Spertus Institute announces New Cohort of Jewish Educators for Leadership Training Program

Since its founding as in 1924 as Chicago’s College of Jewish Studies, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership has been on a mission: to train teachers and future Jewish leaders for positions across the Jewish community, to advance higher Jewish education, and assist Jewish communal organizations in meeting current and future needs.

Rooted in that history, Spertus Institute – now approaching nearly 100 years of service to Jewish communities worldwide – proudly announces the newest cohort of 20 Jewish educators admitted to its Certificate in Jewish Leadership for Educators program, presented in partnership with Northwestern University.

The Certificate in Jewish Leadership for Educators is a yearlong selective enrollment program that serves senior-level educators on the frontlines of shaping the Jewish future. Taught by top-tier faculty from Spertus Institute and Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, participants learn to lead with authenticity, collaborate across institutions and communities, effectively communicate their educational vision, and lead schools and organizations through times of change. They explore new approaches to recurring and emerging issues seen in educational environments with professional coaching, special experiential learning components, and a capstone project that is tailored to each student’s professional work and individual goals. The program was made possible by an investment from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Echoing Spertus Institute’s historic recognition of both formal and informal education, the 2020-2021 cohort includes an impressive roster of educational professionals from day schools, supplementary schools, community organizations, camps, and innovative experiential learning programs.

Certificate in Jewish Leadership for Educators 2020-2021 Cohort, Spertus Institute participants:

  • Ilan Adar is the Education Director for Temple Sinai in Rochester, NY. In addition to more than twenty years as a professional Jewish educator, Adar holds a PhD in Music Education.
  • Ronit Amihude is the Head of School at Richmond Jewish Day School, Richmond, BC, Canada. Amihude previously helped Toronto’s Heschel School grow from its early days to a thriving school of over 300 students. She is a recent graduate of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) run by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
  • Eli Bass is the Jewish Education Coordinator at Macks Center for Jewish Education in Columbia, MD, where he supports Baltimore’s Jewish educational community. He has a Master’s in Jewish Education from JTS, served as Director of Jewish Life for Susquehanna University’s Hillel, and has hands-on experience as an outdoor educator.
  • Ruth Bergman is the Director of Education at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI. She served for many years as an instructor and mentor for the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, training instructors around the country, and has taught courses for Jewish adults on antisemitism and the Holocaust.
  • Julie Blair is the Deputy Program Director at Valley Outreach Synagogue in Northridge, CA. She is a veteran Hebrew and religious school teacher who was recently awarded the 2019 Lainer Award for teaching excellence in Jewish education.
  • Kelly Cohen is the Executive Director of JumpSpark Atlanta in Dunwoody, GA, whose mission is “to connect Jewish teens through interest-based experiences inspired by a Jewish lens.” Previously, Cohen served as Judaic Studies Coordinator at The Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Atlanta and lived in Jerusalem for four years as a member of the Pardes Educators Program.
  • Vanessa Ehrlich is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Makom Solel Lakeside in Deerfield, IL. She believes education is a lifelong journey (something she is very familiar with, having run a supplementary school for more than 30 years). Passionate about Jewish camping, she serves on the faculty of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute.
  • Wendy Falchuk is the Director of Admissions at Gann Academy in Newton, MA. She spent many years as an early childhood educator – while sitting on school boards and advocating for special education in Jewish and secular settings. A consummate learner, she has worked with Jewish Montessori and supplemental schools as a learner and policy leader.
  • Rabbi Avi Finegold is Founder/Principal of The Jewish Learning Lab in Westmount, QC, Canada, a nexus for inclusive adult Jewish education in Montréal. Finegold was a founding co-chair of Limmud Chicago and part of Le Mood Montréal. He is also developing new projects through Espace MO, a Jewish nonprofit incubator, and Kol/Lab, a Jewish music-based community.
  • Barbara Glickman is the Education Director at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, in Richboro, PA. An experienced Jewish educator and nonprofit professional, she has a passion for identifying and implementing innovative and inclusive programs to ensure all students and families are engaged. 
  • Lisa Handelman is the Camp Director at Capital Camps in North Bethesda, MD. She previously served as the Community Disabilities Inclusion Specialist at Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she developed, implemented, and monitored opportunities for inclusion all aspects of Jewish life.
  • Abby Andiman Mars is the Early Childhood Center Director at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino CA. She has more than fifteen years of experience in early childhood education as an administrator, curriculum specialist, mentor, educator, and outdoor classroom specialist.
  • Lori Sagarin is the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth Israel in Wilmette, IL. She is a seasoned educator whose passions for Hebrew, reading, children, and Jewish camping have followed her throughout her 36-year-long career. In addition to her synagogue work, Sagarin serves as a consultant at the iCenter.
  • Justin Sakofs is the Director of Congregational Learning at Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville, FL. A passionate, human-centric educator, he believes in meeting the learner where they are and providing experiences which challenge them to grow. He is the creator of MagneticShul, an interactive toy designed to engage young children in ritual synagogue life.
  • Susan Siegel is Head of School at B’nai Shalom Day School in Greensboro, NC. She has more than 18 years of experience in Jewish Day School education and administration, and more than 25 years of experience as an educator.
  • Franny Silverman is the Director of Learning and Action at Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, NY. A creator of theater, ritual, and experiential learning for all ages, she helps communities have conversations across differences and move towards broad inclusivity. Drawing on her background in theater and ritual, she also officiates at tailor-made lifecycle ceremonies.
  • Terri Swartz Russell is the Director of Family and Adult Education at Temple Emanuel in Newton Center, MA. She is passionate about Jewish education for all ages and has spent her entire professional career working in synagogues and as an educational consultant.
  • Julie Tzucker is the Education Coordinator at the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio, TX, where she helps convey the lessons of the Holocaust. A long-time secondary school teacher, she is passionate about educating the community in order to develop empathy and good citizenship in all people.
  • Dr. Margot Valles is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shaarey Zedek in East Lansing, MI, where she strives to educate students to live a meaningful Jewish life and be lifelong Jewish learners. She holds a PhD from Indiana University and has served on the faculty of the Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel at Michigan State University.
  • Rabbi Jeremy Yoskowitz is a Jewish Studies Instructor and Jewish Student Life Coordinator at Frankel Jewish Academy in Farmington Hills, MI.  He is also a chaplain and ethicist for the Beaumont Health System and has served as a chaplain for the U.S. Navy and a Campus Rabbi for Solomon Schechter in Dallas, TX, and Duke University in Durham, NC.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021-2022 cohort. With generous support from Chicago’s Perlman Family, the cost to participate in the third cohort is only $1,000 including individual professional coaching. The cost does not include travel and accommodations. For more information, visit: spertus.edu/educators.