Friday, August 14, 2020

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll

Rabbi Shimmy Trencher

Banot sherut Shiri, Naom and Mikki.

Rabbi Hillel Lichtman

Michelle Hoch

Danielle Cohen

Lisa Corner

Rabbi Rachmiel Gurwitz


SAR High School Welcomes New Faculty

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, a founding staff member at SAR High School has returned as principal after spending the past six years as head of school at Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida. He received his B.A. from Yeshiva College, with his semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and a master’s degree in secondary education from the Azrieli Graduate School. Before the founding of SAR High School, Rabbi Kroll began his career in Jewish education teaching at Yeshivah of Flatbush.

Jon Martin has joined the SAR High School faculty to head the new Design Engineering Program, teach engineering classes and facilitate and manage co-curriculars in this area. He has been a full-time teacher for over 15 years and taught courses in high school computer programming, game design, mathematics, science and economics. Most recently, Martin led the computer science and technology program at the Abraham Joshua Heschel middle school. Before entering the teaching profession, he was a geotechnical engineer and software developer.


Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy Welcomes New Faculty 

Bi Cultural Hebrew Academy is proud to welcome Rabbi Shimmy Trencher as new upper school principal. For Rabbi Trencher, the move to Connecticut was a homecoming. A native of West Hartford, he is a graduate of what was then the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy in Bloomfield (which recently merged with the Hebrew High School of New England—HHNE—to become the New England Jewish Academy). While living in West Hartford, he also served as assistant regional director of the New England region NCSY, and as dean of students at HHNE. Prior to joining Bi-Cultural, he was principal of the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Upper School in Rockville, Maryland.

A graduate of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Trencher holds a masters in social work from the University of Connecticut.

Rabbi Dr. Avi Block has been appointed mashgiach ruchani—religious spiritual counselor—of the Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy Upper School for grades 9-12. In addition, Rabbi Block joins the Bi-Cultural Judaic Studies faculty as a middle and upper school teacher.

Rabbi Dr. Block, who has extensive experience as an educator, psychologist and congregational rabbi, brings with him “a passion for connecting with students as individuals on all levels.”

A graduate of Yeshiva University, where he also received his rabbinic ordination, he earned both his Masters of Science and Doctorate of Psychology from St. John’s University in New York. Prior to joining the Bi-Cultural faculty, he served as a school psychologist for the New York City Department of Education and as a staff therapist with Cognitive Behavioral Health Psychology serving Monsey and its surrounding areas.

As a Jewish educator and spiritual leader, Rabbi Dr. Block served as assistant rabbi at Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, a Judaic Studies teacher at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School and as a guest lecturer and scholar in residence at several congregations around the country.

Dr. Malki Feuer has joined the staff of Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy as curriculum coordinator for Judaic Studies. In her new role, Dr. Feuer will work closely with the Judaic studies faculty on developing and implementing curriculum, goals and objectives for pre-k through grade eight.

A graduate of Stern College for Women, Dr. Feuer also attended Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School where she was named a Block Scholar and received a master’s in Jewish education and a PhD in Jewish education and administration.

She has experience in the classroom, as well as in creating, designing and aligning curricula in several prominent Jewish schools, including Ramaz, Yeshivat Noam and The Moriah School.  

This year, the school is expanding the banot sherut program to include three banot whose goal it will be to bring the beauty of Israel to students, strengthen students’ connection to the Jewish state and instill in them a pride in our shared Jewish heritage. Their responsibilities include tutoring students in Hebrew language, coordinating holiday curriculum and accompanying eighth graders on their month-long trip to Israel.

Shiri Tzur hails from the town of Talmon. This year, as part of her national service, Tzur served as a tour guide, introducing visitors to the beauty of the Jewish state.

Noam Halamish comes to Stamford from Petah-Tikvah. This year, Halamish fulfilled part of her national service at “Shekel House” on Kibbutz Yavne—a home for women with disabilities.

Mikki (Malka) Lauderdale lives in Efrat. This past year, as part of her national service, she volunteered in Holon, working in a vocational high school for youth with special needs.


Kinneret Day School Welcomes Three Exciting New Staff Members  

Dr. Elana Weinberger joins Kinneret as its new school psychologist. Dr. Weinberger, a Riverdale native, comes to KDS with over a decade of experience working with children of all ages in schools, camps and in private practice. Dr. Weinberger will be providing individual support for children and families in addition to coordinating the Uplifters Anti Bullying Program, middle school Advisory and other initiatives. 

Yael Smooha is the new seventh-eighth grade Chumash/Navi lead teacher. Smooha comes to KDS with classroom experience in various New York City area Jewish day schools and public schools. Smooha has a master’s in education from Columbia Teachers College and is currently studying for ordination at Yeshivat Maharat. 

Rabbi Michael Billet is a new middle school faculty member for Judaic studies. Rabbi Billet comes to KDS with experience both in formal classroom work and in informal structures. A recent graduate of YCT, Rabbi Billet will be working in the Learning Center and in middle school Chumash/Navi classrooms.


WTA Welcomes New Hires

It is with great pleasure that WTA welcomes Michelle Hoch as director of school counseling and student life. Hoff has served as a counselor for over 12 years and for the past eight years as a grade level dean at SAR.

Hoff’s core values begin with her deep commitment to family, Jewish education and instilling self-confidence in her students. Hoff is thrilled to be working with WTA’s early childhood, lower and budding middle school students. She believes that at the heart of working with children is the ability to understand the world from their point of view and that every developmental stage is an opportunity to nurture and discover the treasures in each child. It is through this lens that she has patiently counseled hundreds of students with her warm and empathic nature. She loves working one-on-one and in small groups where she can build relationships and cultivate a sense of belonging. She takes pride in designing creative and relevant activities, lessons and grade-wide events.

WTA is thrilled to be welcoming Rabbi Hillel Lichtman as its new middle school mashgiach ruchani. Rabbi Lichtman will support all aspects of the Judaic studies and religious life of middle school at WTA. He will help students further establish a sense of pride and confidence in their limudei kodesh as they transition from middle school to high school. Rabbi Lichtman will serve as a mentor for students and teachers and guide them as they are introduced to advanced and thought-provoking religious ideas. Rabbi Lichtman hopes to help students connect to their learning in a personal and relatable way.

Rabbi Lichtman earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Touro College and an master’s in clinical school psychology from the City University of New York. He has worked as both a school psychologist (in Israel and New York) as well as an Israel advisor at HAFTR.

Most recently, Rabbi Lichtman was a Jewish Studies instructor at HAFTR High School, where he taught Chumash, Gemara and Ivrit. During the summer months, Rabbi Lichtman has led the chinuch staff in Camp Avnet.

WTA is excited for David Nodiff to be joining their faculty as the fourth-seventh grade STEAM instructor. Nodiff spent much of his career working in the largest public elementary school in Westchester, and he is embracing the change to teaching in a private school that specializes in individualized learning. He is looking forward to learning and offering his skills in a new way, and hopes to get students excited about science and develop a true love of learning.


Carmel Academy Announces New Hires for 2019-2020

Carmel Academy welcomed Danielle Cohen in July as the new director of admissions and marketing. Cohen will be handling all of Carmel’s marketing and communication initiatives going forward.  

After years working in New York City as a corporate global marketing, education and events specialist, Cohen decided to make her return to an educational setting. Cohen is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and human development. She then went on to achieve her Master of Science in education degree from Hunter College, during which she worked in a New York City public school. Cohen resides in New Rochelle, with her husband, Rony, and daughter, Elle. 

“I am very inspired by Carmel Academy’s mission statement and values.  I look forward to joining the Carmel community and immersing myself in its culture and environment. My hopes are to increase awareness of all the amazing things Carmel Academy has to offer. From our PALS program, social emotional learning curriculum, enrichment opportunities—the list just goes on and on!” said Cohen.

Lisa Corner joins Carmel as the new director of educational resources and PALS (Carmel’s program for twice-exceptional students who, with appropriate support, can be successful and achieve grade level standards and beyond).  

Corner is a special educator with deep experience using many social, emotional and behavioral curricular approaches. She began her career teaching adolescents, subsequently segueing to early childhood education when she joined the team of the Therapeutic Nursery (TN) at the Tenafly JCC. There she led the program that included speech/language therapy, occupational therapy and intense focus on social-emotional learning, while running multiple social skills groups for children of all ages. Corner has also collaborated extensively with Dr. Michelle Dunn in her research and authorship of the Social Skills in Our Schools (SOS) curriculum, which Carmel Academy began using in 2018, and is one of the authors on the newest SOS book being published this fall.

“Lisa’s experience, educational philosophy and insight into student’s learning styles are completely aligned with Carmel Academy, and she’s an exciting addition,” said Nora Anderson, Carmel head of school. “The Carmel PALS students and approach are incredible, and I am thrilled to lead this critical and unique program forward!” observed Corner.

Rabbi Rachmiel Gurwitz joined Carmel Academy as the school’s rabbi-in-residence in August. He received his semicha from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Riverdale, and brings broad experience, having served as Jewish chaplain and Hillel director at Muhlenberg College Hillel in Allentown, Pennsylvania, unit leader at Eden Village Camp, educator and trip leader with Jacobs International Teen Leadership Institute and teacher with Ansche Chesed Hebrew School and JCC Meyerhoff Early Childhood Education Center.

Rabbi Gurwitz is passionate about making Judaism, sacred texts and Jewish practice accessible to students of all backgrounds. He will oversee tefilla and focus on enriching the Carmel community’s Jewish learning and living through new experiential programming and teaching. 

«One thing that truly impressed me during my visit to Carmel Academy was when I asked a group of parents why they chose Carmel Academy. Every parent had their own unique answer. It showed me that Carmel Academy is a place where each student, each family is nurtured according to what they need to grow and develop their own authentic Jewish identity. I am so excited to join a community…where students of many religious observances and backgrounds can come together to enrich each other’s Jewish experience,” said Rabbi Gurwitz.


Newly Named Leffel School Welcomes New Teachers 

The Leffell School, formerly Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, has added two renowned veteran teacher-leaders to its high school faculty for the 2019-2020 school year.

David Chason joins the Leffell team as the new physics teacher. Chason has taught science at the high school and middle school level for more than 30 years, and he recently completed a 24-year stint as a beloved science teacher at Ardsley High School. While at Ardsley, he taught physics and earth science, established and coached the Science Olympiad team and served for six years as the curriculum leader for the sciences. He has also coached athletics, including soccer and track. Prior to beginning his teaching career, Chason, who holds a master’s degree in hydrogeology, worked for an engineering firm as a hydrogeologist. Outside of school, he is an avid cyclist and reader who lives with his wife, a teacher at Scarsdale High School. They have three grown children.

Rachel Kirschbaum is the new chair of Leffell’s High School Hebrew department. Kirschbaum previously taught at SAR and the Heschel School, and she most recently was chair of the Tanach department at Ramaz middle school, where she also taught Talmud. She earned a degree in Jewish law and philosophy from Hebrew University and a teaching certificate from the Jewish Agency, and she has undertaken continuing education and professional development at the Matan Scholars Circle, Bar Ilan University’s Lookstein Center and the Windward School. Having spent many years integrating Hebrew language into her teaching of Jewish texts, she is excited to take on a new role as chair of Hebrew instruction. She notes that particularly as an American-born, native-quality speaker of Hebrew (she lived in Israel for eight years), she expects to relate well to the students who are learning Hebrew as both a modern language and for use in limudei kodesh.

Head of School Michael Kay noted, “We are delighted to be welcoming all of the new members of our faculty and staff for the 2019-2020 school year, and in particular these two veteran educators. Both Ms. Kirschbaum and Mr. Chason are known for exceptional expertise in their respective fields, and they come to us with stellar reputations as teachers and leaders from terrific peer schools.”

Over the summer, The Leffell School marked the transition to its new name, following 53 years as Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Located on two lush, 25-acre campuses in Westchester County and serving a student population of 750 in grades k-12, the school attracts families from throughout the tri-state area. Anchored in traditional Jewish observance, text-study and language, it is known for embracing a broad spectrum of Jewish ideologies and promoting full immersion in the modern world. Signature programs include engineering and entrepreneurship (winner of the 2019 Kohelet Prize for outstanding learning environment in a North American Jewish day school) and Lev v’Nefesh, an eight-week capstone experience for seniors in Poland and Israel.

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