Jewish Learning Guides (Teachers)

Kindergarten

Emily Kestenbaum

Kindergarten Curriculum Coach

JLG for Kindergarten (Sunday Early, Monday and Thursday)

JLG for Mayim B'Yachad (Sunday and Wednesday)

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!

Didi Poliak
JLG for Mayim Tamid - Gan (Kindergarten) Monday-Friday

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

dpoliak@tbsneedham.org

I am so excited to continue my journey as a Jewish Learning Guide at TBS this year! I have a Bachelors Degree in Human Services from the University of Delaware and have always been passionate about Jewish learning. I grew up at URJ Eisner Camp and have worked there for many years, strengthening my connection to the Reform Jewish community. I love being a part of the JLG team and cannot wait to continue inspiring our fourth and fifth grade students to deepen their connections to Judaism and Jewish learning. I am also grateful to have the opportunity to work with our amazing teens in Etzim! I am looking forward to another great year at TBS! 

 

1st-2nd

Carly Husick

JLG for Grades 1-2 (Sunday-Wednesday and Friday)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

chusick@tbsneedham.org

My educational philosophy is that communication and accessibility are the key to successful learning. My background is largely in writing education. This December I will receive my Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. I have spent the last academic year teaching first-year writing and introduction to fiction writing courses at the college level. This past summer I served as the Creative Writing Arts Mentor at URJ’s 6 Points Creative Arts Academy, teaching creative writing to campers between the ages of eight and seventeen. I have been teaching in one capacity or another since the age of twelve, when I started assisting in dance classes. Throughout my teaching career I have served as a dance teacher, a madricha, a middle school debate coach, and a Jewish Educator teaching a combined K-2nd class while in college, and 5th grade Judaic Studies, before I decided to go back to school for my masters. I have always found myself returning to Jewish Education and I could not be happier to find myself working as part of the TBS community. 

Liron Riess

Mayim Tamid Curriculum Director 

JLG for Mayim Tamid - Shanah Alef (First Grade) Monday-Friday

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.

Ianne Sherry

JLG for Mayim Tamid - Shanah Bet (2nd Grade) Monday-Friday

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

isherry@tbsneedham.org

I am passionate about instilling a love of learning and a love of Judaism in the children with whom I have the honor to work. Originally from Fairfax, VA, I recently graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Education Studies and minors in Judaic Studies and Economics. I plan to use this education as well as my experience working with children in both classrooms and experiential settings to create engaging learning experiences at TBS. I am excited to work as a JLG to build relationships with my students, create community in and out of the classroom and forge connections for the next generation to the Jewish community. 

Earnest Vener

JLG for Grades 1-2 (Sunday-Thursday)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

evener@tbsneedham.org

I cherish the opportunity to build a learning community of young people at TBS that is centered on our shared Jewish culture, community building, and personal growth. I see each child as a stakeholder of Judaism and work to create opportunities for them to take ownership over our stories, traditions, and language. I bring a deep love for Jewish texts, storytelling, and theatre to the classroom.

In my eight years working as Jewish educator, I continue to find that my favorite part of this work is developing personal relationships with each young person and their family. I am inspired by the passions, interests, and growing edges of my students and integrate my knowledge of them into our instructional time together.I utilize my M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, B.A. in Hebrew from UC Berkeley, and my time at Svara Yeshiva to instill in my students a love for Jewish learning that is rooted in history, cultural arts, and social justice.

3rd-4th

Tzipora Crandell

JLG for Grades 3-4 (Sunday-Thursday)

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 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. 

Hannah Elbaum 

JLG for Grades 3-4 (Sunday-Wednesday and Friday)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

hrelbaum@tbsneedham.org

I’m a recent graduate of Smith College, where I studied American culture and museum education. I love visiting museums, and I also enjoy reading, baking gluten-free treats, and practicing yoga. Over the past few years, I have also worked with children of all ages at overnight and day camps, and as a Jewish educator.

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. I am thrilled to start my first year at TBS with Mayim and as the Mini BESTY advisor!

Sabrina Shemesh

JLG for Mayim Tamid - Shanah Dalet (Fourth Grade) Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

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" eighteen years ago, and it has been the best career choice for me.  Teaching Hebrew, becoming a Mayim JLG,  tutoring for bar/bat mitzvah.

 

I live in Newton with my husband Sasson, and our dog Uzi. 

Emily Kestenbaum

JLG for Mayim Tamid - Shanah Gimel (Third Grade) Wednesday, Friday

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!

Rachel Wolfeiler

JLG for Grades 3-4 (Monday-Thursday)

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!

5th

Matt Emmer

JLG for Grade 5 (Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

memmer@tbsneedham.org

After working with Mayim as a t’filah and song leader, I am excited to join the team as a 5th Grade Educator. I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York, and am a proud alumni of URJ Eisner Camp, spending 14 summers as a camper, counselor, and eventually head song leader. In the spring of 2016, I graduated from Clark University in Worcester, where I studied English and Jewish Studies. I’m passionate about making the classroom a space for exploration and helping students find their connection to Judaism and the world around them. 

Carl Shulman

JLG for Grade 5 (Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

cshulman@tbsneedham.org

 

Since getting my first job at summer camp in 2006, teaching and experiential education have been foundational in my career. Graduating from UMass Amherst with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in Art History, concentrating on protest art: 1950-present, solidified my interest in advocacy and action. Professionally, I am involved with NFTY-NE, American Jewish summer camping, as well as high school experimental curriculum development for a grant program in the southern MetroWest. 

Floating

Patrick Cahn

Floating Educator (Monday-Friday)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

pcahn@tbsneedham.org

Before arriving at TBS I spent six years at Harvard Yard Child Care Center where I taught older infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.  At TBS I have taught a wide range of ages in the Children's Center and Mayim, from two year olds through fifth grade. 

You will often find me on the floor building alongside the children, or facilitating an art project. My degree in Anthropology has also proved useful in my teaching practice.  I am a storyteller, and use adaptations of folktales in the classroom.  I also encourage students to tell their own stories, and to reconstruct stories from books that we have read.  

Josh Elbaum

Floating Educator (Monday-Wednesday)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

jelbaum@tbsneedham.org

 

After graduating with a Bachelors in Music Production, I realized that I actually wanted to spend my time in educational environments. I have since worked with after school science programs, standardized test prep programs, and writing programs, before finding my way to Temple Beth Shalom. I love getting the chance to help students who may learn differently from others find their own way to thrive in the classroom.

Jess Green

Inclusion Support Specialist (Sunday-Thursday)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

jgreen@tbsneedham.org

I once heard a writer explain that the reason they chose that vocation is 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, callings, aptitudes, interests, and potentials that are unique to them. I highly value teaching with a focus on inclusion, independence, 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.

I am in my fifth year at TBS and 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 am in my second year of the Master's in Jewish Education program at Hebrew College. I have lived in Boston for over thirteen years and am deeply connected to my Jewish communities and chosen family here.

Lila Klaus

Floating Educator (Monday-Friday)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

lklaus@tbsneedham.org

I am a recent graduate of Bard College, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a minor in Theology. Prior to joining TBS, I have spent my time as a madricha for Kindergarten through third graders, as well as working at a URJ summer camp as both a counselor and a unit head. I have also been a dance teacher, where I brought into the classroom ways in which Jewish values can be applied to the creative movement process. With both my educational and artistic backgrounds, I strive to bring to TBS a classroom environment where creativity and curiosity are encouraged, and to instill a love of learning about Jewish ideas.