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Meet Our Religious School Staff and Teachers

Rabbi David Eber, Assistant Rabbi for Education

Rabbi David Eber, Assistant Rabbi for Education

Rabbi David Eber joined JRC after graduating from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2018. He brings with him a passion for teaching, a warm presence, and a desire to help others find meaning in Jewish wisdom and spiritual practices. A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College he received the Joseph L. and Ann W. Pinkenson Prize in Rabbinics, and the Tikkun Olam Award in 2015 for his work with Philadelphia’s Emerging Religious Leaders.

Contact Rabbi David if you are looking for information on our Religious School, Youth Group or High School programs.

Email: assistantrabbi@jrctogether.org
Phone: 847-328-7678, ext. 2225

 

Layhao Diep, Assistant to the Executive Director and Bookkeeper

Layhao Diep, Assistant to the Executive Director and Bookkeeper

​Layhao Diep provides general administrative assistance in addition to bookkeeping support. Previously Layhao had been an office coordinator/bookkeeper at West Suburban Temple Har Zion for three years. She has worked as a professional organizer and moving coordinator, an office manager and bookkeeper, a marketing coordinator, and a photo stylist.

Contact Layhao if: you have a question about Religious School registration, making a donation, or if you have questions or changes to make to the Member Portal (contact info, yahrzeits, etc)

Email: ldiep@jrctogether.org
Phone: 847-328-7678, ext.2220

Pre Kindergarten and Kindergarten

 

Debbie Heifitz Porter

Shalom JRC Families, I would like to welcome you to our Sunday School kindergarten and Pre-k. My name is Debbie Heifitz Porter and I’ve been a JRC member for 13 years. This will be my 10th year teaching at JRC, and I am excited again to teach
 
JRC is a special place and I will try my best to make sure your child is excited about experiencing an introduction to many Jewish traditions through prayer, holiday celebrations and community experiences. We are going to have a wonderful school year together!

First Grade, Second Grade, and Tuesday Breirot

 

Jenna Pollack

Jenna Pollock (she/her pronouns) is a lifelong learner, and is thrilled to be joining JRC’s teaching staff this fall! Jenna brings a deep joy and curiosity to the classroom, and previously served as an Avodah corps member and program director, immigration lawyer, camp counselor, and case manager. She currently teaches at an early childhood Montessori program. In her spare time, Jenna loves singing, cooking, playing tennis, and exploring the local forest preserves.

Sunday 3rd Grade and Tuesday Torah and Breirot Teacher

Josh Beasley

Shalom Chaverim! I’m Josh Beasley and I will be teaching 3rd grade on Sunday mornings and 3rd-6th with Tuesday evening electives. I recently moved to Chicago from Cincinnati, OH in June. I am grateful and overjoyed to be able to join the JRC community this year! I’ve worked as a Religious school teacher since 2017 at the Valley Temple (Cincinnati, OH), Temple Israel (Dayton, OH) and Temple Israel (Dayton, OH). Get ready because this year will be filled with mindfulness, exploration and, Oh, So much fun!

Fourth Grade Teacher

 

Malik Turley

My Name is Malik Turley, and I am looking forward to stepping into the role of teaching the fourth graders on Sundays this year. I have been teaching something since I was in High School, starting with the Learn to Swim program at ETHS. Now, I teach dance, fitness, and yoga during the week through Hip Circle Empowerment Center as well as working with the JRC Religious Education program. Movement will be a part of everything I teach, and I look forward to sharing my love of Judaism with you and your children. Together we will make this unprecedented year a fulfilling one.

Fifth Grade Teacher & Derech Co-Teacher

 

Aviva Feldman

My name is Aviva Feldman and I am excited to be back for my second year as a teacher in 5th grade, and continue as a Derech Teen Coordinator! I am a certified teacher for kindergarten through ninth grade and am currently doing my Masters, working towards ESL endorsement, bilingual endorsement, and special education endorsement. I grew up at JRC, first attending religious school and then serving as a madricha from eighth grade through senior year of high school. I was also part of the youth group and served as the Youth Representative to the Board for a year. While in school at Wellesley College, I worked as an assistant teacher at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in Newton, MA, another Reconstructionist synagogue. I had such a fun time teaching fourth grade on Sundays last year, and this year I get the privilege to teach fourth grade, electives, small group Hebrew, and seventh grade! I also work with the youth group and the madrichim, and am working closely with Rabbi David and others to plan and create new and exciting innovations for the school. I can’t wait to begin our educational journey this year!

6th Grade, Torah, and Hebrew Teacher

 

Ben Kammer

I’m so excited to start my year at JRC! I just moved to Chicago from Massachusetts (Natick for any of Northeasterners) last September. I’ve been working with kids for almost a decade, and there’s nothing I enjoy more. I play tennis, soccer, and ultimate frisbee, and I love to sing and play guitar. The community here at JRC has been amazing. I’m eager to meet all my students and families this fall!

Tuesday Torah and Breirot Teacher, and 7th Grade Co-Teacher

 

Cohen Kraus

Cohen has spent the past year teaching and developing original curriculum for 6th and 7th grade. He’s also worked with the Jewish Federation to kickstart conversations around LGBTQ+ inclusion and equity in Jewish spaces. Teaching is one of Cohen’s favorite things! Cohen is passionate about always asking good questions and building community. Combining their background in theater and love of Judaism Cohen builds a learning environment that is built for anyone. They are so excited to start out the year!

Tuesday Torah and Hebrew Teacher

Rabbi Binyamin Herst

Rabbi Benyamin Herst is a native Chicagoan. After growing up here, he spent many years living outside the city including a stint in Boston where he attended the Berklee College of Music. Prior to leaving Chicago he was the Assistant Director of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute where he grew up as a camper and then staff member. Benyamin may be the closest faculty member at JRC as he lives just south, a block into Chicago. Hence, he has no excuses for being late to school! During the week he serves as the Rabbinic Advisor to the Keshet Day School and teaches at several Keshet sites. He also plays music whenever possible and is looking forward to resuming post Covid performing again. Rabbi Herst has experience working in school administration as well as teaching in the classroom. He has taught in synagogue after school programs and day schools for decades. He brings his love of Judaism to the classroom, sometimes with a guitar in hand, often combining a Jewish music component to his lessons.

Derech: Post B’nai Mitzvah Co-Teacher

 

Sam Frolichstein-Appel

A product of the JRC Religious School himself, Sam Frolichstein-Appel is excited to be co-coordinate the post-b’nai mitzvah program this year with Aviva Feldman! Sam grew up at JRC, as a student, community member, and madrich. Now, after having been away for a few years – with stops along the way to work as a counselor and unit head at Camp Havaya, to dive into Jewish organizing and community building at Brown University (where he also picked up an engineering degree along the way) – he’s happy to be back, albeit virtually.
 
During the week, he’s helping local families with virtual school, and when he’s not on Zoom he enjoys riding his bicycle around Chicago and the North Shore and baking gluten free sourdough bread.

 

Hebrew Coordinator and Specialist

 

Rabbi Toby Manewith

Rabbi Manewith fell in love with Jewish education, handing out graham crackers and juice as a teacher’s assistant in a second grade classroom when she was 15 years old. Professionally, she has worked for Hillel, as a congregational rabbi, and a director of education. Rabbi Manewith has been writing curriculum for clients all over the world for 18 years; five years ago she made the move to consult full-time. She continues to teach because there is nothing better than connecting with kids. Though she was ordained in the Reform Movement, friends insist her worldview is at least 33% Reconstructionist. Rabbi Manewith is a native Chicagoan, a Cubs fan, and a baker of excellent gluten-free brownies.