This exclusive 13-month fellowship is designed to inspire senior congregational school educators with ongoing Jewish learning and equip them with new approaches for engaging with real-world challenges using Jewish texts.
Fellowship participants will be immersed in a cohort-based experience of rich Torah study and professional growth. Supported by expert mentors, they will also plan and implement exciting and important projects for their congregational schools.
Abra P. Lee
Abra Lee is the Director of Jewish Education and Learning Initiatives at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ. Previously at TBJ, Abra served in various roles until 2012, when she joined the Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, serving as Coordinator of School and Family Learning. Later, Abra became the Director of Youth Learning and Engagement at Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, directing initiatives to innovate and enhance Jewish education for children and families. Abra served on faculty of URJ Camp Harlam from 2009 – 2019. A former Fellow in the Leadership Institute, a joint program of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary, she holds a Master’s degree in Jewish studies and a graduate certificate in Jewish education from Gratz College, and earned the credentials of RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) from the Association of Reform Jewish Educators.
Alex Weinberg is the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Alex is a nationally recognized Jewish educator who has presented his prayer leading style and innovative curricula at the national CAJE conference, the national Song Leader Boot Camp, Camp Ramah, JEA and USCJ, and at congregational schools across the country. Alex started his career in Jewish Day Schools, and has since moved my way through the congregational world from Youth Director to Informal Education Director to Education Director, and finally Director of Congregational Learning. His early childhood students think that he lives in the chapel in shul, and when he isn’t there he can be found playing his guitar with students of all ages. Alex has a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and 2 Bachelors degrees from the List College Joint Program of JTS and Columbia University.
Anne Berman-Waldorf, RJE, is the Director of Lifelong Education at Congregation Beth Chaim (Princeton Junction, NJ), where she has been for over 20 years. She supervises Pre-School, Religious School, Adult Education and Youth Programming. She can be found teaching students from 2 – seniors and has a special interest in ancient texts and modern interpretations. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania (Religious Thought), has a Master’s in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion as well as advanced degrees in Social Work and Jewish History. Anne is a Past President of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) and has served on faculty for URJ camps (Kutz, Harlam and Creative Arts Academy). She has participated in Fellowships at the Jewish Women’s Archive, the Yiddish Book Center, Hazon-Bubbie’s Kitchen, Shalom Hartman and UpStart. She and her husband, Joshua, have two children, Sam and Lily.
Since 2013, Barbara Glickman has been the Education Director at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, where she began her career, teaching preschool and 2nd grade religious school. She has also worked closely with the synagogue’s Education Committee to help shape the school’s curriculum, policies and overall program. Barbara earned a Masters Degree in Jewish Communal Service from Gratz College in 2018, where she was a mid-career fellow and graduated with honors plus won the graduate prize in Hebraic studies. Most recently, Barbara participated in the second cohort of Spertus Institutes’ Certificate in Jewish Leadership for Educators. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Temple University and studied towards an M.B.A. at Philadelphia University. Barbara prides herself on creating experiential, engaging and inclusive programs and learning opportunities. She loves accompanying her own family as well as the Ohev Shalom community on their Jewish educational journey.
Beth Young is the Senior Director of Education at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, FL. She works to provide engaging educational opportunities for learners from infants to adults. A product of the Reform movement’s summer camps, Beth is committed to Jewish summer camping and serves on faculty at URJ Camp Coleman, the Reform camp serving the southeast. Beth holds a Masters in Jewish Education and a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She received the title of Reform Jewish Educator, completed the Senior Educators Cohort through the Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and is a Wexner Field Fellow, a three year fellowship for Jewish professionals. Beth currently serves on the national board of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators and co-chaired the organization’s Task Force on Excellence. In 2016, Beth was recognized with their Distinguished Educator’s Award. Beth is married to Rabbi Danny Young and they have two children.
I was born and raised in Mexico City in a beautiful conservative community. I attended the same Jewish Day School for 15 years. I moved to Los Angeles after meeting my husband in 1987. I’ve worked at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, running the religious school for the past 27 years, after receiving my MAED. I have worked with several educators, many teachers, some who have become Rabbis or educators and have gone on to run their own schools. I have learned much from everyone. My best teachers have been the students and their families whom I’ve served and created programs for to teach them our stories and traditions, always looking for hands-on and creative ways of doing it. My husband and I have raised three daughters and one of my favorite pastimes is to spend time with my girls doing anything.
Since 2016, Gina Fass has served as the Director of the Kulanu Learning Program at Bet Torah Synagogue in Mount Kisco, NY. With over 20 years of experience in Jewish education, Gina has directed congregational educational programs in MN, CA and CT. She was the Director of Jewish Education for Camp Young Judaea Texas where she loved Israeli dancing after Havdalah. She also taught high school and middle school Jewish Studies at Day Schools in Houston (The Emery/Weiner School) and Stamford, CT (Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy). She has also directed youth programs, a community Hebrew High, and inclusion programs for Jewish teens with special needs. She holds dual Master’s degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and is a graduate of the prestigious Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Her ongoing professional growth includes: Wexner Alumni Institutes; Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel (The ICenter); Curriculum Workshop for Day School Educators (Pardes); New Directors Institute (USCJ); and Thriving Conference and on-going workshops (The Jewish Education Project, NY.) Gina grew up in Louisiana and Nebraska and has lived in cities across the United States, in France, and in Israel. She has just learned to quilt and tries hard to keep the flowers in her garden alive. She and her husband Jonathan, are the proud parents of Michal and Erez and live in Stamford, Connecticut.
Hope Ann Chernak
Hope Chernak joined Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Georgia in 2020 and serves as TKE’s Director of Education and Youth Engagement. Prior to joining the TKE team, Hope was part of the Marcus Jewish Community’s senior professional team, first as the founding Executive Director of JUMPSPARK: the Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative (AJTI) and then as the Chief Programming Officer. Previous to moving to Atlanta, Hope spent 15 years in New York City, serving as the Managing Director of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) and as the Director of Youth and Informal Education & Israel Programs at Temple Shaaray Tefila.
Hope formalized her academic training earning an M.A. degree in Religious Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and the title Reform Jewish Educator (RJE). Hope was a 2016 recipient of the Grinspoon North American Award for Excellence in Jewish Education and received a certificate in Israel Education from the Center for Israel Education in 2016. Earlier in her career, Hope was the NFTY-Southeast Regional Advisor based out of South Florida. Hope grew up in Orlando, FL, and spent eight summers on staff at URJ’s Camp Coleman where she currently serves as a member of the camp committee. Hope also serves as a national board member for the American Zionist Movement as a representative of ARZA.
Hope was a competitive collegiate athlete, receiving scholarships for basketball, soccer and cross-country at Webber International University where she earned a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Marketing.
Jessica Braginsky is the Director of Education and Engagement at Forest Hills Jewish Center. She has been a Jewish educational leader since 2007 and before that held extensive volunteer leadership positions in the Jewish community including President of a 600 woman strong Hadassah chapter. She earned her Master’s degree in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in May, 2014, which she attended part-time as she worked as a religious school principal and raised her four sons. In her past life Jessica was a lawyer working for justice for Brooklyn’s poor. Jessica finds her work most rewarding because it unites her love of and respect for children and her passion for Judaism. She lives in Port Washington with her husband, a rotating group of sons and their dog, Yofi. On any given Shabbat afternoon you can find Jessica kayaking, entertaining friends and family or playing hours of family board games.
Jessie joined the PAS educational team in July 2018 as Assistant Director for Gan, Alef, and Bet (K–2). Jessie has extensive experience in the Jewish educational world. She has worked as a synagogue educator, a congregational school teacher, and a Hebrew specialist. She has spent summers as a camper and a counselor at Ramah Wisconsin and has staffed several Birthright Israel trips. Jessie earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an MA in Jewish Education from the William Davidson School at JTS. Trained as a life coach and a birth doula, she believes in bringing out everyone’s unique gifts.
Judith Sandman is an educator at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, New Jersey, and Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield, New Jersey. She teaches everything from Hebrew reading and tefilah, to American Jewish history, the Holocaust, and Israel. In 2013 she won the Natalia Twersky Educator Award from the Jewish Women’s Archive for her middle-school curriculum “What Will It Cost Me to Work for You? Jews and the Labor Movement.” As a freelance editor, copyeditor, and proofreader, Judy has worked on Jewish books for several publishing houses, including Behrman House, the Jewish Publication Society, and Oxford University Press. At Doubleday, Judy worked for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Daniel Boorstin. She is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Arthur, live in Springfield, New Jersey. They have two married children and three beautiful grandchildren. Judy is a volunteer puppy raiser for the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, which trains guide dogs for the blind.
Juliet Spear Gardner is the incoming Director of K-5th Grade Learning and Engagement at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA. She has taught students of all ages in public school and supplementary Jewish education and served as the Director of Education at Temple Beth Torah in Fremont, CA and Chug Mishpacha, Beth El’s innovative Saturday Family School. This past year she taught kindergarten and second grade religious school via Zoom. She is also a parent of a wonderful first grader.
Rabbi Larry Freedman
Rabbi Larry Freedman is a graduate of Hebrew Union College and happily serves as education director of a joint religious school in Pittsburgh, PA. For the purpose of Jewish geography, Rabbi Freedman went to Eisner Camp for 11 summers, worked at Crane Lake Camp for 10 summers, was a solo rabbi at a small congregation in the Hudson Valley and serves as an Air National Guard Chaplain. At camp he was focused on teaching spiritual leadership to the youngest staff. His latest challenge is figuring out how best to teach prayer to students not quite developmentally ready for such a heavy topic, how to motivate parents to engage even a little bit more and in all ways bring the vibrancy to his small corner of the Jewish world. Fun fact: he is trying to learn how to play bodhran.
Mason Voit has served as the Director of Education and Jewish Family Life at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale since 2003. Mason earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. He received his teaching certificate and Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Urban Education from the University of Denver. Mason is a graduate of the first cohort of the Leadership Institute of Congregational School Educators, has studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, was a post-graduate fellow of the Melton Senior Educators Program of Hebrew University and the iCenter Graduate Certificate in Israel Education at George Washington University. Mason, a third generation Alabaman, lives in the Riverdale section of the Bronx with his wife and three children.
Melissa Ser is the Director of Education at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She holds a MA in Jewish Educational Leadership from the Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as both a MA and PhD in Literature from the University of Rochester and a BA in English from Florida State University. Melissa is a graduate of the 8th Cohort of the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute (MTEI) and was recognized as a Conservative Jewish Educator (CJE) by the Jewish Educators Assembly in 2018. She is Vice President of the Jewish Educators Assembly, responsible for Conference and Professional Development. Her goals are to foster a sense of warmth and growth in educational programming while exploring innovative ways to make authentic learning accessible and meaningful. She and her husband Sam are the proud parents of Ariel, Yonatan, and Maya.
Morissa R. Freiberg
Morissa R. Freiberg, RJE serves as Director of Education at Congregation Beth Tikvah, a Reform synagogue in Worthington, Ohio. She is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Ethnomusicology and a Certificate in Judaic Studies from Ohio University, and a Master’s degree in Judaic Studies and Jewish Education from the Laura & Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies.
Before joining the staff at Congregation Beth Tikvah, Morissa wore many hats in the field of Jewish Education, and has served as a Youth Director, Hebrew teacher, and Judaic studies instructor with various age groups. Morissa served as a Peer Engagement Intern at Hillel of Ohio University, where she also was extremely active as a ritual musician. As a cellist and ethnomusicologist, she enjoys exploring the connections between Judaism and the power of music as a learning tool. Morissa’s areas of research in Jewish ethnomusicology include music of the Jews of Spain during the inquisition, music of the Beta Israel of Ethiopia, modern Israeli hip hop and politics, as well as comparative Jewish music – examining how different Jewish composers, bands, and ensembles navigate text, prayer, and music — all in their own unique ways.
Morissa holds a class “A” teacher certification from the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. She is a certified RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) by the International Reform Jewish Educators Title Granting Commission, a sub-governing body of the Union for Reform Judaism. Dedicated to the inclusion of all learners in her programming, Morissa completed the Matan Institute for Education Directors in 2015-2016. In 2016, she was honored with the Larry S. Moses Outstanding Young Professional Award by the Jewish Federation of Columbus and The Wexner Foundation. Morissa is a member of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) and served on the Board of Directors from 2018-2021.
Deeply committed to tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) and experiential education, Morissa served as a staff member for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Mitzvah Corps, traveling in the summer of 2018 to Costa Rica with a group of 20 teens to do service-learning through a Jewish lens. As a certified meditation, pranayama, and yoga nidra teacher, Morissa enjoys integrating these spiritual modalities into her Jewish practice. In 2018, she began a mediation group at Congregation Beth Tikvah which gives individuals the tools to bring meditation, breath, mindfulness, and inner peace into their lives — all from a Jewish lens. Morissa is committed to guiding her students and community in building positive Jewish identities and strengthening individual connections to Judaism through creative and meaningful experiences for all ages.
Temple Israel’s Chavaya program is under the capable leadership of Rebecca Elkus-Ferst who began her work here in July 2012. Rebecca has developed the Chavaya program since its inception and worked alongside our clergy and team of Chavaya educators to ensure its relevance and accessibility in children’s lives. Rebecca attended college at Michigan State University and holds a BA in Journalism and a specialization in Jewish Studies. In between college and graduate school she spent a year studying in Israel. While in graduate school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rebecca interned at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and assisted in the creation of the Coming of Age During the Holocaust, Coming of Age Now pilot program. She served as the Assistant Director of Education/Youth & Family Programming at Congregation Habonim in Manhattan following her graduation from JTS from 2009-2012. Rebecca is a past fellow of the Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners and Matan Institute for Education Directors, working on a communal approach to helping children with special needs, and is a past participant in the Qushiyot fellowship: a program dedicated to working with educators and congregations to bring contemporary, meaningful, and relevant Israel curriculum to their programs. Rebecca also holds an RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) title from the Association of Reform Jewish Educators.
Rebecca Goodman has dedicated the past two decades to educating Jewish youth and their families. After falling in love with Judaism as a child, attending Jewish summer camps, travel to Israel, youth groups, etc. followed by a short detour to study engineering in college, she realized her passion for helping Jewish youth connect to their Jewish heritage outweighed ensuring that the next bridge or building would remain standing regardless of the pressure put upon it.
Rebecca graduated from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion with a master’s degree in Jewish Education and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management. She has also earned the title “Reform Jewish Educator.” Rebecca is dedicated to Israel, its complexities, and teaching its nuance to all who will listen. She hopes that everyone embraces the idea of lifelong Jewish learning. There is always more to explore and experience if you just open a book.
Roberta is the Director of Elementary Education at Temple Israel of Boston, a reform synagogue in Boston, MA. Roberta attended Brandeis University as an undergrad and graduated from Hebrew College with her Masters in Jewish Education. Roberta has been working at Temple Israel of Boston since 2014. She started as the youth group advisor, taught in the religious school and teen program and now her primary job focus is to direct the religious school. Roberta’s job includes working with kids and families to ensure a positive experience in the school as well as working with the religious school staff: hiring, supervising and mentoring teachers. Roberta and her wife live south of Boston in a town called Weymouth with their puppy, Kane.
Shari is currently teaching religious school at her home synagogue in New Jersey and facilitates groups of teens in the Jewish Community Youth Foundation. She studied Marine Science, Geology and Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, and earned a Masters degree in Education and Baccalaureate of Hebrew Literature from the University of Judaism (currently American Jewish University). Shari is an educator with over 20 years of experience including working her way up from teacher’s aide, to the teacher, to Education Director. She has taught and led Religious and Jewish Day Schools, and summer camps. Shari spent summers at Camp Tel Yehudah, the national senior camp of Young Judaea, where she developed a love for Israel and learned the importance of informal education firsthand as a complement to traditional, formal education. Shari lives with her husband, children, and chocolate golden doodle, Charlie. She loves to read, teach, and build legos.
I am passionate about partnering to create a vision with families of what Judaism can be. My goal is to help parents and children who want to seek deeper meanings in Judaism. When my congregants say “We’re not religious,” I hope to show them how much wisdom there is in Judaism to assist and inspire them in their lives. My experiences cross denominations. After leaving my increasingly Orthodox shul as a teenager, I discovered Reform Judaism at Washington University in St. Louis. There I was mentored by the first female rabbi whom I ever met, and was inspired to attend rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion. After ordination, I led a congregation in suburban Chicago for three years but realized Jewish education was my passion. I moved across the country and taught rabbinics to middle school students at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, NJ. From there I became the Director of Education and Associate Rabbi at Temple Israel in Ridgewood, NJ where I founded and led a multi-congregational partnership religious school. I was there until 2015 when I took the position at Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation Bnai Israel in Millburn, where I worked until coming to Temple Shaaray Tefila! I am also the proud mother of Abby, a High School junior and we live in Teaneck, NJ. And in my limited spare time, I love singing, reading, biking, swimming, and other outdoor activities. I am thrilled to be at Temple Shaaray Tefilah with the amazing team of clergy, professionals, teachers and especially the families in our community.
Rabbi Yael Hammerman
Rabbi Yael Hammerman was raised in Toms River, NJ, and from a young age, she felt at home in synagogue and could often be found “teaching” and “leading” her real and imaginary friends. Her childhood play has become her professional passion as she now works to help others feel as comfortable and welcome in the synagogue as she has always felt. Yael has been the Education Director and Associate Rabbi at Ansche Chesed, in NYC, since her ordination from JTS in 2014. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, Rabbi Josh Rabin, and their children.