July 20, 2024
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Ma’ayanot Welcomes New Administrators, Faculty and Staff

Ma’ayanot is starting an exciting new chapter, welcoming its biggest-ever incoming freshman class of over 100 students! The enhancement of Ma’ayanot’s top-notch educators with outstanding new administrators, faculty and staff will allow for even greater student learning, inspiration and engagement.

Debbie Grad joins the Ma’ayanot family as executive director. She served as business manager and operations director at Caskey Torah Academy in Philadelphia for over two decades, responsible for all non-academic administrative functions of the school. Grad, a licensed CPA, holds a bachelor’s in accounting from Stern College, and has worked for Touche Ross in New York City. Her wisdom, warmth and unwavering commitment to supporting Jewish education with professionalism will bolster Ma’ayanot’s incredible growth. Grad affirmed, “I look forward to working with Ma’ayanot’s great leadership team and to collaborating with parents, faculty and students on achieving great things!”

Shira Heller, associate principal, joins Ma’ayanot after serving as director of Teaching and Learning at Manhattan Day School, where, as a member of the senior leadership team, she supported the faculty in developing and implementing curriculum. A summa cum laude graduate of Boston University, with an M.S.W. from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work and graduate work in teaching English at Florida Atlantic University, she has also served as director of Teaching and Learning at Prizmah, and assistant director for Professional Development at the YU School Partnership. Heller describes herself as a “forever learner,” and is as deeply invested in the relationships that she builds as she is in the craft of teaching. She will play an integral role in fulfilling Ma’ayanot’s mission to provide a Torah-based education that promotes midot, derech eretz and academic excellence across all disciplines.

Danielle Hertzberg, assistant principal for Judaic Studies, has been an active leader in formal and informal Jewish education for over a decade. With dual master’s degrees in Jewish Studies from the Bernard Revel Graduate School and educational leadership from Lehman College, Hertzberg blends a passion for rigorous Jewish learning with years of experience in school administration. Her goals are to create a positive learning experience for all students in a way that deepens knowledge, advances skills and facilitates religious growth, and to provide safe spaces for students and teachers to discuss education, social and emotional challenges, relationships and Jewish life.

Other new faculty and staff members include:

Dr. Rachel Feinmark (MPhil, anthropology, University of Cambridge; Ph.D., American History University of Chicago) has over 15 years of experience teaching history and writing, and has developed curricula for museums, archives and non-profits. Dr. Feinmark will be teaching world history and English, and hopes to “help students make sense of the world around them and their place in it.”

Rabbi Avi Heller (bachelor’s, Boston University; semicha, RIETS; master’s, Bible, Bernard Revel Graduate School) joins the English faculty after extensive experience in education and Jewish community service. He looks forward to “teaching the young women of Ma’ayanot how to read and appreciate great literature and how to express their unique perspectives articulately and thoughtfully.”

Felicia Hoenig, executive assistant, will support operational and strategic projects for the head of school and the development office. She previously served as the office manager at Gan Yavneh. She looks forward to establishing meaningful relationships with the Ma’ayanot staff, students, parents and the extended Ma’ayanot community.

Nina Kaminetsky (bachelor’s, psychology, Stern College; master’s, Azrieli Graduate School) a proud Ma’ayanot alumna, has taught Judaic Studies at Yavneh Academy, and is thrilled to return to Ma’ayanot to teach Tanach and Halacha, and as chesed coordinator.

Sorole Levine, learning specialist, is bilingual speech-language pathologist with over 20 years of experience working with children in schools, with the last decade working for the New York City Department of Education. She is delighted to take her experience to Ma’ayanot’s learning center and to forge successful relationships with students in order to support them academically and emotionally.

Leyat Mafouda (master’s, CCC-SLP) is a learning specialist and a speech-language pathologist with 15 years experience working in schools throughout Bergen County and in private practice. She is excited to work with Ma’ayanot students on honing skills, creating strategies and building confidence to use what they’ve learned in the classroom and beyond!

Rachel Rosensweig (bachelor’s. biology and Judaic Studies, Stern College; master’s, Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS); master’s, Jewish History, Bernard Revel Graduate School; master’s candidate, Azrieli Graduate School) joins the Ma’ayanot family as a Gemara and Halacha teacher and Torah Bowl coach. She is excited to learn from and with Ma’ayanot’s dedicated faculty and administrators and to forge healthy and meaningful connections with her students.

Dr. Bena Schwartz (bachelor’s, Stern College; master’s, MPhil, Ph.D., Psychology, Yale University) studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Bruriah Scholars program, served as an adjunct assistant professor at Stern, and taught AP Psychology and English Literature at Bat Torah. Dr. Schwartz is “looking forward to teaching and connecting with Ma’ayanot seniors and preparing them for the AP exam. Psychology brings many opportunities for personal growth and appreciation for the way Hashem created us.”

Miriam Schwartz (bachelor’s, Judaic Studies, Stern College; master’s, GPATS; master’s, Azrieli Graduate School; master’s, Bible, Bernard Revel Graduate School) has extensive experience in informal and formal Jewish education and will teach Judaic Studies.

Dassi Volk (bachelor’s and M.S.W., Rutgers University) previously worked in the New Jersey public school system and the Moriah School. A certified New Jersey school social worker specializing in treatment of children and adolescents, she joins Ma’ayanot as guidance counselor, and is “looking forward to providing services to students to ensure an environment that promotes social, emotional and academic success!”

Jackie Williams, (bachelor’s, business administration, Muhlenberg College; master’s, public administration, NYU) joins Ma’ayanot as college counselor after 18 years in college admissions, most recently as dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Stevens Institute of Technology. She is “looking forward to helping students and families in their college planning and admissions processes, and to learning from the students about their interests and goals, and helping them achieve them!”

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