July 4, 2022 |

Our Educators

Temple Israel takes great pride in hiring qualified faculty who have experience in the fields of Judaism, Jewish education, teaching, and learning. Our teachers teach by subject area and everyone teaches multiple grades.

Michelle Nelson

Michelle Nelson teaches our kindergarten (kitah gan) students and also is Temple Israel’s Youth Programming Coordinator. In her role at TI, Michelle connects children of all ages to the synagogue community and plans programs for them to build their own community of peers.  Michelle teaches science in the Framingham middle schools, and spends the summers at Pilgrim Day Camp.  In her free time, Michelle enjoys mini golfing, reading and spending time with her dog Swiffer.

Cheryl Gelfand

Cheryl Gelfand teaches first grade.  She is a licensed middle school math and science teacher and will soon be adding a certification in K-8 special education. She works as a paraprofessional in the Natick Public Schools, working with students with various special needs, behavioral issues, and learning differences. She also tutors students of various ages in a variety of subjects. Cheryl lives in Natick with her 2 sons. In her spare time she likes to read and do taekwondo.

Margie Matross

Margie Matross teaches 2nd grade (kitah bet) and has been teaching at Temple Israel since 2000. Margie teaches at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, and spends the summers at Grossman Day Camp. Margie’s excitement at watching young children connect with their Jewish identity is only matched by her excitement over baking and gardening. She and her husband, Dubi Gordon, live in Natick and raised their adult children at Temple Israel.

Elana Berelowitz

Elana Berelowitz teaches 3rd grade (kitah gimel), and has been teaching in the Religious School since 2001. She also works in the Natick Public Schools as a paraprofessional for children with severe special needs. She spends summers teaching art at Grossman Day Camp and brings this creativity to her classroom at Temple Israel. Elana, her husband Saul, and their 2 sons, are members of Temple Israel and live in Natick.

Avital Brauner-Pell

Avital (Tali) is returning for her 4th year teaching. Tali has been a teacher in both public and independent schools in Massachusetts and Maryland. She holds an M.A. in Teaching and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and has taught at Solomon Schechter Day Schools, private schools and religious schools. Tali attended the Judy Gordon Nursery School and TI Religious School as a child, and is excited to be back in the community with her twin daughters and husband.

Marin Moore

Teva/Nature Specialist

Marin Moore is excited to join the faculty at Temple Israel of Natick as our teva/nature specialist. Marin is a senior at Wellesley College studying economics and elementary education and looking forward to student teaching this year.  You can find Marin walking around Lake Waban, embroidering, or baking various desserts in Wellesley’s Hillel Lounge in her free time.

Gerald Frim

Gerald Frim teaches grade 7 in our religious school. Gerry joins our faculty after 8 years of teaching at Temple Aliyah and Temple Reyim, where he is now the Senior USY Advisor. A Newton native and proud graduate of Hebrew College and the University of Pennsylvania, Gerry spends his weekdays as an attorney, and lived in Israel doing non-profit development work for four years. Gerry lives in Newton with his family and enjoys Israeli music, his volunteer work with Ethiopian-Israelis, and spending time with his two-year-old granddaughter.

Catie Jacobs

Catie is a student at Wellesley College and looking forward to teaching our 6th and 7th graders and sharing her passion for Israel.  One of her recent research projects focused on reviewing Israel curriculum.  At Wellesley, Catie is studying Data Science and Mathematics. She is an active member of the Hillel. Catie is a native of Chicago, and in high school, she was an assistant teacher at her synagogue and participated in the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Emerging Jewish Thought Leaders Fellowship. In her free time, Catie enjoys hanging out with her dog, baking, and dancing.

Zoe Halperin

Zoe is excited to be our tefilla leader. She is a sophomore at Emerson College where she studies Theatre and Performance. Zoe has worked for five years at the Temple Sinai Religious School in her hometown, Dresher Pennsylvania, has been on staff at Camp Ramah Poconos and Ramah Day Camp Philly, and looks forward to continuing her career in Jewish education here at Temple Israel. In her spare time, she enjoys collaging and hanging out with her two dogs.

Melanie Lieberman

Melanie is the coordinator of our Teen Madrichim Leadership Program. Melanie grew up at Temple Israel and is excited to return as a faculty member and mentor to our teens. Melanie is in her last semester of graduate school, studying Occupational Therapy at the University of New Hampshire. She grew up spending her summers at Camp Pembroke, and in 2021 she spent her 14th summer on the shore of Lake Oldham, where she was the director of the pool and waterfront.  In her free time, Melanie loves to travel and enjoys playing with her pandemic puppy – Max, and her family dog- Ollie.