Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program: Faculty
Hannah Cowen Abrams is currently learning in the Graduate Program of Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) at Yeshiva University. She grew up in London, UK, learned in Midreshet Lindenbaum, and studied History at Durham University. She has worked for Bnei Akiva, the Union of Jewish Students and the Aleph Learning Centre (a cheder). Hannah has taught in shuls in London – giving divrei Torah, chaburot and shiurim, as well as leading Women’s Kabbalat Shabbat services. Now she both runs and teaches at the Women’s Beit Midrash in the Yeshiva University Library.
Wendy Amsellem teaches Talmud and Halakha at Yeshivat Maharat and she 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. She has a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.
Orit Avnery is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She is a lecturer in Bible and the Dean of the Students at Shalem College and holds both a BA and an MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She received her Ph.D. in Bible Studies from Bar-Ilan University, where her dissertation was entitled The Threefold Cord: Interrelations between the Books of Samuel, Ruth and Esther. Orit was a participant in the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions (ATID), a fellowship program for future educational leaders, and she served as the coordinator of its Yeud Beit Midrash for three years. Orit taught Bible studies at Pelech High School for girls and Midreshet Lindenbaum and has studied at the Matan Women’s Institute for Jewish Studies. Orit’s book Liminal Women: Belonging and Otherness in the Books of Ruth and Estherwas published by The Shalom Hartman Institute and Keter Press in 2015.
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 second summer teaching at Drisha high school program. In addition to teaching Nakh Yomi, she will be working closely on programming for special events and shabbatonim.
Avigayil Halpern graduated from Yale University in 2019 with a BA in Judaic Studies. While at Yale, she completed a senior thesis exploring Talmudic narratives of women engaged in Torah discourse, and served as co-Chair of the 2018 Undergraduate Judaic Studies Conference. A past leader of Yale’s egalitarian minyan, Avigayil is an alumna of Midreshet Ein HaNatziv and Yeshivat Hadar. Avigayil has written on issues of Judaism, gender, and the left in Jewish and other media, and has interned at the New York Jewish Week and been an opinion columnist for the Yale Daily News. A Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar, Avigayil will begin study toward rabbinicordination as a member of Hadar’s Advanced Kollel in the fall. As two-time alumna of the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program, she is thrilled to return as faculty.
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.
Sarah Gordon serves as 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, holds dual MA degrees in Jewish Education and Modern Jewish History from Yeshiva University, and is pursuing an Ed.D through Azrieli Graduate School. 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. Originally from Montreal, she now lives with her husband in Washington Heights, NY, where she is an active member of Mount Sinai Jewish Center. She is excited about returning to Drisha for another amazing summer!
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.
Eliana Kahan is pursuing a masters in Talmud at Tel Aviv University as a Nachshon Project Graduate Fellow. She studied for two years at the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz before completing her undergraduate degree in Religion and Mathematical Sciences at Barnard College. She is returning to Drisha this summer after working with the High School Program in 2016 and has previously taught at Camp Stone and Columbia/Barnard Hillel. She currently teaches Talmud to undergraduate students in the Nachshon Project’s Beit Midrash at Pardes
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.
Dan Margulies has semikha from Yeshiva Chovevei Torah and currently serves as the Rabbi of The Riverdale Minyan. He received his BA in Chemical Physics and Mathematics from Columbia University. Before attending college he learned at Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi in Jerusalem. He previously served as Assistant Rabbi at HIR–The Bayit, and on the faculty of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the Drisha Institute, and the Skirball Center at Temple Emanu-El. While in yeshiva he held internships at the Heschel School, HIR–The Bayit, Young Israel Ohab Zedek, and the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.
Eleorah 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 Ancient Judaism at Yale University and a member of Yeshiva University’s Kollel Elyon. Previously he served as Director of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Yale University. Shlomo is an alumnus of Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semihah), as well as of the Wexner, Tikvah, and Kupietzky Kodshim Fellowships. He has lectured and taught widely across North America, and is excited to share Torah and Jewish scholarship on a broad range of issues. A Founder of The Lehrhaus, Shlomo serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition and has edited two books on contemporary Jewish thought.
* Indicates past faculty members