Faculty and Staff


Amanda Pogany
Head of School
Amanda Pogany is in her sixth year as the Head of School at Luria Academy of Brooklyn. She has worked for the last decade in the field of Jewish education as a teacher, consultant, mentor and coach. Prior to joining Luria, Amanda spent two years working with new teachers and administrators across the country, running professional development seminars, and working with them on best practices in building classroom communities, classroom management, and developing curriculum. She taught elementary and middle school Judaic studies for 7 years. A trained mentor through the Jewish New Teacher Project, Amanda mentored teachers for the Davidson School at JTS, the Pardes Educators program, and the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan. In her role as a consultant, Amanda has worked with The Covenant Foundation, Mechon Hadar, JDub Records, The Six Points Fellowship and a number of Jewish Federations. Amanda is a graduate of the Pardes Educators Program, has a Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew University and a BA from Barnard College. She co-founded Altshul, an independent egalitarian minyan in Brooklyn, in 2005. She lives in Prospect Heights with her husband Aaron Bisman and their three children, Asher (7-9 Kachol), Maisie (5-7 Kachol) & Dar.

Julie Tilson Stanley
Director of Institutional Advancement
Julie is the Director of Institutional Advancement at Luria Academy of Brooklyn. Julie works in partnership with the Head of School, the Development Committee and other trustees to sustain and increase the school’s broad based annual campaign, cultivate and steward donors, and lead the school’s capital campaign. Most recently Julie was the Board Relations Director at Birthright Israel Foundation (BRIF) where she provided organizational leadership, strategy and support for the BRIF Board of Trustees. Prior to BRIF, she worked at American Jewish World Service (AJWS) as their Board Engagement Director and was also a Senior Development Officer handling major gifts. She began her professional career as a Hillel Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow working for Hillel at The George Washington University and then at UCLA. Julie worked for an event management firm, coordinating celebrity weddings and events and then at 20th Century Fox Studios in their domestic feature film marketing department. Julie is a member of the Board of Trustees of Girl Be Heard and serves as their Development Committee Chair. She received a BA, magna cum laude, from The University of Arizona and an M.P.A. from NYU Wagner School of Public Service with a focus in nonprofit management. She lives in Park Slope, with her husband Matt and sons Jack (7-9 Kachol) and Charlie (Alim).

Rabbi Ysoscher Katz
Judaic Studies Advisor
Rabbi Ysoscher Katz is the Director of the Beit Midrash Program (preparatory year) at Yeshivah Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. He received ordination in 1986 from Rabbi Roth, dayan of UTA Satmer. Rabbi Katz studied in Brisk and in Yeshivat Beis Yosef, Navaradok for over ten years. A graduate of the HaSha’ar Program for Jewish Educators, Rabbi Katz has taught at the Ma’ayanot High School for Girls and SAR High School. He was a leading teacher of a daf yomi class in Boro Park for over eight years.

Channah Lepkivker
Director of Support Services
Channah Lepkivker, is returning to Luria for her fifth year. Prior to becoming the Director of Support Services, she was a SETSS provider for two years. She has a Masters in Early Childhood General and Special Education, NYS Certification and training in the Wilson’s Reading System. Channah has worked for the last 10 years in Early Childhood and Elementary Classrooms, as a Special Education Coordinator, a Curriculum Coordinator, a lead teacher and a Coordinator of Staff Development.

Laura Weisblatt
Primary Director
Laura is in her second year as the Primary Director, and her fifth year at Luria. She served as the Curriculum Coordinator of Luria’s primary school from 2015-16, and lead teacher of the Nitzanim 3-5 class from 2013-2016. She is a trained mentor with the Jewish New Teacher Project, and has served as a leadership member of the Day School Collaboration Network team at Luria. She leads the Teacher Rounds initiative of Luria, and is a member of Paradigm Project’s Mesorah cohort of Early Childhood directors. She is also a member of the YOU Lead initiative of Prizmah. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College, and a New York State Certification of Education in Early Childhood. She completed her Montessori training at The Center for Montessori Teacher Education of New York. She is currently the Program Coordinator of StantonKIDS at the Stanton Street Shul in lower Manhattan, where she also serves on the Board of Trustees. Laura earned a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music, and a Master of Music from Brooklyn College. She has studied at the Nishmat Center for Advanced Torah Study in Jerusalem, The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University, and speaks fluent Hebrew. She lives in Manhattan with her husband.

Sara Malasky
Director of Teaching and Learning, Lower School
Sara is returning for her tenth year at Luria Academy. Sara oversees Lower School (5-7 and 7-9) education and supports our Lower School staff, parents and students. She graduated from Hunter College magna cum laude with a Master’s of Science in Education-Childhood Literacy and from Touro College with a BS in psychology. She holds New York State teaching certification in childhood education and childhood literacy. Sara is a licensed reading specialist and is in the process of receiving certification in the Wilson’s reading system. She also completed training in the Legacy Heritage Instructional Leadership Institute; Standards and Benchmarks in teaching Tanakh, and the Taryag Teacher Training program by Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, integrating Judaic studies with Montessori method. Sara is a trained mentor through the Jewish New Teacher Project (JNTP).

Tiphanie Shoemaker
Director of Teaching and Learning, Upper School
Tiphanie is returning to Luria for her ninth year. Tiphanie oversees Upper School (9-11 and MS) education and supports our Upper School staff, parents and students. Tiphanie is also the High School Admissions Coordinator. She has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education with a Concentration in Literature and an M.S. in English for Middle School. Tiphanie completed the Montessori Lower Elementary training through the North American Montessori Center. She is a graduate of ELAI (Educational Leadership Advancement Initiative) and is a trained mentor through JNTP (Jewish New Teacher Project). She lives with her husband in Park Slope.

Avery Wolff
Director of Operations and Admissions
Avery grew up in Manhattan, attending first The Village Community School and later The Ethical Culture Fieldston School. He graduated from Vassar College in 2013 with a BA in Urban Studies. Before joining Luria Academy, Avery worked as the sixth grade basketball coach at his elementary school, V.C.S.

Adam Danoff
Executive Assistant
Adam is in his first year at Luria. He graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County where he earned a degree in History with a minor in Judaic Studies. Prior to joining the staff at Luria, Adam worked as an Election Aide at the Montgomery County Board of Elections in Maryland.

Garleen St. Germain
Office Manager
Garleen is originally from Brooklyn and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry-Biology from the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT. Since graduating, Garleen has worked in various capacities with children and young adults in the community, most recently as an afterschool program director for middle school children in Far Rockaway Queens.



Deborah Steinhauser
Team Leader, 5-7 Lavan
General Studies
Debbie is joining us for her first year at Luria. She taught at the Greenpoint YMCA, for 9 years. Debbie was a head teacher in the Pre-K classroom and specialized in preparing students for Kindergarten. Prior to joining the Greenpoint YMCA, Debbie volunteered at Merricat’s Castle, an inclusion preschool on the Upper East Side. Debbie is completing her Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. She is working with a Montessori coach throughout this school year.

Iana Hadjiyska
General Studies, 5-7 Lavan
Iana is returning to Luria for her second year. Before joining Luria, she taught Pre-K at a private school in Queens for three years. Iana earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Magna Cum Laude, from Hunter College and holds a New York State Professional Teaching Certificate. She attended Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading Workshop institute workshop. On the weekends, Iana teaches Bulgarian reading, writing and history to children between the ages of 4-8 years old. As a child, she was a part of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus and attended LaGuardia Performing Arts High School, majoring in Voice.

Esti Heller
Hebrew Immersion, 5-7 Lavan
Esti was born and raised in Jerusalem. After High School, Esti studied at the Beth Jacob Teaching Seminary in Lucerne, Switzerland where she earned her teaching certificate. She moved to New York in 2001 and taught Hebrew in both formal and informal settings. Esti is returning for her second year in the 5-7 Lavan classroom.

Leah Meltzer
Judaics, 5-7 Lavan
Leah Meltzer graduated from Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Before joining the 5-7 Lavan team last year, Leah worked for 4 years as a paraprofessional, Kriah specialist and support staff member at Luria.

Goldie Rosenthal
Tone Keeper, 5-7 Lavan
Goldie is joining us for her second year. She has been working with children in various capacities for several years. She was a preschool teacher for 2 and 3 year olds. Additionally, Goldie is an active member of the Crown Heights community as a doula and volunteer helping at risk teens. Goldie is a mother to two daughters.

Whitney Harris-Linton
Team Leader, 5-7 Kachol
General Studies
Whitney is returning to Luria for her second year. She taught on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for six years, including 1st and 3rd grades for four years, and Special Education K-8 for two years. Whitney earned her BA in Learning Disabilities with a Minor in ESL, as well as her Master’s in Special Education from Michigan State University. She is currently in the process of completing an EdM through the Brandeis Teacher Leadership Program. She holds New York State Teaching Students with Disabilities Certification grades 1-12. Whitney completed the Montessori Lower Elementary training through the North American Montessori Center.

Michelle Glazer
General Studies, 5-7 Kachol
Michelle is returning to the 5-7 Kachol classroom for her second year. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education, studying both Early Childhood Education and Jewish Studies, and with teaching certification Pre K-Grade 3. Prior to Luria, Michelle taught second grade general studies at Columbus Jewish Day School.

Nitzan Graham
Instructional Leader, Hebrew
Hebrew Immersion, 5-7 Kachol
Nitzan is returning to Luria for her 6th year. She was born and raised on a Kibbutz in Israel. After emigrating, she earned a B.A. and M.A. in Art from Adelphi University. She holds NYS Permanent Certification for Art Education for K-12, is certified in Early Language Oral Proficiency Assessment and in the Responsive Classroom Management Approach. She taught K-5 Art in the Baldwin School District and K-8 Art at the Brandeis School. In 2009, she joined the opening year of the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Sheepshead Bay.

Feigy Leider
Judaics, 5-7 Kachol
Feigy is returning to Luria for her 7th year at Luria and her second year in the 5-7 class. Prior to joining Luria, Feigy worked as Program Director at a summer camp in Queens, and as a private childcare giver. Feigy is currently working toward a Degree at Brooklyn College.

Sarah Soffes
Tone Keeper, 5-7 Kachol
Sarah taught as a head preschool teacher at the Chabad Early Learning Center in Manhattan, and as an aide for young children with behavioral difficulties. She holds a Masters degree in Psychology from Yeshiva University, and a BA in psychology with a concentration in Education from Columbia University.  Before attending graduate school, she worked for four years as a Senior Research Coordinator at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she worked closely with hundreds of children with autism spectrum and related disorders and their families while they participated in research studies. She is passionate about helping kids succeed academically and socially. When she’s not at school, Sarah loves doing yoga and baking.

Nora Ellison
Team Leader, 7-9 Lavan
General and Judaic Studies
Nora Ellison is returning for her third year at Luria. Nora spent three years in Israel, teaching at a Montessori preschool on Kibbutz Lavi, studying art and Torah at Midreshet Emunah V’Omanut, and immersing herself in intensive Torah study at Mayanot Institute for Women. Nora received her BS from Stern College for Women, concentrating in Judaic studies and psychology, and received her MS from Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education and Administration. Nora has completed the Montessori Lower Elementary training program through the North American Montessori Center. Nora attended The Writing Project at Teachers College, focusing on curriculum development and writing workshops in the classroom.

Alixandra Greenberger
General and Judaic Studies, 7-9 Lavan
Alix received her BA from Queens College with a major in English, receiving the Highest Honors award from her department. She is currently working towards her dual Masters degree in General Education and Reading and Literacy from Bank Street College of Education. Prior to joining us this year, Alix worked at Hannah Senesh and spent this past summer as a literacy intern for Horizons, a summer enrichment program for low income public school students.

Lee Eskin
General Studies, 7-9 Lavan
Lee is returning to Luria for his third year, having taught Technology followed by Math/Science in the 9-11 Class. He grew up in West Orange, NJ, and received his BA from Oberlin College. After working for 2 years as an analyst for the Department of Housing, his interests shifted toward education. He worked with second graders at the Kings Bay Y, and he taught for 2 years at Explorations, a college-prep residential program for high school students on the Yale campus. He has worked with children of many ages doing b’nai mitzvah tutoring, leading youth groups, and tutoring for the SAT, High School Exams, and in general academics.

Einav Chetrit
Hebrew Immersion, 7-9 Lavan
Einav was born and raised on Kibbutz Beit Zeira. She began working with children on the kibbutz, as a counselor in the Zionist youth movement. Prior to joining the army, Einav worked as a therapist’s assistant at Kfar Ofarim, a home for children with autism. During her service in the IDF, she taught soldiers as part of the education corps. Einav is an artist and a healer as well as an educator. She has a degree from Israel in Biology and Chinese medicine, acupuncture and nutrition. She moved to the United States 17 years ago and lives in Queens with her husband and two children.

Shaindy Miller
Tone Keeper, 7-9 Lavan
Shaindy comes to us with experience teaching Elementary and Middle School students in New York and New Orleans. She has a Bachelors degree and is currently working towards her Masters in Special Education. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Jenn Laytin
Team Leader, 7-9 Kachol
Judaic Studies
Jenn is joining the Luria faculty this year. She graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in comparative religion, and JTS with a B.A. in Tanach Studies. She received her MJEd from Pardes and Hebrew College. Before coming to Luria she worked for 10 years as a head teacher, as well as, the Jewish Studies Coordinator at the Rodeph Sholom School in Manhattan for grades 1-4. In 2014 Jenn received the Grinspoon award for excellence in Jewish education. She is trained in the Legacy Heritage Standards and Benchmarks Project as well as Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project institutes. Jenn completed Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori and is training as a mentor in JNTP (Jewish New Teacher Project).

Rebecca Lavian
General Studies, 7-9 Kachol
Rebecca Lavian is joining the Luria faculty this year. With over six years of experience teaching elementary level students, this will be her first year working at Luria. Rebecca holds a Masters degree in General and Special Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education. She enjoys teaching literacy and is trained in PAF, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham based reading program and Judith Hochman’s Basic Skills Writing program. Rebecca completed Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori.

Jaclyn Rubin-Blaier
General and Judaic Studies, 7-9 Kachol
Jaclyn is returning to Luria for her third year. She earned a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Boston University. She directed preschool summer programs at Ramah Berkshires and Mechon Hadar and led children’s groups in synagogues in Jerusalem and Boston. Jaclyn spent several years studying Talmud and halakhah at JTS, Drisha, Yeshivat Hadar, Pardes, and Matan, and she received semikhah in 2013. She studied English literature and Talmud in Barnard and JTS. Jaclyn completed the Montessori Lower Elementary training program through the North American Montessori Center. Last summer, Jaclyn attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Common Core Math workshop.

Chanie Steinberg
Hebrew Immersion, 7-9 Kachol
Chanie is returning to Luria for her second year. Chanie grew up in Brooklyn, raised by Israeli parents, and went to high school in Israel. She attended a teacher training program in Vienna, Austria, where she pursued a Bachelors of Education. Before coming to Luria, Chanie was a pre-K teacher at a Jewish school in Brooklyn for two years. She then became a service provider at Luria Academy.

Jen (Donatelli) Bauer
Team Leader, 9-11
General Studies
Jen is returning to Luria for her sixth year. She is New York State certified in Childhood Education and Students with Disabilities for grades 1-6. Jen completed her dual Master’s degree in Childhood and Special Education at Long Island University, CW Post campus. Prior to graduate school, Jen attended the University of Connecticut where she earned a B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Jen completed the Montessori Lower Elementary training program through the North American Montessori Center. She participated in the Day School Collaboration Network from 2013-2015 and continues to use the design thinking method in her teaching practice to continue to learn and grow in the field of education. Jen attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project institutes. She is a trained mentor through JNTP (Jewish New Teacher Project).

Shelby Charnoff
General Studies, 9-11
Shelby is returning to Luria for her third year. She earned her Masters in Teaching in Elementary Education at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and her certification in Special Education from Temple University in Philadelphia. Shelby taught for five years in Philadelphia and then taught English in Shenzhen, China to students in Kindergarten through sixth grade. Shelby attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project institutes.

Nathaniel (Tani) Cohen-Fraade
Judaics, 9-11
Tani is returning to Luria for his third year. He attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he received his B.A. in History and Religion with a minor in Jewish Studies. He taught in the Jewish community of Southern Connecticut before moving to Israel where he lived and worked on Kibbutz Yahel for two years. He is a graduate of the Pardes Educators Program and has a Masters degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew College.

Daphna Bittan
Hebrew Immersion and Judaics, 9-11
Daphna will be returning to Luria for her third year. She was born and raised in Israel. A native Jerusalemite, she spent different parts of her childhood on kibbutz Ein Gedi, Rehovot and Mevasseret. After moving to Connecticut with her family during high school, she graduated from UConn with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her college years and since, she taught Hebrew, Tanach, Parsha and Chaggim in various informal education environments. Prior to joining the Luria faculty, Daphna taught Hebrew and Judaics to second-graders at Westchester Day School.

Benjy Susswein
Tone Keeper, 9-11
Benjy is returning to Luria for his second year. He grew up in Yonkers, N.Y. and graduated from Yeshiva University with a BA in English. After college Benjy began working at Stand Up NY Comedy Club as the marketing coordinator, eventually working his way up to the booker/manager. While there he also co-founded Stand Up Labs, a podcast network based out of the club. Two years ago he created his own comedy management and production, Sweet Wine Productions, aimed at fostering careers of young comedians in New York City. Benjy’s new dream is to combine comedy with education by creating original content for kids that is funny, entertaining and informative.

Libby Herz
Humanities, Middle School
Libby is returning for her third year at Luria. She holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood & Special Education, and a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Writing. She is a New York State certified Special Education teacher and is trained in the Wilson’s Reading Program, which takes a multi-sensory approach towards teaching struggling readers. She is trained in administering evaluations and assessments for learning and child development and in creating individualized learning plans. Libby attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Writing Project institutes.

Austin Fritz
Math, Middle School
Austin is joining the Luria faculty after two years teaching algebra and statistics at a charter high school in the Bronx. A former Math for America fellow, he received his M.A. in Mathematics Education from the City College of New York and a B.S. in Mathematics-Economics from the University of Pittsburgh. Austin hails from southeastern Pennsylvania and also enjoys running, traveling, and art.

Orlee Benun
Science, Middle School
Orlee Benun is a Brooklyn native. She received her BA from Barnard College where she studied Neuroscience and Behavior. She has a Master’s Degree in Secondary Science Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and holds New York State Certification in Biology, Grades 7-12. She taught 7th grade science at Barkai Yeshivah and developed and implemented a laboratory based after-school science elective for 9th and 10th grade at Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School.

Chana Pinson
TaNaKH Instructional Leader
Judaics, Middle School
Chana is returning to Luria for her fifth year at Luria. She is a Judaic Studies teacher with over 20 years of experience in the classroom. Prior to joining Luria, Chana was a Judaics and Hebrew Language teacher at the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Chana grew up in Nice, France, where her parents founded a day school serving the Jewish community at large. Chana completed training in the Legacy Heritage Instructional Leadership Institute; Standards and Benchmarks in teaching TaNaKH. In addition to teaching Chumash in the Middle School, Chana is taking on the role of TaNaKH Instructional Leader at Luria. Chana lives in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn with her three children, Eliyahu, Naomi and Cherri.

Dror Galamidi
Hebrew Immersion and Rabbinics, Middle School
Dror Galamidi is joining the Luria faculty for his first year. Dror received his masters in School Building Leadership from Brooklyn College through a program facilitated by the Jewish Education Project. Prior to joining Luria Academy, Dror taught Hebrew and Judaic Studies At East Midwood Hebrew Day School for 9 years and taught Hebrew Through Movement at Park Avenue Synagogue for 3 years.



Melissa Keinan
Lead Teacher, Garinim
Melissa is in her third year as lead teacher in Garinim. Prior to joining the Luria team, she worked for 9 years as an Early Childhood Special Education specialist. She has New York State certifications and a dual degrees in Special Education and Elementary Education from SUNY Geneseo, and a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from Hunter College. Melissa is also a co-founder and past board member of the Prospect Heights Shul and lives in Crown Heights with her partner, Amir, and their children, Zimrah (5-7 Kachol) and Eliav (Shorashim).

Mirel Leider
Assistant Teacher, Garinim
Mirel joins us for second year in the Garinim classroom. She grew up in San Diego, California and has worked with children of various ages in California, New York, Maryland, and Melbourne, Australia. Most recently she was a teaching assistant at the Chabad preschool of the Upper East Side.

Hila Natan
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Garinim
Hila was born and raised in Israel and has worked with children ages birth-6 years as an Early Childhood teacher, and a nanny of young children. She has vast experience as a ganenet (early childhood teacher) in Israel, where she worked with children with special needs, and has worked as a substitute teacher in a number of schools in Israel and New York. She was a counselor in the Sprout Brooklyn Day camp, a Hebrew teaching assistant at SAJ in Manhattan and private Hebrew tutor. She studied accounting in Israel at Ort Megadim, and is currently studying at CUNY Kingsborough towards a degree in liberal arts. Hila is returning for her second year as the Hebrew immersion teacher in the Garinim classroom.

Raychell Larkin
Lead Teacher, Shorashim
Raychell Larkin, is an early childhood professional with over twenty years of experience in the classroom. She holds Professional New York State Teaching Certifications in both Early Childhood and Elementary Special Education, and Early Childhood General Education. She has previously taught as a lead teacher at the Comprehensive Kids Developmental School, and as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher for various New York City agencies, with full caseloads. She most recently taught as a New York City Department of Education elementary teacher in Integrated Co-Teaching classrooms. She comes to us with a wealth of knowledge in Judaics and Hebrew; she lived in Israel for nine years and speaks fluent Hebrew.

Symie Lipkind
Co-Teacher, Shorashim
Symie was a teacher in the founding class of Luria Academy. She worked in the 3-5 class through 2011, while pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at BMCC and AMS (American Montessori Society) training at West Side Montessori, which is affiliated with NYU. During the 2011-12 school year, Symie completed her internship at Lefferts Garden Montessori. Symie is a fully certified Montessori teacher, and graduated in May with an Associates degree in early childhood education (ECE).

Doreen Aisen
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Shorashim
Doreen was born and raised in Israel, and has had years of experience working with young children. She previously taught preschool at Chabad of North Brooklyn, and at Gan Katan in Brooklyn. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hunter College in 2016. Doreen is also an artist, doula, and acupuncturist. She is returning for her second year as the Hebrew immersion teacher in the Shorashim classroom.

Aviva Itzhak
Lead Teacher, Alim
Aviva is returning for her second year in the Alim classroom. She was born and raised in Cuba, and moved to Geneva Switzerland for 10 years where she completed her Masters Degree. She has a Bachelors in Education from the National School of Arts in Havana. Aviva completed Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori. She taught at the Carousel of Languages, in NYC, as well as Bilingual Birdies, the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts, and the Jewish Cuban Music Library in New York. Additionally, during her tenure in Geneva, she taught young children for several years. Aviva is fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, and is proficient in Hebrew.

Tamar Matza
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Alim
Tamar is a native Hebrew speaker, proficient in Italian, English and Polish and has over ten years of experience teaching both modern and biblical Hebrew in the USA and Europe. Tamar is trained in the Proficiency approach to second language acquisition and has extensive experience as a Jewish educator in various schools among which the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School, 92nd Street Y, The JCC in Manhattan, B’nai Jeshurun, Congregation Habonim, Town & Village Synagogue and is currently the director of Hebrew language and Israel culture at Sprout Brooklyn, Young Judea. Tamar has a BA in Art History and is currently in her last semester of study toward her Master’s degree in Special Education at Hunter College.

Arianna Passaro
Assistant Teacher, Alim
Arianna is excited to join us this year as the Assistant Teacher in the Alim classroom. During the 2016-2017 school year, she served as Luria Academy’s Office Manager. Arianna has a wealth of experience teaching young children. Prior to joining Luria, she was an assistant preschool teacher at the Greenpoint YMCA, and a nanny for children 0-5 years old. Arianna graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Anthropology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

Illy Massey
Lead Teacher, Nitzanim
Illy is returning to the Nitzanim classroom for her second year. She taught Kindergarten for 8 years at The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan. Illy began her teaching career as a Morah Chayelet (soldier teacher) in the I.D.F. while living in Israel. She has an MSEd in early childhood education from Hunter College and completed requirements for her NYS teacher certification. Last summer, Illy completed the Jewish Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori.

Christopher Anthony
Assistant Teacher, Nitzanim
Chris grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut where he received pedagogical training in vocal coaching and a Bachelors Degree in Music. Since graduating, Chris was a substitute teacher in several school districts and was a paraprofessional and aftercare provider at Luria. Chris is returning for his second year in the Nitzanim classroom.

Angoch Goshu
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Nitzanim
Angoch joins the Nitzanim team for her fifth year as the Hebrew immersion teacher. Angoch is originally from Ethiopia, and moved to Israel at age ten. During her service in the IDF, she her taught children with special needs for two years. Angoch participates as an Israeli liaison in the Bronfman Youth Fellowship program in high school, and later moved to New York City in 2002. She has also done volunteer work with American Jewish World Service in Ghana and Ukraine. Angoch is working toward her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Brooklyn College.



Shirel Gidekel
Music Specialist
Shirel is happy to return to Luria academy for her third year moving from a Hebrew Immersion teacher to Luria’s music program. Shirel moved to NYC in 2011 from Jerusalem, Israel to pursue her Masters in Music Performance majoring in Classical singing, and an Advanced certificate program in music education from Brooklyn College Conservatory of music (CUNY). Prior to joining Luria, Shirel worked as a music teacher at East Midwood Hebrew Day School. In Israel, Shirel was a freelance solo singer singer in the young artist program of the Israeli opera. She is a recipient of scholarships granted by the America Israel Cultural Foundation and she earned an excellence scholarship in Baroque singing. Shirel served in the Israeli military as a “Musician of Excellence” and performed as a soloist in France, England, Switzerland, Austria, New York and Israel.

Ronny Reina
Physical Education Specialist
Ronny Reina is returning to Luria for his third year. He graduated from Queens College with a B.S. in Physical Education K-12. He was also a member of a Division II soccer team. Ronny has a New York State Initial Teacher Certification. Prior to joining Luria, he worked as a class director/coach in a specialized sports program for children ages 1-12, where he taught fundamentals of basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, soccer, baseball, and flag football. At Hawthorne Country Day School he obtained some experience teaching students with autism. Prior to that, he was a soccer and tennis activity specialist at I.S. 61 Leonardo Da Vinci. Ronny has also coached competitive youth soccer teams.

Diana Gilon
Art Specialist
Diana Gilon is returning to Luria for her third year. She is an artist, teacher, painter and mediator. She received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Parsons School Of Design in NY in 2003. In 2005 she attended WUJS (World Union of Jewish Students) artist residency in Arad, Israel and made Aliyah. While in Israel, Diana exhibited paintings with the esteemed Israeli curator Doron Polak and taught fine art and design for Young Judea year course in the cities of Arad, Haifa and Holon. In 2010 Diana began making murals with university students across the globe. The murals focused on initiating dialogue regarding issues such as environmental responsibility, interfaith collaboration, Israeli and Palestinian collaboration, Jewish identity, among various others. Her murals can be seen at universities and community centers across America, Israel and Europe, including many Ivy League institutions such as Harvard, Tufts and MIT. Diana continues to exhibit paintings in New York and Israel. Her work has been noted in many major publications and is part of many revered private collections.

Maureen Kramanak
Technology Specialist
Maureen has a Masters from Columbia University in Computing in Education and Communication in Education. She has an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame College. Prior to joining Luria, she was the Technology Coach for Educate LLC and then a Special Education Teacher and Instructional Coach in Kansas City Public Schools. She then transitioned to a new role as Teacher Leader in the Kansas City Public School System. Maureen has a number of publications, including a 2013 article titled, “Increasing Achievement in Special Populations.” In 2016, she was awarded with the NASA Best Educator Award.