Faculty and Staff

ADMINISTRATION

Amanda Pogany                                                                 Head of School
Amanda Pogany is 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 in 2012, 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 Rabbinics 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, Maisie & 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 and Charlie.

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. Additionally, Rabbi Katz is the pulpit Rabbi of Prospect Heights Shul.

Channah Lepkivker                                      Director of Support Services
Channah Lepkivker, has been a SETSS provider at Luria for the last 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 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 second year 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 currently a member of Paradigm Project’s Mesorah cohort of Early Childhood directors. 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. She has served as Creative Director and Head Teacher of Early Childhood Program at The Village Temple, Pre-K Teacher at Central Synagogue Nursery School, and CitiSchool Teacher at Citibabes SoHo. 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                                                   Team Leader, Lower School
Sara is returning for her fourth year as Team Leader of the Lower School and her ninth year at Luria Academy. Before joining Luria, Sara taught kindergarten at Yeshiva Ketana of Manhattan, special education in the NYC public school system and developed curriculum for the early childhood and middle school Judaics departments at Hebrew Academy in Austin, TX. 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 Rosenblatt                                    Team Leader, Upper School
Tiphanie is returning for her third year as Team Leader of our Upper School, and her eighth year at Luria. Tiphanie oversees our Middle School program, supports our upper school staff and students, teaches 8th grade Humanities and oversees our High School admissions program. 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 the ELAI (Educational Leadership Advancement Initiative) and she is a trained mentor through JNTP (Jewish New Teacher Project).

Avery Wolff                                                        Director of Operations
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.

Arianna Passaro                                                     Office Manager
Arianna Passaro is the Office Administrator at Luria Academy of Brooklyn. She most recently worked as an assistant preschool teacher, and has specialized in communications and office administration in higher education and consulting firms previously in her career. Arianna earned her BA in Anthropology and International Affairs from Northeastern University.

ELEMENTARY

Bari  Brower                                                             Coordinator, 5-7 Lavan
                                                                                        General Studies
Bari is joining us for her sixth year at Luria. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Rhode Island. She earned her Master’s in Literacy from Hunter College. She holds New York State certifications in Elementary Education and Literacy, Birth through Grade 6. Bari has taught grades K-3 at Luria and grades K-1 prior to joining Luria. Bari is Montessori trained through the American Montessori Society (AMS), and trained as a mentor through the Jewish New Teacher Project (JNTP). Bari designed and oversees the Language Arts and Cultural curriculum for the 5-7 classes.

Iana Hadjiyska                                                      General Studies, 5-7 Lavan
Iana Hadjiyska earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Magna Cum Laude, from Hunter College. Prior to this, she received a B.A in Psychology with a concentration in Sociology from Stony Brook University. Before joining Luria, she taught Pre-K at a private school in Queens for three years. On the weekends, she teaches reading, writing and history in Bulgarian to children ages 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 took a few years off from teaching to pursue her passion in the fashion industry and is happy to be back in the classroom.

Leah Meltzer                                                                  Judaics, 5-7 Lavan 
Leah Meltzer graduated from Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Leah has spent the previous 4 years working as a paraprofessional and support staff member at Luria Academy. Leah has taught at a variety of Hebrew schools in Westport and Branford, Connecticut. She has also been a Kriah specialist at Luria Academy. She is excited to begin her new position as the Judaic Studies teacher in the 5-7 Lavan classroom.

Whitney Harris-Linton                                             Coordinator, 5-7 Kachol

                                                                                           General Studies
Whitney comes to Luria from Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where she taught for six years, including 1st and 3rd grades for four years, and Special Education K-8 for two years. She enjoys teaching literacy and has been trained in multiple literacy programs. Over the past 15 years, Whitney has gained invaluable experience working with students in classrooms, summer camps, and youth groups, in New York, Michigan and around the world. 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 holds New York State Teaching Students with Disabilities Certification grades 1-12.

Michelle Glazer                                                    General Studies, 5-7 Kachol
Michelle 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. Michelle is coming to us from Columbus Jewish Day School, where she taught second grade general studies. Prior to CJDS, Michelle completed her student teaching at a Columbus City School in a mixed kindergarten and first grade classroom.

Nitzan Graham                                                      Hebrew Immersion, 5-7 Kachol
Nitzan 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 a 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. Nitzan wrote and illustrated twelve children’s books to enhance her students’ studies; the books have since become part of the curriculum at HLACS.

Feigy Leider                                                                    Judaics, 5-7 Kachol
Feigy is returning to Luria for her 6th year, and is excited to be joining the 5-7 class. At Luria she has taught in the 3-5 classes, the 5-6 class, and in our summer program. Prior to joining Luria Feigy worked as Program Director at a summer day camp in Queens, and as a private childcare giver. Feigy is currently working toward a Degree at Brooklyn College.

Jen Donatelli                                                                7-9 Coordinator
                                                                                      General Studies
Jen is returning to Luria for her fifth 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 play an integral role in developing and implementing a peer review protocol within Luria through design thinking. Jen has attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Institute workshops since the 2015-16 school year.

Daphna Bittan                                                 Hebrew Immersion and Judaics, 7-9
Daphna will be returning for her third year at Luria. Daphna 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. She taught Hebrew to individuals in intensive immersion situations as well as groups in the classroom. Most recently, Daphna taught Hebrew and Judaics to second-graders at Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, New York.

Nora Ellison                                                        General and Judaic Studies, 7-9
Nora Ellison is returning for her second 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 August Writing Project at Teachers College, focusing on curriculum development and writing workshops in the classroom.

Shirel Gidekel                                                   Hebrew Immersion and Judaics, 7-9
Shirel is returning to Luria for her second year in the 7-9 classroom. She was born and raised in Jerusalem, and moved to New York five years ago. As an Israeli music educator, she works to expose her students to Israeli culture, Hebrew language and their Jewish identities. Shirel graduated with a Bachelors of Music degree from Tel Aviv University and her Master’s in Vocal Performance from CUNY Brooklyn College. She taught at the Hebrew Language Academy, Congregation beth Elohim, East Midwood Day School, as well as a number of schools in Israel before moving to New York. Shirel leads Luria’s Hebrew choir.

Tali Ratzon                                                                   General Studies, 7-9
This will be Tali’s third year at Luria in the 7-9 classroom. Tali earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Elementary Education and has been working with children, ages three to nine, for over ten years. Tali completed the Montessori Elementary training program through the North American Montessori Center. Tali joined the Hidden Sparks coaching program last year in order to help students with learning differences reach their greatest potential. Tali is a passionate musician, and leads a student choir at Luria.

Jaclyn Rubin                                                           General and Judaic Studies, 7-9
Jaclyn is returning to Luria for her second 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. This summer, Jaclyn attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Common Core Math workshop.

Shelby Charnoff                                                   9-11 Coordinator
                                                                                 General Studies
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 at Upper Moreland Primary School in Hatboro, Pennsylvania for her first two years after graduate school, in addition to being the head JV cheerleading coach at Upper Moreland High School. She spent the following two years working as a special education teacher at Wallingford Elementary School in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. For the 2011-2012 school year, Shelby taught English in Shenzhen, China to students in Kindergarten through sixth grade. This summer, Shelby attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Writing Institute.

Tani Cohen-Fraade                                                    Judaics, 9-11
Nathaniel (Tani) Cohen-Fraade 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, working in fruit and vegetable packaging and export. He is a graduate of the Pardes Educators Program and has a Masters degree in Jewish education from Hebrew College.

Lee Eskin                                                                  Math and Science, 9-11
Lee Eskin grew up in West Orange, NJ.  He received his BA from Oberlin College in Ohio, and then after living in London, Portland, and Israel, he returned to the New York area, becoming a resident of Brooklyn and then Prospect Heights.  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.  On the side, he has also been developing his interest in website development and administration.

Nadav Kesler                                      Hebrew Immersion and Judaics, 9-11
Nadav Kesler has taught Hebrew to students ages 3-11, locally at Sprout Brooklyn Day Camp, Kane Street Synagogue, the School for Creative Judaism and the Fig Tree Program. He has a BA in Social Science and preparing to begin an MSW. Nadav was born and raised in Yehud, Israel, after completing a year volunteering with his youth movement (Ha’shomer Ha’tzaair) working with immigrant youth as a head of a “Ken” in Petach-Tikva, he joined the Israeli Defense Forces where he was a combat soldier in the Second Lebanon War and toured Gaza twice. In addition to Hebrew language, Nadav has taught breakdancing and Israeli dancing.

Liat Avital                                                          Hebrew Immersion, Middle School
Liat was born and raised in Jerusalem. She holds a B.A. in Art History and in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.A. in Arts Therapy. She is certified in Early Language Oral Proficiency Assessment and in the Responsive Classroom Management Approach. Prior to joining Luria she taught at Ramaz and Hannah Senesh. Liat is looking forward to joining and getting to know the Luria community.

Josh DeMoya                                                Math & Science, Middle School
Josh is returning to Luria for his second year. Josh taught for three years in a public school in the South Bronx. He taught Math, English, and Spanish in a variety of special education settings. He began teaching through Teach for America after graduating from New York University. He then received his Master’s Degree from Fordham University in Teaching, specializing in students with disabilities. He also received New York State certification for special education in middle and high school.

Libby Herz                                                            Humanities, Middle School
Libby is returning for her second 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 Wilsons Reading Program, which is based on the Orton Gillingham Method, a multi-sensory approach towards teaching reading to struggling readers. She is trained in administering evaluations and assessments for learning and developmental needs and in creating individualized learning plans. Her experience includes five years as a SETTS provider in grades 1-6 and as a SEIT for early childhood.

Chana Pinson                                                         Judaics, Middle School
Chana is returning to Luria for her fourth year at Luria. She is a Judaic Studies teacher with over 20 years of experience in the classroom. She has taught in formal and informal settings, day schools and Hebrew Schools, and as a private tutor, in schools and synagogues in France, California, Florida and New York City. Prior to joining Luria, Chana was a Judaics and Hebrew teacher in the 4th, 7th and 8th grades at the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School, and in the 4th grade at the Park East Hebrew School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Chana grew up in Nice, France, where–35 years ago–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. She will be overseeing the implementation of the Standards and Benchmarks program at Luria.

 

PRIMARY

Melissa Keinan                                                  Lead Teacher, Garinim
Melissa is in her second 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 certification and a dual degree 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 (Alim) and Eliav (Shorashim).

Mirel Leider                                                           Assistant Teacher, Garinim
Mirel grew up in San Diego, California. She 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.

Chaya Simon                                                         Lead Teacher, Shorashim
Chaya joins us with extensive experience in early childhood and lower elementary Jewish education. She taught preschool at Preschool of the Arts, Temple Shaaray Tefila Nursery School, and Park Avenue Synagogue in their Young Family Education Program. Prior to teaching preschool, she was a residence manager in a home for developmentally disabled women and has extensive training working with individuals with special needs. Chaya has a BA in Psychology with a focus on child development and art, and is currently working towards her MS and New York State Certification in Early Childhood Education at Hunter College. This summer, Chaya completed the Jewish Montessori training at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori.

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).

Nurit Shaul                                                        Hebrew Teacher, Shorashim
Born and raised in Israel, Nurit relocated to the US in 2012 pursuing her career as an Digital Marketing executive. After spending a year in San Francisco, she moved to NY where she continued working in the Ad Tech industry, and started teaching at Yeshiva University. Her passion for teaching and dream of working with children came to fruition in early 2016, when she joined Luria as a Hebrew teacher. Nurit holds a BA in English Literature and Arts and an MA in Political Science, from Tel Aviv University.

Aviva Itzhak                                                              Teacher, Alim
Aviva 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 taught at the Carousel of Languages, in NYC since 2010, 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. She is also knowledgeable in Judaic Studies and tefilah.

Tal Kazaz                                                               Hebrew Teacher, Alim
Tal is originally from Israel, and moved to the United States in 2000.  He taught social skills and Shiatsu in Israeli elementary schools for four years. Tal has been a shiatsu therapist for over 15 years as well as a health coach and spinning instructor. Tal is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and culture with his students.

Julia Pinnock                                                         Assistant Teacher, Alim
Julia has 8 years of experience working with children in different capacities, including 3 years as a New York City Schools Special Educator. She holds an MS in Education, specifically, Urban Elementary Special Education. Julia has NYS certifications in Childhood Special Education and Childhood General Education. She currently holds a Cambridge University CELTA through Teaching House New York.

Illy Massey                                                              Lead Teacher, Nitzanim
Illy joins the Luria community both as a teacher and as a parent. 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. This 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.

Angoch Goshu                                                     Hebrew Teacher, Nitzanim
Angoch joins the Nitzanim team for her fourth 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.

 

SPECIALISTS

Dan Saks                                                                          Music Specialist
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Dan Saks has been an integral part of the US alternative Jewish music scene for the past ten years as the force behind the Sephardic rock band DeLeon, as a member of the Hanukkah rock super group the LeeVees, and with the popular Jewish children’s band the Macaroons. Each of these bands got their starts with the now defunct JDub Records Z”L. Saks recently returned from 3 years spent living in Mexico City during which time he founded the city’s first Jewish Music Festival, Merkabá, and recorded DeLeon’s 3rd LP, Tremor Fantasma.  Saks has now relocated back to NYC where he continues to advance the mission of DeLeon and explore new ways of broadening the world of Jewish music. Beyond his career as a performer, Saks spent seven years teaching music in NYC public schools with the Bronx Arts Ensemble and a year at Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn. Additionally, Dan is trained in the Orff Schulwerk approach to music education.

Ronny Reina                                                                Physical Education Specialist
Ronny Reina 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. Most recently, 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 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.

Joseph Yarborough                                                  Technology Specialist
Joseph has a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology, from the New York Institute of Technology, where he graduated with distinction and was awarded for Excellence in Digital Curriculum Design.  Most recently, Joseph held the position of Education Technology Coordinator for a local Charter School and continues to collaborate with higher-education professors on the development of online curricular. In recent years, Joseph has expanded his digital presence to include Digital commercials for VIACOM’s Learning and Development unit, and web design for the Adolescent Education Program of SUNY Downstate.  Joseph is currently working on his first animated children’s story, which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.