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Meet Jessica Leary!

Jessica is excited to be at Schechter for her 3rd year. She will teach Kindergarten this year, while having previously taught pre-Kindergarten at Gan Shelanu. She holds a B.A. in Child, Youth and Community Education and an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College. Prior to joining the Schechter team, Jessica worked as a supervisor for a before- and after-school program for children in grades K-5. Every year, Jessica loves learning new things from her colleagues and students. She also looks forward to collaborating with other teachers.

In her free time, Jessica is a huge Boston sports fan and enjoys watching the games on television or at a venue! She loves spending time with her husband, family and friends as well as relaxing at the beach and traveling.

Jessica feels #SchechterPride when she sees her students smiling and laughing. She also feels #SchechterPride when she receives recognition from her students’ families because it serves as a reminder that she really is making a difference in their child’s life.

Trudy_Fagen

Meet Trudy Shulman Fagen!

Trudy is excited to begin her 22nd year at Schechter as the Upper School Counselor and Arts Director! She is also the proud parent of three Schechter alumnae. Trudy holds a B.A. in Music Composition from University at Albany, SUNY and an M.A. in Music Therapy and Counseling from New York University. Additionally, she is licensed as a Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), holds advanced certification as a music therapist, is certified in DBT, EMDR, hypnotherapy and is a state-certified music teacher.

Prior to joining the Schechter team, Trudy was a music therapist at McLean Hospital and the Clinical Director of Boston Institute for Arts Therapy. Additionally, she was an Adjunct Professor at the Lesley University Graduate School of Expressive Therapy, worked in a private practice and was a consultant to Newton-Wellesley Hospital/Interface. Trudy also served as a music educator at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, NY, the The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ and Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, NY.

Every year, Trudy looks forward to meeting new kids and their families! She gets excited to help kids learn more about themselves, to feel safe and to express who they are! A highlight for her is helping students access the arts to learn more about themselves and to share themselves with the world.

In her free time, Trudy enjoys arts making, traveling, kayaking and animals!

Trudy feels #SchechterPride when watching students practice new skills that might be unfamiliar to them and then seeing them “own” them (often during a performance!).

D’var Torah: Rabbi Ed Gelb (Yom Kippur)

 

As we approach Yom Kippur I was thinking of the daily blessing, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, for giving sight to the blind.”  It is a troubling blessing.  On the most literal level, this is obviously not true.  Additionally, what a strange blessing to say, as the vast majority of us are not blind and can see fine.  So we are saying a blessing that isn’t true and isn’t relevant to the vast majority of us.  Since I think the rabbis were actually pretty intelligent, there must be deeper reasons for including this blessing.

Every year we could be overcome by all the terrible things that happen in our world.  Globally, the terrible waste of life, the hurricanes, and the utter evil that some people inflict on others areis downright depressing.  On a personal scale, there are too many tragedies.  Whether within our families or within our community, there are too many who are struggling with illness and death, betrayal, and pain.  Sometimes it is hard to see the good in the world.  At Yom Kippur I think it is important to look for the good.  There are so many people who do good things for others every day.  People who drive a homebound person to the store, campers who volunteer to work with children with disabilities, and families that volunteer at soup kitchens.  Look around your synagogue, I bet you find tons of people who are doing good things for others.  By seeing the good in the world we can strengthen our resolve to also do good.

Even with good people, sometimes I believe that we are still blind to thosepeople in need.  Again, I’m thinking personally, in our families and in our communities.  We have such power to influence others.  Yet, in our busy lives do we take the time to truly see?  Time to see our children who are wantingdying to be noticed and to hear one compliment about something they have accomplished.  Time to see our parents and all that they have done for us and to say thank you.  Time to see someone lonely or hurt that we can help simply by listening to them.  Again, look around at your community, there are so many people to see that we can help.

All of us are blind at some point in our lives.  It is natural to be turned inward and to focus on ourselves.  Sometimes we simply do not see the world around us, the good, and also the needy.  This year, may we be blessed with sight so that we can take action to do even more good for each other and our world.

G’mar Chatimah Tova.

Rabbi Ed Gelb is the director of Camp Ramah – New England. 

Josh_Bock

Meet Josh Bock!

Josh is excited to be at Schechter for his second year as Coordinator of Support Services and a teacher in the Upper School. He holds a B.A. in Sociology form Clark University and an M.Ed. in Special Education from Indiana University. Prior to joining the Schechter community, Josh taught Special Education in Evanston, IL. Every year, he looks forward to learning something new from his students.

In his free time, Josh is an avid birder!

Josh feels #SchechterPride when he watches his students’ awareness of the world they live in develop along with their desire to mold it into the place they want it to be.

D’var Torah: David Bernat (Haazinu)

 

God can be scary… At least the God portrayed in our High Holiday services, coming just around the corner.  God, the King, sits on an exalted throne and we approach, with fear and trembling, awaiting the Shofar’s blast and God’s Judgement “Who shall live and who shall die… who by water and who by fire… who by famine and who by thirst… who by earthquake and who by plague…” It is no wonder that this period is called, Yamim Noraim, “Days of Awe.”  The frightening God is also front and center in our weekly portion.  Haazinu, “Listen-up,” is a dramatic poem that is part of Moses’ final words to the Israelites before he dies and they enter the Promised Land.  The Torah here seems to promote the principles of “tough love,” and middah kenegetd middah, “measure for measure.” If the people are loyal and follow the correct path, they will be rewarded. If not, God declares, “I will pile hardship on them…wasting famine, devouring plague…and fanged beasts I will send against them…” (Deuteronomy 32:23-24).

As we engage in spiritual and ethical reflection, appropriate to the season, can we not ask; “Is this the Divine role model we wish for?”  “Are we meant to believe that the people of Houston, Haiti, Florida and other victims of natural devastation deserve their Judgement?” Is this the kind of Parent/Teacher/Manager we want?” “Is this the kind of Parent/Teacher/Manager we want to be?” I am not suggesting that we stop reading Haazinu and stop reciting Unetaneh Tokef. Rather, I believe that we can, and should, wrestle with our core traditions, even at our most sacred moments.

Fortunately, our Parasha also contains a metaphor for God that is like a ray of sunshine amidst the bleak clouds. Kenesher yair kino, al gozalav yerachef (Deut 32:11). God is compared to a raptor, hovering over its nest, ready to protect and feed its hatchlings. Here is the image of a nurturing God who loves unconditionally.  With such a heart-warming model in mind, I hope that, as we near the days of awe, and undertake a rigorous moral inventory, we can also learn how to give and receive love unconditionally, and nurture those in our community rather than rendering judgement.

Shanah Tovah

 

David Bernat PhD, Executive Director, Synagogue Council of MA, Lecturer in Judaic Studies, UMass Amherst, SSDS Alumnus and Alumni parent.

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Meet Jamie Zeitler!

Jamie is excited to return to Schechter for her fourth year as the Assistant to the Lower Division Principal and Assistant to the Associate Head of School. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Human Services, a minor in Psychology and an M.A. in Organizational Management from Endicott College. Prior to joining the Schechter community, Jamie worked at Endicott College in the Office of Admission. Every year, Jamie looks forward to getting to know all of the amazing Schechter kids! She makes sure to know each and every student by name!

In her free time, Jamie loves to create systems and organize materials, make the most of calendars and spaces, and she is now starting her own business to help others do the same!

Jamie’s #SchechterPride moments happen during Shabbat Shira and Shabbat B’Yachad. The amount of ruach that can be felt is unparalleled!

Karen Garb

Meet Karen Garb!

Karen is excited to return to Schechter for her fourth year as an assistant teacher in Gan Shelanu. She holds a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon Universityand has completed coursework at MassBay Community College in Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining Schechter, Karen worked in marketing for mutual fund companies. She then spent 10 years as a full-time mom before her second career as a preschool teacher. Every year, Karen looks forward to getting to know the children and their parents and watching (all of them) grow!

In her free time, Karen loves taking walks, eating delicious food and spending time with her friends and family. She especially loves watching her sons do great things!

Karen feels #SchechterPride when she sees the children give each other spontaneous hugs! It’s great to see them really bond with each other!

Rebecca Luire

D’var Torah: Rebecca Lurie (Nitzavim-Vayelech)

This week’s parashiyot, Nitzavim-Vayelech, describes Moshe, at 120 years old, passing along his role of leading B’nei Yisrael to Joshua. As his days were nearing the end, Moshe is told by God to relate the Shira, the portion of Ha’azinu that is the Song of Moses, to B’nei Ysrael. The last verse in Vayelech reads: “Moses spoke the words of this song into the ears of the entire congregation of Israel,” עַד תֻּמָּם, “until their conclusion” (Deut. 31,30).

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a Lithuanian Rabbi from the late 19th century asks, why does the Torah say “until their conclusion?” Wouldn’t everyone assume Moshe would recite the entire song? Rabbi Feinstein answers that Moshe was not just reciting the words, but also providing in-depth meaning to these words “Until their conclusion”  implies Moshe provided the deepest understanding of the true meaning of the Song.

Every day, my colleagues and I seek to create authentic Jewish experiences for our students that will ignite in them a spark to form their own Jewish identities. And I am thrilled to see so many moments in the Schechter program that grapple with text – through Tefillah, Talmud and Tanach – in order to find purpose, meaning and deep understanding. Just this week, I sat in on the 6th-grade Tanach class where Lianne Gross emphasized to students that “every translation is an interpretation.” There is so much beauty in the concept of the p’shat (literal translation) and the drash (deeper meaning/interpretation) of the Tanach. That is why I personally love studying Tanach – because it is a place to think deeply about the possibilities of what specific words and texts mean. And it is up to us to find personal connections.

Just as Moshe acted as a facilitator to B’nei Yisrael to help them form a deep understanding in the scripture, so too are the faculty at Schechter facilitating a community of purpose and meaning seekers. And I am truly grateful for the work they do every day with our students.

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Meet Rabbi Ravid Tilles!

Rabbi Tilles is excited to be joining the Schechter community this year as the Director of Jewish Life and Learning. He holds a B.A.in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh as well as Rabbinical Ordination and a certificate in Pastoral Education from the The Jewish Theological Seminary – JTS. Prior to joining Schechter, Rabbi Tilles served as the Associate Rabbi at the Merrick Jewish Centre in Merrick, Long Island. Rabbi Tilles looks forward to fostering meaningful Jewish experiences for all of our Schechter students and families.

In his free time, Rabbi Tilles likes to take his sons for a bike ride, but he is still getting used to the Boston hills!

Rabbi Tilles feels #SchechterPride already from the warmth and kindness that has been extended to him and his family from the school community as he begins to work in this new and exciting role!

Josh_Bartley

Meet Josh Bartley!

 

Josh is excited to be returning to Schechter for his 12th year as the 4th-6th-grade Physical Education teacher and the Solomon Schechter Athletic Director. He holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Westminster College and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri. Prior to joining the Schechter community, Josh taught 5th grade at McIntire Elementary in Fulton, MO.

Every year, he looks forward to watching the growth of his students over the course of the year.

In his free time, Josh is the Assistant Softball Coach at UMass Boston. He helped lead his team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in 2017!

Josh feels #SchechterPride when he watches the Schechter boys and girls sports teams succeed. Last year both teams won the Jewish Day School basketball tournament! (Schechter is still the only school to win both in the same year!)