Faculty

 
Yona Atias

Yona Atias
yatias@ohds.org
Fourth Grade and Middle School Hebrew

“My whole life I’ve had the privilege of working with children and have always loved this work. It’s important to me to teach each child in a way that they can enjoy learning.”

HaMorah Yona was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel and has been an active member of the Oakland Jewish community for almost 20 years. She has 18 years of experience as a teacher at Gan Mah Tov preschool and has been wonderful as a substitute Hebrew teacher at OHDS over the past two years, bringing a notable sense of calm, warmth and purpose to the classroom environment. Yona and her husband are proud parents of six beautiful children, including four OHDS graduates.

 
Bebi Bacchus 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bebi Bacchus
bbacchus@ohds.org
5th Grade Math / Algebra
K-8 Math Coordinator

“I love watching that moment where ‘everything clicks’ or the ‘a-ha’ moments of understanding. I love listening to what struggles students may experience with learning, but watching them persevere through those struggles.”

Ms. Bacchus has her B.A. in liberal studies with a childhood studies focus and is currently working on her masters in education. She is also a certified nursing assistant. Before coming to OHDS in 2016, she taught at the Oakland School for the Arts, teaching middle school math and life sciences. Ms. Bacchus also taught for four years at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland in kindergarten, fourth, seventh and eighth grade classrooms. In her free time, Ms. Bacchus likes to take her dog to Point Isabel, watch movies, and take part in any activity that offers an adrenaline rush.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tamara Beliak
tbeliak@ohds.org
Middle School Judaic Studies
Dean of the Beit Midrash

“I want to teach children to be proud of their Judaism, and to see their practice and knowledge of Judaism as a way to be a color in the rainbow of diversity in the world. I love helping kids master new skills. My greatest pleasure is teaching my students how to teach material to adults and to their peers.”

Dr. Beliak’s educational background includes a B.A. from Brandeis University, a Drisha Educator’s Fellowship, and a master of arts and doctorate of education from Yeshiva University. Dr. Beliak and her husband make their home in Berkeley with their four children, all OHDS students. In her spare time, Dr. Beliak loves to hike, collect children’s Hebrew books, and to pack for a family trip and plan it as they travel.

 
Lisa Blumenband
 
 
 
 
 

Lisa Blumenband
lblumenband@ohds.org
Second Grade General and Judaic Studies
K-2 Literacy Coordinator

“I believe that the purpose of education is to facilitate intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual growth in every child. I teach to give them the tools they need to live a successful, fulfilling life. I love building relationships with students and seeing them take pride in their accomplishments.”

HaMorah Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Brandeis University, and her master’s in Jewish education with a day school focus from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Lisa taught in Miami before joining OHDS. She likes to read, travel, and play soccer in her spare time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Trish Blow
tblow@ohds.org
Third Grade General Studies

“I love to see my students engaged in their learning. I believe that students learn best when they are engaged and interested in what they are doing. I enjoy watching my students progress throughout the year, academically and socially, and seeing how proud they feel about their accomplishments”.

Ms. Blow taught both 1st grade and 2nd grade general studies at OHDS for many years before returning recently to teach in the 3rd grade classroom. Ms. Blow brings with her extensive elementary experience in Australia and England as well. She earned her Bachelor of Education at Flinders University, South Australia. In her spare time, she loves to get out into nature with her family.

Tonya Coffman

Tonya Coffman
tcoffman@ohds.org
Fourth Grade General Studies and Core Math

Over her 11 years in education, Mrs. Coffman has taught everything from transitional kindergarten to high school. In addition to her years of experience in private elementary, middle and high schools, Mrs. Coffman has a degree in the field of law, currently directs Sunday school at her church where she and her family are active community members, and is particularly passionate about teaching math and history. Mrs. Coffman and her family moved to the Bay Area from Memphis, Tennessee, in 2016. She is a strong believer in the importance of creating a fun classroom where students can truly grow and feel a sense of “family.” In her free time, Mrs. Coffman enjoys traveling, reading, attending musicals and spending time with her husband of 26 years and their three children.

 

 
Daniels, Joey 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Joey Daniels
jdaniels@ohds.org
Fifth Grade Humanities
Sixth-Eighth Grade Social Studies
Dean of Student Life

“I love connecting with young people and knowing I’ve made a positive impact on their life.”

Ms. Daniels has her B.A. in sociology and African languages and literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Previously, she served as a community health volunteer for the United States Peace Corps in Uganda, and also initiated a youth development program through softball in her village of Kitgum. Ms. Daniels worked as a social worker for five years, and has coached and mentored girls in softball for over ten years. In her free time, Ms. Daniels enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and coaching.

 
Sandy Gilford
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sandy Gilford
sgilford@ohds.org
Kindergarten General Studies

“I like helping children acquire the habits of a good student — rising to a challenge, learning from mistakes, accepting direction, taking initiative, looking up to see what is being asked of them, and inward to discover what they themselves think, want, and are capable of doing. I try to teach children to make thoughtful distinctions, stand up for what they think is right, and to habituate themselves to self-control and care for others.”

Mrs. Gilford has taught at OHDS for more than 20 years. Before that, she taught preschool and kindergarten at Congregation Beth Jacob in Oakland for six years and served as Hebrew school director there for two years. Mrs. Gilford has her B.A. in psychology, and a master of social work degree with a concentration in children and families from the University of California, Berkeley. Mrs. Gilford likes to read, draw, take walks in the city or the country, go to art museums and gardens, visit with good friends, and spend time with with her children and grandchildren. At times, she has volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, camp nature teacher, and a nature guide for Wildcare in Marin County.

 
Daryl Grace
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Daryl Grace
dgrace@ohds.org
BK-8 Physical Education / Pre-Algebra

“I enjoy watching children grow and have successes that they didn’t expect. My goal if for them to get better each and every day. This can happen only through great effort and perseverance. If a child is good at everything they’re doing, how much are they really trying?”

Coach Grace has been teaching at OHDS for more than a decade, and also teaches middle school math, usually Pre-Algebra. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and attended Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland and San Diego State University. He is a top DJ in the Bay Area (with top reviews on the Bar Mitzvah circuit), a recreational softball player, and the proud father of five children.

 
Daniel Hoffman
 
 
 
 

Daniel Hoffman
dhoffman@ohds.org
Third Grade and Middle School Judaic Studies
Mashpia Ruchani

“There are two components to a Jewish education: instilling a love of Torah and Yiddishkeit, and developing the skills and literacy to lead an informed Jewish life. I strive to accomplish as much as possible of the latter, but never at the expense of the former.”

Rabbi Hoffman taught at the Akiva School in Nashville before joining our staff in 2017. He received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in 2017, and his B.A. from Yale University in psychology and Judaic studies in 2008. He has been a volunteer EMT with Hatzalah, is a trained mohel, and loves to spend his free time learning Torah.

 
Esther Hilsenrad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Esther Hilsenrad
ehilsenrad@ohds.org
BK-8 Art Specialist

“I find that when I convey my own enthusiasm for a subject, it is contagious enough that students become engaged in learning. I love seeing the boundless creativity and individuality that emerges when students feel safe to reflect on their own lives. It is my belief that a teacher serves best as a facilitator between a student and the material to be learned.”

Ms. Esther teaches art to all grades at Oakland Hebrew Day School. She has her B.A. in philosophy from Eugene Lang College and a masters of science in teaching from the New School University. Ms. Esther taught for 13 years before coming to OHDS, first in New York City high schools teaching art, English and history, then teaching art to preschoolers, and English to university students in South Korea for four years, and for two years in elementary schools in the East Bay. She loves to visit art galleries and museums, make art and explore the Bay Area by bicycle.

 
Ester Israel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ester Israel
eisrael@ohds.org
Third Grade Judaic Studies

“I believe that relationships and communication with students are key ingredients for students’ success. I love to see my students flourishing when they feel safe and connected in the classroom.”

Ester Israel was born into a family that maintained Jewish tradition, enriched with Israeli culture and grew up in a community village in the Shomron Mountains of Israel. After her military service, Ester chose to learn what was always natural for her, focusing her studies in the field of education. Passionate about the importance of communication in working with children, she has worked over the past 14 years with a wide range of ages, from the very young to pre-teens and young adults. Combining her love of art and her interest in sustainability, Ester has developed  curriculum, events and programming that integrate these two worlds. She looks forward to bringing her passion for education and Jewish spirituality to her classroom at OHDS.

 
Lior Jacober
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lior Jacober
ljacober@ohds.org
Third Grade General Studies Co-Teacher / Librarian

“I love it when my student’s eyes light up — when they delve into a skill, lesson, subject or project with even more effort and focus — because have just realized something new. Perseverance is often the key to doing something well.”

HaMorah Lior has been working (and volunteering) at OHDS for more than 20 years, and her son was in one of our first graduating classes. She taught at three Bay Area Hebrew schools for seven years before that. She has her bachelor’s of philosophy from Cleveland State University, and her teaching credential from Patten University. HaMorah Lior likes to hike surrounded by nature’s beauty, cook for friends and family, and sew; she is also an author and occasional motivational speaker.

 
Adam Josephs
 
 
 
 
 
 

Adam (Tsvi) Josephs
ajosephs@ohds.org
Fourth Grade and Middle School Judaic Studies

“I love teaching the ancient texts of our tradition and bringing them to life for my students by creating a collaborative learning environment that inculcates curiosity, relevancy, and dialogue."

HaMoreh Tsvi earned his B.A. at Portland State University, majoring in Judaic Studies. After graduating, he went on to complete the masters program in Jewish education at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.  In addition to his work in the classroom, HaMoreh Tsvi practices yoga and meditation, is a lover of cinema and linguistics, poetry and photography.

Nati Kanovsky

Nati Kanovsky
nkanovsky@ohds.org
Fifth-Eighth Grade Judaic Studies

“I love the challenge of uncovering the ancient melodies that lay within our traditions, texts and prayers, and my focus as a teacher is to guide my students to find, to listen and to love these melodies which sing divinely in a Jewish ear.”

HaMoreh Nati earned his undergraduate degree from Hebrew University, majoring in plant sciences and agro-ecology. After graduating, he earned a master’s degree in Jewish education from Hebrew University, while studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. This past year, he taught Zionism and Judaism for two gap-year programs and is excited to be moving to the Bay Area after 18 years of living in Israel. HaMoreh Nati loves to cook and clean because it gives him an excuse to listen to his favorite podcasts. He indulges in CrossFit and Ultimate Frisbee whenever he can, and his perfect day consists of a long walk with his wife, a good book with a cup of coffee, a tasty meal with friends and a lively classroom with curious students.

 

 
Ornit Levinson-Suter
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ornit Levinson-Suter
osuter@ohds.org
Second Grade Judaic Studies
Middle School Hebrew

“I believe that a Jewish education, in particular, is a strong pathway to reinforcing morals, ethics and good character. I hope that by following this belief, I can infuse my students with a strong bond to their Jewish identity and heritage. I believe that I have the responsibility as a teacher to set a good example for my students.”

HaMorah Ornit moved to the East Bay from New York, where she had been a second grade Judaic Studies teacher at Park East Day School. HaMorah Ornit was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel. She is a graduate of Kibutzim College and Montclair State University. Ornit has two Bachelor’s degrees – one in Social Work-Family and Child Studies, and the other in English Education. She is a former soldier in the IAF, Israel’s elite air force a division of the IDF. In her free time, she loves to watch movies, see art shows, taste new food and take long walks with her dogs. She also loves to spend time with her three boys and her husband.

 
Ben Malvey
 
 
 

Ben Malvey
bmalvey@ohds.org
Fifth-Eighth Grade Science / Geometry
Technical Support Manager

“I enjoy teaching because I can take the knowledge I’ve learned and pass it on to the future.”


Mr. Malvey is a San Diego native who, after graduating from La Jolla High School, enlisted in the United States Air Force and was assigned to a base in San Antonio, Texas. From there, Mr. Malvey returned to San Diego to pursue an education in computers and software and is currently working towards a degree in computer sciences. He has attended Jewish day schools, is fluent in Hebrew and has engaged with developmentally delayed youth through volunteering with his local Friendship Circle chapter. Mr. Malvey enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and learning new things.

 
Elisheva Neckritz
 
 
 
 
 
 

Elisheva Neckritz
eneckritz@ohds.org
Kindergarten Judaic Studies

“I feel passionate about teaching Judaic studies because I have the opportunity to have a lasting effect on children by teaching the next generation Torah, sharing our history, our traditions, our language and a love of Israel and our people.”

HaMorah Elisheva taught at other Jewish schools for 20 years before coming to OHDS. She has her B.A. in education and human development and her teaching credential from Hayward State University; she also enjoys taking summer classes at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and Yakar Center for Tradition and Creativity in Israel. HaMorah Elisheva loves developing a curriculum that is creative and stimulates a child’s natural passion for learning. Elisheva enjoys music, art and traveling.

Carolyn Pines

Carolyn Pines
cpines@ohds.org
Middle School English

“Teaching provides me the opportunity to nurture a future generation of leaders, builders, and dreamers. If I can deliver curriculum in a way that captures a child’s imagination, builds on prior experience and knowledge, and inspires creative questions that lead to ongoing discovery, then I’ve helped prepare the child for a journey of lifelong learning. That’s my greatest joy as a teacher.”

Carolyn Pines worked at OHDS from 2005-2014, teaching 3rd grade general studies, middle school English, and drama, as well as directing the annual spring musical.  In addition to experience across the grades, Ms. Pines has tutored 2nd through 12th grade students through her work at Strategies for Learning.  Ms. Pines majored in drama at Vassar College, earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater from the Dallas Theater Center, and received her teaching credential from Mills College. Prior to embarking on a career in education, Ms. Pines worked in book publishing and financial services marketing in New York, followed by synagogue administration in San Francisco and Oakland. Ms. Pines lives in Oakland with her partner and treasures time hanging out with their two daughters and a menagerie of pets. She loves theater, wordsmithery, memorizing poetry, getting lost in a book, and organizing (and reorganizing) any space.

 

 
Melissa Rogoway
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Melissa (Nessa) Rogoway
mrogoway@ohds.org
Bridge Kindergarten

“I love to guide students to a new understanding; when I can see the ‘light bulb’ go on I know I have succeeded! My goal is to create engaging learning experiences, to explore topics that matter, and to have fun along the way.”

Morah Nessa has more than 30 years of experience as a religious educator, with children ranging in ages from preschool through high school. She also has worked as a Jewish summer camp director in San Francisco, and as a song leader and art specialist. Morah Nessa has her master’s in education, a bachelor’s of literature in Hebrew letters from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and her bachelor’s in liberal studies from San Francisco State University. For fun, she likes to play with her dog, Truman, make hand-sewn quilts, and grow vegetables and flowers in her garden.

 
Emily Sahm Levy
 

Emily Sahm Levy
esahmlevy@ohds.org
First Grade General Studies

"I love the excitement children bring to the classroom and I believe it is my job to help them apply that enthusiasm and curiosity to their schoolwork. I enjoy helping children discover how much they are capable of, while cherishing them for who they are now."  


Emily Sahm Levy lives in Berkeley with her husband and two young sons. She holds a BA from Vassar College and a master’s in education from American University. Emily taught first, second, and third grade in public schools for 12 years, first in her hometown of Washington, D.C., and then in the Bay Area. Before joining OHDS, Emily taught a first-second "loop" at Amelia Earhart Elementary in Alameda and enjoyed helping with the school’s shift to the Common Core curriculum. Her hobbies include reading, gardening, and trying new art projects (while dreaming of the day she will finally convince her sons to join in!).

Adi Schacker

Adi Schacker
aschacker@ohds.org
Bridge Kindergarten Assistant

“I believe that meaningful learning happens best when students and teachers come together to form a community that provides the safety and support that each learner needs.”

Adi Schacker has been working with children since her time growing up in Kibbutz Magal and in the IDF, where she helped disadvantaged youth prepare for service in the military. Adi received her formal education in early childhood development and taught at SPHDS and Gan Mah Tov. In 1998, Adi enrolled the first of her four daughters at OHDS, and joined the staff as a kindergarten teacher in 2005. Later, she taught Hebrew at the elementary level and as a Hebrew learning support teacher. In 2012 Adi spent a year in Israel where she received a certificate in the Ulpan teaching methodology. Upon returning to Oakland, Adi opened Ulpan Ba’Bayit, an after-school supplementary Hebrew program. Adi has also taught Hebrew Through Movement at Temple Beth Abraham and continues to tutor B’nei Mitzvah students. Adi is a passionate advocate for a vegan lifestyle. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her husband, dancing in the kitchen with her daughters, and reading.

 

 
Efrat Simhi-Aloni 
 
 
 
 
 

Efrat Simhi-Aloni
esimhi-aloni@ohds.org
5th-8th Grade Judaic Studies & Hebrew
Hebrew Studies Coordinator

“I want to impart to children a strong connection to the rich culture and heritage of Israel through language and to convey to students the fact that Modern Hebrew is accessible to all who try: ‘Lo bashamayim hi … v’lo me’ever layam hi. It is not in the Heavens, nor beyond the ocean.’”

G’veret Aloni has taught at OHDS since 2002. Before that, she spent 10 years teaching high school and adult education. She also served as an army youth instructor in Israel, preparing students for their mandatory army service. G’veret Aloni has her M.A. in educational administrative policy from Ben Gurion University, and her B.A. in Hebrew language and literature. She loves to dance, paint, and hike with her family in her off hours.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Juliet Stamperdahl
jstamperdahl@ohds.org
Learning Specialist

“Children learn best when they feel supported, know their strengths, and have techniques and strategies to help them where they struggle. I love their creativity, and the unique and fresh ways they look at the world.”

Dr. Stamperdahl has her Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley, and a postdoc in clinical psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. She has taught undergraduates and conducted instructional planning in psychology, and also worked with the developmentally disabled and conducted parent-child psychotherapy. Dr. Stamperdahl likes to hike with her dog, Sasha, embroider, and attempt to make healthy creations like root beer kombucha.

 
Ziva Trau
 

Ziva Trau
ztrau@ohds.org
First Grade Judaic Studies

“I believe in teaching children in a way that meets each child’s needs. I love to see my students’ accomplishments and successes.”

HaMorah Ziva has been teaching for more than 20 years at OHDS, and in a Jewish school in Santa Rosa before that. She has her bachelor’s in education and history from Seminar Hakibutzim in Tel Aviv. She hikes, reads and gardens for fun.