Our Staff and Teachers
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 Newton with her husband Avner, and four year old, Izzy.
Rosh Rikud (Director of KesherRoked), Kesher Middle School Hebrew
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 Curriculum, Learning and Inclusion
Inclusion Coordinator, 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.
Project Based Learning Consultant
Liz Levin grew up in Baltimore in an active Jewish family, belonged to Jewish youth groups, and attended summer camp affiliated with Habonim Dror, a Labor Zionist organization. As a teen, Liz began working in Jewish education as a tutor and youth group counselor, and she served as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress in Israel.
In college, Liz majored in History and Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal. She holds a Certificate in Jewish Informal Education, Leadership, and Camping from Hebrew College and a Certificate in Teaching English to Young Learners from Cambridge University. She earned her MA in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College in 2014 and has been running formal and informal Jewish educational programs in the Boston area for a decade. She is currently the Jewish Experiential Educator at the JCC of Greater Boston. Liz lives in Waltham with her husband and three young daughters.
Middle School Yahadut and Tiyulim Teacher, Curriculum Consultant
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.
Yami Forman Schwartz
Lifnei Kesher Group Leader
Yami is a guitar player who is currently a student at Berklee College of music. Yami grew up in both California and Jerusalem. He has been a private guitar teacher as well as a Hebrew School teacher at Kol Emeth Synagogue. Previously, Yami was a head counselor for the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) in both the U.S. and in Israel.
Beth Kozinn is excited to be joining the Kesher community as the School Administrator. A graduate of Brandeis University and Suffolk Law School, Beth has worked primarily in the non-profit sector. During her 25 years working for the Union for Reform Judaism, Beth served as a regional office manager, executive assistant, event planner, and program coordinator for Introduction to Judaism programs. Beth enjoys volunteering at her congregation and Mayyim Hayyim community Mikveh. Beth lives in Newton with her husband, and they have a daughter in college.
Saja Azem Khawaled
Before coming to the US, Saja was an elementary school math and science teacher at the Yad b'Yad school in Jerusalem, an integrated, bilingual school for both Jewish and Arab students in Israel. Saja was also a summer science school program instructor for Israel's Ministry of Science and Technology, a children's instructor for ALUT-Israeli Society for Children with Autism, as well as a computer and robotics instructor at Taibe High School. Saja holds her B.A. in chemical engineering from Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem, as well as General and Advanced teaching certificates from the David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem. Saja taught Shorashim Hebrew and was a Lifnei Kesher teacher in the Spring of 2021 at Kesher Newton. For the 2021-2022 school year, she will be teaching Hebrew at the Rashi Jewish Day School. Saja currently lives in Cambridge with her husband who is doing a post-doc at MIT, and her young daughter.