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 Brookline with her husband Avner, and three 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 and Learning
Inclusion Coordinator, Lead Teacher
Grades 2-3 Kesher After School
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.
Grade 1 Lifnei Kesher Wednesday/Thursday/ Friday
Grade 1 Kesher After School, Wednesday/Thursday
Kelly just graduated from Hebrew College with an MA in Jewish Education, specializing in Special Education. Prior to this, Kelly received an MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Jewish Education, specializing in Israel Studies. She also has a certificate in Jewish Education specializing in Adolescents & Emerging Adults from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Additionally, Kelly holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Binghamton University. For the last 10 years, Kelly has taught elementary-aged learners in varying religious school settings. In her free time, Kelly enjoys singing, playing guitar and reading.
Grades 4-5 Kesher After-School
Sara Klugman (she/her) is a dancer, poet, educator who finds home in creative process,
ritual, and relationship. Sara holds a B.A. in Religious studies from Carleton College,
and a Masters in Education with a focus on Arts in Education from the Harvard
Graduate School of Education. Her graduate work centered arts education as a means
for healing and empowering communities experiencing conflict. In her own artistic work, as an educator in the classroom, Sara is committed to the artistic process as a tool for liberation, transcendence and connection.
Sara lived in New York City for three years, where she worked as an Enrichment
Advisor in the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice, as a member of the Avodah
Social Justice Corps. Afterward, Sara ran a city-wide Teen Arts Apprenticeship Program
through Exploring the Arts, grounded in arts education as a means for economic
empowerment and educational access. Before moving to Boston, Sara lived and
worked in Jerusalem for two years, where she studied traditional Jewish text and ritual
in an egalitarian yeshivot, studied and performed with a Jerusalem-based dance
company, and worked closely with two Jerusalem-based art collectives to support
programs to create desegregated public space. She is thrilled to learn from and with the Kesher community this year, and looks forward to exploring what young people find
enlivening and energizing.
Grades 2-3 Lifnei Kesher-Monday-Thursday
Grades 2-3 Kesher After School
Yuval was raised in both Providence, RI and Jerusalem, Israel. He received his B.A. from Brandeis University & is currently pursuing an M.A. in Teaching Hebrew as a Second Language at Middlebury College. Yuval speaks, writes and reads Hebrew fluently and has experience teaching Hebrew to students across all levels, backgrounds & ages. Previously he worked at the Wheeler school as a math and foreign language teacher as well as a basketball and chess coach. He also was the Hebrew Through Movement teacher at Temple Beth-El and Emanuel in Providence, and an after-school group leader at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.
Allison (Leah) Wessells
Shorashim (K-1), Anafim (4-5)
Grades 4-5 Lifnei Kesher Monday-Friday
Kindergarten-Kesher After School
Alli grew up on the West Coast, but fell in love with Massachusetts when she went to Smith College. She majored in Jewish studies and spent time abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. Following graduation, she did a year as an online organizer for the AVODAH: Jewish Service Corps and found it rewarding to work on local campaigns related to housing and paid family leave. Her love of immersing Jewish content in education led her to the Brandeis Delet program, where she graduated with a MAT in Elementary Education (and more interest in Jewish educational content). She also teaches Hebrew school at Temple Hillel B'nai Torah in West Roxbury. She is not good at singing, but makes up for it with sheer enthusiasm. She loves hearing questions, knitting blankets, and solving crossword puzzles.
Grades 4-5 Kesher After School
Emily Nadel is fascinated by human impact and the ways human history is visible in our landscapes and cities. Since graduating from Macalester College with a focus in Jewish history, Emily has canvassed for Planned Parenthood, led the 9th grade unit at Ramah in the Rockies, studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and worked as a Teva Educator. You can find Emily exploring a new habitat, reading about eco-Judaism, and seeing what's new in her garden!
Lifnei Kesher Group Leader
Grades K-1 Lifnei Kesher Mondays/Tuesdays
Kindergarten Lifnei Kesher Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
Smadar grew up in Kibbutz Givat Brener in Israel and moved with her family to the US in 2018. She gained a lot of experience at taking care of kids from different ages from working as a teacher in the kibbutz daycare. Having experienced the community life in the Kibbutz, she always wants to take part in an active community, such as the Jewish and Israeli community here in Boston area. Smadar volunteered for two years in Kfar Refael, taking care of adults with special needs. She studied BSc in social work and MSc in mental health in early education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In her free time, she like cooking and baking, traveling and playing with her two sons.
Yami Forman Schwartz
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.
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.
Liz lives in Waltham with her husband and three young daughters.
Middle School Yahadut 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.
Israeli Tour Guide
visit www.hartuvtours.com for more details
For me, Israel has always been an exciting place - filled with adventure, diversity, controversy, and personal growth. Israel is a layered place to tour and understand. My goal as a guide is to use stories, explanations, music and other tools in a creative and nuanced way in order to help you feel a deep connection with Israel on an emotional and intellectual level.
I was born and raised in Canada and moved to Israel at 22 years old. I served in the IDF as a combat medic in the paratroopers brigade, giving me insight into the social dynamics of the diversity of Israeli youths and their families as well as a deep understanding of the complexities of Israel’s security situation. After the IDF, I worked on my kibbutz in irrigation and found the time to hike the Israel National Trail. These experiences and more inspired my feet to explore and keep seeking new adventures! My wife, daughter, and I live in Tel Aviv - soaking up all the sun, fun, and culture it has to offer.
I believe in really experiencing the places you visit, and seeing much more than the usual recommended sites. If we sound like a good match, please get in touch with me.
Liat was born and raised in Israel and moved to the U.S. in 2014. She has extensive experience in graphic design for online and print publications having owned a design & branding studio and after serving as a visual arts teacher for several years. Liat previously worked at the Weizmann Institute of Science and at the Ha’aretz Daily Newspaper. In her free time Liat enjoys knitting and playing bass guitar in a rock cover band.
Liat holds a B.Sc. in Economics and Information Technology. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, two daughters, dog and a bunny.