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RABBI DEBRA NEWMAN KAMIN — SPIRITUAL LEADER AND FAMILY EDUCATOR

I love teaching people of all ages, so I am particularly enthusiastic about the time I get to teach at SJS. Our Family education program guarantees that I spend time with every child in every class along with their parents. I hope the message I convey is a love of Jewish learning that lasts a lifetime. Truthfully very little that I teach is as important as the Judaism our students learn at home. So I hope I help our parents to be better role models for our children. I also have a significant time in the classroom with our teenagers. Each student that continues past B’nai Mitzvah, and especially once they are busy high schoolers, are to be commended  and I feel privileged to get to share their most valuable commodity, their time.

Please click here to learn more about Rabbi Newman Kamin.

CANTOR STUART SIMON — PRAYER SERVICE LEADER, B’NAI MITZVAH TEACHER & SJS MUSIC TEACHER

Cantor Stuart Simon

In addition to leading all religious services at Am Yisrael, I am responsible for training all the B’nai Mitzvah students and teaching the Music classes at SJS. I have the added privilege of being the music teacher for younger students, just like I did when I joined the congregation. Up until a few years ago, I was balancing my cantorial career with my primary vocation as a management executive in the corporate world. I am very happy to now focus all my efforts toward Am Yisrael. Teaching is a joy for me and I love to interact with students of all ages. 

Students will take pride in their Judaism, and understand the importance of the existence of the state of Israel for the continued strength of our people and as a beacon of democracy and righteousness for all nations.

Please click here to learn more about Cantor Simon.

CHARLIE SHERMAN — HEAD OF SCHOOL

It is my honor and privilege to begin my 9th year as the School of Jewish Studies Director at Am Yisrael Congregation. I love the challenge of reaching the needs of today’s learners and leading them in Tefillah. SJS is growing in numbers as we have found ways to inspire our students and take pride in their skills, the Jewish values they integrate into their lives and the knowledge they develop at Am Yisrael. We have a rich curriculum and a dynamic group of Jewish educators who put our students needs first. I encourage you to follow my blog and to keep up with our regular class updates to see what our students are learning. In addition to classes, we hold family services and opportunities for our students to hone their synagogue skills leading and attending services on Friday evenings, Shabbat mornings, Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. For an overview of SJS, please click here. Please contact me at 847–446–7215 ext. 12, 847–708–1805 (cell), or csherman@amyisrael.org if you would like to learn more about our vision for Jewish education, specifics of our curriculum and/or to set up a tour of SJS. Our SJS Calendar may help you choose the best time to visit us based on your interests.

Please click here to learn more about Mr. Sherman.

ALLAN ARNET — HEI, VAV, ZAYIN, PARDES & KADIMA CHUG TEACHER

My name is Allan Arnet and I have been teaching for the past 20 plus years. I am originally from Boston, grew up in Kentucky and finally arrived in Chicago, where I learned the most about Judaism. My year following High School graduation was spent in Israel, learning and working on a kibbutz. This was a wonderful experience that led me to teaching in order to share my positive outlook with young Jewish minds.  I very much enjoy my "Jewishness" along with the language and holidays and history that go along with it. I hope to convey this positive outlook to your children. It is well known that you, as the parents, form the basis upon which your child’s Jewish values will blossom.  My policy is "open door" where parents are invited to stop by their child's class, to call me at home (773-743-6222) or e-mail me at aarnet@amyisrael.org if you have any ideas or feedback that you would like to share.

DENNIS GELBART — DALET, VAV & KAHOOT CHUG TEACHER

I am delighted to have the opportunity to both learn from and teach my students in SJS.  What excites me is being able to help students experience their Judaism to understand the world better. Judaism is a religion where action speaks louder than words, true to the Am Yisrael dynamic. I have the blessing of a great family with three grown children, and four grandchildren, all of whom are active in their own Jewish communities. We spend most of the Jewish holidays all together.

Having served in the Israeli Army and having lived on an Israeli Moshav, I speak to my children only in Hebrew. My weekdays are busy working in a technical area of the luxury car business not far from Am Yisrael. Educationally, I have an MBA from DePaul University. I would love to have parents visit our classroom. Feel free to reach me at dgelbart@amyisrael.org.

 

See you in school!

ANNIE GLASSER — JLAB, YOUTH PROGRAMMING & GIMEL-ZAYIN

My name Annie Glasser and I am Camp Ramah in Wisconsin’s Engagement and Marketing Coordinator. I bring year-round Ramah-fun to Chicagoland communities and am especially excited to be partnering this year with Am Yisrael! I will be in the building on Wednesdays to lead JLab with Mr. Arnet, to build relationships, and to help new and veteran campers find their way (back) to camp. I have always valued Jewish community, so I am very grateful to you all for welcoming me into yours!  Before joining Ramah in Wisconsin, I worked in Connecticut as the Youth Director at the Conservative Synagogue (that’s really what it’s called!) and in New York as a consultant for Religions for Peace, a United Nations forum enhancing understanding and collaboration among and between the world’s religious communities. I am now based here in Chicago and can’t wait to engage in fun, thoughtful learning together! 

SANDRA MIELI KAMM — VAV & ZAYIN TEACHER & SHABBAT FAMILY PROGRAMMING; SHALOM CLUB (K-2nd Grades), RUACH (3rd-5th Grades), KADIMA (6th–8th Grades) & AMUSY (9th–12th Grades) YOUTH GROUP LEADER

I am excited to begin my 6th year as a teacher at the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies.  Prior to working at Am Yisrael, I worked for many years in informal education. During my undergraduate studies at Bradley University, I was involved in the local Jewish community. I was a Youth Director and teacher for teens. After my graduation from college, I spent 7 years with USY as a Youth Advisor and Youth Director. I am looking forward to a fun and exciting school year.

DEBBIE KROOPKIN — CAMP AM YISRAEL TEACHER

Shalom! I am excited to work with the children and parents in Camp Am Yisrael. I have taught in congregational schools for many years primarily for three to six year olds. I have worked at Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist synagogues in Chicago and suburbs, Urbana, Illinois, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have held professional roles in both Jewish and secular non-profit organizations, and I have served on nonprofit boards of directors. My Masters in Social Work administration is from the University of Michigan, and my undergraduate degree is from the University of Illinois. I worked for years on behalf of homeless persons with mental illness in Detroit and Chicago. Currently, I am a professional genealogist and President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. I love to share my enthusiasm for Judaism with children, and I look forward to helping create positive memories of growing up Jewish within the Am Yisrael community. We will learn and have fun.

 

TIKVA MOUSTAKIS — DALET TEACHER

Shalom! I am very excited to begin my 38th year at Am Yisrael. I look forward to teaching the Dalet Class and helping our students to improve their Hebrew reading skills.  In this process I will prepare the Dalet class in leading the weekday Shacharit service.  In honor of Israel's 70th Birthday, I look forward to infusing even more of my love for Israel than usual.

I grew up in Israel, and after I earned my college degree, I came directly to Chicago. I taught at Solomon Schechter for two years, at Judea Mitzpah for five years, at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy High School for sixteen years, all while also teaching here at Am Yisrael. I have tutored many students in their Jewish Studies and have also assisted in B’nai Mitzvah preparation. One of my main overall goals is to give my students a love for Israel. I attend CAJE seminars and I continue to take classes in Hebrew whenever I am in Israel to keep up with the language and culture there. I went to Atlanta for a week to study Israel, focusing on history, bible, politics, and so on. I spent six weeks in Israel and visited the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to learn more about the Herodian time and the 2nd Temple. I spend significant time in Israel with my family. I love the harmony the families have in Israel. Grandparents open “summer camps” in their homes for their grandchildren.  I think it is important as a Hebrew teacher to visit Israel as often as possible to keep up with the Ivrit (Hebrew) and the culture. I hope to teach my students the origin of the Jewish holidays and how they are celebrated in Israel. I also hope to teach some Israeli songs. Over the years I have developed a wonderful relationship with many families at Am Yisrael and I am still in touch with several of my former Am Yisrael students. Finally, I continue to teach adult Hebrew classes at Am Yisrael.

E. MARC NEVINS — BAND CHUG TEACHER, SHABBAT FAMILY PROGRAMMING, & TEFILLAH

I am delighted to serve as the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies Band Teacher. I come to this position with a great deal of enthusiasm, having performed in numerous musicals and plays as a dancer and singer at New Trier East High School. I spent my summers at the National Music Camp at Interlochen in Michigan and then went on to the University of Utah where I double-majored in dance and musicology.  I’ve been blessed with a long performance career in ballet as well as running a successful ballet company. I’ve taught music and dance to children for more than twenty-five years.

A seasoned guitar and piano player, I even have a little bit of experience with the trumpet. If you’ve attended our Friday Night Live service, you’ll recognize me as I have played and sung in the Shabbatones since the very beginning. I also sing with the Am Yisrael High Holiday choir. The power of Jewish music inspires me to a greater depth of spirituality and I hope to impart that to the children I teach.

SARA PREIS — OMANUT (ART) TEACHER

I am so excited and honored to begin my 6th year at Am Yisrael as the Omanut (Art) Teacher and Omanut Chug Facilitator.  I am looking forward to continuing to explore different techniques and media to beautify and decorate the SJS building with every single student in the school. My love of Israel and Judaism will be evident in our art projects and in the classroom environment. We will continue to incorporate the holidays and traditions of our beautiful culture into our projects while working closely with the other teachers and Chugim. I look forward to continuing to build strong relationships with the students by encouraging and nourishing their creative souls and encompassing their passions for Israel and Judaism through art. We had such a blast making a beautiful Noah’s Ark mural, new picnic table to adorn the drop-off/pick-up circle of our building, and have been making our “Mini-Murals” the past few school years.  I look forward to involving the students in more exciting projects based on our brand new Omanut Curriculum entiled, "Make, Create, Celebrate!" I love making genuine connections with all my students and their families and can’t wait to see what we are able to create together!

DIANE ROSENFELD — ALEF/BET TEACHER; DALET, HEI, VAV & ZAYIN HEBREW TUTOR AND SHABBAT FAMILY PROGRAMMING

Shalom! I am delighted to be starting my first year at Am Yisrael SJS as the AlefBet teacher and my sixth year as a Hebrew tutor. I have long careers in both secular and Jewish education. In past years, I have served as both religious school teacher and as principal in the Chicago area and out of state. I have prepared both children and adults for becoming B’nai Mitzvah. I retired from the Chicago Public Schools in 2007 after having served for many years first as a classroom teacher, then as a special education case manager and guidance counselor. In addition to my work at SJS, I teach at two other synagogues as well as substitute-teach in north suburban public school districts.

My main goal at SJS is to help our students improve their Hebrew decoding and fluency skills by using technology and a variety of interactive, fun, hands-on materials, and teaching techniques.

On a personal note, I am actively involved in Hadassah, and Ezra Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation. I have three married children, and eight grandchildren ranging from 6 through 15 years of age.

MARC SENDER — HEI TEACHER

Shalom and welcome to what is going to be an exciting year at the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies.  My name is Marc Sender and I teach the Hei class at Am Yisrael. This will be my 9th year teaching at Am Yisrael. My love for Judaism as well as teaching both go back a long way. Having grown up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and going through Hebrew School followed by Kadima and USY, I learned very early on how much I love Judaism. As I got older I developed a strong passion for sharing my love of Judaism with children and young adults. After returning from my collegiate studies in business at Illinois State University I began working part time as a youth advisor on top of my day job doing marketing and training for a large company. I fell so much in love with my side job working with youth that I decided to make a career change. I am now getting to live out my dream as I work as a Jewish Educator and Youth Group Director.  In addition, my career change allowed me to enroll at Northeastern Illinois University to do a new program in Elementary and Middle School Education. In the spring of 2013, I graduated summa cum laude from the university and was featured on their website as their Eagle Scholar. I spent the last five years teaching full time in public school teaching everything from grades three through eight. This has equipped me with a whole new bag of tricks and ideas to be able to employ in the classroom. At the end of this past school year I was offered the opportunity to fully immerse in the nonprofit world by taking on the role of Regional Teen Engagement Director for USY. As a result, I left the formal education world of the classroom to fully immerse in the informal education world.

When I am not teaching or running the youth program I enjoy spending time with my wife Shira, our seven year old daughter Lauri, our four year old son Theodore (Teddy), our 2 year old daughter Naomi and our three dogs at our home in Vernon Hills.

As an educator, I enjoy being very hands on and incorporating tons of new technology and methods into the classroom. A visit to my classroom will most likely find my students and I engaged in a Shalom Learning project, using the iPads, SmartBoard, or any other piece of technology we can incorporate into the lesson. We also get engrossed in Tefillah and connected on a level that the students feel most comfortable. Armed with over 12 years of Judaic teaching experience, a love for Judaism, an insatiable desire to incorporate new technologies into the classroom, as well as a general love for the work I do, I look forward to making this year a memorable one for all who enter my classroom.

SHIRA SENDER — GIMEL & YAD SQUAD (TORAH TROPE) CHUG TEACHER

My name is Shira Sender, and I am happy to return to the School of Jewish Studies for my 7th year of teaching. This year I will be teaching Kitah Gimel, and I could not be more excited for the year ahead! I strongly believe that technology and education can go hand in hand, and help reach students in new ways. I also believe that the seven core Jewish values that our curriculum is centered around, can and will help to establish a strong educational foundation for our students. My teaching philosophy focuses on instilling a life-long love and passion for Jewish education by helping students to identify their place in our Jewish world. Learning should and can be fun!  When I am not teaching or running the Yad Squad Chug at SJS, I can be found working at Sukkat Shalom in Willmette as their Operations and Administration Assistant, tutoring Hebrew and B’nai Students privately, or carpooling my three yummy children around the Chicagoland area! In fact, keep a look on Sundays at SJS where you might just meet my two younger kiddos in the Camp Am Yisrael and Gan classes! I am excited to embark on this year’s journey, and welcome all to join me. 

SHEILA SEROTA — OMANUT (ART) TEACHER

 

I have been working at the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies since 2004 as the Assistant Omanut (Art) Teacher. I help the Omanut Teacher, Ms. Sara Preis, to plan fun art projects for the students. I enjoy doing arts and crafts and working with our SJS students and want to share my love of both Art and Judaism with them. I hope to help our students express their Jewish identities through Art, and that students will have fun while doing so. I look forward to continuing our Tikkun Olam knitting projects this year. I am a graduate of the Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies and a member of the congregation as well.

HAZZAN LAWRENCE SZENES-STRAUSS  --DALET, HEI, VAV, ZAYIN & MUSICAL DRAMA CHUG TEACHER

This is my third year teaching at Am Yisrael. As a teacher for the Dalet, Hei, Vav, Zayin and Musical Drama chug classes, my work ranges from Jewish values to holidays to bar- and bat-mitzvah preparation. I have taught and led services at synagogues in New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and most recently Vancouver, British Columbia, where I served as a congregational cantor. I graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary's H. L. Miller Cantorial School in 2009, with additional studies in education and Judaics at New York University. When not at Am Yisrael, I teach Judaic studies at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School.

AVIVA TILLES — SUNDAY MORNING MINYAN, MADRICHIM TRAINING, PROZDOR AND TICHON

Shalom. I am looking forward to starting my time with Am Yisrael working with the Hei, Vav and Zayin students at Sunday Morning Minyan, SJS Madrichim and the Prozdor & Tichon students. While this is my first year teaching at SJS, over the past 10+ years I have worked in different Jewish congregational schools throughout the country, ranging in everything from being an all-in-one teacher to four different grade levels in Leominster, Massachusetts, co-teaching a class for a semester to 7th graders on making a difference in their community in Newton, Massachusetts, teaching the Jewish Lifecycle and Values to 7th graders in New Rochelle, New York and teaching the 6th & 7th graders in Seattle, Washington on topics ranging from Jewish Values in Harry Potter to Leadership Examples in the Book of Bamidbar.

In my everyday life I work for International USY as the Director of USY International Convention and over the past 12 years have also been the Director of USY Summer Programs and the Regional Youth Director in the Pacific Northwest region.

I am looking forward to taking all my past experiences and working with this new group while we focus on who they are and where they’ve come from, on how no matter your age you can make an impact in your communities and that leadership skills can be gained and used in many different ways.

LAURA WALD — SPECIAL EDUCATION CONSULTANT

My name is Laura Wald and I have focused the majority of my career as a social worker and educator with expertise on Autism Spectrum Disorder. My particular focus has been complex issues facing families of children with ASD, and strategies to establish a positive and inclusive quality of life. I am a frequent presenter on family therapy and developmental disabilities at institutions such as the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, where I have served as an instructor at the Erikson Institute in Chicago.

I have forty years of direct practice and professional development as a clinical and special education social worker. I have also served as an educational facilitator and psychotherapist specializing in interventions and support for individuals with behavior disorders, autism spectrum disorders, chronic illness, and developmental disabilities, as well as their families and educators.

My professional practice has included working with children with a variety of disabilities from birth through early adulthood.

I have worked as a school social worker at Northern Suburban Special Education District, the Elaine Kersten Center for Young Children with Autism and Community Consolidated School District 15 in Palatine, IL, where I was the social worker for many classes of children on the spectrum with moderate and severe needs.

I hold a BA from Indiana University, an MSW in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, and a post-graduate certificate in Family Therapy with specializations in chronic illness and disabilities from The Chicago Center for Family Health, an affiliate of the University of Chicago. I have also been a social work supervisor training students from the University of Chicago, University of Illinois and Loyola University to work effective with families with disabilities.

I am a past member of the Autism Society of Illinois Professional Advisory Committee and was actively involved as vice president and treasurer of the North Suburban Chapter of the Autism Society of Illinois.

I am the recipient, along with my school Autism Team of the “Those Who Excel” Award from the Illinois State Board of Education.

LYNN WASHER — GAN TEACHER & SHABBAT FAMILY PROGRAMMING

I have worn many hats here at Am Yisrael: the Gan Teacher, first grade teacher, the activity director for the young children at Friday Night Live, Interim School Director and SFP (Shabbat Family Programming) teacher. In my current roles, at SFP I discuss the week’s parasha or discuss the meanings of various prayers. As the Gan Teacher, my role is to pass on my love and knowledge of Judaism, Hebrew and Israel to our 3.5 through 6 year old students at SJS. We do our learning through visits from the Rabbi, games, art projects, stories, songs, book discussions, and so much more.  We participate in Tefillah weekly with Mr. Sherman and Mr. Marc. By being active participants in weekly Tefillah, it makes Shabbat morning services come alive and then we can become active participants at SFP. One other special part of the day is that we have music taught to us, by none other than Cantor Simon: music ties us to all the generations who have come before us and helps us have ruach (spirit). When I am not at Am Yisrael, I am an early childhood teacher in Deerfield. It will be my pleasure to help guide your children as they embark upon their Jewish Educational journey.

MYRA WEISBERG — ALEF/BET, GIMEL, DALET & HEI HEBREW TUTOR

I look forward to beginning my 11th year on the Am Yisrael SJS Faculty as a Hebrew Tutor. I have lived in Chicago all my life. I have three adult sons and two grandchildren. In addition to working at Am Yisrael, I tutor at Beth Hillel Congregation B'nai Emunah. This is my 29th year teaching there. Though I have an up to date Teaching Certificate, I worked as the Teacher’s Assistant in Primary Special Education District 39 (Wilmette) for 22 years under the same teacher. I taught primary remedial reading for 13 summers for District 39. After early retirement from Wilmette, I have been subbing at Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, BJE and JCC nursery schools. I have spent 4 summers practicing Torah portions and Haftorah with Cantor Simon. I am also on the board of the Women’s League of Am Yisrael. My main goal this year is to continue to help students who need extra work on their Hebrew reading and writing skills. In some cases, a few students might need to start from the beginning in learning the Aleph-Bet letter and vowel sounds. Building proficiency in Hebrew reading is my most important role at Am Yisrael SJS. I have always enjoyed this role and do not consider this just a job.

Wed, January 23 2019 17 Shevat 5779