Faculty and Staff

ADMINISTRATION

Amanda Pogany
Head of School

Amanda Pogany is in her seventh year as the Head of School at Luria Academy of Brooklyn. She has worked 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 Prt, 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 (9-11 Kachol), Maisie (7-9 Kachol) & Dar (Shorashim).

Efrat Gilman
Director of Finance and Operations

Efrat Gilman joins Luria Academy of Brooklyn as the Director of Finance and Operations. Prior to her role at Luria, Efrat was an Associate Director at the 92nd Street Y’s Camps department, overseeing several day camp programs encompassing upwards of 1,000 families. Efrat began her career as a litigator, after receiving her JD from New York Law School and her BA from New York University. She is a facilitation fellow with Resetting the Table, and has mentored Crisis Advocates at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Efrats serves on the Board of Trustees of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School as the alumni representative.

Chaya Tamir
Director of Admissions and Community Engagement

Chaya joins Luria after serving most recently as the director of the Preschool of the Arts, overseeing the Chelsea and Flatiron schools. Prior to that she directed a Montessori early childhood program in Miami, integrating Reggio inspired curriculum to meet Sunshine State / Common Core standards. Chaya directed the Hillel Community Day School Middle School Judaic Studies program and helped lead the school to become an International Baccalaureate World School and a Blue Ribbon School. Chaya earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Touro College and is New York State licensed as a school building leader and educator. She was a recipient of the Targum Shlishi Innovative Educators award (2010) for innovative use of educational technology in the classroom and the Elizabeth Glaser AIDS Foundation award (2016) for raising awareness about women’s health in India. She is a native Brooklynite and lives with her husband and three children in Crown Heights.

Sara Malasky
Director of Teaching and Learning, Lower School

Sara is returning for her eleventh 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. She also completed training as an Ayeka Soulful Educator, 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 tenth year. Tiphanie oversees Upper School (9-11 and Middle School) 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.

Laura Weisblatt
Primary Director

Laura is in her sixth year at Luria, and her third year as Primary Director. She is a graduate of the YOU Lead initiative of Prizmah, is a trained teacher mentor with the Jewish New Teacher Project, and has served as a leadership member of the Day School Collaboration Network. She has led the Teacher Rounds initiative of Luria for several years, and is a member of Paradigm Project’s Mesorah community of practice, with whom she is leading the publishing of an action research study in Jewish Early Childhood Education. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College, and a New York State Professional Certification of Education in Early Childhood. She completed her Montessori training at The Center for Montessori Teacher Education of New York. 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 Brooklyn with her husband.

Channah Lepkivker
Director of Support Services

Channah is returning to Luria for her sixth 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.

Jill Ceder
Guidance Counselor

Jill is a licensed clinical social worker. Prior to joining Luria, Jill provided individual therapy at Brooklyn Counseling Services and was a contributing writer for various parenting publications. She has a private practice in Brooklyn and Manhattan where she helps children and teens navigate transitions, share feelings and develop coping skills. She received a BA, from Indiana University, a Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School and a Master of Social Work from Touro College. She is certified in Mindfulness for Children and Adolescents and Positive Parenting Discipline.

Bill Manke
Executive Assistant

Bill is in his first year at Luria. He grew up right outside of New Haven, Connecticut where he graduated with a BA in Psychology from Albertus Magnus College. Before joining Luria he worked for close to twenty years at the Foote School, an independent school in New Haven. During his time there he led the after school program, facilitated summer programs, taught physical education, and worked in the admissions office. Bill lives in Boerum Hill with his wife Lauren, son Jack and their two dogs Elliott and Penny.

Adam Danoff
Elementary Office Manager

Adam is returning for his second year at Luria. He graduated Cum Laude 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
Primary Office Manager

Garleen is returning to Luria for her second year as Office Manager. She 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.

PRIMARY

Melissa Keinan
Lead Teacher, Garinim

Melissa is in her fourth 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 dual degrees in Special Education and Elementary Education from SUNY Geneseo, and a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from Hunter College. Melissa teaches the after school S.T.E.A.M. club at Luria and runs Little Explorers Mini Camp in the summer. 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 Elie (Alim).

Hila Nathan
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Garinim

Hila is returning for her third year as the Hebrew immersion teacher in the Garinim classroom.
She 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.

Mirel Leider
Assistant Teacher, Garinim

Mirel joins us for third 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. Prior to joining Luria, she was a teaching assistant at the Chabad preschool of the Upper East Side.

Abby Greenbaum
Lead Teacher, Shorashim

Abby is joining the Luria community for her first year as a Lead Teacher in the Shorashim. She holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Ancient History, Art and Archaeology from Franklin and Marshall College. Abby completed Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori. Before coming to Luria, Abby taught in several progressive preschools around the city, including the JCC Manhattan Nursery School and City & Country School. Abby is adjunct faculty at NYU Steinhardt in the Department of Early Childhood Education. She teaches a graduate level course on Curriculum Development and has also worked in the field as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate student teachers. Abby grew up in the Catskill Mountains and attended the Hebrew Day School of Sullivan County.

Doreen Aisen
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Shorashim

Doreen is returning for her third year as the Hebrew immersion teacher in the Shorashim classroom. She was born and raised in Israel, and has had years of experience working with young children. Before coming to Luria, she 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.

Symie Lipkind
Associate Teacher, Shorashim
Montessori Coach

Symie was a teacher in the founding class of Luria Academy and taught in the 3-5 class until 2011. She holds an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from BMCC and an Early Childhood Montessori teaching credential from West Side Montessori, which is affiliated with NYU. Symie is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Art at Brooklyn College. Her passions include integrating creative expression across the curriculum and shaping classroom activities around children’s individual strengths, needs, and interests.

Raychell Larkin
Lead Teacher, Nitzanim

Raychell Larkin is returning to Luria for her second year. She 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. Raychell completed Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori. 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. Prior to joining Luria, she 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.

Angoch Goshu
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Nitzanim

Angoch joins the Nitzanim team for her sixth 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 participated 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.

Christopher Anthony
Assistant Teacher, Nitzanim

Chris is returning for his third year in the Nitzanim classroom. 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.

Deborah Steinhauser
Lead Teacher, Alim

Debbie is returning for her second 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 graduated from Hunter College Magna Cum Laude with a Master’s of Science in Childhood Education and from Hunter College with a BS in psychology. She completed Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori.

Tamar Matza
Hebrew Immersion Teacher, Alim

Tamar is returning to the Alim classroom for her second year at Luria. She is a native Hebrew speaker, proficient in Italian, English and Polish and has over 10-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, she was the director of Hebrew language and Israel culture at Sprout Brooklyn, Young Judea and has extensive experience as a Jewish educator in various schools, including the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School, 92nd Street Y, The JCC in Manhattan, B’nai Jeshurun, Congregation Habonim, Town & Village Synagogue. Tamar has a BA in Art History and is working towards a Master’s degree in Special Education at Hunter College.

Arianna Passaro
Assistant Teacher, Alim

Arianna is returning for her second year as Assistant Teacher in the Alim classroom. Prior to this, she had a successful career in consulting. Volunteering in Sri Lanka in 2016 reignited her passion for early childhood education, and led her happily to the classroom. Arianna earned her BA in Anthropology from Northeastern University and loves to travel, learn Hebrew, and garden.

ELEMENTARY

Iana Hadjiyska
Team Leader, 5-7 Lavan
General Studies

Iana is returning to Luria for her third year. Before joining Luria, she taught Pre-K for three years. Iana has a B.A in Psychology with a Concentration in Sociology and Child and Family Studies from Stony Brook University. Iana earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Magna Cum Laude, from Hunter College. She holds a New York State Professional Teaching Certificate. She has attended Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading & Writing Institute for the last two years. 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.

Michelle Glazer
General Studies, 5-7 Lavan

Michelle is returning to Luria for her third year. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Hunter College. She graduated magna cum laude from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education, studying both Early Childhood Education and Jewish Studies. She holds a New York State teaching certification in Early Childhood, Birth-Grade 2. Prior to joining Luria, Michelle taught at Columbus Jewish Day School.

Esti Heller-Nevenansky
Hebrew Immersion, 5-7 Lavan

Esti is returning for her third year in the 5-7 Lavan classroom. 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.

Leah Meltzer
Judaic Studies, 5-7 Lavan

Leah is excited to be returning for her sixth year at Luria Academy. She graduated from Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Throughout her high school and college years, Leah was involved in leading informal children’s educational programing. Before joining the 5-7 Lavan team 2 years ago, Leah worked for 3 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 third year. Prior to her work at Luria, 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 third 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.

Amanda Sieracki
General Studies, 5-7 Kachol

Amanda is joining the Luria team after six years as Head Teacher, 3 years in the First and Second grade classroom at East Midwood Hebrew Day School and 3 years in the Kindergarten class at Long Hill Montessori in New Jersey. She graduated with honors from Montclair State University with a concentration in Elementary Education. Amanda has dual Teaching Certification, in teaching grades K-5 and Social Studies grades 5-8. She is currently working towards a Masters Degree.

Nitzan Graham
Instructional Leader, Primary and Lower Elementary Hebrew
Hebrew Immersion, 5-7 Kachol

Nitzan is returning to Luria for her 7th 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
Judaic Studies, 5-7 Kachol

Feigy is returning to Luria for her 8th year and her third year in the 5-7 Kachol class. Prior to joining Luria, Feigy worked as Program Director at a summer camp in Queens, and as a private child caregiver. Feigy is currently working toward a Degree at Brooklyn College.

Seth Tinkle
Tone Keeper, 5-7 Kachol

Seth is joining Luria full time after a year working as both an aftercare teacher and regular substitute across the school. He graduated with honors from Vassar College and worked for 5 years at the NYC Department of Education in the Human Resources department.

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 is in the process of completing 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. She is currently a participant in the Ayeka Soulful Education training.

Alixandra Greenberger
General and Judaic Studies, 7-9 Lavan

Alix is returning to Luria for her second year. She received her BA from Queens College with a major in English, receiving the Highest Honors award from her department. She received her dual Masters degree in General Education and Reading and Literacy from Bank Street College of Education, and holds New York State teaching certification for grades 1-6. Prior to joining us last year, Alix worked at Hannah Senesh and spent her summer as a literacy intern for Horizons, a summer enrichment program for low income public school students. Alix also attended Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project institute.

Tali Fischer
General Studies. 7-9 Lavan

Tali is joining Luria this year as both a teacher and a parent. She grew up in Brooklyn, and received a masters degree at NYU. Tali worked as a head special education teacher for over 10 years at Mary McDowell Friends School. Additionally, she’s worked as a private tutor for many years, working with both private and public school students.

Einav Chetrit
Hebrew Immersion, 7-9 Lavan

Einav is returning to Luria for her second year. She 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.

Jenn Laytin
Team Leader, 7-9 Kachol
Judaic Studies

Jenn is returning to Luria for her second 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).

Sophie Mortner
General Studies, 7-9 Kachol

Sophie Mortner is joining the Luria faculty this year. She has a BA in Sociology from Oberlin College and a Master of Education in Learning & Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before coming to Luria she taught for two years in a second grade classroom at the Rodeph Sholom School and spent a year living and travelling throughout Europe while working as a private tutor to native and non-native English speakers.

Sarah Soffes
General Studies, 7-9 Kachol

Sarah is returning to Luria for her second year. She holds a Masters degree in Psychology from Yeshiva University, and a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Education from Columbia University. Sarah also completed Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Institute. She worked as the lead teacher in our summer program for two summers, and last year worked in the 5-7 classroom. Before joining Luria, she worked as a head preschool teacher at the Chabad Early Learning Center in Manhattan, and as an aide for young children with behavioral difficulties. Before attending graduate school, Sarah 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.

Chanie Steinberg
Hebrew Immersion, 7-9 Kachol

Chanie is returning to Luria for her third 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. After teaching in a traditional school setting Chanie came as a service provider to Luria Academy. Chanie made the transition into teaching Hebrew Language Immersion in the 7-9 classroom last year.

Jen Bauer
Team Leader, 9-11
General Studies

Jen is returning to Luria for her seventh 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 Teachers 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 fifth year. She is certified in Childhood Education and Students with Disabilities in New York and Pennsylvania. She earned her Masters in Teaching in Elementary Education at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, her certification in Special Education from Temple University in Philadelphia and received her B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. 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 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project institutes.

Nathaniel (Tani) Cohen-Fraade
Judaic and General Studies, 9-11

Tani is returning to Luria for his fifth 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. Tani completed training to be the Civic Spirit educator for our Middle School.

Daphna Boosman
Judaic Studies, 9-11

Daphna will be returning to Luria for her fifth 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. Daphna completed the Legacy Heritage Teacher Institute.

Benjy Susswein
General and Judaic Studies, 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, becoming the Booker and Manager. During his tenure there he also co-founded Stand Up Labs, a podcast network producing original shows by comedians. Three years ago he created his own comedy management and production, Sweet Wine Productions, and helped foster the careers of young comedians in New York City. Benjy is currently getting a Masters in Media Psychology as he aims to combine comedy with education by creating original content for kids that is both entertaining and informative.

Dorit Stein
Hebrew Immersion, 9-11

Dorit is joining the Luria team with over 25 years experience as a classroom teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Educational Administration and Supervision from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and her Master of Art in Public Policy from Tel-Aviv University. She completed training with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Dorit comes to us after 23 years of teaching at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan, where she taught 3rd-5th grades, served as the Hebrew and Judaic studies coordinator, and worked with various members of the academic support staff in modifying lessons and presentations to meet specific needs of students with learning differences. She helped develop and teach a series of classes preparing students for, ACT2, NYS Regents Test in Hebrew as well as Jewish high school admissions tests.

Kailey Aiosa
Humanities, Middle School

Kailey is joining Luria for her first year as the middle school humanities teacher. Kailey taught Language Arts for 3 years at both the middle school and high school level. She received her Bachelors at The College of New Jersey in English Education, and her Masters from The College of New Jersey in Special Education. Kailey is dual certified in both language arts and special education, and has worked closely with students with reading disabilities. She lives with her family on Long Island.

Austin Fritz
Math, Middle School

Austin is returning to Luria for his second year. Prior to joining Luria, he worked for 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 is returning to Luria for her second year. A Brooklyn native, Orlee attended Columbia University where she earned a BA in Psychology from Barnard College studying Neuroscience and Behavior, and a MA in Secondary Science Education from Teacher’s College. She holds a New York State Certification for Biology, Grades 7-12 and has taught a range of science disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, and marine science. Prior to joining Luria, Orlee taught middle school science at Barkai Yeshivah and worked at Yeshivah of Flatbush HS where she developed and implemented a laboratory based science elective for 9th and 10th grade.

Chana Pinson
TaNaKH Instructional Leader
Judaics, Middle School

Chana is returning to Luria for her Sixth 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 the instructional leader for our TaNaKH program for the Elementary School. Chana lives in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn with her three children, Eliyahu, Naomi and Cherri.

Dror Galamidi
Hebrew Immersion and Rabbinics, Middle School

Dror Galamidi is returning to Luria for his second 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.

SPECIALISTS

Steven Strauss
Art Specialist, Elementary

Steven Strauss is excited to join the Luria community. He has worked for nearly twenty years in NYC schools and taught Art to students from ages five to sixty-five. He earned a B.A. in Education from Washington University and a M.A. from City College. His Graduate Thesis focused on Comics and Literacy, and he was awarded a grant to attend courses at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. He believes being a good artist begins with being a good thinker, finding creative solutions to problems. Steven especially enjoys painting and making ceramics, and he has shown and sold his artwork at a variety of NYC venues.

Yoshie Fruchter
Music Specialist, Primary and Elementary

Yoshie Fruchter is a guitar, bass and oud player who has made his mark with a style of playing and composing all his own. His latest project, Sandcatchers (oud and lap steel), explores the sounds of the Middle East combined with the American South. He also released two albums on John Zorn’s Tzadik records with his band Pitom and played on three others. He is notable for his work in composing, performing and interpreting Jewish song and has constantly forged new directions with his music, regardless of genre. Yoshie is also an experienced teacher, songleader and prayer facilitator and has taught Jewish music at synagogues, schools and festivals throughout the US, Canada and Europe. He is a member of Joey Weisenberg’s Hadar Ensemble and a fellow at the Rising Song Institute in Philadelphia.

Ora Fruchter
Music Specialist, Primary and Elementary

Ora Fruchter writes and performs regularly with her companies Doppelskope and Yellow Sneaker Puppets, using puppetry and music to create interactive comedies for kids and adults. Ora’s work in Jewish communities is focused on creating open spaces for self-expression and collaboration. She received a Young Pioneers Award for innovation in Jewish education (2016) and was selected as one of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 (2017).

PopFit Kids
Physical Education, Elementary and Middle School

PopFit Kids is a FUNctional Fitness club with a mission to empower children on the importance of anytime, anywhere exercising and an objective to provide them with the tools for developing life-long healthy habits. Whether focusing on muscle coordination and motor planning skills…teaching a junior athlete how to lateral lunge with accuracy…or engaging in high-energy jump rope training — PopFit provides a variety of programming that speaks to all age groups.

CodeSpeak Labs
Technology

CodeSpeak Labs teaches computer programming to students grades PreK – 12. Their curriculum includes Google’s Blockly, MIT’s Scratch, robotics (Lego Mindstorms), HTML/CSS (web development), Javascript (interactive websites, game design), Arduino (programming hardware/circuits) and Python (general purpose programming language), as well as skill-building in entrepreneurship, communication, and design.. They are based in New York City and Orange County, CA. CodeSpeak Labs is a member of the CSforAll Consortium, the national network of CS education providers, funders, and researchers working to support the mission of expanding access to CS education for all K-12 students.

Ariella Edvy
Hebrew Immersion Music and Movement Specialist, Primary

Ariella is a bilingual singer songwriter and vocal coach based in Brooklyn. She has been teaching Hebrew and music for over 10 years and is now working on her third album. She has taught Hebrew at Congregation Beth Elohim, Park Slope Jewish Center, and Rennert International Foreign Language Program. She has performed as a vocal artist around Israel and the U.S., and has studied music at Brooklyn College and City College of NY.

Paige Gottheim
Yoga Instructor, Primary

Paige Gottheim has been teaching yoga for 6 years and been practicing yoga for more than 15 years. In addition to yoga certification, she is also trained in Pilates and mindfulness. Paige trained at Karma Kids Yoga center, and has worked with children at Barkai Yeshiva, Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Luria Academy’s summer program and Fly Yoga Arts. She works to combine Jewish content with movement art and socio-emotional learning.