Susie Chalom, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Susie Chalom was Education Director of Adath Jeshurun Synagogue for 27 years before taking over the position of Executive Director in June 2006. Her degrees in Linguistics and Literature as well as training in English as a Second Language at Tel Aviv University brought her from Israel to Talmud Torah of Minneapolis in 1970. After realizing that a Masters in Speech Pathology was not what God intended for her, she took Education classes and became a full time teacher at Talmud Torah. Since then, she has taught all ages from preschool to adults and classes in Hebrew language, theology, Jewish texts and Spirituality for teens as well as adults. She has had training in Passageways curriculum, Melton Bible Study, Etgar curriculum at JTS, Advanced Talmud classes at Pardes Yeshiva as well as the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. She has also trained at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and completed the “Art of Leadership “class at Harvard She also completed the four year training at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is a member of the Chavura at IJS. She is a lifelong learner and her favorite past time is teaching and learning with her students. She taught the weekly Parasha class at Adath Jeshurun for 10 years and many other classes including the Florence Melton Adult Mini School, Melton classes for Graduates, Jewish Tapestry series at JCC St. Paul and classes on Jewish living at Adath Jeshurun and other synagogues. She has taught Talmud Torah classes on and off for 40 years and these days, the highlight of her week is teaching the graduating seniors Kehilla class- “Passageworks”. She is very proud of her two children- Allon and Orlee –who are both alumni of Talmud Torah Bet Midrash.
Barry Gruber, Principal (email@example.com)
Barry is the “new” principal at Talmud Torah, having recently completed his first year there. He moved here from Rochester, NY, where he grew up. Barry received his MPH degree from Columbia University, and served as a top administrator in several public and private health care agencies. Prior to coming to TT, he served as the Director of Education and Youth at Temple Beth El, the largest Conservative congregation in upstate New York. Barry just graduated from the first cohort of a prestigious two year fellowship studying technology in Jewish education, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. He is active nationally, serving on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Educators Assembly, where he also serves as chair of the strategic planning committee, and the chair of their national conference last year.
Barry has three grown children – Dana, Alison, and Mitchell – who are all doing wonderful things with their lives and who are his biggest source of pride and joy. He lives with his dog Auggie in St. Louis Park.
Sally Abrams (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sally (BA in nutrition and BA in Hebrew Language, University of Minnesota), is in her 4th year teaching CIS Hebrew at Talmud Torah. She taught Hebrew at the Twin Cities Jewish Middle School for seven years and the Heilicher Jewish Day School for four years. Sally also
co-directs the Jewish Community Relations Council's Israel Advocacy Speakers’ Bureau and writes a monthly feature on Israel for the website TC Jewfolk. She loves visiting Israel and tries to get there once a year. Sally knows first hand how much it is possible to achieve in CIS, as her son completed the four year program with fine results. Sally and her husband Mike are the parents of three sons and a daughter, all Bet HaMidrash graduates.
Avi grew up in the Minneapolis Jewish Community, he currently works as the Program Logistics Coordinator for Herzl Camp. Avi loves making the Judaic information relevant to the lives of us today as modern Jews. Informal education is a passion of Avi's and he thoroughly enjoys teaching at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis.
Mary Baumgarten (email@example.com)
Mary has been teaching at Talmud Torah since 1973. She has a BA from American University and an MA from Temple University. Mary’s professional development opportunities in the United States and abroad. She has taught all subjects and grade levels, including adult education and currently teaches at the elementary and middle school levels. Since 1991, Mary has been Education Director at Beth El. In addition, she taught at MJDS for three years. In 2001, Mary was the recipient of the Vivian Mann Educator of the Year Award and the Grinspoon-Steinhardt National Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. One of Mary's passions is her connection with Eretz Yisrael. Mary is very proud of her two children, both graduates of Talmud Torah's Bet Midrash, her daughter-in-law and son-in-law and her adorable grandchildren.
Etta Bernstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Etta has degrees in Hebrew, Jewish Studies, Music and Education (K-12). She has also studied Hebrew at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, completing Level Vav, the highest available level. Additional coursework includes remedial and exceptional education with primary emphasis in math and reading. She has also taken classes at the University of Minnesota- LCTL (Less Commonly Taught Languages) with an emphasis on adapting and developing methods and materials, as well as creating dynamic rubrics and assessments appropriate to specialized educational programs. Prior to coming to Talmud Torah of Minneapolis, Etta taught in both public and Jewish day school settings. Etta is currently the Hebrew Reading and Tutorial Coordinator for Alef (3rd grade) through Dalet (6th Grade).
Carmella Chazin (email@example.com)
Carmella has been teaching at Talmud Torah since 1984. She has taught students of Alef, Bet, Gimel, Hey and Vav classes. A graduate of “Seminar Ha Kibbutzim “ in Tel Aviv as a Kindergarten Teacher. She served as a teacher in the Israeli Army. Building a new School in Sinai (was the first and last teacher to teach Israeli children in Sinai.) She taught at Kibbutz Giv’at Bremer, Herzliyah, where she built an afternoon inner-city program for students and parents. Carmella teaches Hebrew, T’fillah and Jewish Customs. Carmella believes in the individual approach of teaching, reaching all her students,, Israel is an integral part of her teaching - bringing her students to love the Jewish State. Carmella is very proud of her three children, Dorit (after high school served in the Israeli Army) Orrie, and Shai are all graduates of Talmud Torah's Bet Midrash.
Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui, Director of the Foundation and Teacher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui has been associated with the Talmud Torah for over 40 years. He taught for twelve years before becoming the Executive Director of the Talmud Torah, a position he held for twenty four years. Since 1999, he has been the Director of the Talmud Torah Foundation and a member of the faculty. He graduated from Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, Ohio and holds a Masters in Education Administration from the University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN.
Saleit Faleschini (email@example.com)
Saleit lived in Italy for three years where she earned her Bachelor Degree in art at the at the Accademia Delle Bella Arte, in Florence. She has been teaching Hebrew ever since she moved to the United States in 2008. In addition to teaching at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis she also teaches at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School and at Normandale community college. She has also taught at Bet Shalom and Shir Tikvah. She loves working with children and adults and teaching them Hebrew and art. She is very excited to be a member of the Talmud Torah faculty for its great reputation.
Bracha Feldman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bracha is new to the Talmud Torah staff this year (2012). She has a BS in Family Studies from the University of Maryland and a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Yeshiva University in New York. She lived in Israel for three years and did her graduate level internships during her stay there. Bracha started and led the Ahavat Yisrael women's Jewish learning program in St. Louis Park. She has taught (mostly in a substitute capacity) for a range of student levels at various schools and taught post-high school students with special needs for a year while living in Israel.
Yosi Gordon was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He graduated high school in Green Bay and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After that he studied and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also attended Camp Ramah for 14 summers, as a camper and staff member, and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for three years. Rabbi Gordon worked as Associate and Acting Principal of the Los Angeles Hebrew High School. In 1978 he came to St. Paul, where he directed the Talmud Torah for 12 years and helped open the Talmud Torah Day School. He taught courses in Jewish studies and literature at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College and Hamline University. He also published textbooks and articles in Hebrew language and Jewish studies. In 2000, Yosi won a Covenant Award in Jewish education. For 20 years Yosi was the rabbi of Temple Sholom in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is now teaching at the Talmud Torah schools of St. Paul and Minneapolis and serving as rabbi of the University of Minnesota Hillel Foundation. Yosi is also an active participant in the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Tamara Kaiyalethe (email@example.com)
Tamy holds a degree in Education & Religious Studies from the University of Minnesota. She was the Librarian in charge of the Hebrew collection in the Middle East Library at the University of Minnesota from 1969 to 1981, and two years as the Director of the Middle East Library. She wrote and produced a radio program, “This Week in Israel” for a year. As a public speaker on Israel, Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations, she had the opportunity to interact with a wide sector of the American population. Since 1984, Tamy has been teaching in Jewish institutions in the twin cities: Hebrew, Jewish texts, Israel and history to students from grade two all the way to adults. Her passion is in finding new ways to teach Hebrew and make connections for her students with Israel and the Jewish people.
Rabbi Harold Kravitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rabbi Harold J. Kravitz joined the rabbinic staff of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation (Conservative) in 1987. In 1996 he was appointed Senior Rabbi, Max Newman Family Chair in Rabbinics at the congregation located in Minnetonka, MN. Rabbi Kravitz completed his BA in History at Temple University (Philadelphia, 1981). He did graduate studies at the University of Judaism (Los Angeles, now the American Jewish University), Hebrew University (Jerusalem 84-85), and was ordained and received an MA in Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (New York City, 1987). He has trained in general and family mediation at the Mediation Center for Dispute Resolution of the Hamline Law School (St. Paul, 1999, 2005, 2006). Over the years he has served on the faculty of the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis teaching Adath Jeshurun’s Confirmation class and offering electives on topics such as, “Encountering Abraham Joshua Heschel” “Conflict Resolution in Jewish Tradition,” and “Conservative Judaism.” In 1991 he was honored for outstanding child advocacy by Congregations Concerned for Children.
Jessie Cohen Lavintman (email@example.com)
Jessie Cohen Lavintman holds a BA in Hebrew from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is a graduate of Talmud Torah’s Bet Midrash. This is her first year teaching at Talmud Torah. She taught Hebrew at Temple Beth El in Madison for four years before joining us. She continues to teach there as well via internet video connection. Jessie loves to travel, and has studied overseas in Israel and in Ghana. She is also trained as a doula. Recently, she returned from a year in Washington, DC where she served as corps member in Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps. She worked at Housing Unlimited, Inc. as an associate director providing independent, affordable housing for adults with psychiatric disorders.
Missy (Tamar) Cohen Lavintman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Missy, a Talmud Torah Bet Midrash graduate and a teacher at Talmud Torah since 1975, has a MA in Education, a BS in Hebrew Education with a minor in Creative Drama. She also holds a Minnesota teacher's license. She teaches Hebrew and Judaica at the Talmud Torah, both in the elementary and high school departments. She has taught in the College in the School (CIS) Hebrew Program since its inception. She has also taught Hebrew in educational institutions throughout Minnesota, including Carleton College, the Minneapolis Jewish Day School, the University of Minnesota and others. In 2004, Missy was the recipient of the Vivian Mann Educator of the Year Award and the Grinspoon-Steinhardt National Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She continues to grow professionally and has participated in several educational seminars and programs. Her love of Eretz Israel is contagious. She is married to Joel, also a Bet Midrash graduate. She is very proud of her five children, all Talmud Torah Bet Midrash graduates, son-in-law and daughter-in-law.
Drea grew up in the Minneapolis Jewish community at Adath Jeshurun, Talmud Torah, and Herzl Camp. She works full time for Herzl camp as the Assistant Camp Director and joined the Talmud Torah Faculty in 2011. Drea is passinoate about Jewish Educaiton, both formal and informal, and truly enjoys working with the youth in our community.
Dr. Yaakov Levi (email@example.com)
Dr. Yaakov Levi is the director of the CIS and other college based classes at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis. He earned his Ph.D. in Semitic and Biblical Studies (including early Christianity) from the University of Heidelberg (Magna Cum Laude). His professional activities are extensive. For eighteen years, Dr. Levi served as professor of Hebrew Language, Biblical Studies and Rabbinical Studies at the University of Haifa. He also taught at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Carleton College, and the University of Minnesota. For thirteen years he served as Director of the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Haifa, coining Modern Hebrew terminology. From 1989 to 1995 Dr. Levi worked in rebuilding the Jewish education system in Germany (Berlin). Dr. Levi is the author of many books and articles and many review essays. His research activities have focused on many issues in the fields of Hebrew language, Bible, Jewish customs and Jewish education. Dr. Levi has translated and edited many books. He served as a member of the team of translators of the New Testament into Modern Hebrew. He is known worldwide for his contributions to the study of Biblical Hebrew. Dr. Levi has been on the administration and faculty of the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis since 1995.
Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky graduated from the Joint Program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2003 where he was awarded a BA in Sociology and a BA in Talmud and Rabbinics. Rabbi Olitzky went on to receive an MA in Midrash in October 2007 and his ordination as a rabbi in May 2008. He is particularly interested in making Jewish learning accessible to all backgrounds, levels and interests. Whether it be minutiae of Halakhah, fantastic strands of Midrash, or examining the intricacies of Kashrut and daily Jewish observance, Rabbi Olitzky is at home with a book in his hand and a willing Chavruta to match. While in Rabbinical School, Rabbi Olitzky served as a US Navy CCPO and reached the rank of Lieutenant. Stemming from a deep involvement in USY as a youth, Rabbi Olitzky has continued to commit himself to youth work over the years, believing that youth groups are vital to developing a Jewish identity in young people. Rabbi Olitzky is also an avid hockey fan, and looks forward to finally seeing the Golden Gophers play in person (on a Saturday night!). Rabbi Olitzky is married to Sarah who holds a PhD in Bilingual School Psychology, and shares his passion for food and vegetarianism. The Olitzky’s are blessed with three children, Aliza, Akiva and Miryam.
Catherine Orkin Oskow, Librarian (email@example.com)
Cathi became the librarian at Talmud Torah in 2007 and has been successful in creating excitement around Jewish literacy. She has also been the librarian at the Amos & Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School since 1996. She has a B.A. in English and American Literature, Brandeis Univ.; M.A. in Professional Writing, USC; Secondary English Teaching Certificate, Univ. of St. Thomas; and coursework at St. Cloud State Univ. in Information Media. Previously, she taught English and reading for 10 years at Inver Grove Heights Middle School, where she also founded and advised an award winning literary and arts magazine. Cathi writes fiction, screenplays, newspaper articles, children’s stories, and poetry. She is a member of the National and Minnesota Societies of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Minnesota Screenwriters’ Workshop, and has won state and national awards for her own writing Cathi also breeds and shows world-class Canaan Dogs, the only breed originating from Israel. Cathi loves the combination of books, children, and Jewish community that are part of being the Talmud Torah and MJDS librarian. Cathi and her husband are the proud parents of three Talmud Torah graduates, and she is a Bet Midrash graduate of Talmud Torah, as well.
Niza Schear (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Niza is a Talmud Torah Bet Midrash graduate has returned to the Talmud Torah as a member of the faculty. She was born in Haifa, Israel, and came to the US with her parents who immigrated from Russia and Poland. Niza understands Russian and is an emergent reader of Russian. She believes languages bring people together and can be learned in a social and stimulating manner. Niza has a Master of Arts Degree in Education from Hamline University and holds a Minnesota teacher’s license. For over twenty-five years, she has worked extensively in the Jewish community. She began her career as a Talmud Torah Alef and Dalet teacher and also taught kindergarten and first grade at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School for thirteen years. Niza brings her passion for Israel, Hebrew, Jewish culture, Bible and spirituality into her classrooms. Niza is married to Morris Schear and is blessed with three children.
Barbara Taragan (email@example.com)
BA in Child Psychology and Elementary Education, University of Minnesota; BA in English Literature from the Ben Gurion University; MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College) is beginning her 21st year at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, including a sabbatical in 2005-06 in which she was selected to participate in the Senior Educators Program at the Melton Centre at the Hebrew University. Barbara lived in Israel for twenty-five years, where she taught English at the Eshel Hanasi High School. Since returning to the United States, Barbara has been teaching at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School and the Minneapolis Talmud Torah. She is the proud parent of three children and savta to two granddaughters.
Nechamit Yaari (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nechamit is a graduate of the Levinsky Teachers Seminar, Tel Aviv, Israel; Coursework Hebrew University Jerusalem, Bible and Hebrew Literature and earned a BS Degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Nechamit has been teaching at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis since 1974. She teaches Hebrew language and custom and ceremonies for Alef (3rd grade), Hey (7 grade), In addition to working at Talmud Torah, she has taught at the Heilicher Jewish Day School since 1997. She has completed the course work for the Tal Am Hebrew/Judaics Program. Nechamit has been a recipient of the Vivian Mann Jewish Educator of the Year Award and the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Nechamit, an Israeli native, served in the Israeli army for 2 years and then continued to teach 7th-8th grade in the Ha Ha’aravah School, before moving to the United States. She has an enthusiastic approach to incorporating dance and music into the classroom, while teaching Customs & Ceremonies, Hebrew and Judaics. She incorporates technology in her lessons using smart board and iPad. She is the proud mother of three daughters who have all graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin. Nechamit has a grandson and two sets of twin grand-daughters.
Avi Zadaka (email@example.com)
Avi Zadaka, a Talmud Torah Bet Midrash Graduate, is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota with a double major in psychology and Jewish Education. Avi comes from a family of Jewish educators. In 2005 he began working in our tutorial department and is now teaching Bet (4th Grade) and Hey (7th Grade). Outside Talmud Torah Avi is enthusiastically involved in the Jewish community with his participation in the Chabad House, JFCS’s big brother program, Sha’arim and the Israel Advocacy Group on the university’s campus.
Yefet Zadaka (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yefet Zadaka has been teaching at the Talmud Torah and the Minneapolis Jewish Day School for the since 1990. He has taught pre-school to adult education classes for over twenty-five years in both Israel and Minneapolis. He truly enjoys teaching children, youth and adults. An accomplished musician, he plays the accordion and the cello, bringing music, Israeli dance, Jewish History and culture into the lives of the students at Talmud Torah.