A community of communities

Religious School Staff

Alanna Sklover, Director of Lifelong Learning

Alanna Sklover 2013Rabbi Alanna Sklover began working at GJC as Student Rabbi in 2011, and joined the staff full time as Rabbi Educator in 2013. She received her rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College with a specialization in the congregational rabbinate. A believer in the transformative power of youth group, Jewish summer camp, and experiential learning models, Rabbi Sklover brings her enthusiasm for creative Jewish education and passion about working with mindful Jewish communities to her work at GJC. During her time in rabbinical school, she held many student positions and internships including Student Rabbi at Or Haneshamah in Ottawa, ON, Program coordinator for No'ar Hadash: the Reconstructionist Youth Movement, and Rosh Tefillah (worship coordinator) for Ramah Day Camp in Philadelphia. Prior to rabbinical school, she served as Youth Director at Congregation Beth Emeth in Wilmington, DE. Rabbi Sklover holds a BA in Theater and Religion from Goucher College and has also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Conservative Yeshiva. She lives in West Mt. Airy with her wife, Rebecca Kirzner, and their daughter, Bina Yael.


Melanie Berman, Interim Education Director (Summer 2017), Kitah Gimel (3rd grade)

Melanie is delighted for her fourth year of teaching at the GJC Religious school.  Having traveled from place to place for many years, she came back to Philadelphia a few years ago, and returned to the congregation that was her second home for all of her childhood and adolescence. She is a proud graduate of the GJC Religious School and a special intensive program at Gratz College, and served as a Torah reader, B'nai Mitzvah tutor, madricha, and leader of Junior Congregation services  - way back in the 1960's! She holds a BA in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College and an MA in Education from American University. She has served as a teacher, Education Director, Head of Jewish Studies, and Head of School at a variety of congregational schools and Jewish Day Schools throughout the United States. She served as Conference Chair and member of the Board of Directors of CAJE ( Coalitions for Alternatives/Advancement of Jewish Education), and was the author of Jewish educational materials for Torah Aura Productions.  She is eager to share her expertise and her love of Jewish learning with a new generation of students and their families.


Ariel Silverman, Kitah Gan (kindergarten)

Ariel Silverman is very excited to return this fall for her third year as the Gan (kindergarten) teacher at the Germantown Jewish Centre Religious School.  Before coming to GJC, she taught first grade at  another congregation for five years, and worked in the classroom as a teen aide for six years.  When she's not in the classroom, she is a student working towards an education degree. 





 Kitah Alef (1st grade) 



Dove Nasir,  Kitah Bet (2nd grade) 

Bio coming soon!




Karen Kripke, Kitah Daled (4th grade) and Teen Tuesdays

 Karen was born in Manhattan and grew up in Spring Valley, New York. Upon graduating from Boston University, she moved to Philadelphia to study at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received an M.A. in Art History. Karen taught high school English and later received a J.D. from the Villanova University School of Law. As a religious school teacher for over 27 years, Karen is devoted to helping students find positive and meaningful connections to their Jewish heritage. In addition to teaching, Karen has worked for many as a grant writer and volunteer coordinator for the Hospitality Network at GJC. She is married to her beshert, Ned Kripke. Together they have two wonderful sons, Joe and Ben, who grew up at GJC, and a new grandson, Jordan.Now that the boys are officially on their own, the Kripke household has been taken over by their beloved bichon fries, Chase, and their twin kittens Oliver and Charlie.




Lee Silverman, Kitah Vav (6th grade) and Teen Tuesdays

Lee is a life-long Mt. Airy resident.  He grew up and became bar mitzvah at GJC, and he and his family have now returned as members.  In his day job he is an attorney for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, where he is a trial attorney and supervises the Southeast Regional Office for the Office of Chief Counsel.

This is his seventh year teaching at GJC.  This year he will be teaching the 6th Grade and will also be part of the Teen Tuesdays (7-9th grade) program.  He began teaching more than thirty-five years ago and he is very proud that his oldest is also teaching at Germantown and that his youngest was a member of the 2017 Confirmation class. 



Rabbi Michael Pollack Kitah Zayin (7th grade) and Teen Tuesdays

Bio coming soon!





Janine Jankowitz Pastor, Confirmation (10th Grade)



Daniella Forstater, Shira (music) specialist

Daniella Forstater is a music educator and Jewish songleader/prayer leader in the Greater Philadelphia area.  In her experience, music has the ability to teach, heal, and inspire, and can be a powerful vehicle for connecting to our Jewishness…and humanness.  She is thrilled to begin her second year as a member of the teaching team at Germantown Jewish Center and is eager to collaborate with students, families, and classroom teachers to make joyful noise!

Please come say “shalom”




 Special Needs Coordinator






Rabbi Adam Zeff, Confirmation (10th grade) 

Rabbi ZeffRabbi Adam Zeff has served the Germantown Jewish Centre community since 2002, as Student Rabbi, Assistant Rabbi, and now as Rabbi. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2007.  In addition to his other responsibilities, Rabbi Zeff enjoys bringing music and storytelling into his rabbinic work at GJC, where he also serves as the hazzan and choir director. He has trained as a singer and musician for many years, studying western classical music, South Indian classical music, and diverse Jewish musical traditions. Rabbi Zeff holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Cheryl, a physician, live in Mt. Airy with their three sons, Zeke, Avi, and Mati. 


Ben Kripke, Substitute teacher

Ben is excited to join the GJC Team as a substitute teacher, especially since he was raised at GJC and attended the Religious School during elementary school.  A native of Lafayette Hill, Ben graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in History.  After graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C. for two years to work as a management consultant before leaving to pursue a 6-month solo backpacking trip through South America.  Now, Ben works as a strategist at Brownstein Group, an advertising agency in Center City, Philadelphia.  Secular pursuits aside, the Jewish community has always played an important role in Ben's life.  Since completing a Jewish education course at Jewish Community High School at Gratz College and holding an International USY leadership position in high school, Ben has served the Jewish community through a variety of roles, including one and a half years as a Hebrew Language Teacher at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, one year as a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Har Zion Temple, and two summers as a counselor at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack. Ben's mom Karen is also a teacher at GJC.