Our Staff and Teachers
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Ilana joined Kesher Newton as Executive Director in June 2014. She has over 13 years of experience teaching in informal and formal settings. Having taught in every Jewish denomination, she is excited to enhance Kesher's pluralistic community. Previously, Ilana served as Associate Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League in New England and as Director of Academic Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to New England. Ilana holds a B.A./M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University with a Massachusetts State Certification in Elementary Education and a minor in Hebrew. Based on her own Jewish education experience, Ilana is passionate about bridging the knowledge and skills gap between Jewish supplementary school and Jewish day school students. Ilana lives in Brookline with her husband Avner, and two year old Izzy.
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Nomie moved to Boston from Israel a couple of years ago, where she was working at the Ministry of Social Affairs. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from University of Wisconsin and earned a Masters in International Business in Paris. Previously, Nomie worked in public diplomacy at the Consulate General of Israel to New England and as an Education Specialist at the Milton Jewish Day School of the Nation's Capital. Nomie has been dancing since before she could walk, and has performed, taught, and choreographed in dance troupes around the world. In her imaginary spare time she loves to travel, salsa dance, and also directs ONOT-Kayitz (Boston's Middle School and High School Israeli Dance Performing Troupes).
Director of Hebrew Learning (Rosh Ivrit) / Inclusion Coordinator / Nitzanim (2-3) / Yahadut- Lead Teacher
Lori comes to Kesher with over 30 years of teaching children from preschool through 8th grade in day school, supplementary school, camp, and tutorial settings, most recently teaching Ivrit b’Ivrit in 3rd and 4th grades at Maimonides School and 2nd grade at Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills. Lori has experience in pluralistic settings, including the Jewish Community Day School of Greater Boston (JCDS) and Gann Academy. As a teacher and a parent, Lori has worked with children with many different learning styles and is well-versed in differentiated instruction. She lived, worked, and raised four children in Israel; 2 of her daughters live there still. Lori holds a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Elementary Education with a concentration in Hebrew second-language instruction from the Delet Program at Brandeis University. She also has a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Simmons College School of Social Work and a BA from Wesleyan University in Women’s Studies and Religion. In her spare time (ha!), Lori enjoys reading, cooking, theater, and Cape Cod.
Boston-Haifa Partnership Co-Coordinator / Rosh Tech / Nitzanim (2-3) / Hebrew / Yahadut- Assistant Teacher
Eitan is excited to join the Kesher Newton team this year. Eitan was born and raised in Israel, served in the IDF as an officer in the IDF School of Officers. He earned a B.A degree in Sociology and a B.Sc in Computer Science. Eitan worked as an educational instructor at the Ben Gurion Heritage Foundation during which he had the opportunity to work with students on the topics of Israeli identity, Zionism and Judaism. Before joining Kesher Eitan worked as a software engineer and is excited to use his computer skills for educational purposes. Eitan lives in Cambridge with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time, Eitan enjoys reading, going camping with his family and taking Teya the family dog out for walks.
Rosh Yahadut / Shorashim (K-1) / Hebrew
Janet is happy to join the Kesher staff. She comes to Kesher with many decades of teaching experience, initially as a college economics and business instructor, and more recently as a Jewish educator. At day schools Janet taught high school math, and judaics to students in grades 3 – 8. At congregational schools across the denominational spectrum she has done “just about everything” including adult education, b’nai mitzvah preparation, family programming, and teaching cooking, art, Judaics, and both prayerbook and spoken Hebrew. Initially trained as an economist specializing in statistics, she gradually transitioned to what she calls “a meaningful livelihood.” Janet holds degrees in economics and math from Wellesley College and UCLA, certification in Ritual and Liturgy from The School for Shamashim and Jewish Liturgy, and a Masters in Teaching and from the DeLet program Brandeis University. In her free time Janet enjoys musical theater, county western music, reading, improving her Torah reading and visiting new places with her husband and children.
Rosh Omanut (Art Director) / Shorashim (K-1) / Hebrew
Ruth holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Goren School of Art & Design at Max Stern Academic College in Emek Izrael, Israel, as well as a Senior Kindergarten Teacher Curriculum Diploma from Oranim Edcuation College at Tel--Hai Academic College in Israel. She has over 12 years of experience in teaching, previously having taught elementary school art, Hebrew, and Judaics. Places she has taught include Maimonides, Kehilat Israel, Kesher Cambridge, and the Israeli Complimentary School, to name a few. Ruth has had early childhood teaching experience from working at the JCC Brookline/Brighton as a lead teacher. She currently teaches Hebrew at Prozdor at Hebrew College on Sundays.
K-5 Inclusion Specialist
Miriam Rosalyn Diamond has been teaching and supporting Hebrew and Judaica learners of all ages for most of her life. She has served as Director of Learning Enrichment and Hebrew Learning Specialist at local synagogue religious schools, and works with Gateways: Access to Jewish Education. Miriam grew up in a Hebrew-speaking household, and is an alumna of Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy in Albany, NY. She holds a B.Sc. in Rehabilitation Counseling, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, a Ph.D. in Educational Processes, and has enjoyed opportunities to study in Israel and Hebrew College. Her skills include Bibliodrama/role play, creative writing, as well as exploring and teaching about friendship.
Middle School Yahadut Teacher/Curriculum Consultan
Joe Wolke teaches the Judaic studies portion of Kesher Middle School. Joe is a recently retired Technology Consultant who’s passion has always been the study and teaching of Jewish history and culture. A Brandeis University graduate with more than 40 credit hours in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS), Joe is a lifelong student who continues to study in synagogue and community based programs. He regularly participates in the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America’s online and group sessions and will once again, this summer, be attending Hartman’s Community Leadership Program in Jerusalem. He has also participated in the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism’s National Leadership Training Program (Sulam) for synagogue leaders. Joe has taught both student and adult classes in American Jewish history and for many years gave bus tours of Jewish Chicago. He loves seeing children (especially his grandchildren) develop the same love of Jewish history and culture that he has. He is excited to be joining the Kesher Newton team in developing and teaching this new and exciting Judaic studies program for middle school students.
Middle School Hebrew Teacher/Hornstein Field Fellow
Katie Hamelburg is a DC native who has taught Hebrew for many years! After attending the University of Maryland, where she focused on Heberew education, she moved to Boston to work with the Metrowest Jewish Preteen Engagement Collaborative, focusing on engaging middle schoolers in the Metrowest Boston area. Previously, she studied at the University of Haifa and the Middlebury College School of Hebrew in Vermont. She is now studying at Brandeis University’s Heller-Hornstein program, for an MA/MBA in Jewish Professional Leadership and Nonprofit Management. She is also in a Master's Fellowship through the I-Center, receiving a Master's concentration in Israel education. In her free time, she loves Israeli Dancing and anything Jewish-camp related. She’s excited to be working with Kesher Newton!
Club Kesher/Arts Based Learning and Drama Consultant
Cassie is entering her sixth year with us at Kesher Newton. Cassie taught theater at Camp NeShama Day Camp in Greatneck, NY and has taught art at Camp Hillel Day Camp in Cedarhurst, NY. Cassie is a Jewish Cuban playwright, visual artist and AEA stage manager. This summer she worked as the drama director at Camp Yavneh. She holds a MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen from Lesley University and a BA in Theater Arts and Creative Writing from Brandeis University. Her full-length play From the Deep was the 2014 winner of the Pestalozzi New Play Prize at the Firehouse Center for the Arts
Before working at Kesher, Leah spent a year studying Hebrew and Jewish Studies in Jerusalem at the Conservative Yeshiva. Leah also teaches at Temple Sinai in Brookline and comes to Kesher with many years of experience in Jewish experiential education and working with children ages 5-17. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to Boston to study at Brandeis University, where she received her B.A. in Theater Arts and Creative Writing. When she is not sharing her passion for music, Hebrew, and Judaism with her students, Leah works as a freelance actor, singer, and director. She is also a yoga teacher (RYT-200), and can be found teaching group and private yoga classes in the greater Boston area. Leah served as Rosh Shira and Hebrew/Yahadut teacher during the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, she is beginning her first year of rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Newton.
Illona was raised in a suburb west of Boston, an only child of Holocaust survivors. She graduated from the Maimonides School in Brookline, and holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Psychology and dual minor in French and Sociology from Hofstra University. She has been teaching religious school since 2011, in various religious schools throughout the Boston area. She has a love for learning and Judaism, and greatly enjoys teaching children. She is married to Stephen and has 3 grown children: Josh, Sam and Abby. She is a member of Temple Israel of Natick, and is active in her synagogue's Sisterhood, as well as Hadassah. She has 3 dogs, basically our fur children: Maggie Mae, Amber and Zoey. She is thrilled to be working with the Kesher Newton community!
High School Madrich
Ezra Gordon is a junior at Weston High School. He has assisted at Kesher since 2016. In his free time he enjoys running, reading, and math competitions. Ezra also Israeli dances, and performs with ONOT-Kayitz. He attended day school for seven years and is now part of Prozdor, a Jewish education program at Hebrew College for teenagers.