conference in NY, speaking about the importance of PLC’s. Last year
the PLC at JCDSRI grew in exciting ways; this year Jamie is reshaping the PLC to meet the
teachers’ growing needs. Jamie is also the garden team leader at JCSSRI, where she heads the
garden education garden for the school garden she conceived in 2008.
Sharon Feiman-Nemser is the Mandel Professor of Jewish Education and the Director of the
Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. Before coming to Brandeis in 2001, she served
on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Michigan State University where she directed
innovative teacher educaton programs and conducted research on teacher education and teacher
Moshe Fisch, was in the seventh Pardes Cohort. He currently teaches grades 9-12 at the
Schechter Westchester High School in Hartsdale, NY. He teaches subjects ranging from Tefillah,
Tanach and Gemara to such elective courses on the topics of Rebellious Rabbis and Leaders in
Jewish History, Environmentalism and the Torah and the Wisdom of the Kabbalah.
Ris is a member of the eighth cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. She is currently in her
second year of teaching at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Sean was in the first Cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. He has held a number of positions
since finishing the program in 2002. In addition to classroom teaching in the two community day
schools in the Twin Cities, He taught supplementary school, adult education and inter-
generational groups. Sean also served as The Jewish Education Director of the St. Paul JCC.
Jodi Hirsch Rein
Jodi teaches 1st grade at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Bergen County, NJ. Jodi was a 1st
Cohort DeLeT Fellow, completing her Masters at Brandeis. She most recently completed her
certification as an Orton Gillingham Reading Specialist. A year ago she spearheaded a new
format for Reading instruction at her school; students are now mixed into leveled, multi grade
reading groups. She is currently working on modifying the curriculum in 1st and 2nd grade to
systematically teach phonics, spelling, and vocabulary that is naturally integrated into a balanced
literacy classroom. Besides teaching reading, Jodi enjoys thinking carefully about Tefillah and is
working on co-authoring a Siddur that is accessible and user friendly for children in early
elementary school. Jodi resides in New York City with her husband and 1 year old son.
Zvi Hirschfield holds a Masters Degree in Medieval and Modern Jewish Thought from Harvard
University and has studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel. He received his Rabbinic ordination
from the Israel Chief Rabbinate. He was the Director of Judaica at the JCC of Cleveland, and an
instructor at the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies. Zvi has been a teacher of Talmud and
Jewish Thought at Pardes for the past 10 years and is the Director of Beit Midrash Studies for the
Pardes Educators. He also serves as the Director of Education for the Nesiya Institute.
Yechiel teaches Jewish Thought, and serves as the experiential educator at Milken Community
High School in LA. Yechiel's teaching utilizes constructivist models of inquiry based learning,
and emphasizes the integration of media, technology and experiential learning into Jewish
Studies. At Limmud LA, Yechiel initiated the innovative Teens@LimmudLA program. A DeLeT
alumn, Yechiel currently is studying to earn his EDD through Northeastern University and
Hebrew College. Yechiel, his wife, Daria, and his daughter, Mina, live in the Pico Robertson area
of Los Angeles.
Shifra is a member of the eighth cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. She is currently
teaching at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital. Preivously she taught at the
Greenfield Academy, Atlanta, GA.
Ezra Kopelowitz is the CEO of Research Success Technologies. Ezra is a sociologist specializing
in Jewish education, Israel-Diaspora relations and Jewish Peoplehood. He is a pioneer in research
on Jewish Peoplehood, developing intellectual frameworks and conducting applied research in the
Jessica Lissy Trey
Jessica is a member of the third cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. She is a seventh and
eighth-grade Judaic studies teacher at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn.
Shira is a member of the third Cohort of the DeLeT Brandeis program.
Jessie is a member of the seventh cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. She is in her third
year of teaching at the San Diego Jewish Academy.
Jakir Manela is the founder-director of Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Retreat Center.
Judy Markose studied at JTS as an undergraduate, earned a BA from Barnard, an MSW from
Hunter College School of Social Work, and an EdD from the University of Toronto. Her doctoral
thesis studied teachers in a Jewish day school in Canada.
Judy served as the Director of the Ramah Israel Seminar for eight years, supervising 300 students
and 50 staff members. Previously, she spent five years as the Director of High School Division of
Ramah Programs in Israel, creating academic programs and interfaced with Jewish day schools in
North America. Before making Aliyah, Judy was the principal of a congregational school, and
Director of Camp Ramah in Canada.
Jared has been at JCDS since 2003, when he started as a DeLeT intern. This is his sixth year
teaching kindergarten. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, and
completed his Masters of Arts in Teaching at Brandeis University in 2005. Jared is currently
pursuing his doctorate of education in the Hebrew College/Northeastern University joint program
for with a specialization in Jewish Educational Leadership. In support of his studies, Jared was
selected as a Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholar. Jared’s areas of interest include
teacher-leadership, and use of technology in the classroom.
Rachel Meiner teaches 3rd grade Judaic Studies at Hannah Senesh Community Day School in
Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from the Pardes Educators Program in 2008. While living in Israel
Rachel volunteered at schools and tutored students after school. She is passionate about text
study and finding new and interesting ways to open the text to children. When Rachel is not
working she loves to read, hike, and cook.
Janet Ozur Bass
Janet Ozur Bass is the chair of the Jewish Text department at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day
School in Rockville, MD. After receiving a BS in microbiology and a BA in English Lit from the
University of Maryland, she received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary
of America. Janet worked in the field of family education before moving to the classroom. She
is now in her 15th year at CESJDS, where she teaches Torah Sheh Be’al Peh in the middle and
high school, develops curriculum in both Toshba and Tefilot, chairs and supervises the Jewish
Text, Thought, and Practice Department, and has mentored many teachers, including Pardes
educators, over the years. Besides teaching, Janet is mom to three fabulous children and co-
authored The Jewish Holidays Cookbook for children.
Amanda Pogany is the Associate Director of the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project. She
taught middle school Judaic studies for 7 years. A trained mentor through the Jewish New
Teacher Project, Amanda mentored for the Davidson School at JTS, the Pardes Educators
program, and the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan. Amanda is a graduate of the Pardes
Educators Program, has a Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew University and a BA from
Barnard College. She is co-founder of Altshul, an independent egalitarian minyan in Brooklyn.
Karen Reiss Medwed
Karen G Reiss Medwed, PhD is on the faculty of Hebrew College, as Assistant Professor of
Jewish Education. Her work at Hebrew College allows her to combine her passions for the
research oriented world of academia, as the Director of the new EdD in Jewish Education
Leadership, and she is proudly the coordinator for the Pardes Educator Program. She
simultaneously works as Dean of Faculty for the Hebrew College Prozdor. Prior to her work at
Hebrew College, Karen was the Director of Religious Education at the University of
Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education Teacher Education program. She earned her PhD
at NYU in Education and Jewish Studies from the Steinhardt School of Education, from which
she was the first graduate. Her dissertation was on Stories of Women Teachers of Talmud in Non
Orthodox Day Schools, which allowed her to explore the realms of personal pedagogic
knowledge, content knowledge, teacher education and narrative, novice teachers and the
development of pedagogic tools for the teaching of Jewish text.
I'm in my second year teaching at Ohr Eliyahu, an orthodox school in the La Brea
neighborhood. Last year I taught General Studies to 3rd graders and also taught Algebra to the
school's top two 8th graders. This year, I'm co-teaching Yesod (pre-1) and teaching the
academically lowest groups of three middle school classes. The students are gender segregated
from Yesod on up so there are fruitful opportunities to be gender sensitive and to repeat lessons to
a second class. Our principal is very committed to professional development and improving
mathematical thinking is a top priority. Our middle school math staff "team" is vibrant and
collaborative. This year, we will be doing a research-based intervention. During the
summertime, I teach swimming to infants to seniors. In my free time, I volunteer for the
UCLArts and Healing Program, and love to dance, hike, write, and explore the cultural richness
of our diverse city.
Sarah Shulman is a rabbinical student at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. A
native of Seattle, Sarah grew up climbing inside trees, books, and ideas. For her undergraduate
education Sarah attended Stanford University, where she received a BA in Human Biology with a
focus in Environmental Health, as well as a Minor in Creative Writing. Through the process of
completing DeLeT, Sarah fell in love with teaching Humanities, Science, and Jewish Studies,
which she taught in the bay area for six years before following her passion for serving others to
rabbinical school. In her free time Sarah teaches, writes curriculum, leads service trips abroad and
wilderness trips close by.
Yoshi Silverstein grew up in Spokane, WA, where he learned to love wilderness. At Brandeis
University he majored in European Cultural Studies and minored in Judaic Studies. After
graduating he taught environmental education for several cherished years in Idaho and in
Olympic National Park, then merged his passions for Jewish and environmental education as
Head of Trips and Teva at Camp Wise outside Cleveland. He then spent a year in Israel with the
Dorot Fellowship where he studied at Pardes for a semester, and lived in a mud dome at Kibbutz
Lotan for their Green Apprenticeship Permaculture and Eco-village Design program. Back in the
states he spent two seasons with the Teva Learning Center, and moved to Kayam Farm in March
2010 where he is now Education Director. He also an avid skier and musician.
Elisha Stein was in the fourth cohort (2003-2005) of the Pardes Educators Program. Elisha is in
his fifth year of teaching high school at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (formerly Akiba
Hebrew Academy) outside of Philadelphia. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Elisha has
mentored student teachers and has twice served as advisor to the school's Moot Beit Din team.
Elisha came to teaching after having practiced law for ten years.
Jory Stillman, is in her eighth year of teaching, and currently teaches both first and second grades
(Ivrit b’Ivrit) at the Moriah School of Engelwood, New Jersey. Jory previously taught fifth grade
and art at Beth Tfiloh and Rambam in Baltimore, MD. A student of Yoga for 15 years, Jory
received her certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. In addition, Jory is a
certified Life Force Yoga Practitioner, which specializes in teaching Yoga for Depression and
Anxiety; and is trained to teach Coherence Breathing for emotional wellness. Jory is also
certified by Yoga Ed. to teach children’s yoga. She loves weaving together Yoga, Hebrew and
Torah in her classroom whenever possible. On the side, Jory can be found building her business,
Room to Breathe Coaching and Yoga, where she combines coaching and yoga practices to help
her clients build and sustain physically, emotionally and spiritually healthier, more balanced and
meaningful lives. Jory currently lives in Manhattan.
Adam Tiove iss the Chair of Jewish Studies/ Hebrew department for the Rodeph Sholom Middle
School in Manhattan. He was a recipient of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in
Jewish Education in 2009 and completed the Day School Leadership Training Institute in the
summer of 2010. He currently teaches 7th and 8th grade Jewish Studies in subjects ranging from
Torah, to Prayer, to rabbinic literature, to history, to Jews in film. In addition to his work in
education, Adam is the proud father of a 2 year old named Naftali and enjoys photography in his
Susan Wall holds a D.HL in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and was a
Jerusalem Fellow from 1982-85. Before making Aliyah in 1992, she served as principal of Ezra
Academy, the K-8 Solomon Schechter day school serving the greater New Haven, Connecticut
area. Prior to joining the Pardes staff in 2002 as director of the Educators Program, Susan taught
Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Rothberg International School, and
directed the Ramah Israel Institute. She currently teaches pedagogy for the Pardes Educators
Program and directs the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project..
Etan Weiss teaches in the Jewish Text department at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in
Rockville, MD. After receiving a BA in Philosophy and Judaic Studies from Hofstra University,
he earned a MA in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Etan
continued his studies for two years in the Educators’ Program at Machon Pardes. He is now in
his 5th year at CESJDS, where he teaches Tanakh and Torah She Be’al Peh in the middle and high
school and develops curriculum in both Tanakh and Tefilot. Besides teaching, Etan recently
became a father to the most beautiful girl, Ya’ara Chana.
Jake is serving as Communications Liaison for the DeLeT alumni network leadership cabinet
bringing his experience as a journalist (Jerusalem Post and ABC News) and educator (Abraham
Joshua Herschel Day School, Northridge and Ronald C. Wornick JCDS, Foster City) to the role.
He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Minnesota, and completed his
Masters of Arts in a Broadcast Journalism at the University of Minnesota and a Masters of Arts
in Middle East Area Studies at the University of London, where he was a UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office Scholar. This year Jake was awarded the Margot Stern Strong Teaching
Award from Facing History and Ourselves for his project matching 8th grade students and Los
Angeles area Holocaust survivors to produce a dynamic oral history experience for the Heschel
Ariel Wolgel is a member of the seventh cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. She is
currently in her second year of teaching at the Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills, Michigan
Aron Wolgel is a member of the eigth cohort of the Pardes Educators Program. He is in his
second year of teaching at the Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit.
Damian was a member of the fifth cohort of the Pardes Educators Program He holds a degree in
Social Science Education from University of Georgia and a Masters in Jewish Studies from
Emory University. He is a
graduate of the HaShaar program run by Drisha Institute and Mahzor Hey of PEP. He has taught
for the past four years at Tarbut V Torah in Irvine CA grades 6-12.