Religious School Teacher Bios

shira-wSHIRA WEISSBACH, Education Director of Temple Sinai Religious School 

Shira Weissbach has been the Director of Education at Temple Sinai since the summer of 2014. She holds an undergraduate degree in History and Jewish Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from Gratz College. A seasoned educator with extensive experience in both formal and experiential Jewish education, Shira has served as a Religious School teacher, Youth Director, Camp Counselor, and Youth Group advisor. Shira has held various professional roles at the Jewish Community High of Gratz College (JCHS), where she served as the Associate Director. Prior to working at JCHS, Shira was the Youth Director at Temple Emunah in Lexington, MA. 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, Ari, and Asher reside in Upper Dublin.

orli-aronovitzORLI ARONOVITZ (Mechina Bet – 2nd Grade/Kitah Daled – 4th 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, fourth graders on Tuesday afternoons and 7th graders 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 almost 20 years in the Philadelphia area. Orli met her husband Jason (on J-date!), and they are proud parents of Hadas, who is a Mechina Bet student, and Gabriel, who is beginning Mechina Gan. She is looking forward to sharing her love of Judaism with her students

faye-benshetlerFAYE 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 BergerRACHEL 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 Aleph!) and Ryan (attending the Ann Newman Preschool), and her two cats.

SIGAL CASTIEL (Kitah Hey – 5th Grade)

Sigal is a proud mom of two children, 16 year old Noa and 14 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 25 years (loving every minute of it), and is also a Pre-K teacher at The Malvern School.   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 fifth year at Temple Sinai.  What she enjoys the most is watching her students experience an AHA! Moment.


MICHELE FIELDS (Kitah Daled – 4th Grade)

Michele is so happy to return to the Religious School Faculty at Temple Sinai and she is looking forward to a fabulous year! She has enjoyed being a Jewish Educator for the past 25 years, teaching in various synagogue religious school and Jewish Day Schools. Michele has taught Pre-school from toddlers to Pre-K and Religious School for grades Kindergarten, First, Third, and this year Fourth grade, as well as in Hebrew High School.

She is currently a Substitute Teacher and Perelman Jewish Day School and at Ann Newman Pre-School here at Temple Sinai.

Michele is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education and Childhood Development.  She truly loves being a teacher, as it enables her to incorporate her love of children with her love of Judaism. Michele is a resident of Bucks County for over 17 years, residing in Jamison, PA.  She is the super proud Mom of five amazing children (four sons and one daughter), ranging in ages from 23 to 13.  In her spare time, she enjoys going on family vacations, seeing Broadway shows, shopping and reading for pleasure.

MELISSA KRAMER (Mechina Aleph – 1st Grade)

Melissa is so excited to be returning as part of the Temple Sinai Religious School faculty this year. She grew up going to Preschool and 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)

Deb is really looking forward to another year at Temple Sinai. Deb has taught Jewish studies for seven years and has been teaching deaf students for twenty 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 and a soccer mom. Deb is energized for a wonderful year of Religious School!



Jennifer Lissansky


JENNIFER LISSANSKY (Mechina Gan – Kindergarten)

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 3rd grade and her son, Nate is attending Temple Sinai preschool. Jenn looks forward to meeting all of her students and their families.

STACI MARBURG (Kitah Daled – 4th Grade)

Staci is excited to be part of the Temple Sinai Religious School Family.  Staci will be teaching Kitah Daled (4th Grade) on Sunday and Tuesday. She is the proud mom of two daughters (15 & 17 years old). Staci grew up in Cheltenham, but currently lives in Upper Dublin with her husband and daughters for the past 15 years.  She has a BS in Education from Temple University and a M.Ed from West Chester University. After 26 years of teaching grades Kindergarten thru 8th in Philadelphia, she is looking forward to a new environment to continue her love of teaching children. She is hoping to make learning about Judaism fun, interactive and exciting! 

Laurie-MLAURIE 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 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-mitchellJARED MITCHELL (Kitah Vav – 6th Grade/Sinai High)

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 Sinai High 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 to introduce new and exciting lessons to the students at Temple Sinai!  Jared graduated from Upper Dublin High School in 2004 and West Chester University 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 cats Shani & Miley.  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 his Kitah Vav and Sinai High students this school year!

LORI-AN PENCHANSKY (Kitah Vav-6th Grade)

Lori-An is excited to be part of Temple Sinai’s Religious School teaching 6th graders on Sunday morning and Tuesday afternoon 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 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)

Rocki is thrilled to be returning to Temple Sinai Religious School this year teaching Kitah Gimel – 3rd Grade!   Rocki went to Perelman Jewish Day School, and Hatboro Horsham High School. Rocki loves her work, both at Temple Sinai and at Temple University, where she is majoring in History and Education. She is looking forward to another great year of Jewish learning and fun! 


BETH SHORE (Kitah Daled – 4th Grade)

Beth is thrilled to be joining the Daled-4th 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 Temple Sinai’s Religious School and the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, Beth grew up here. While attending college and law school at Penn State, Beth taught religious school in State College. She also taught Hebrew high school in Cherry Hill.  Beth enjoys helping her students grow their unique Jewish identities, and and wants them to have fun while doing it!  A lawyer by day, Beth currently practices education law. She and her husband Eric are the proud parents of their newborn daughter, who arrived this past July!

MICHELE WHITMAN (Mechina Aleph – 1st Grade/Kitah Gimel – 3rd Grade)

Michele has been teaching most of her life. She knew she wanted to be a teacher when 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 is substitute teaching in local school districts. She is passionate about working with children; creating games and activities that promote learning through play and cooperation, fostering meaningful relationships among her students and their families, and being a role model that her students will recognize and trust while they grow up in our congregation. Michele really enjoys teaching in our Religious School (this is her ninth year here!) and she is proud that her own children have had such wonderful educational and spiritual experiences here.



Temple Sinai is an affiliated member of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)