Presenter Bios

Presenter Bios
 

Michelle Berumen

My name is Michelle Berumen and I have been a teacher at Temple Emanu-El ECEC for 14 yrs. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to discover various age groups, including Infants and Toddlers, but my heart and dedication is set with the Twos. My goal as a teacher is to work continuously with parents to help facilitate a relationship that best benefits the social, emotional, physical, and educational developments of every child. Being brought up with Spanish as my first language, I’m bilingual and speak Spanish fluently.

Workshop Title: Peace in the EC Classroom: An oxymoron or reality?

Teresa Bobkowska

I was born in Poland. I graduated from a magnet school for preschool teachers and eventually earned a Master’s Degree in pedagogy. I have worked with young children all my life. For the last 10 years I have worked with toddlers. This is my fifth year at Temple Emanu-El ECEC in Dallas as an educator.  I recently spent two weeks in Israel with the ECE-RJ where I became an active learner in all things Israel.

Workshop Title: Peace in the EC Classroom: An oxymoron or reality?

Nancy Bossov, RJE

Nationally recognized for her advocacy and consulting work, Nancy served as ECE Director for the BJE of Greater NY & as national ECE Director at the Union for Reform Judaism. She was instrumental in establishing the URJ's infrastructure for Jewish early childhood education and in creating the ECE-RJ. In 2011, Nancy was granted the organization's award of Eshet Chayil, or Woman of Valor, for "future thinking, the highest standards, and passionate love of Judaism and, above all, an innate knowledge of our profession." 

Nancy has served as Consultant. Founding Director, Family Educator, Early Childhood Education Director, and Education Director throughout congregations & communities along the East Coast. 

Nancy received her B.S. degree in Music Therapy from NYU, an M.A. in Music Education from Teacher's College of Columbia University, and an M.A. in Religious Education and Honorary Doctorate from HUC-JIR School of Education.

The nurturing and education of children is a high priority in Judaism; she asserts these beliefs in the context of her leadership.

Workshop Title:  SPARKS of Judaism: Shalom as a Foundational Concept to Frame Judaism, Preparing for Retirement: Plan-Strategize-Enjoy!

Missy Brown

Missy Brown, is a pioneer in the fields of children's yoga and mindfulness. Her age-appropriate programs for kids are kindful, transformational and a blast!

Missy has more than 20 years of experience and with an open heart sees each child as their own unique perfect self.  She is honored to be on faculty at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health offering innovative programs, as well as teaching throughout the world.  Missy is the creator of Deep Play For Kids Teacher Training, offering Kid-ified practices to adults so they may then share them with the children in their lives. 

Missy is a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider, and has trained close to 500 professionals in the methods of DPK, and has published Affirm Your Awesomeness and Playful Pose Cards along with her first book, Breath Breaks with Missy. Missy continues to be gratefully inspired by the guidance of her many mentors as well as the lessons she learns from her students who are her best teachers. 

Workshop Title: Deep Play for Kids

Julie Ehrnstein

Julie Ehrnstein is the Director of Early Childhood Education for Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara, CA. She holds a B.S in Finance and an M.A in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on ECE. She has been the Director of ECE for Congregation B’nai B’rith for the past 8 years and has an almost thirty-year career in ECE. This past year she was appointed as the ECE-RJ representative on the Commission on Social Action. She is a strong social justice advocate and is honored to be representing ECE-RJ in this capacity.

Workshop Title: What does ECE have to do with Social Justice?

Elexa Fischer

Raised in rural Kansas, I attended the University of Arkansas for my undergraduate degree in Human Development, Family Studies, and Rural Sciences with a specialization in Child Development.  I went on to teach at the University of Missouri: Kansas City Berkley Child Development Center and serve as site-director and infant teacher at the YMCA of Kansas City before revisiting my education at the Kansas State University where I earned my Master’s in Early Childhood Education.  I was fortunate to teach both college students and toddlers at Colorado State University before moving to Texas.  Teaching at Temple Emanu-el as an Infant and Mini-tot teacher is my first experience in Jewish education and has been an enlightening experience.  Currently, my husband and I are in the process of converting to Judaism, which has helped me merge my own teaching philosophy with Jewish values.
Workshop Title:  Peace in the EC Classroom: An oxymoron or reality?

Jessica  Frank

Jessica Frank has dedicated her life to advocating for individuals with special rights (formerly special needs) and their families.  She graduated with her Bachelors in Applied Learning and Development from the University of Texas, received her Masters in Special Education from the University of North Texas and has completed all of her coursework for her Ph.D in Special Education from the University of North Texas. She has worked in both the public and private sector with with children and adults with special rights.  In addition to teaching in elementary and early childhood settings, she has worked with adults with special needs in therapeutic, home-based and day habilitation environments.  For the past six years she has worked as the Learning Specialist at Temple Emanu-El Early Childhood Education Center in Dallas, TX. 
Workshop Title:  Creating Peaceful, Inclusive Classrooms

Lindsay Grant

Lindsay Astor Grant, MA, OTR/L, is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist and owner of Children First Therapy. She received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from USC and has advanced training in Sensory Integration, Executive Function, as well as Visual Perceptual/Motor Skill Development. Lindsay began her career as an OT for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), including 2 years as a Supervising Therapist for the District’s Occupational and Physical Therapy Department. In 2007, Lindsay started Children First Therapy, providing private in-home and school-based occupational therapy services to children. As an independent consultant for private schools, Lindsay conducts staff development and training sessions, as well as parent education seminars, on topics including Motor Development, Sensory Integration, Executive Function, Movement-Based Learning, and Classroom Layout and Design. Lindsay has been a guest speaker at USC, UCLA, the National Adapted Physical Education conference, professional child development courses, and private preschools and elementary schools throughout Los Angeles. Lindsay lives in Los Angeles and has two active and imaginative daughters, ages 6 and 4 years old.

Workshop Title:  Sensory Regulation and the Art of Classroom Design

Alyce Gunn

Alyce is an executive with over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry leading dynamic teams and managing businesses and projects in the areas of nonprofit accounting, sales & trading, financial services operations, technology implementation, process reengineering, risk assessment and new business/product initiatives. 

At the RPB, Alyce’s responsibilities include portfolio monitoring and rebalancing; management of fund manager, custodial bank, and record keeper relations; pension fund and operational cash flow management; financial accounting and reporting; pension contribution and distribution processing; insurance offerings and claims processing; participant and employer customer service; strategic planning with the CEO; management of strategic operations and technology projects; and management of six staff of an eleven staff organization. Alyce is also a standing staff member of the Investment Committee and Board of Trustees.  She is a licensed Life and Health Insurance Broker in New York State.

Alyce’s past employers include JP Morgan Chase Bank, Credit Suisse and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Workshop Title:  Reform Pension Board

Kat Horion

Kat Horion is a Lead Teacher at Jewish Creative Preschool, in Newton MA, a Reggio inspired preschool, with a commitment nature curriculum and child guided education. In addition to her work with Second Nature Design, She is a trained behavior therapist as well as a trainer for Nature Explore. With over 15 years of teaching experience, she has experience with children ages birth through grade 5, in both Jewish and secular settings.

Workshop Title:  Creating Zen for Our Most Energetic Children

Cantor Mark Horowitz

Cantor Mark Horowitz is Vice President, Director, Sheva Center for Innovation in Early Childhood Jewish Education & Engagement.  Mark’s roots and first love are in two-year-old classrooms where he thrived as a teacher for many years.

He was the founding Executive Director of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI). Mark holds a master’s degree in education from SUNY at Buffalo, is an ordained Cantor and has received and an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

He served as the executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo, New York; Cantor and director of education and early childhood at Temple Beth Am in Williamsville, New York; assistant professor of religion and fine arts at Canisius College in Buffalo; and supervisor of student teachers and teacher of sociology of education and field experience, also at SUNY at Buffalo. He was awarded honorable mention at the 2002 Van Cliburn Foundation’s International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mark is married to Tom Staebell.  They have five inspirational children (and spouses) and nine exceptional grandchildren.

Workshop Title:  The Silver Thread: A Promise of Peace

Linda Janasz

Linda Janasz, PhD is an Integrative Coach, Meditation Practitioner, Columnist, and is an EYT 300 registered Yoga Instructor.  I have developed and teach a transformational training program called MindMedMove (MMM) Program using evidence-based techniques, including didactic and group dynamics that teach the science and strategies for reducing stress and suffering while empowering individuals to live more presently, productively and peacefully.  Using movement, breath, meditation, mindfulness, compassion, engagement, I inspire and teach groups and individuals to manage their thoughts.

Janasz has been presented at Memorial Hospital, Nova University Life Long Learning Center, and taught at Fortune 500 Companies and Non-Profits including Jewish Federation, Mass Mutual, Kimpton Hotels, Athleta, Gilda’s Club, Sharsharet and has been endorsed by the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Yoga Alliance. Janasz speaks and lectures nationally helping individuals cultivate balance in an unbalanced world. As well, I am the daughter of, and mother of ECE teachers. I am extremely proud to be bringing in the Jewish narrative of Henini to Mindfulness teachings as well.

Workshop Title:  Mindfulness, Meaning, Presence and Peace

Marisa Kaiser, RJE

Marisa Kaiser, RJE, is the Director of Temple Sinai's Center for Learning & Engagement in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a Master’s in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism and a Bachelor’s from the Ohio State University.  Previously, she was the Alpert-Waldman Family Director of Education Chair at Congregation Shir Ha-Maalot in Irvine, California and Religious School Principal at Temple Judea in Tarzana, California. Marisa serves as Vice President for the ARJE and is active in Professional Learning. She’s married to Michael, and they have three sons, Ryan, Benjamin and Nathan.

Workshop Title:  Sh'lom Bayit (Peace in Our Home): Moving from Us vs. Them to WE!

Tammy Kaiser

Tammy Kaiser is a mother, educator, writer, speaker, and consultant.  She currently serves as the Director of Temple Beit HaYam Early Childhood Learning Center. Kaiser has worked in adult Jewish learning, religious school education, early childhood education, and curriculum development. Kaiser holds a Master of Science in Jewish Education and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies with a concentration in Educational Neuroscience. Kaiser is the author of Diameter of the Bullet, Miss Tammy’s Children’s Haggadah and Haiku Healing.  You can find her on the web at http://www.tammykkaiser.com. 

Workshop Title:  Brain Architecture: Building the Brains of Tomorrow

 

Lisa Katz

Lisa Katz is a certified in Deep Play for Kids, Creative Kids Yoga, Kidding Around Yoga, Pranotthan Yoga and Let Your Yoga Dance. Lisa is a lead teacher for Deep Play For Kids programs and trainings as well as offers creative fun classes for children and adults of all ages and populations.  She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and incorporates all of these modalities into her loving presence and offerings.
 

Workshop Title: Deep Play for Kids

Shira Kline, AKA “ShirLaLa” 

Shira is an award-winning performing artist recognized as a “revolutionary educator” and named one of the “new re-engineers of Jewish life.”

On the road, Shira works with a diverse array of Jewish communities to enliven rituals, holiday celebrations, and love for Jewish life and prayer. The product of a modern rabbi and a modern dancer, she blends words, story, and music to create a rich experience for children and adults alike.

In addition to performing, Shira works with national organizations across the denominational spectrum, facilitating professional development seminars on spirituality as well as early childhood music for clergy, educators, seminary students and lay leaders. Shira tours extensively, performing for children of all ages in the United States, Israel, England, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Her award-winning Jewish kiddie rock albums along with her “Blog Sameach” are featured worldwide. Back home she is the Director of Worship and also Family Education for Lab/Shul, NYC. She is on the faculty of Hava Nashira and adjunct faculty for the HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School for Sacred Music.

Workshop Title: (2 Part Session) 4 Magic Words for Your Prayer Service

Susan Klein

Susan Klein, M.Ed is currently the training curriculum coordinator for 3 centers at the University of Texas Child Development Center.  Susan holds a B.S. from U.N.O. in Therapeutic Recreation, and an M.Ed from Erikson Institute in Early Childhood Special Education. She has worked with children from birth through the teen years for over 40 years with more than 25 years in the Jewish community. In addition to teaching, directing, mentoring and starting up child development centers, Susan has developed and facilitated numerous workshops for teachers parents and administrators.  The focus of her work has been on developmental curriculum using a non-violent approach.

Workshop Title:  "Peas & Violins" - a workshop focused on the promotion of communication, cooperation and compassion

Lori Kowit

Lori earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Cincinnati. Since graduating, she has earned a Childcare Administrative Award and an Early Childhood Literacy Mentoring Award from Cuyahoga County Community College. Before becoming the Director of The Temple - Tifereth Israel Early Learning Center, Ganon Gil, Lori worked as a preschool teacher, director of a corporate day care program, and consultant to several local childcare programs.

Lori currently serves as the President on the National Board of ECE-RJ (Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism) and she was the local Conference Chair for the ECE-RJ 2009 conference "ECE-RJ Rocks the Arts with Ruach Cleveland, Ohio".

Lori is married to David and they have two daughters, Zoe (19)a freshman at Kent State University and Sydney (17) a senior in High School and a Labradoodle Ziggy (10). In Lori’s spare time she is a true “Soccer Mom”, her daughter Sydney is a goalie and she plays on the high school and a
primer team.

Workshop Title:  New Measures of Success - Relationships, Meaning & Impact!

Heidi Kutchin

Heidi Kutchin embraced Early Childhood education at Temple Emanu-El  over 23 years ago starting as a classroom teacher.  She is currently the Pedagogy Adviser where she ensures pedagogy alignment (Reggio inspired) throughout the school and develops and supports teacher documentation. Heidi mentors educators in curriculum, environment and professional development. She is passionate about learning along side early learners as well as adult learners.  She has developed and organized multiple workshops and conferences nationwide. Heidi attended the International Study Group in Reggio-Emilia, Italy in 2017. She has a Bachelor's Degree in business from the University of Texas at Austin. She resides in Dallas with her husband Josh, and two sons.

Workshop Title:  Cultivating a School Community of Peace

Lisa Lieberman Barzilai, RJE

Lisa Lieberman Barzilai, RJE serves as the Director of the Leadership Institute for the Union for Reform Judaism.  Prior to this Lisa served as the Director of Expanding our Reach, previously held the positions of Young Adult Specialist supporting congregations in their engagement of young Adults (18 - 30s), Regional Educator for the Greater New York Council and Adult Learning Specialist for the Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning.  Lisa is one of the authors of the CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life curriculum core developed by the URJ Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning and for five years served the URJ Northeast Camps Eisner and Crane Lake as the Educational Director.  She began her work with the Union in July 2001 following 14 years experience as an educator in Reform synagogue congregational schools in New York and New Jersey.  Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies and Psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  In 1987 she earned a Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and has received the title Reform Jewish Educator.  She is married to Rabbi Morris W. Barzilai.  They live in New Rochelle, New York and have three children:  Matti, Zari and Avi.  

Workshop Title:  Sacred Partnerships as a Tool for Building Peace

Jamah Maman

Jamah Maman is the Director of Preschool and Young Family Learning & Engagement at Temple Sinai. Jamah has close to 10 years of experience in early childhood. Jamah is a Georgia Certified Teacher for PK-5th Grade and a member of the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism. In addition, she is trained in the Orton Gillingham Method. Jamah received her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from North Georgia College and State University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching Early Childhood Education (PK-5) from Brenau University. Jamah and her husband have two daughters who are both Temple Sinai Preschool alumni.

Workshop Title:  Sh'lom Bayit (Peace in Our Home): Moving from Us vs. Them to WE!

Deborah Niederman, RJE

Deborah Niederman, RJE serves as the Associate Director of the Leadership Institute for the Union for Reform Judaism. She previously served as a Regional Educator and Congregational Consultant at the URJ. She was the Coordinator of Alumni Engagement and Career Services for the HUC-JIR Schools of Education, and Coordinator of the Induction and Retention Initiative of the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative. She worked in three different URJ congregations as Director of Education and is one of the authors of the CHAI: Learning for Jewish Life curriculum core developed by the URJ Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning.  For over 20 years she has served the board of the ARJE and is a past president of that organization. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and earned a Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.  She is married to Rabbi Andrew Paley and lives in Dallas, TX and have two children:  Molly and Sammy.   

Workshop Title:  Sacred Partnerships as a Tool for Building Peace

Mariah Ornstein

I have worked in Jewish early childhood environments for over 15 years. I understand that as time changes, so do practices and philosophies. Therefore, aside from my general education in the field, I actively take workshops, classes and participate in group discussions. I believe that this enhances my knowledge and keeps me up to date in regards to developmentally appropriate practices in the field of early childhood education. I feel a sense of calm when I walk into my classroom each morning and take pride in knowing that I have created an environment where children feel safe and can learn and grow in his or her own way. I am the mother of two boys that remind me that the power of love is infinite, the heart just keeps expanding. In my spare time I read and enjoy spending time in nature.

Workshop Title:  Creating Peaceful Practices in your Classroom Environment

Mary Passell

Mary Passell has been the Director for the Temple Chai Early Childhood Center for the past six years. Mary has a BS in Family Studies and Child Development from the University of Arizona as well as an elementary teaching certificate from Arizona State University.  Mary has also been AMS certified in 3-6 yr old Montessori education.  She was a participant of the JECELI (Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute) Cohort 3, holds a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, and is trained in Mindfulness Meditation. As well as being the Director of the Temple Chai ECC, she also teaches yoga and mindfulness to the children at her school. 

Workshop Title:  Mindfulness: Peace In and Out of the Classroom

Carol Paster

Carol Paster has been director of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel’s Early Childhood Center in South Orange, NJ since 2000, after 7 years teaching in the school. She currently teaches kindergarten in her congregation’s religious school, as well.

Carol holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education.

She has recently completed Matan Institute's Program for Directors, a two year-initiative to guide congregational schools in better meeting the needs of students with learning challenges.

Utilizing her background in furniture design and construction Carol creates benches and tables for the preschool classrooms and also teaches woodworking classes. 

Carol is an active partner with The Partnership of Greater MetroWest, NJ. She is a leader in its Early Childhood Director’s Network and a pioneer in its Early Childhood Community of Practice (EC CoP). Carol’s innovative programs have been recognized with several awards and grants (The Hoffman Award for Excellence in Jewish Education and LaZuz grants for family outreach programs.) Most recently she has been awarded a PJ Library Grant for Songleader Bootcamp. 

Workshop Title:  Talking Tables: Building Community One Conversation at a Time

Johanna Perlin

Johanna Perlin has been an educator in the field of Jewish early childhood education for over 35 years and passionate about connecting children with nature. Temple Shalom Nursery School was the first school in Massachusetts to be awarded Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom certification. She is currently the Judaic and Curriculum Specialist at the Temple Ohabei Trust Early Education Center. She is a partner in Second Nature Design LLC, which provides stafftrainingandconsultingtofacilitatebringingchildrenout doors in both secular and Jewish settings. She is also an official trainer for Nature Explore.

Johanna holds a master’s degree from Wheelock College in early childhood education, a certificate from the Jewish Early Childhood Institute at Hebrew College. Johanna is a founding member of the Union for Reform Judaism Early Childhood Educators Organization. And as often as possible, Johanna can be found exploring the outdoors and wonders of nature with her young granddaughter Sophia.

Workshop Title:  Creating Zen for Our Most Energetic Children

Meredith Polsky

Meredith Polsky founded Matan (www.matankids.org) in 2000 and serves as Matan's National Director of Institutes and Training, as well as the part-time Developmental Support Coordinator at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School in Rockville, MD. Meredith is a nationally sought-after speaker on Jewish Special Education. She holds Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Special Education and Clinical Social Work and a graduate certificate in Early Intervention. Meredith is a 2017 Covenant Award recipient, and co-author of the award winning I Have a Question about Death and I Have a Question about Divorce (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017 and 2018 respectively). 

Workshop Title:  Recognizing and Accommodating the Needs of Every Child in the Early Childhood Classroom

Cathy Rolland, RJE

Cathy Rolland, RJE, is the Union for Reform Judaism’s Director of Families with Young Children (FwYC).  As part of the Strengthening Congregations team, she oversees all of the URJ’s efforts around Early Childhood Education and Engaging Families with Young Children. Cathy is a founding member and the first president of the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ). Cathy was the director of Mountain Top School for Young Children at Temple Har Shalom in Warren, New Jersey, for 11 years before joining the URJ.

Cathy is a recent graduate of HUC-JIR, where she received her MA in Jewish Education. She holds a graduate certificate in Jewish Early Childhood Education from Gratz College, and attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Cathy and her husband now reside in Denver Colorado! In her spare time Cathy loves to hike, bike, travel and cook for friends and family. 

Workshop Title:  Sh'lom Bayit (Peace in Our Home): Moving from Us vs. Them to WE!

Jennie Rubin, RJE

Jennie Rubin,RJE is the Immediate Past President of Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ), the URJ national professional organization for educators who work in or are connected to Jewish early childhood education. She has been the Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple B’nai Or, in Morristown, NJ, since February of 2005. She earned her Masters in Religious Education from HUC-JIR in May 2017, and is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. She attended Fairleigh Dickinson Graduate School of Education, and holds licenses in both elementary and early childhood education. Jennie believes that early childhood education is a sacred calling, and that the future of Judaism is rooted in the work we are doing with families with young children.

Workshop Title:  Gender Identity Formation and the Early Childhood Classroom

Shelly Sender

Shelly Sender has been dedicated to the field of early childhood education for 34 years.  She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education Administration and Early Childhood Disorders.  She has served as the Early Childhood Education Director at Temple Emanu-El Dallas for the past 10 years, where 330 children and 96 staff members are a vital part of her life.  Shelly lives in Dallas, Texas, and has a husband of 33 years, three amazing children, ages 30, 28, and 22. She has owned and operated an early childhood school for seventeen years, as well as owned and operated a farm business where children were strongly connected to nature. Shelly believes that children are competent and their opinions are very important. Therefore, she is very passionate about the Reggio Emilia methodology, which aligns with this belief. Strong relationships and inquiry-based learning are very relevant in her work with children.  Shelly has served on several child advocacy boards, as well as the CJE-Center for Jewish Education, in Dallas. She is very committed to her volunteer work in the Jewish community in Dallas.  Shelly wants to instill in every child a lifelong desire to learn, as well as inspire the educators she is blessed to work with, to continue to grow and learn professionally.

Workshop Title:  Cultivating a School Community of Peace

Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds

Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds is the founding executive director of the Jewish Center for Justice, where he envisioned the need for a Jewish justice organization to reach the unaffiliated and expand the breadth and scope of the wider Jewish community. Before this position, he was the West Coast Legislative Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Rabbis Simonds also serves as Rabbi of the Synagogue for the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, CA. For the past eight years, he has served as the Associate Rabbi at University Synagogue in Los Angeles.  He is married to attorney Ariella Thal Simonds and they have two children Noa and Zev.

Workshop Title:  Teaching inter-generational peace

Rachel Stern

Rachel Stern MAJE/MAJCS grew up in San Antonio. In addition to receiving her BA from the University of Missouri, she attended Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion's Los Angeles campus and was awarded masters degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service. Rachel has experience in the Jewish Federation world as a Community Jewish Educator, as a Synagogue Education Director and as the Director of Outreach Education and Supervisor of Clinical Learning at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, OH. Rachel served as an Education Consultant to the ISJL (Institute of Southern Jewish Life) beginning in 2004 and accepted the position of Education Department Director in 2006. Rachel and her husband Scott are parents to Gabe, Lainey, Maddie, and Charlie.

Workshop Title:  Making Peace Where There is Strife: A Jewish Look at De-Stressing

Emily Aronoff Teck, Ed.D

Emily Aronoff Teck, Ed.D is a multi-tasking early childhood specialist, musician, writer, consultant and mom who enjoys delicious food, loves celebrating Shabbat, and loitering on Facebook in addition to her work and family. She supports Jewish communities in their efforts to engage families with young children through in many ways- creating resources, leading musical celebration, presenting workshops and facilitating training to professionals. She has a B.A. in Jewish Studies, an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction and an Ed.D. in Jewish Education. She has written and recorded 5 Jewish kids’ albums, is a frequent contributor to Kveller.com and has presented at numerous conferences. She launched Jewish Family Jams, a music & movement program for 0-3 year olds and their grown-ups in 2015. She is the founding director of JewishLearningMatters.com, the world’s largest searchable database of Jewish educational resources. Visit http://www.MissEmilyCelebrates.com for more. Emily lives in Palm Beach County, FL with her husband and children.

Workshop Title:  Singing Shalom: Prayer and Peace

Susie Wexler

Susie comes to Jewish early childhood with a background in social work and professional experience in Jewish community work. She has taught every age group of early childhood, served as a nature educator, and provided peer leadership in a variety of Jewish early childhood content areas in preparation for her current position as director. Currently working toward a Master's of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR, she is a lifelong learner who brings a passion for research and Jewish exploration to young children, families and staff. A consummate educator, she has presented locally and nationally on best practices in early childhood education. Susie is committed to engaging young families with support and nurturance through developmentally appropriate Jewish education experiences. 

Workshop Title:  Pathways of Peace to Navigate Difficult Discussions

Jeanne Zamutt

I am the Literacy Atelierista for Temple Emanu-El Early Childhood Education Center in Dallas, Texas. My love of early childhood began over 19 years ago at Temple as a teacher for the three year olds.  After 4 years in the classroom, I became librarian for the ECEC. Over the years I have added the Youth, Learning + Engagement program as well as the adult Weisberg Library. I have created programming and provocations for our 330 children from Infants through Kindergarten. Supporting literacy within the classroom and providing resources to the teachers is an important role that I have developed.  I work with the children, teachers and parents to impart the power of books and literacy. I believe that it is our duty to educate our children and begin the peace process at an early age.

Workshop Title:  Teaching Tough Topics with Secular Books