Alanna Sklover, Director of Lifelong Learning & Kitah Vav (6th grade) Hebrew
Rabbi 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 and her wife Rebecca Kirzner live in Germantown.
Ariel Silverman, Kitah Gan (kindergarten)
Ariel Silverman is very excited to return this fall for her second 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.
Rachel Baltuch, Kitah Alef (1st grade)
Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Rachel Baltuch grew up attending Temple Israel, a Conservative congregation. In 2010, Rachel graduated from the University of Maryland, Magna Cum Laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in Judaic Studies and a minor in Linguistics. After moving to the Philadelphia area, she worked as a nanny, taking care of her nephews for three years. In March of 2014, Rachel became an Integrated Sustainability Apprentice at Pearlstone, a Jewish retreat center and farm in Reisterstown, Maryland. While there, she worked on the organic farm and was trained as an experiential educator. During this time, Rachel was also a TEVA educator. She taught farm and environmental education with an emphasis on Jewish principles at Pearlstone in 2014 and at Ramah Day Camp in Elkins Park during the summer of 2015. Rachel currently works as a Nature Preschool Teacher at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. She is very excited to teach Kitah Alef again at the Germantown Jewish Centre.
Asher Sofman, Kitah Bet (2nd grade) and Confirmation (10th grade)
Bio coming soon!
Melanie Berman, Kitah Gimel (3rd grade)
Melanie is delighted for her third 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.
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. 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.
Elisabeth Horry, Kitah Daled (4th grade)
Elisabeth is (along with her family) new to the GJC community, but not to teaching. This will be her 25th year of teaching religious school. She has taught in Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues in California and around the Philadelphia area. She is sure that throughout the year, you will meet her husband, Adam, and her younger children, Scott and Samantha. Scott will be in Confirmation class at GJC , and Samantha will one of the Madrichim this year. She is pretty awesome in a classroom! Her oldest, Seth, is at Penn State. She has taught all three of her own children for three years each of their Jewish education. She also has PA teaching credentials in PE and Health, Elementary Education, and a Masters in Reading.
Lee Silverman, Kitah Hei(5th 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 fifth year teaching at GJC. This year he will be teaching the 5th/6th Grades and in 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 is a student in the Teen Tuesdays program.
Marley Weiner, Kitah Vav-Zayin (6th & 7th grade) and Teen Tuesdays
Bio coming soon!
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 be joining 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”
Benjamin Rotenberg, Special Needs Coordinator
“Moreh Ben” was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Energized by his experiences at the Schechter Day School, Camp Ramah, and at OSRUI, Ben decided to devote his work to teaching Hebrew. He received his a BA in Jewish Education at Hebrew College, and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Ben is a graduate of the Master’s Fellowship in Israel Education at the iCenter in Chicago. Before coming to Philadelphia, he has taught ethics, Torah and Hebrew for over 10 years, including at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in Newton, at Prozdor Hebrew High School, and at Kehillat Romemu in New York. He currently teaches Jewish Studies at the Stern Center of the Perelman Jewish Day School. In the summer he is the Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Camp Pembroke in Pembroke, MA. Ben is committed to making Jewish learning exciting, meaningful, and a place for everyone.
Rabbi Adam Zeff, Confirmation (10th grade)
Rabbi 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.