SHIRA WEISSBACH, Education Director of Temple Sinai Religious School
Shira Weissbach earned her undergraduate degree in History and Jewish Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from Gratz College. Shira is seasoned educator with extensive experience in both formal and experiential Jewish education having served as a religious school teacher, youth director, camp counselor, and youth group advisor. Upon graduating college, Shira joined the staff of Temple Emunah in Lexington, MA, where she ran monthly Shabbat programs for children; created High Holiday programming for grades 2-12; took part in curriculum development; and taught in the religious school. Shira has held various professional roles at the Jewish Community High of Gratz College (JCHS), where she served as the Associate Director. As part of her role with JCHS she directed three branches, overseeing 200 students and 20 faculty members. Shira is also a passionate Israel educator and has participated in extensive professional development in the field. Shira and her family – husband, Cobi and children, Rena and Ari reside in Upper Dublin.
ORLI ARONOVITZ (Mechina Bet – 2nd Grade/Sinai High – 7TH Grade)
Orli is excited to be part of Temple Sinai’s Religious School mishpacha (family). Orli will be teaching second graders on Sunday mornings and teaching Sinai High-7th grade on Tuesday nights. Orli earned her degrees in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Temple University and holds certificates in Jewish studies and Jewish education. She has taught religious school for 16 years in the Philadelphia area. Orli met her husband Jason (on J-date!), and they are proud parents of Hadas, who is a Mechina Aleph student, and Gabriel, who loves attending the Ann Newman Preschool. She is looking forward to sharing her love of Judaism with her students.
FAYE BENSHETLER (Special Needs Coordinator)
Faye is certified in the areas of elementary, reading and special education. In her 35 year public school career, she was a teacher, curriculum coordinator, teacher trainer, and a special education supervisor. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA); trained to support children on and off the autism spectrum with behavioral needs. She has been involved in Jewish education as a teacher, trainer, and special needs coordinator for area day and congregational schools since 1972.
RACHEL BERGER (Kitah Daled – 4th Grade)
Rachel is excited to start her third year teaching Daled (4th grade) at Temple Sinai. She grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and worked for several years at her childhood synagogue's Preschool and Religious School. She loves incorporating interactive, engaging activities in her classroom and looks forward to a fun year! Rachel has a BA in Journalism and an MS in Marketing Communications, both from Temple University. She currently works as the Assistant Director of Marketing and Enrollment Services at Temple's Ambler Campus, just around the corner. Rachel lives in Blue Bell with her husband, Eric, her sons Matthew (Ann Newman Preschool grad, now in Mechina Gan!) and Ryan (attending the Ann Newman Preschool), and her two cats.
RACHEL BERKOWITZ (Mechina Bet Teacher’s Assistant – 2nd Grade)
Rachel is excited to begin her first year assistant teaching 2nd grade at Temple Sinai. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh this past spring with a BS in Psychology. She aspires to become a nurse and to work with children. While in high school, Rachel attended the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College and enjoyed working as a religious school teacher's assistant on Sundays. Rachel enjoys running and biking, spending time with her friends and family, and listening to music. She is looking forward to a fun-filled year!
SIGAL CASTIEL (Kitah Hey – 5th Grade)
Sigal is a proud mom of two children, 16 year old Noa and 13 year old Edan. Sigal came from Israel in 1989 after serving in the Israeli military. She has degrees in Nursing and Jewish Education. She has been working as a Hebrew teacher for more than 24 years (loving every minute of it), and is also a Pre-K teacher at Flanagan’s Preschool. Sigal’s language skills extend beyond Hebrew to her work as a Spanish specialist. She loves teaching Hebrew through music, and helping her students learn about their Jewish traditions and Israel. She works diligently to make her students proud of their heritage.
CHANA DICKTER (Hebrew Resource Room Coordinator)
Chana was born and bred in Brooklyn, N.Y. Chana (known outside the Jewish world as Ann Ellen) has lived in the Philadelphia area since graduate school. A former clinical and educational audiologist and health care administrator, she has spent 20 years pursuing her passion for Jewish education. She is the proud parent of two grown sons. She is looking forward to her fourth year at Temple Sinai. What she enjoys the most is watching her students experience an AHA! Moment.
MICHELE FIELDS (Kitah Gimel – 3RD Grade)
Michele is excited to join the Religious School Faculty at Temple Sinai this year! She has been a Jewish educator for over 20 years, teaching in various synagogues and Jewish Day Schools. She has taught Preschool from toddlers to Pre-K, Hebrew School grades Kindergarten and First, Hebrew High School and has subbed in Private Elementary Schools. She is a graduate from Temple University with a BS Degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Development. Michele truly enjoys being a teacher as it enables her to incorporate her love of children with her love of Judaism. She is looking forward to a great year!
She has been a resident of Bucks County for over 16 years and lives in Jamison, PA. She is the very proud Mom of five great children (four sons and one daughter) ranging in ages from 22 to 12 and a Bichon named Daisy. When she’s not spending time with her younger children as a Soccer and Dance Mom, she enjoys reading, Broadway Shows, the shore and road trips with her entire family.
DAVID GOLDSTEIN (Kitah Vav – 6th Grade)
This is David’s first year as a Religious School teacher at Temple Sinai, after 10 years of teaching at Beth Tikvah B’nai Jeshurun and he is very much looking forward to this new challenge. At BTBJ, David specialized in the teaching of Hebrew decoding/Tefillah (prayer) skills to Aleph students. Every Sunday morning, David led both Aleph classes in a complete Shacharit service. He is also a proficient reader in both Torah and Haftarah and also served as a B’nai Mitzvah tutor at BTBJ. Before entering the field of religious education, David functioned for 25 years as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, specializing in behavior management with children, substance abuse problems and as an education advocate for children with special needs. David is excited about teaching at Temple Sinai and hopes to be here for many years to come.
SHERRIE ROSENBERG KLEIN, CJE (Sinai High – 7th Grade)
Sherrie is thrilled to return to Temple Sinai as a teacher in the Sinai High program. She began her Jewish educational journey as co-teacher, youth advisor and junior congregation co-leader when she was in college. She has served as a family educator and an education director for the past 25 years. Sherrie holds a BA in developmental psychology with an emphasis on adolescence and a MAJEd in Jewish Education. She enjoys challenging her students to think and reflect; allowing students to make personal connections to the learning. She has a passion for Israel and has taken teens to Israel and AIPAC for many years. She believes that every student has something to contribute and something to learn and experience in the classroom. Sherrie and her husband, Nelson, have three grown children; Brian, Amy and Liora.
MELISSA KRAMER (Mechina Aleph Teacher’s Assistant – 1st Grade)
Melissa is excited to be returning to the Temple Sinai Religious School team this year. She grew up going to religious school at Temple Sinai and continued on to the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College. She graduated from Drew University with a degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainability and is currently working at the Philadelphia Zoo. Melissa is excited for a fun new year!
DEBORAH LEVIN (Kitah Hey – 5th Grade)
Deborah is really looking forward to another year at Temple Sinai. Deb has taught Jewish studies for six years and has been teaching deaf students for nineteen years. She attended Jewish day school and had such an amazing experience with her Jewish education that she hopes to share this enthusiasm with her Religious School students. She is also a huge Philly sports fan. Deb is energized for a wonderful year of Religious School!
JENNIFER LISSANSKY (Mechina Gan’s Assistant Teacher)
Jenn is very excited to be teaching in the Religious School at Temple Sinai for her third year. She has been teaching religious school for seventeen years. Jenn graduated from Temple University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. Her real passion is teaching the Hebrew language. She loves making games out of the vowels and letters and watching the kids get excited when they start to understand it. Jenn has two children. Her daughter, Mackenzie, is a graduate of the Temple Sinai preschool and is in second grade and her son, Nate is attending Temple Sinai preschool. Jenn looks forward to meeting all of her students and their families.
LAURIE MATEZ (Mechina Gan – Kindergarten)
Laurie has been a teacher at Temple Sinai for many years. She, and her husband David, and their three beautiful children: Zachary, Marshall, and Liana are longtime members of Temple Sinai. All of her children attended the Ann Newman Preschool. She is excited to be teaching in the Religious School as well as the new Infant Center at the synagogue. Laurie attended Temple University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Theatre. In addition, she has a CDA (Child Development Associate) Certification. She has always loved working with young children and uses her talents and abilities to enrich their lives. These skills have helped her to function in many capacities at Temple Sinai, including the immediate past Director of Temple Sinai’s Camp Maccabee, lead teacher of the infant center and a proud member of the Temple Sinai community. She hopes to remain a part of Temple Sinai for many years to come.
JARED MITCHELL (Kitah Vav – 6th Grade/Sinai High – 8th Grade)
Jared wants to welcome every student and parent to his 6th grade class at Temple Sinai. He is very excited to be teaching the 6th grade students in the exact school where he completed his entire Judaic studies from 3rd to 12th grade along with 8th grade students. Jared’s 10th grade confirmation class picture is still hanging in the hallway! Jared is very honored to come back for another year and introduce new, exciting lessons to the students at Temple Sinai! Jared graduated from Upper Dublin High School in 2004 and West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 2008, receiving a degree in Elementary Education and a Minor in Mathematics. Jared currently teaches Enrichment Kindergarten in the Council Rock School District, but also has many years’ experience working with 6th grade students when he used to be a 6th grade teacher in other school districts. Jared is also a MC/DJ for Bar/ Bat Mitzvahs and Weddings, a program director for Camp America, and tutors students in various subjects. In his free time, he loves watching and playing sports, hanging out with his family and friends, watching movies, and hanging out with his dog Chelsea and cat Shani. He is a very energetic person who loves to work with different types of people in many settings. Jared’s goal for this school year is for every student to have a fun time while discovering his or her own Jewish identity in each lesson. Jared cannot wait to share his previous experiences and knowledge with Kitah Vav and Sinai High this school year!
LORI-AN PENCHANSKY (Mechina Aleph – 1st Grade)
Lori-An is excited to be part of Temple Sinai’s Religious School mishpacha (family). Lori-An will be teaching first graders on Sunday mornings this year. She earned her degree in Jewish Studies from Douglass College, Rutgers University and her Masters in Jewish Education from Baltimore Hebrew University. She has also studied at Gratz College. Lori-An has been working in Jewish Education for over 20 years and has taught in Religious Schools, Preschools, Camps and Youth Groups. She has a strong love for Jewish Education and is looking forward to sharing that with our Temple Sinai students. Lori-An and her husband Marc have lived in Philadelphia for 18 years. Their son Aaron is a recent graduate of The Ann Newman Preschool here at Temple Sinai and Aaron is now attending Perelman Jewish Day School.
ROCKI SCHY(Kitah Gimel – 3rd Grade/Sinai High – 9th Grade)
Rocki is thrilled to be returning to the Temple Sinai Religious School team again this year! She attended Perelman Jewish Day School, Hatboro Horsham High School, and is now pursuing an education degree at Temple University. Rocki is excited to join in a fun and educational New Year!
BETH SHORE (Kitah Gimel – 3rd Grade)
Beth is thrilled to be joining the Kitah Gimel (3rd grade) class this year! She is especially excited because she has been part of the Temple Sinai community since she was three years-old! From The Ann Newman Preschool and Camp Maccabee to Religious School and the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, Beth grew up here. Just last year, she and her husband Eric were married at Temple Sinai by Rabbi Wohlberg and Cantor Freedman. While attending college and law school at Penn State, Beth taught religious school in State College. Recently, she also taught Hebrew high school in Cherry Hill. Beth enjoys helping her students grow their unique Jewish identities, and hopes that they have fun while doing it! A lawyer by day, Beth currently practices education law.
ARIELLE SIMON (Kitah Daled -4th Grade)
Arielle is excited to begin her second year teaching 4th grade at Temple Sinai. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in early childhood education and a Teaching English as a Second Language certification, Arielle has been working as a Reading Support teacher at Valley Forge Elementary School. She is looking forward to a fun and exciting year full of hands-on and interactive learning experiences!
HILARY YOHLIN WALLER (Youth and Programming Coordinator/Sinai High – 10th Grade)
Hilary comes to Temple Sinai with many years of experience working in the Jewish community including eight years at Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell where she developed and managed the youth department; designed and taught Hebrew High courses and created and coordinated all aspects of programming aimed at strengthening community among congregants. In her current role as Temple Sinai’s Youth and Programming Coordinator, Hilary oversees the congregation’s youth activities and helps to coordinate much of the programming that takes place in our synagogue. She is excited to join the Sinai High staff and to working with Sinai’s teens. Hilary can be found in her office, located in the new Teen Lounge most days of the week and encourages all congregants to stop in to say hello! As an undergraduate, Hilary earned degrees from both Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She also has an M.S. degree in Counseling Psychology from Holy Family University with a concentration in Family and Marital Counseling. She earned her NCC certification and will complete her state licensure next year. Hilary lives in Upper Dublin with her husband Matt and daughters Molly and Emily.
MICHELE WHITMAN (Kitah Gimel – 3rd Grade)
Michele has been teaching most of her life. She knew she wanted to be a teacher after she began working in her religious school as a Bar/Bat mitzvah tutor just after she herself became a Bat Mitzvah. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in Early Childhood /Elementary Education, Michele taught in the School District of Philadelphia for ten years and after a break to stay home raising her daughters, she has been substitute teaching in local school districts for several years. After teaching the younger children in our school’s Mechina program for the last seven years, Michele is excited to teach Kitah Gimel this year. It is an exciting challenge for her to build on the emerging Hebrew literacy of our third graders knowing that by the end of the school year they will be sounding out words, recognizing key vocabulary, and reciting several prayers used in services. Michele really enjoys teaching in our Religious School and is proud that her own children have had such awonderful educational and spiritual experiences here.