Reimagining Teaching and Learning: Mandel Teacher Educator Institute Welcomes a New Cohort of Educational Leaders from Twenty States and Three Countries

February 16, 2024


Seymour Kopelowitz

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The Mandel Teacher Educator Institute (MTEI) is pleased to announce its eleventh Cohort of Jewish educational leaders who have been selected to participate in the two-year, intensive professional development program designed to transform how we think about teaching and learning. These exceptional “teachers of teachers,” as the program describes its participants, will come together for the first of six, four-day seminars March 3-6 in Chicago. 

Participants include 59 directors and leaders from Jewish day schools, early childhood programs, congregational schools and other Jewish educational settings throughout the United States, Canada, and South Africa. Several North American schools or synagogues will have multiple Jewish educators participating in MTEI Cohort 11, including Oakland Hebrew Day School (CA), The Epstein School (GA), Rochelle Zell Jewish High School (IL), Luria Academy of Brooklyn (NY), Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (OH), Gross Schechter Day School (OH) , Congregation Neveh-Shalom (OR) and Central Synagogue (NY).

“We are always excited when graduates refer their colleagues to participate in MTEI. When this happens, we see schools being able to make lasting change in their professional development practices,” said MTEI Director Miriam Raider-Roth. “This allows them to approach learning as a team and share the MTEI language, practices and theory. It’s very helpful for current cohort members to have graduates in their home organizations with whom they can share experiences, debrief the learning opportunities, and try out new ideas.”

This year’s cohort includes Aaron Griffin and Melissa Silvers from the Atlanta-based Epstein School, whose senior leadership team all graduated from the program. Associate Head of School and Elementary School Principal, David Welsher, enthusiastically shares the impact of the program on their school. “As Jewish educators, we all come from vastly different experiences in Judaic study and text study, and the MTEI framework provides a common language and helps us all understand the text study through common values – this allows us to connect the Torah lessons with our real-world life and challenges. We’re all on the same page.” 

Healthy communication, the methods taught by Kathy Simon, PhD, is another important aspect of the program that The Epstein School has integrated throughout their community. “How we talk matters,” is one of the core tenets of the program, helping educators and staff manage difficult conversations through attuned listening and non-violent communication strategies. “We’ve trained our whole staff in Kathy Simon’s active listening techniques, and it’s had a huge positive impact for us.” 

For those participants who are the first in their organization, Raider-Roth encourages new participants to share their learning and growth with their educational colleagues. “We are delighted by schools who are sending participants for the first time. They can become the anchor in their school for MTEI theory and practice and refer their colleagues for future cohorts.” Changing the way we think about education happens one person at a time. 

The MTEI approach involves a deeply interactive and collaborative learning model designed to examine the core practices and assumptions that shape the fields of teaching and teacher professional development. Led by world-renowned faculty from the University of Cincinnati, Brandeis University, Jewish Theological Seminary, Bar-Ilan University, Wayne State University, University of Michigan, and Hebrew Union College, among others, the curriculum focuses on Jewish text study; lesson study; classroom observation; communication skills training; leadership development; design thinking; and relational learning practices.

The Mandel Teacher Education Institute is made possible through the generosity of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. All program costs are covered by the Mandel Foundation, excluding travel. To learn more visit or contact Debbie Niederman, Leader, MTEI Recruitment, at

View the participants of Cohort 11 here.

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Teacher Educator Institute Cohort 11 includes: 

Nance Adler, Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, WA

Altman, Matt, Park Avenue Synagogue, NY

Amanda Anderson, Flo & Morris Mizel Jewish Community Day School, OK

Emily Applebee, Pressman Academy, CA

Brian Avner, Congregation Shalom, WI

Faye Bearman, Soloman Schecter Day School, IL

Tamara Beliak, Oakland Hebrew Day School, CA

Rina Bergman, Central Synagogue, NY

Gail Boone, Sandhills Jewish Congregation-Beth Shalom, NC

Julie Bressler, Temple Sinai, CA

Ilene Brot, Solomon Schecter Day School, IL

Toni Brownell, Rockwern Academy, OH

Becca Bubis, Rochelle Zell Jewish High School, IL

Yosi Cirlin, The Leffell School, NY

Binyamin Cohen, Rochelle Zell Jewish High School, IL

Babette Cohn, Shaare Tefila Congregation, MD

Judy Cook, Sinai Temple, IL

Denise Crevin, Shalom School, CA

Stacey Delcau, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, WA

Heather Erez, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, FL

Sharon Fixler, Bnei Akiva Schools, Canada

Arianna Gordon, Temple Israel, MI

Rivka Gottlieb, Robert M. Beren Academy, TX

Aaron Griffin, The Epstein School, GA

Karyn Hartstone, Fuchs Mizrachi School, OH

Justin Held, Beth Jacob Congregation, MN

Jordana Heyman, Jewish Kids Group, GA

Emily Holtzman, Adat Ari El, CA

Tsvi Josephs, Oakland Hebrew Day School, CA

Chaya Kauffman, Torah Day School, TX

Dana Keil, Luria Academy, NY

Janis Knight, Center for Jewish Education, MA

Rachel Lawton, Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, OH

Beth Liberman, Jewish Community of Greater Stowe, VT

Emily Lusardi, Congregation BJBE, IL

Ben Mazur, Temple Beth Or, NC

Bat Sheva Miller, Luria Academy, NY

Debbie Morin, Congregation B’nai Shalom, MA

Donell Newman, Gross Schechter Day School, OH

Marian Parker, Jewish Community of Amherst, MA

Allison Peiser, Temple Emanu-El, MA

Elana Perlin, Gross Schechter Day School, OH

Daniel Plotkin, Temple Isaiah, MD

Erica Riddick, Jews of Color Sanctuary, OH

Susan Rizzo, Temple Sinai, NY

Jessica Robins, Cleveland Jewish Educator Center, OH

Jacob Roeder, Jacob Pressman Academy, CA

Candace Rothstein, Congregation Neveh-Shalom, OR

Shari Rothstein, Temple Sholom of West Essex, NJ

Michael Schatz, Har Zion Temple, PA

Heather Schweizer, Temple Har Shalom, NJ

Ester Segal, Congregation Neveh-Shalom, OR

Melissa Silver, The Epstein School, GA

Elana Soroka, Netivot Hatorah Day School, Canada

Bailee Star, Temple Shir Tikvah, MA

Sam Thurgood, United Herzlia Schools, South Africa

Melissa Werbow, Hill Havurah, Washington DC

Kerry Zerlin, Congregation Beth Israel, TX

Alissa Zuchman, Board of Jewish Education, IL