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Faculty

Yona Atias 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Yona Atias
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 twenty years. She has eighteen years of experience as a teacher at Gan Ma 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

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.

Sarah Bloom 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sarah Bloom
Bridge K / Kindergarten Assistant

“I love how students’ eyes light up when they see something that interests them. I enjoy facilitating exploration so that students get the opportunity to learn about the world through hands-on activities.”

HaMorah Sarah grew up in Berkeley, and graduated from OHDS in 2008. After completing her BA at UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Education, she started her teaching career in outdoor education. As a Naturalist at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma and at Sierra Outdoor School in Sonora, she taught science to visiting students and helped them explore the natural world while hiking through the wilderness. In her free time, Sarah loves exploring, reading, cooking, and sitting under trees, and she is very excited to start a new adventure working with the students at OHDS! 

 
 
 
 
 

Lisa Blumenband

Second Grade General 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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tamara Beliak

Middle School Judaic Studies and Hebrew
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.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Trish Blow
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 in recent years 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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Joey Daniels
Sixth and Seventh Grade Humanities
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 a coach for more than eight. Beginning as an assistant softball coach for high school, she has both managed and coached multiple softball organizations. Most recently, Ms. Daniels established a mentoring program for her high school softball players to volunteer both on and off the softball field with aspiring youth in the community. In her free time, Ms. Daniels enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and coaching softball.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Joanne Davi

Fifth and Eighth Grade Humanities

“In order to effectively teach students, we must first connect with them as individuals. I am passionate about teaching, especially at the middle school level, because the experience of helping children realize their potential is incomparable.”

Ms. Davi taught special education and humanities for five years at the Lighthouse Community Charter School before joining OHDS in 2014. She holds a B.A. in history from San Francisco State University, and a multiple subject teaching credential and master’s in teaching from the Reach Institute for School Leadership. When she’s not working, she spends as much time as she can with her husband and young son, walks the Lafayette reservoir, and plans trips to Disneyland.

Rachel Feller
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Rachel Feller
Fourth Grade General Studies and Core Math

“A huge goal of mine as a teacher is making school as fun as it is educational, and I love watching my students' faces light up with curiosity when they are excited to learn. One of my absolute favorite things about teaching is helping students become confident in themselves. The moments in which I get to watch my students succeed are truly priceless.”

Mr. Feller graduated from the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a minor in Spanish, where she later received her teaching credential as well. For the last six years, Ms. Feller has taught grades 3,4, and 6, and she is very excited to return to 4th grade! Ms. Feller loves to spend time with family and friends, and enjoys every opportunity to travel. Last year she spent a month as a guest teacher in Ashkelon, Israel, working in a primarily Ethiopian Jewish school, and is looking forward to being part of a Jewish school again.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sandy Gilford
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 almost 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
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 coaches the school’s fantastic middle school basketball teams every winter. He 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

Fifth 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
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.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Lior Jacober
First Grade General Studies / 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
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 joined the masters program in Jewish education at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies I’m Jerusalem.  He recently moved to the Bay Area from Seattle and delights in noting the differences in the daily fog patterns. In addition to his work in the classroom, HaMoreh Tsvi practices yoga and meditation, is a lover of cinema and linguistics, writer of poetry and photographer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ornit Levinson-Suter
Third Grade Judaic Studies

“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
Fifth-Middle School Science / Geometry
Technical Support Manager

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Rabbi Akiva Naiman
Middle School Judaic Studies

“I love exploring the wisdom of our Tradition in an open setting where students get to engage texts, and learn how the Torah is relevant to their lives.”

Rabbi Akiva Naiman is well-known and much loved for his role running the Northern California branch of NCSY for grades 6-12 and is so excited to be teaching middle school Judaic Studies at OHDS this year! Rabbi Naiman has years of experience working with and teaching teens in both Israel, the United States and, most recently, at Jewish Community High School. He lives in Oakland with his wife and 4 children, three of whom attend OHDS.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Elisheva Neckritz
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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Melissa (Nessa) Rogoway
Bridge Kindergarten Judaic Studies

“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.

 
 
 

Kalla Sauls
Lower School Assistant

“I am inspired by children’s curiosity, energy, and desire for knowledge. I really enjoy being a positive role model in their lives.”

Kalla Sauls has her B.A. in psychology. Previously, Ms. Kalla was a special education paraprofessional, as a one-on-one aide to children with mental and physical impairments, in the Alameda public schools for four years. She also worked as a classroom aide in kindergarten through third grades. For many years, Ms. Kalla danced a performing arts studio, and now teaches Pilates and group fitness classes. She also leads our very popular after-school dance classes.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Efrat Simhi-Aloni
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
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
First and Second 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 19 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.

Allison Kent Weiss
 

Allison Kent Weiss
Fourth and Fifth Grade Co-Teacher and Mentor

“My greatest joy in teaching is learning from my students, whether it’s a new way to look at material we’re studying; a song, story, or joke that’s new to me; or figuring out the best way to interact with each student to make learning as accessible and meaningful as possible. My students are definitely my greatest teachers, and for that I am extremely grateful!”

HaMorah Allison was born and raised in the Bay Area. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Modern Hebrew Literature and earned her teaching credential from the Berkeley Graduate School of Education. She has worked in Jewish day school education for 38 years teaching general studies, Judaic studies, Hebrew, and music, as well as mentoring student teachers, teaching assistants, and teachers. HaMorah Allison loves Jewish learning, spending time with her family, cheering for the San Francisco Giants, photography, and singing.