Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program: Faculty
Jesse Abelman has taught in the Yesodot Skill-Building Program at Drisha. He is completing a PhD in Medieval Jewish History at Bernard Revel Graduate School in the fall. Jesse was ordained by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and received an MA in the Talmud Department of Yeshiva University.
Wendy Amsellem is a faculty member at Drisha and teaches at Yeshivat Maharat. She directed the July Kollel for women and the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program and is a graduate of the Drisha Scholars Circle and high school programs. She is pursuing a PhD in Judaic Studies at New York University and has a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.
Josh Blaustein holds a B.A. in chemistry from Yeshiva University. He spent several years studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion, where he taught Gemara to Australian and South African students and received semikha from Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg. Rabbi Blaustein has spent six years teaching high school Gemara, chemistry and physics at the Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD, and was the Greater Washington region’s winner of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in 2012. He currently teaches Talmud and halakhah at SAR High School.
Sarah Gordon is the Director of Student Activities and Experiential Education at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, where she also teaches Talmud and Israel Engagement and Advocacy. She spent two years studying in GPATS and holds dual MA degrees in Jewish Education and Modern Jewish History from Yeshiva University. She has spent time studying in education programs in Israel at Midreshet Lindenbaum, Pardes and Matan and is the recipient of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.
Shira Hecht-Koller is Director of Communal Engagement at Drisha and the Director of the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program. She has taught Talmud and comparative ethics for many years, most recently at SAR High School. She is a founding member of the Orthodox Leadership Project and was a fellow at the Paideia Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm. Prior to embarking on a career in Jewish Education, she was an associate in the Intellectual Property department at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP.
Shuvi Hoffman teaches Tanakh and Hebrew at SAR high school. Previously, she has taught Tanakh and Machshevet Yisrael and was head of Judaic studies in a public-secular high school in Israel since 2005. In addition, Shuvi has mentored teachers in Judaic studies through the Hartman Institute (Be’eri program). Over the past 10 years she has been involved in writing curriculum as well as the Matriculation exam (“bagrut”) in Jewish philosophy. Shuvi holds an MA in Tanakh from Hebrew University and is a graduate of Revivim program, where she has also worked as a teacher and mentor.
Aaron Koller is an associate professor of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, where he studies the ancient world of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East. His most recent book is Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Aaron has served as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and held research fellowships at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research and the Hartman Institute.
Daniel Reifman teaches in Drisha’s Summer Kollel, high school program, and continuing education classes. He received rabbinic ordination and an MA in Bible from Yeshiva University and a PhD in hermeneutics from Bar Ilan University where he is currently a research follow in its Institute for Advanced Torah Studies. He has taught in the Drisha Scholars Circle, at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and at Midreshet Lindenbaum, and has lectured widely on topics in philosophy of halakhah and Jewish medical ethics.
Rachel Rosenthal is a PhD candidate in Rabbinic Literature at JTS, where she serves as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Talmud. A graduate of the Drisha Scholars Circle, she teaches at the Drisha Institute and in Nishma: A Summer of Torah Study at JTS. She has been a Graduate Fellow in the Center for Jewish Law at Cardozo Law School, and a Wabash Teaching Fellow at JTS. She is a member of the board of Darkhei Noam, where she serves as co-chair of the Ritual Committee. Rachel holds a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
Leah Sarna is a third year student at Yeshivat Maharat and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She also serves as the Congregational Intern at the Hebrew Institute of White Plains, where she teaches Torah to adults and bnot mitzvah. Leah previously interned at Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue in Washington, DC, as well as the Orthodox community at Harvard Hillel. Originally from Newton, MA, Leah studied at the Maimonides School and the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz before completing her undergraduate degree in Philosophy & Psychology at Yale University in 2014. Leah worked at the Beth Samuels Drisha High School Program in 2015, and she especially loves that the program brings together deep Torah and summer fun.
Nomi Schneck is a PhD candidate in Medieval Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Guided by her fascination with the relationship between Jewish texts and the arts, as well as studying Jewish life and culture through objects, her research focuses on medieval illuminated Hebrew manuscripts. Nomi received an MA in Jewish Art and Visual Culture from the Jewish Theological Seminary and an MA in Bible from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. She previously served as a faculty member at Yavneh Academy and Ma’ayanot High School. Nomi is looking forward to returning to Drisha’s high school program for her fifth summer.
Dana Septimus is a clinical psychologist in private practice, licensed in New York and New Jersey. She obtained her B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania and earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She completed her internship at The Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut and completed post-doctoral training at the Stern College Counseling Center and the Fairleigh Dickinson Center for Psychological Services. In addition to her clinical practice, she supervises pre-doctoral candidates.
David Silber is the Founder and Dean of Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. He received ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He received the Covenant Award in 2000. He is the author of A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn, published by JPS in 2011, and the newly released For Such a Time as This: Biblical Reflections in the Book of Esther, published by Koren Publishing in 2017 (Hebrew).
Shlomo Zuckier is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at Yale University, and received Semicha at RIETS. He serves on the editorial boards of Tradition and Lehrhaus and edited Torah and Western Thought and the forthcoming Contemporary Uses and Forms of Hasidut. Shlomo formerly was Co-Director of OU-JLIC at Yale, and completed the Wexner, Tikvah, and Kupietzky Kodshim fellowships.