Hebrew Educators

IMG-8543.jpg

Sammy Altman

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

saltman@tbsneedham.org

I am very excited for my second year in Mayim Tamid!  I am a Needham local and had the fortune of growing up at TBS.  I started as a Madricha and went on to be BESTY President and now I am a Jewish Learning Guide. 
   I graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education. I have always seen myself working in some capacity as a Jewish Educator and it only feels right to be beginning my career here. 
   I believe the way I interact with students was very much influenced by URJ Eisner Camp. After spending over 14 years as a camper, then staff member, and eventually a Unit Head; I had the opportunity to learn so many valuable lessons outside of a traditional educational setting. I always encourage my students to be creative and ability to think outside the box. I want my students to question everything and to form their own opinions. I am so excited for this upcoming year at TBS and to be back with Shanah Bet! 

IMG_4347.JPG

Tzipora Crandell

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

tcrandell@tbsneedham.org

As a Needham native, I grew up attending Temple Beth Shalom and am so happy to be returning home as a Mayim and Mayim Tamid Jewish Learning Guide. The foundation for my interest in Jewish Education was laid as a student at TBS and strengthened during summers at URJ Crane Lake Camp and a high school semester abroad in Israel.

 

As a teacher, I believe that children grow and learn at their own pace, and I fully embrace each child’s individuality.  As someone who continues to learn through music, play, and experimentation, I strive to create an inviting and curiosity-inspiring environment in the classroom. 

IMG_1901 2.jpg

Hannah Elbaum 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

hrelbaum@tbsneedham.org

I'm delighted to continue working at TBS for my second year! I love visiting museums, reading, baking gluten-free treats, and practicing yoga. Before joining the faculty at TBS, I graduated from Smith College, where I studied museum education. 

In teaching, I believe that questions are the foundation of meaningful learning, and I strive to empower students to find their own answers with guidance and support. My goal is to create a classroom community that inspires exploration of ideas, fosters deep relationships, and values the perspectives and experiences of each individual. 

Jess Green

Inclusion Support Specialist 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

jgreen@tbsneedham.org

I once heard a writer explain that they chose to become a writer because they believe that we are all tools of G-d and once we figure out what kind of tools we are we’d better get to work. This philosophy resonates deeply for me, for both myself as an educator and for my students. All children have strengths, interests, and potentials that are unique to them. I highly value teaching with a focus on inclusion and social emotional learning. I am personally drawn to nature, cooking, creativity, community, and books and the power and joy of these experiences are deeply reflected in my classroom and work with students.

 

This is my sixth year at TBS and I bring an additional ten years of experiences working with children in camps and schools. My undergraduate degree is in Women's Studies from the University of Maryland and I hold a Master's in Jewish Education with a concentration in Special Education from Hebrew College. I have lived in Boston for fifteen years and am deeply connected to my Jewish communities and chosen family here.

Rena Gray Fein

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

rgrayfein@tbsneedham.org

I love teaching 4th graders in our very rich Hebrew program. Hebrew words flow easily at TBS, and children understand and use many of them naturally. The fourth grade program builds both on that passive vocabulary, and on the vocabulary introduced (orally) in grade 3. We start with the alphabet (Aleph Bet) and put word together almost immediately. It’s wonderful to see how satisfying it is for the students to discover how easily they can learn to read words that they already know!

My relationship with Hebrew began when I was very little, thanks to my having Hebrew name. I enjoy learning how each word connects not only to other words, but also to Jewish life and texts.  It’s especially fun to see how the language (like any language) adapts to changes in society, and how new words are created.

download.png

EVIE HAPPEL

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Emily.jpg

Emily Kestenbaum

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

ekestenbaum@tbsneedham.org

 

I always felt that the best educators I had were the ones who were continuously learning and growing. I strive to follow their path and learn from my colleagues and students every day. I believe that building a rapport with each child allows an educator to help that child access the curriculum in a way that is meaningful to them. Each year, I take the time to get to know each child personally - their backgrounds, theirs interests, and their families.  This helps me to bring highlight pieces of the curriculum for each child, where he/she may connect most to Judaism. Working at Temple Beth Shalom provides me the opportunity to be a part of a team that values the fostering of connections between children through our shared history and values, and to build on those relationships each year so they can continue to develop.

I joined the Mayim family in September 2016, and am thrilled to continue learning from this amazing group of educators and professionals on a daily basis. I am originally from Stonybrook, NY and come with experiences as a full time public school teacher, Hebrew school teacher, and youth group director. I also spent five summers working as the Waterfront Director at Eisner Camp. I live with my husband, Ben, in Northborough and enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading, and swimming!

Liron.jpg

Liron Riess

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

lriess@tbsneedham.org

 

As an educator at TBS I am committed to creating an environment that welcomes each individual child with warmth, joy and a feeling of safety and acceptance. I provide structure, I encourage an interest in learning and I always look for ways to support each child in feeling successful, in a surrounding that meets all needs. I work tirelessly to connect with parents and sometimes with school so all are on the same plan for success. Family engagement and communication is essential in creating a home away from home in Mayim Tamid Shanah Alef.


During the year we will foster a sense of a family like, tight community, respect for each other and respect for all that’s around us, and we will focus on ways we can contribute to our world. Raised in Israel, I am passionate about sharing experiences and memories from my upbringing, and I find myself using content I remember enjoying as a child. I grew up on Kibbutz Ginnosar, right on Lake Kinneret. The Jewish education I received was centered on love for the land of Israel, the history of the people, and had a strong focus on celebrating the holidays and the traditions that kept Judaism alive all around the world for all these years.


I had gained incredible experience working with children at the Kibbutz, as well as teaching young women during my service at the Israeli Army, so when I arrived to the US over 20 years ago, I began working with children in a Children’s Center in Cambridge and then in Foxboro. My college courses focused on Child Psychology and Child development and added to my passion in continuing working with children at TBS. Here I found a warm community, that is open and inclusive. I feel fortunate to have been a part of developing and delivering the Mayim Education for KG/1st Grade, Kindergarten Enrichment on Fridays , Hebrew learning and Mayim Tamid.

Sheira.jpg

Sheira Rosenfield

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

srosenfield@tbsneedham.org

As a young girl, I loved my summer experiences at Camps Yavneh and Ramah.  Being Jewish has always been an integral part of my life. My parents and their extended families were all in Jewish education.  Our house was filled with Yiddiskeit; music, books and art and my passion for continuing to learn more about Judaism thrived. I went to the Prozdor, which was the high school program at the Hebrew College in Brookline and loved both the social and academic atmosphere there. It was there that I became more interested in learning about the Holocaust.

I then attended UMASS Amherst where I received my B.A., and was privileged to learn more about the Holocaust with the world renowned Holocaust professor, David Wyman.  I then went to Wheelock College where I received my Master’s Degree in Education.

Combining my background in education with my passion for Judaism and the Holocaust, I have found a home at TBS where I get to teach these important and meaningful subjects every day.   Watching B’nei Mitzvah students become excited on their journeys towards Jewish adulthood, seeing the excitement on students’ faces when they learn new Hebrew letters and teaching the Holocaust and Human Behavior Class reinforces for me that I am right where I am meant to be doing what I love most.
I currently live in Acton with my husband Mark and our dog Ruby.   We have a son, Ben who is currently following his dreams and we are very proud of him!

Sabrina.jpg

Sabrina Shemesh

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

sshemesh@tbsneedham.org

As a native Israeli I joined the IDF when I was 18. I served in the intelligence branch and then earned a certificate in accounting. 

Six years after leaving the IDF, my husband and I, and our two boys, Nir and Lior moved to California.  It was at that time that I discovered within me a passion for working with and teaching children. I then earned a certificate in child development, and I became a pre-school teacher.  After nine years and one more child, our daughter Tal, we moved to Massachusetts where I then put my skills as a teacher to work in Jewish education.

I joined the TBS "family" twenty years ago, and it has been the best career choice for me.  Today I am enjoying teaching Hebrew and tutoring for bar/bat mitzvah.

In June of 2021 my husband and I, with our dog Uzi moved back to Israel to join my two children, daughter in law, granddaughter, and my siblings who already live in Israel. 

Bethany S.jpg

Bethany Smith

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

bsmith@tbsneedham.org

My teaching philosophy is to approach every moment with compassion. Students do not exist within a bubble of school and deal with a bevy of outside factors that can affect their engagement and attitudes. By meeting every moment with understanding, we can make sure we provide a well-rounded education that caters to the students’ social and developmental needs as much as the topic we are working to convey. 

 

I grew up in Columbia, SC and  I graduated from Tulane University of Louisiana in 2018 with a degree in Psychology and Political Science. After graduation, I  moved to Atlanta where I worked as the Youth Education Coordinator for two years. In my free time, I enjoy spending the day outside, reading, or watching television.  I am  beyond excited for my second year in Massachusetts and  to get to know the TBS community!

Ilana.jpg

Ilana Streit

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

istreit@tbsneedham.org

I grew up in a small synagogue that was as old as I was, and as an adult, I have participated and led in a number of grassroots Jewish communities. I have also taught in supplementary religious schools and led workshops and religious services for children and adults.

 

The small learning communities at TBS are a great fit for me. I love being part of a faculty that knows, respects and empowers our students, and I love having the freedom to follow the needs and interests of a particular group of students.

 

I bring to my work at TBS my learning in Jewish communal service and mission-driven management (at Brandeis University); embodied Jewish women’s spiritual leadership (at the Kohenet training program at Isabella Freedman Jewish retreat center); the Feldenkrais Method of somatic awareness; peer counseling; Waldorf education; Nonviolent Communication; and Permaculture.

 

As a teacher, I meet children’s enthusiasm with my own; I nurture children’s relationships with each other and with Jewish traditions; and I make space for physical movement and creative expression. I am passionate about living and teaching a Judaism that is relevant, meaningful, deeply rooted, and transformative.

IMG-8632.JPG

Zoe Summit

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

zsummit@tbsneedham.org

 

I am so excited to be a part of the Mayim family again this year. I feel strongly that, as educators, it is our job to meet each child where they are and foster a love for learning and for Judaism from there. As a special educator, I am a firm believer in individualizing education. I never assume every kid in the room needs the same things or can access the same things in the same ways. I love how many access points there are to each concept in the Mayim curriculum and how the Hebrew groups are structured so that we can always make this happen!

 

When I'm not at TBS I teach in an ABA-based program in Boston Public Schools. My favorite part of this work is building relationships with amazing teachers, students, and parents. I love learning from and growing with everyone in this community!

Rachel W.jpg

Rachel Wolfeiler

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

rwolfeiler@tbsneedham.org

I am so excited to continue my work at TBS this year as a Jewish Learning Guide! I have been involved in Jewish Education as long as I can remember, as a teacher, learner, tutor and mentor. I grew up at URJ Eisner camp, and continued working there for many years. I taught Hebrew school at the synagogue I grew up attending, and tutored many B'nei Mitzvah students. My love for Jewish Education set the foundation for me to pursue my teaching certifications, and brought me to TBS. 

I believe that all children, no matter their age, thrive best in a space where they feel safe to explore, communicate, contribute, reflect, and build. I especially love learning and growing with upper elementary aged children. I am truly honored to be a part of the TBS team!