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Religious School Teachers

Aliza Benitah (Grade 2) was born in Morocco and moved to Israel at the age of six months. She went to school in Israel and later served in the Israeli army. Aliza earned her teaching degree at the Seminar of the Kibbutzim and UCLA. She has three daughters and seven grandchildren. She moved to the USA in 1977 and has been working since then with children’s education.


Libby Clearfield.jpg Libby Clearfield (Grade 7 Enrichment) has been teaching for the past eight years in various cities around the world.  She taught English for two years in Israel at a public elementary school, at which time she also earned her MA in TESOL from Tel Aviv University.  Upon returning to the U.S., Libby taught Religious School at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City, where she had previously lived and earned her BFA in Drama from NYU.  When she moved to Los Angeles in 2006, she began teaching at Temple Israel of Hollywood, where she continues to teach Religious School. She also participated in the DeLeT fellows program, and earned a California state teaching credential while working at TIOH.  She taught both general and Judaic studies in the Day School and in the Religious School and coordinated the Israel Partnership Program. Libby has been teaching off and on at Temple Isaiah for the past few years, and is also beginning her first year as the 5th and 6th grade Judaic Studies teacher at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino. When she is not teaching, Libby works as an actor and has been seen in various commercials, films, TV shows, and theatrical productions.


Mark Cohen.jpg Mark Cohen (Grades 6 and 9) was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to Los Angeles at age two. His great-grandfather and his grandfather both were religious leaders in the Persian Jewish Community. Mark grew up in West Los Angeles and is a graduate of California State University Northridge with a B.A. in Communications. He has been a teacher at Temple Isaiah for over eight years. Mark is proud to give to the Jewish community by teaching the values, ethics and responsibilities of Judaism to the future generations.

 


Ellen Cole.jpgEllen Cole (Librarian) for twenty five years, is the recipient of two coveted awards for contribution to the field of Judaic Librarianship: the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the international Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from AJLSC, the local Southern California Chapter of AJL. She served two terms as president of AJLSC and is currently on the board as recording secretary. Retired as co-editor of the children’s literature section of the International AJL Newsletter, she reviews adult and children’s books for Jewish Book World, the AJL Newsletter and the Isaian. Ellen served as chairperson of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. She loves reading, swimming and dancing. She received her M.A. from the Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and her library training from HUC in LA, while raising three children who all graduated from Isaiah’s religious school. Ellen and Marshall have eight grandchildren, one of whom is a student in religious school.


Leora.jpg Leora Dan (Grades 1 and 4) has been teaching for the last twelve years in local Jewish day schools and at Temple Isaiah for four years. Leora has been teaching kindergarteners and preschoolers in the subjects of Hebrew language, Jewish studies, and general studies. Originally from Iran, she lived in Israel for seven years before coming to Los Angeles where she currently resides with her husband and two boys. She is excited to share her energy and enthusiasm with the children and getting to know everyone in the Temple Isaiah family.


Rocki DeGroot.jpgRocki DeGroot (Kindergarten) has been teaching at Temple Isaiah for nineteen years. She received her education at Cal State Northridge and UCLA, with a special focus on art. During the week she is, and has been, a very popular art specialist at many of the Westside public schools including Beverly Vista, Overland, Westwood, Franklin Avenue, Canfield, Castle Heights, and Hawthorne. She taught a summer program for gifted and talented children in Beverly Hills (art related) and she is a contributing editor for a private company that produces art education films. Rocki is one of the founders of STAR Inc., and The Eco Station. These are non-profit educational enrichment and child care programs throughout the California school districts. She was also a recipient of the Bureau of Jewish Education Distinguished Educator Award. She and her husband, Franklin, have two adult children, Emily and Benji, who grew up as part of our religious school.


Jessie Downey.jpg Jessie Downey (Grades 4 and 7) This is Jessie’s fourth year teaching in Temple Isaiah Religious School, but her involvement began much earlier. She first started off in the Religious School, made her way through bat mitzvah training, youth group, Camp Isaiah, and has been thrilled to return as a teacher of fourth and seventh grade because she loves the Temple Isaiah family. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Judaic Studies, and then continued on to the University of Southern California for a Master’s in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs. She currently works at UCLA with students with learning disabilities, and does private Hebrew tutoring in the community. She enjoys a good book on a rainy day, and a dip in the pool on a sunny one. She has recently attempted to learn to cook, and likes trying new recipes. She loves college football and is always rooting for her Arizona Wildcats! She hopes you’ll stop in and say hello!


Doreen Etehad (Grade 5) Coming Soon.


Rina Etkes.JPG Rina Etkes (Grade 6) is a graduate of Antioch University with a degree in Liberal Arts. One of the founding members of LA’s Children’s Museum, she had been active in youth soccer and performing arts here, as well as in Costa Rica, where she resided with her family for six years. Nine years ago, Rina began teaching as a second grade teacher at Temple Isaiah. Over the years Rina has taught in second grade, fourth grade, the Tiyul: Connections Program, an Hebrew Adult class, and she has tutored Bar/Bat Mitzvah students. Rina was also a member of the RE-Imagine Task Force, working closely with community leaders on creating a blue print for Temple Isaiah’s vision for the future of religious school. During the day, Rina works as the Day School Coordinator of the Tel-Aviv/Los Angeles School Twinning Student Exchange Program for Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School. Rina is delighted to return to Temple Isaiah for a ninth year, this time as a sixth grade teacher.  A former stage and screen actor in Israel, Rina also incorporates drama in her teaching through interactive activities that bring ancient texts to life. Besides honing her craft as a teacher, Rina loves traveling; interacting with people from divergent cultures and using the many languages she speaks besides Hebrew and English, (Polish, Spanish, French and Russian). Rina is also an avid reader, loves the theater, music, dancing and politics. She is a mother of two sons, Alex and Ari, a mother-in-law to Elinor and a proud grandma to sweet Liam.


Miriam Farber.jpg Miriam Farber (Grade 5 Hebrew Enrichment and Grade 8) is a recent transplant to the West Coast, originally from the suburbs of New York. She is a second year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. Before starting HUC in Jerusalem, Miriam lived in Israel, studying Jewish texts at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. During her time in Israel, Miriam was involved in conflict-transformation work, volunteering in the Ethiopian immigrant community, and prayed regularly with the Women of the Wall. Before moving to Israel, Miriam worked at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA, working on synagogue social justice initiatives and lay leadership development, through the Jewish Organizing Initiative. She attended Brandeis University, studying Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. During her time in the Boston area, Miriam taught fifth grade, eighth grade, and high school in local Reform synagogues. She also led a Rosh Hodesh group for middle school girls, and staffed and attended many youth group events and retreats. Miriam spent many years as a camper and staff member at the URJ Eisner Camp in western Massachusetts. This past summer, Miriam drove cross-country from New York to Los Angeles, and had a great time traveling and seeing the country. She is excited to be living in Los Angeles and is looking forward to the school year at Temple Isaiah.


Allie Fischman (Administrative Intern, Kulanu Coordinator, Grade 7 Beit Midrash Coordinator) is a third year education student at Hebrew Union College. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and has been song leading and working with her synagogue and NFTY since her high school years. After graduating with a degree in psychology from the University of Illinois in Champaign, she worked for a Reform synagogue for a year while applying to HUC.  Allie greatly enjoyed her year spent living in Israel and is enthusiastically working on a concentration certificate in Israel education through the iCenter. She loves all Jewish music and Israeli folk dance too. Her husband Lane has just joined her in Los Angeles and she is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work with the Temple Isaiah community.


Lane Fischman.jpg Lane Fischman (Tiyul: Shabbat B’yachad  and Hebrew Tutor) has been a teacher for over four years now, having previously taught high school physics in Antioch, Illinois. He just moved to LA this past August and has really been enjoying it. Lane just got married to this past June, and his wife Allie (see above) is currently studying Jewish education and rabbinics at Hebrew Union College. Lane really enjoy teaching and connecting to students through knowledge. His focus has always been to get students to ask more questions so that they will want to find the answers, rather than just giving it to them from the start. He holds a BS in Physics with an emphasis in education from Illinois State University, and an MS in Science Education from Montana State University. In addition to these things, Lane am a huge foodie, and love good TV and Movies.


Julie Greenberg.jpg Julie Greenberg  (Kindergarten) is teaching our K-3 class on Sundays this year. She expects it to be a year filled with new adventures, sharing of ideas, and just plain fun. She is very excited to return to Temple Isaiah Religious School having taken time off after the birth of her triplet sons in February of last year.  Also prior to becoming a mom, Julie taught at Temple Isaiah’s Preschool in the Glittery Galaxy class. Julie has been a teacher in some capacity for thirteen years: Pre-K through second grade, which seems to have been good preparation for her role as a mom of three active boys. As a board member of the West LA Parents of Multiples, Julie coordinates monthly speaker engagements and lends a hand elsewhere when needed. Julie continues to root for her alma-madder, The Ohio State University Buckeyes after studying Child Development as an undergraduate student, and receiving her Masters of Education as well. Go Bucks! Reading has always been a source of enjoyment for Julie, and she just completed reading her first non child-rearing related novel since the babies were born. No small feat indeed. She also relaxes by doing cross-stitching, and hopes to complete the most recent project she began while pregnant before the boys’ bar mitzvah. On most days, Julie enjoys going for walks, to the park, and playing with her babies Noah, Emmett, and Hudson. Additionally, she loves spending time with friends and family.  Whether it’s a park play date, BBQ, or celebrating Shabbat, Julie feels lucky to have such a strong group of family and friends locally.


Iris Harel.jpg Iris Harel (Grade 5) was born in Israel where she completed high school and her military service. As the daughter of a former fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, Iris was able to get a very interesting job during her army service. Her heart is what brought her to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Iris was able to complete a degree at Santa Monica College and transfer to UCLA where she received her B.A. in Psychology all while starting a new family. For many years Iris dedicated herself solely to her family, which grew to four children. While doing so she was always involved in the education of her children and very involved in the PTA of the schools, so much so that for three years, she was co-president of the PTA at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy. Her love of children and teaching would gain her a position as an assistant teacher at Pressman School and as a substitute teacher at various Jewish schools. This year Iris has taken on a full time position teaching Hebrew at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy where she will be teaching second, third and fifth grades. On Sundays she teaches at Temple Isaiah Religious School. Iris is fluent in both Hebrew and English as well as conversational Spanish. Her passion for teaching children Hebrew and Judaism is reflected in her classes. In her free time Iris enjoys reading, baking and playing tennis.


Shula Hazany 1.jpg Shula Hazany (Grade 5) has been teaching at Temple Isaiah for thirteen years. For over thirty years, she has been teaching at various synagogues throughout Los Angeles. Shula is a graduate of Machon Gold, Israel. Shula and her husband Ben have four children, all college graduates.

 

 


Myra Irani .jpg Myra Irani (Grade 4) was raised in Colorado. She attended Jewish Day School from preschool through kindergarten and Hebrew school from first grade through high school. Myra graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BA in Psychology, and completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) at Pepperdine University. Myra is currently working on her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Alliant International University (California School of Professional Psychology.) Myra has taught at both the university level, as well as the elementary level, and enjoys both teaching her students and learning from them. Myra is starting her second year at Temple Isaiah Religious School, and she continues to look forward to being a part of the community. Myra believes that an individual’s perception of Judaism is based on their experiences, which are created through our teachings and community. She values education, and her goals are to educate curious minds in a constructive, yet exploratory manner.


Rachel Kapp.jpg Rachel Kapp (Grades 5 and 7) graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2009 with a honors BA in Sociology and minor in Jewish Studies. Rachel is beginning her second year as a part of the Temple Isaiah community, where she teaches Pre-K in the preschool and fifth and seventh grades in religious school. Originally from Los Angeles, Rachel loves travel, Cal Football (Go Bears!), musical theatre and going to the movies. Rachel is looking forward to getting to know all her students and is looking forward to a great year!


Barb Kaye.jpg Barbara Kaye (Kindergarten) Ms. Barb received her BFA in Motion Picture/Television Production from UCLA, while spending summers as a camp counselor at Camp Winnarainbow in Northern California. After graduation she worked in the film industry as a property master and set decorator. While still in school she was delighted to find Scott an industry cameraman, who worked on her student film and has now become her leading man. Barbara enjoys the challenges and pleasures of raising their daughter Zara, who has attended Temple Isaiah Religious School since first grade, when Barb began teaching here. 2012 marks Zara’s bat mitzvah year! Prior to Temple Isaiah, Barb taught Pre-K and Kindergarten classes at Ohr Hatorah. Besides delighting in teaching Torah to our little ones on Sundays, she also revels in making messes while teaching art with the children at Castle Heights Elementary School.


Lily Khalili.jpg Lily Khalili (Grade 3) was born and raised in Santa Monica. After graduating high school, she attended UC Santa Barbara and majored in religious studies and art history, with a minor in education. In Santa Barbara, she became very involved in the Jewish community. She served on the board of Santa Barbara Hillel for two years as the Social Justice VP and then the President. She taught fourth and fifth grade at Congregation B’nai B’rith for three years. Lily also wrote the curriculum for the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community religious school.  Lily has been a Camp Isaiah counselor for two years! After graduating from UCSB, Lily completed the Master of Arts in Teaching/Multiple Subject Credential program at the University of Southern California. She is now an elementary teacher for Aspire Public Schools. She is looking forward to her second year at Temple Isaiah Religious School and to having Jewish learning experiences with our students.


Deborah Kreingel (Hebrew Tutor) is a graduate from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and accredited by the Bureau of Jewish Education. She has been teaching at Temple Isaiah for “a number of decades,” where every year is more exciting than the last. In 1999, Deborah was honored by the Bureau of Jewish Education with the Sara and Simha Lainer Distinguished Educator Award. In 2007 she received the Temple Isaiah Religious School Exceptional Teacher Award, sponsored by the Studner Scholarship, at the California Community Foundation. Her daughter, Elizabeth, has a degree in philosophy from UC Santa Cruz and received her Jewish Education at Temple Isaiah.


Howie Kremer.jpg Howie Kremer (Grade 3) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, home of the Arch, which is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Howie went to college at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. When it rains in Peoria it sometimes smells like pancakes, but after it rains it smells like gross. Howie is a comedy writer, improviser and currently works as the Writer’s P.A. on NBC’s hit show (that no one is watching) “Community.” Howie started out teaching religious school in St. Louis, MO at Shaare Emeth Temple in 2005 and has been teaching at Temple Isaiah since the fall of 2009! He’s happy and very thankful to call Temple Isaiah his new temple-home! Howie also wants you to know that St. Louis has a frozen custard place called “Ted Drews” and before they give you your custard, they turn it upside down and it NEVER spills. It’s amazing. Here’s the link to their site. Go there if you’re ever in St. Louis.


Amalia Levine.JPG Amalia Levine (Grades 2 and 4) grew up in Israel in Kibbutz and city environments. She received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Tel-Aviv University and a master’s degree in engineering from UCLA. Amalia is passionate about teaching the Bible and Judaic studies. She currently teaches math and science in a private Jewish day school and conversational Hebrew for Mishkon Tephilo congregation members. Amalia is very happy to be a part of the Temple Isaiah team.

 


Adra Lustig 3.jpg Adra Lustig (Co-director Tiyul: Shabbat B’yachad and Grade 5) grew up in the Chicago suburbs and spent her summers at URJ Camp Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Wisconsin. She attended Brandeis University and received a BA in Jewish studies. She went on to receive a masters in Jewish education (with a focus in informal education) from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Adra has worked as an educator at Jewish summer camps and synagogues all over the country since college. In addition to working as co-director of Tiyul: Shabbat B’yachad, Adra also works in our religious school office on projects related to our school blog, parent communication, and our innovative new high school program. Adra was married in July to Jason, a PhD student at UCLA in the field of Jewish history. She loves singing, cooking, eating, watching TV, and cheering on (and then having her heart broken by) her Chicago Cubs.


Natalie Marciano.jpg Natalie Marciano (Grade 4) was born and raised in Calgary, Canada and has been living in California for the past seven years. She attended Mount Royal College in Calgary and graduated with a degree in early childhood education and got her BA in Sociology and Theatre from Concordia University in Montreal. Natalie worked in the entertainment industry for a number of years but decided on a more fulfilling career and switched to education. This is Natalie’s third year at Temple Isaiah, working both in the preschool and religious school.

 


Israel Marshall.jpg Israel Marshall (Grade 4) has taught at Temple Isaiah for five years and is currently the Judaic coordinator for the Temple Isaiah Preschool. He received his teaching credentials from UCLA and his knowledge of Jewish education stems from studying privately at the Westwood Kehilla in Santa Monica California and from many years of tutelage under very learned Rabbi’s. His teaching style is very unique. His goal is always full student emersion and his motto is “Jewish learning should always be fun!”

 


Farnaz.jpg Farnaz Mofarrah (Grade 1) was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to America when she was nine months old. She grew up living on the west side of Los Angeles as well as in the valley. She has worked in the Jewish school system for sixteen years as an Early Childhood Educator. For two years while she was teaching in a preschool she also worked for Free Arts for Abused Children as the Events Coordinator. Free Arts for Abused Children is a non-profit organization that provides healing art experiences for children in the Los Angeles and Orange County area who are under court supervision. Farnaz attended California State University Northridge where she studied liberal studies with a concentration in art. At the same time, she completed her certification for teaching in Early Childhood Education at UCLA Extension. She has taken classes and workshops offered by the Bureau of Jewish Education and The University of Judaism. Her innovation as a teacher has earned her four consecutive awards for Excellence in Curriculum through the Bureau of Jewish Education. This is her first year working in the religious school and she is excited to bring her love for teaching and Judaism to the Temple Isaiah community. Farnaz is excited to get to know the religious school families and have a lot of fun teaching on Sundays. Aside from her love for children, Farnaz also loves to spend time with her friends and family. She has a great love for art, music, and cooking. Her other joys in life are spending time with her younger sister/best friend and her dog Dolce.


Rebecca Moray (Grade 1) has loved teaching Pre-K at Temple Isaiah Preschool for the past eight years, and is so excited to join the Religious School staff! She grew up in West L.A. and went to Stephen S. Wise Temple Day School. She has her AA in Child Development and is close to completing her BA in early childhood education. She can’t wait to bring to her new kindergarteners a love of being Jewish and an appreciation of the Torah and Israel. Rebecca loves science, music, hockey, and taking pictures. She also adores animals, especially her big dog and three small snakes. She’s happy to get her kindergarteners engaged in exciting activities—art, drama, science, language, music & movement—to celebrate holidays and strengthen their understanding of Judaism. They will learn the importance of loving their neighbors and themselves, asking questions, and giving back to the community. They’ll even get to start exploring those funny shapes called the Hebrew alphabet.


Tatyana Neyman.jpg Tatyana Neyman (Grade 6 Hebrew Enrichment) is a medical doctor, currently working as a clinical research coordinator at California Medical Clinic for Headache. She also has a degree in Jewish education from Touro College for Jewish Studies. She has taught Hebrew in Moscow, Russia, for several years before joining the Temple Isaiah staff fifteen years ago. Her husband, Joseph, is a college professor and their daughter, Yulia, is a physician. Their grandson, Benjamin, is six and a half years old.

 


Deborah Pitt (Art Specialist) attended Temple Isaiah Religious School. (She predates the preschool.) She is a graduate of Wellesley College and holds an MFA degree in painting from USC, (though she does not often attend the football games.) She is proud to be the Religious School Art Specialist, (a job she always secretly wanted, every since she was assistant to the art teacher at Camp Isaiah, thirty some years ago.) For the last twenty odd years (with a long break in the middle) she has taught art at various locations including: CSU Northridge, Pierce College, College of the Canyons, The Brentwood Art Center, Tot Shabbat here at Isaiah and privately. Concurrently, she is teaching art to senior citizens through Pierce College‘s Encore Program and she will soon be art specialist at the new Ikar preschool. On her own time, she is a painter, mom, wife, daughter, chauffer and dog walker among other things. She would like to thank Cantor Kent for his referral, her husband and parents for their support, Carla and Josh for their continued confidence, and her children, who often have to wait while she finishes cleaning up, and are kind enough to help her with ideas and project testing.


Molly Plotnik (Grades 5 and 9) is in her third year of rabbinic studies at HUC-JIR and has her BA from the University of California in San Diego. Having grown up in the Seattle area, Molly loves spending time outdoors and is always seeking ways to connect her love for Judaism with her interest in the environment. She is also passionate about social justice issues and has been involved with American Jewish World Service for many years. In her spare time, Molly dreams of biking, hiking, and strumming her guitar.


Jeffrey Prince (Music Specialist and Tiyul: Shabbat B’yachad) is a Jewish music specialist known for his contagious enthusiasm, high energy and passion for Jewish music. A Los Angeles native, Jeffrey is a wealth of traditional and contemporary Jewish music – including many of his own tunes. A Jewish music educator, song leader and drum circle facilitator for many years, he provides his joyful brand of music for holidays, concerts, life-cycle events, camps, day schools, pre-schools and religious schools. Now in his third year with Temple Isaiah, Jeffrey is an integral part of Temple Isaiah Religious School and Tiyul: Shabbat B’yachad using his multi-faceted skills to song lead, teach and co-lead Tefillah. Jeffrey is a certified Orff-Schulwerk music teacher, a trained HealthRhythms© drumming facilitator and an American Heart Association CPR/First Aid/AED Instructor and Instructor-Trainer. Whether working with children or adults, Jeffrey believes in creating meaningful and lasting Jewish connections through music. He lives and boogie-boards in Santa Monica.


Jason Rodich.JPG Jason Rodich (Rosh Tefillah and Grade 7)  is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College. Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, he received his B.A. in Cultural Studies from The New School for Social Research in New York City. Prior to rabbinical school he returned to the Twin Cities where he worked as a case manager and street outreach worker with runaway and homeless youth. Seeking professional Jewish communal experience, he accepted a position as a Campaign Associate with the Minneapolis Jewish Federation where he remained until beginning his studies at HUC-JIR. Jason has served as a Jewish educator in New York with Central Synagogue and with Temple Israel in Minneapolis. Jason is interested in the intersection of Judaism and social justice work, particularly in the areas of youth advocacy and human rights. Jason is the recipient of a Wexner Graduate Fellowship for his studies at HUC-JIR. Jason and his partner, Fran Benjamin, are engaged and will be married in July 2012.


Marisa Schor.jpg Marisa Schor (Grade 6) an Argentinean native, transferred her roots from Argentina and took them to Israel where she made aliyah as a little girl. After fulfilling her duty in the Israeli Air Force, she moved to San Francisco to begin her higher education and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management. While in San Francisco, Marisa worked at Temple Emanuel in the Sunday school program teaching children the Israel curriculum, and tutoring private lessons in Hebrew. She later relocated to Los Angeles and completed a Masters in Business with emphasis in Non-profit Administration from the American Jewish University. Marisa has extensive experience in the non-profit field, working in leadership positions at children-related non-profits such as The Wonder of Reading and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Los Angeles. Marisa speaks four languages (Spanish, Hebrew, French, and English) loves dancing, traveling, reading and watermelon. She is also currently teaching Zumba Fitness® classes throughout Los Angeles. Marisa is very excited to join Temple Isaiah and cannot wait to meet her sixth grade students!!


Todd Silverman.jpg Todd Silverman (Grade 8) is a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College. Although born and raised in Albany, NY, he has called Los Angeles home for the past six years (except for one year living in Jerusalem!) He studied theater at Oswego State University on the shores of Lake Ontario, and then  after a six month stint working with developmentally disabled teens and adults in Syracuse, NY  promptly moved to the warm weather of Southern California to teach fourth grade general and Judaic studies at Brawerman Elementary School. Along the way, he’s worked at religious schools, summer camps, and youth groups throughout Los Angeles and the east coast. Todd’s main goal for this year is to understand and help formulate the ways in which students, parents, and teachers can best team together to learn and “do the Jewish”; in other words, how can we gather the information about our heritage and then turn around and actually make it a meaningful part of our lives?


Jeremy Simons.jpg Jeremy Simons (Grades 6 and 7) is excited to be joining the Temple Isaiah community this year as a sixth and seventh grade teacher. Currently a third year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College, Jeremy loves both to teach and to learn. Jeremy has lived in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Ohio, all before graduating from high school, which makes him a genuine wandering Jew. He received dual Bachelor Degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from the Ohio State University which included an honors thesis exploring contemporary Polish and Jewish relations through the lens of the museum and memorial at Auschwitz. After receiving his degree, Jeremy spent four years in Boston working as a full-time synagogue youth director where he directed the middle school education program, in addition to teaching multiple grades. As a rabbinical student, Jeremy currently travels monthly to a student pulpit in Redding, California where he conducts Shabbat services, leads adult education classes, and plays an active role in the religious school. Jeremy is passionate about Israel, having led multiple teen and college-age trips and loves to share his passion in the classroom. In his free time Jeremy enjoys both cycling and competitive eating. Jeremy has organized two eating contests during his time in rabbinical school raising over $4,000 for various charities.


Andrew Terkel (Grades 3) grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and belonged to Temple Israel in Tulsa. He spent many summers at the URJ Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas, and was active in youth group in high school. Andrew attended the University of Kansas where he studied political science and international studies, and was active in KU Hillel where he led the weekly Reform minyan. After graduation Andrew served as an education fellow at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi. Andrew traveled the South working with small congregations in Sunday schools, worship services, and Torah study. Andrew has been playing guitar and songleading for camps, youth groups, retreats, and congregations since high school and is excited to continue the journey in his second year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.


Bess Wohlner (Grades 5 and 7) is a third-year rabbinical student originally from Shawnee, Kansas and Fairfax Station, Virginia. She  spent much of her young adulthood working as a Jewish educator in her home congregation in Kansas and then continued on to become the assistant educator and youth director of a religious school in Fairfax Station, Virginia before heading to rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion here in Los Angeles. In addition to teaching at Isaiah, she serves as student rabbi at Congregation Havurim in Temecula. Furthermore, Bess is a HUGE Kylie Minogue fan and an avocado enthusiast.


Sharon Zimring.jpg Sharon Zimring (Grade 1)  was born in Mexico City. She has been working at Temple Isaiah for twelve years. She recently graduated with a BA in Early Childhood Education. Besides teaching first grade religious school on Tuesdays, she also teach for the preschool during the week. She loves to cook, draw cartoons, and play games. She also loves to go swimming and listen to music. Spending time with family and friends are the most important things to Sharon.