Meet Our Faculty
Posted on September 19, 2016
MEET OUR FACULTY
Kitah Dalet/Grade 4
I am looking forward to being the fourth grade Sunday teacher in my first year at Temple Israel. I love teaching in a Jewish setting because I love that Judaism can connect with every person in a different way. I enjoy teaching through hands-on experiences and I developed my philosophy while teaching Jewish environmental education and leading backpacking trips in Connecticut, California, Israel, and other places. My credentials include a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education from Brandeis University, a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies and Spirituality from Siegal College of Cleveland, and a BA in Philosophy and Religion from Boston University. I am an active member of TI, and I enjoy sharing my interests in board games and communal singing.
Kitah Alef/Grade 1
I am delighted to be teaching Alef (Grade 1) at Temple Israel. A former history and English teacher, I am currently a substitute elementary teacher. Keeping current on educational trends, I have taken many workshops on special education, differentiated learning, and Jewish themes. Outside school, my husband and I enjoy traveling. I often visit Jewish sites, most recently the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and Harvard’s Semitic Museum. At my synagogue, I enjoy adult education, social activities, and the book group. At my local library, I facilitate the monthly Shalom Reader’s Group. I am also involved in several secular and volunteer activities. I love working with young children because of their creativity and eagerness for learning.
Kitah Gimel/Grade 3
I have been teaching at Temple Israel of Natick for 17 years at all grade levels and am currently the teacher for the Gimel (3rd grade) class. I am married to Saul Berelowiz and we have two boys, Adam (20) and Michael (15). We moved here from South Africa when Adam was 3. In addition to teaching at Temple Israel I work as a paraprofessional in the Natick Public Schools where I work with children with severe special needs. In the summer I teach Arts and Crafts at Grossman Camp in Westwood. In my spare time I enjoy reading, watching TV, spending time with family and friends, and going to my kids’ sports games.
A fifth generation Californian and graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, I learned and taught in Israel for several years prior to doing graduate work at Boston University in Social Psychology with a focus on Jewish identity. A veteran Jewish educator in the Greater Boston area, I have held leadership and teaching positions at the New Jewish Academy (formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School of Worcester), Striar Hebrew Academy and the MetroWest Jewish Day School. Most recently, I spend my time learning with students at Temple Israel of Natick, Congregation Or Atid (TELEM coordinator/educator), the Chabad Center of Natick (Family Enrichment coordinator), and Congregation Beth El. On Wednesday mornings, I can be found with my Hebrew hevruta discussing Hebrew fiction and poetry. I am the proud ima of Emma, Jacob and Aaron Brandt and Ilana and Adam Bernstein, and Aviya’s savta. A life-long learner, I share Rabbi Hanina’s reflection: I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues and the most from my students. (Ta’anit 7a) My husband Stewart and I have the distinction of living the closest to Temple Israel of Natick in what is lovingly called ‘The Brandt Bed and Breakfast’ with our cat, Bucky.
Avital (Tali) Brauner-Pell
I have been a classroom teacher, in one form or another, since I was a high school student. My journey began as a second grade Hebrew school teacher in Westborough. After such a great experience, I decided to continue teaching Hebrew school in Chicago while a graduate student at Northwestern University. It didn’t take long before I decided that teaching was my passion and enrolled as a Delet fellow at Brandeis University, where I student taught at the South Area Solomon Schechter. This was followed an amazing opportunity to teach third grade general studies at The Charles Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. While I would have loved to stay with the CESJDS community until retirement, I missed my family too much and returned to Boston after four wonderful years. I then taught third grade general studies at Solomon Schechter of Greater Boston. After two years, I received an opportunity that I could not refuse to teach second grade at The Chestnut Hill School. I left CHS for the arrival of my twin girls and have enjoyed my time as a stay-at-home mom over the last year. Now that my girls are almost 15 months old, I am excited to return to the classroom on a part-time basis at Temple Israel! Joining the TI community is especially exciting for me because it is where I attended preschool and Hebrew school. I look forward to being a part of a special and meaningful year with the fifth graders!
Kitah Bet/Grade 2
I am so very excited about teaching Kitah Bet at Temple Israel this year. I also teach first grade at the MetroWest Jewish Day School in Framingham and teach at Camp Yavneh in the summers. When I am not teaching, I love to sing, ride my bike and swim. I live in a historic home on the banks of the Charles River in Needham with my husband, my two children and two pet bunnies.
Kitah Alef/Grade 1 (Aide)
My name is Cheryl. I am a mother of two boys, ages 14 and 11. I worked as an attorney for many years and am now working on a mid-life career change into a middle school teacher. I enjoy spending time with children and seeing them learn and grow. Their energy is contagious and their questions are always interesting. When I am not working (as a substitute teacher, at the Religious School, or tutoring) I am usually either spending time with my children or doing my own schoolwork. I am also actively involved in Temple Israel, am on the Sisterhood board, and sing with the Chorale. When I have time, I enjoy reading and spending time with friends.
Kitah Gimel/Grade 3 (Aide)
I’m a funny, patient person. I always strive to bring my love of learning and teaching to every situation. I specialize in working with individuals or small groups of students who may just need a bit of extra attention. I listen to the needs of my students in order to figure out the most appropriate way to help with whatever the difficulty might be. Along with working at Temple Israel, I volunteer as a Learning Specialist 5 mornings a week at Metro West Jewish Day School, and as a Lego specialist for the King Elementary School Lego Club in Framingham.
Kitah Gan & Bet/Grades K & 2 (Aide)
I enjoy my work as a teacher’s aide at Temple Israel, where I’ve been a member for over 30 years. I’m also a free-lance writer for publications including Jewishboston.com, The Jewish Advocate and the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop Newsletter. My current project is a book of poems for children about the Jewish holidays. I love reading, humor, cats and having friends over for Shabbat dinners.
Kitah Gimel (Aide)
I’m a funny, patient person. I always strive to bring my love of learning and teaching to every situation. I specialize in working with individuals or small groups of students who may just need a bit of extra attention. I listen to the needs of my students in order to figure out the most appropriate way to help with whatever the difficulty might be.
Kitah Dalet/Grade 4
Hello Families of TION! I am so excited to be a new member of your temple community! I am looking forward to working with your 4th graders, because as much as I plan to teach them, I know they’re going to teach me even more! I am originally from New Jersey, but I now love calling Boston my new home. I am a speech therapist by day, and Hebrew School teacher by night. When I am not doing either of these things, I try my best to explore Boston! Feel free to stop by my classroom and introduce yourself – I can’t wait to meet everyone!
Kitah Bet/Grade 2
It’s hard to believe that I’m beginning my 18th year teaching in the Religious School at Temple Israel. I love interacting with our youth as they learn and discover their Jewish identity. During the day when I’m not at Temple Israel I teach in the Judaic department at Solomon Schechter over the school year and at Grossman Camp in the summer. I love to read, cook (especially bake) and garden. I enjoy taking long walks to unwind.
Kitah Hey/Grade 5
I grew up in a large and very religious family in Brookline. My bubbe, Etta, had 11 children, her sister, Bertha had 13! I had zillions of cousins. Everyone of us went to Hebrew school right through high school and some through college. I was certain most of the world was Jewish. Mine certainly was. I had so much to learn about the real world! I never liked Hebrew school and I wished there could have been some fun in class- at least sometimes. I graduated college with a degree in education, and taught for a short while. Then I had the luxury of being a stay at home mom. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. When my own children started Hebrew school, I began to substitute in the synagogue classroom. Ah, I had found my Jewish niche! I love everything Jewish. Judaism is my passion. I love that I can “pay it forward”! My mother used to tell me, “someday you’ll thank me”. It took a long time. But she was so right!! Thanks Mom! I became the teacher I wish I could have had.
I am so excited to be teaching the Kindergarten (Gan) Class at Temple Israel of Natick again this year. This will be my sixth year providing students with their first taste of our Education Program and I am thrilled to again be working with the outstanding Ann Green. In addition to teaching our youngest students, I am also the Youth Programming Coordinator at Temple Israel, providing informal educational opportunities for students in Grades K-12. When not at Temple Isreal at Temple Israel, this year I will be teaching middle school science in Framingham and can be found enjoying the sunshine at Pilgrim Day Camp during the summer months. In my free time, I enjoy going mini golfing, I read lots of books and love to spend time with my dog Swiffer.
Kitah Vav/Grade 6
I am delighted to be joining the Temple Israel teaching staff. I will be teaching Grade Six this year. I am a veteran “Hebrew School” teacher, and have taught at almost every grade level, including Adult Education and Family Education. My goals In Kitah Vav this year are to strengthen Hebrew literacy, to build on Jewish knowledge of history and Prophets, and to encourage a sense pride and belonging within our classroom community, as well as the Temple community.
I used to introduce myself to my talmidim (students) as Morah Elana, and then, in 2003, I entered the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College as a member of its first class. So in 2008, after five years of rich and intense study, I became Rabbi Elaine. My goal in rabbinical school was to expand and deepen my understanding of Torah, Talmud, Midrash, and prayer. With enthusiasm and caring, I share my learning with every group I teach.
For enjoyment I am a choral singer, and have been building my singing skills since 1977. From a love of singing and Hebrew, I learned to chant Torah and Haftarah as an adult, and then to teach this skill. It is a special joy for me to empower kids and adults to leyn Torah. I have three grown children, Lisa, Matthew, and Beth, and two grandsons, Jacob and Elijah. I love world travel, and to do anything that involves being outdoors.
Kitah Dalet/Grade 5 (Teacher)
I am thrilled to be back at Temple Israel. Having gone through the Hebrew School program at TI as a child, it has been quite an exciting experience for me to return as a faculty member. I recently received my Master’s in Teaching from Simmons College and can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned with me to the classroom. In my free time, I enjoy running, cooking, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family. Looking forward to another great year!