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Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program: Faculty

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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 teaches Talmud and Halakha at Yeshivat Maharat and is the Editor of Yeshivat Maharat’s Keren Journal.  She is also a faculty member at Drisha and at Pardes and she is an editor at The Lehrhaus. Wendy received semicha from Yeshivat Maharat and is an alumna of the Drisha Scholars Circle and high school program. She has a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.

Tamar Benus is currently on the Judaic Studies Faculty at the Ramaz Upper School. She teaches Tanakh with a strong focus on literary techniques, themes, and biblical exegesis. Tamar holds a BA from Stern College of Yeshiva University and is a graduate of the Pardes Day School Educators Program, where she received her Masters of Jewish Education from Hebrew College. This is Tamar’s first summer teaching at Drisha’s high school program.

Nechama Goldman Barash made aliyah from Philadelphia over 20 years ago after graduating from Stern College. She studied for three years in Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute and finished a master’s degree in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. She is a graduate of  Nishmat’s Yoetzet Halacha program and has been certified to teach brides before their weddings, as well as qualifying as a sex educator through Yahel and the Eden Center. She also studied for three years in Matan’s advanced halakha program, Hilkhata. She teaches contemporary halakha and Talmud at Matan and Pardes, as well as Talmud and women and halakha in Torah V’Avodah (TVA), a Bnei Akiva gap year program based in Matan. She is an active member of Beit Hillel and participates in interfaith dialogue through Roots, based in Gush Etzion, close to where she lives with her husband and four daughters.

Yocheved Hartman is Educational Coordinator at Midreshet Torah V’Avodah, where she also teaches classes in Bible, Biblical Exegesis, and Jewish Law. She holds a BA in Bible and Psychology from Bar Ilan University, where she focused on biblical narrative and especially on the book of Jonah and its medieval commentators. She studied in the Beit Midrash for Women at Bar Ilan University, and at Migdal Oz.

Shira Hecht-Koller is the Director of Communal Engagement at Drisha and Director of Education for 929 English. In her portfolio at Drisha, she also directs the Dr. Beth Samuels Summer High School Program. She teaches Talmud and Jewish identity to a wide variety of audiences, and writes and speaks on topics of education, creative living and family life. She was a Fellow at the Paideia Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm, where she continues to serve as a consultant. She holds a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education, where she is adjunct faculty. She is a graduate of the Beruria Scholars program at Midreshet Lindenbaum and holds a JD from Cardozo School of Law. Prior to embarking on a career in Jewish Education, she was an associate in the Intellectual Property department at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP.  She is an avid tennis fan, amateur photographer and loves to hike and explore the world with her partner Aaron and children Dalya, Shachar, Amitai and Aiden.

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.

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.

Elorah Sandman is a Torah she-be’al peh teacher at Yeshiva University High School for Girls. She studied for a year in Israel at Migdal Oz, received her B.A. in Jewish Studies from Stern College for Women, and her M.A. from Stern in the GPATS program. She has been both a student and madricha at Drisha’s Dr. Beth Samuels High School program, as well as a student at a number of other Drisha programs.

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).   

Zissy Turner serves as the Community Intern at Lincoln Square Synagogue, where she facilitates programs and initiatives to engage and teach the vibrant Upper West Side community. She is a graduate of Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmud Study (GPATS) and an MA candidate at the Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies. Previously, Zissy interned at Kesher Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Washington, DC. She is a Wexner Graduate Fellow/ Davidson Scholar. As far as future plans go, Zissy hopes to be involved in the Jewish communal world, focusing on education and textual learning.

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.


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