Religious School Staff

Francesca Axe

Francesca Axe
       I am proud to say that this year marks my fifteenth year as a member of the Old York Road Temple-Beth Am Religious School Faculty.  Through the years, I have taught all grades from First through Confirmation Academy as well as serving as a B’nai Mitzvah tutor.
        This year, I am returning in a new capacity, that of teaching a new Hebrew program entitled Hebrew Through Movement (HTM).  HTM which will be initiated for the first time this year and focuses on the TPR (Total Physical Response) method of teaching.  TPR is based on the philosophy that all learning is physiological.  The whole body is involved in learning.  The program incorporates prayer and blessing proficiency coupled with the learning of basic Hebrew vocabulary.  This program will be offered to all students in Kindergarten – Grade 7.
        In addition, I will again be working as a member of the Resource Room in helping students with remediation in individual and small group Hebrew instruction.
        This should be a year of new beginnings, a year of exciting, educational, and fun programming at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am!  Let’s learn together!

Cindy Band

Cindy Band
        I am so excited to begin my 18th, chai, year at Old York Road Temple Beth-Am. I teach 5th,8th and 9th graders. I love the diversity between the various age levels of the students. It is an added bonus, to teach your child for more than just one year if they continue with Hebrew High.

        I am a teacher by trade, with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a M.A. as a Certified Reading Specialist.  I taught in the Philadelphia School District and have been since subbing in the Lower Moreland School, where I reside with my husband, son and two doggies.
I am looking forward to this year as well as meeting your children and sharing some amazing experiences with them!

Anita Block

Anita Block
        I have been a Jewish educator for many years, teaching children from infants through 12th grade, as well as adults.  I was the founding director of the Early Childhood Center at Main Line Reform Temple. After 14 years, I became the Education Director for the Early Childhood Department and the Religious School for an additional 7 years.
        I have also been the Principal of the Perelman Jewish Day School, Forman Campus and the Director of the NESS Initiative for the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education working with 11 schools in the Philadelphia area and schools in Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. In addition, I taught adult classes at Gratz College.
        I hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Elementary Education, a Master’s Degree from Arcadia University in Early Childhood Education and Administration and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College.  Also, I present at local conferences and conducts workshops on secular and Jewish subjects.

 Scott Brodof

Scott Brodof
        My name is Scott Brodof. I grew up in southwestern West Virginia, yes there are Jews there, a few of us. My dad’s side of the family owned a large deli, restaurant and specialty store. As you can image with that in your family,  being Jewish was a big part of my childhood. I went all the way through religious school until confirmation. I also went to a JCC overnight camp for 6 years as a camper and 6 years in staff. Camp was a big influence in my Jewish identity especially since I didn’t have a large Jewish population where I lived. I believe much of my ability to connect with  students at a Beth AM comes from camp and my parents and both sets of grandparents. In college at the University  of Pittsburgh , I studied Psychology with a minor in Jewish studies. I first taught at Beth AM for 3 years when I moved to Philadelphia in 2000 and am now excited to be back working with a new group of students.

Judy Cohen
        I am most happy to return to Old York Road Temple-Beth Am as a sixth-grade teacher after a hiatus of being a full-time Mom-Mom with our beautiful four grandchildren. My husband Murray and I have been congregants of Beth Am since 1976, and we both feel that this synagogue is our second home. Teaching is and has always been my passion in life. I graduated Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and taught 4th and 5th grades while earning a master’s Equivalent in Language Arts and Reading. I acquired duel Master of Arts in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education with Certification in Jewish Special Needs from Gratz College. Over the years, I have taught grades 3, 6, 8, 9 and 10 at OYRT – Beth Am and served as the Establishing Coordinator and Supervisor for our Resource Center for Special Needs. I also served as a Branch Director and Educator for The Isaac Meyer Wise Teaching Certificate Program for 11th and 12th grade students at JCHS of Gratz College. Throughout this time, ACAJE was like another home serving as Co-President of The ACAJE Association of Parents and Teachers of Students with Special Needs in the Greater Philadelphia Area, participating in and leading teacher workshops, The Mentor Teacher Program and The Penn Literacy Program. I tutored Hebrew privately and enjoyed teaching educators earning their master’s Plus 60 at The Netsky Institute of Gratz College. For years, Murray and I hosted Continuing Education Courses from Gratz College in our home in Huntingdon Valley. It is a joy to be back with my wonderful colleagues and students!

Jamie Madnick

Jamie Madnick
         I was born and raised in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania and my parents decided to send me to Hebrew school at Temple Beth Am where I eventually received a Bat Mitzvah by Rabbi Leib! From the age of 12, I naturally always found a way to combine my hobbies to working with children. I worked as a camp counselor, gymnastics and dance instructor, cheer coach, and more.

When it comes to community service, I’m a lifer! My career as a lifelong volunteer and educator started with a club at my former high school called Best Buddies. Best Buddies gives the opportunity for children with special needs to make lasting, true friendships with teens who also benefit from the unique experience. After being paired up with my buddy and going to events with him, I knew that the experience had changed my life forever.
        I then went on to college to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education. After college, I landed a job teaching in an autistic support classroom for two years  and had a great learning experience, but I realized something was missing in my life. I decided to take some time off from teaching and took an amazing opportunity and started working for Club Mediterranee. I worked in the mini club in Florida and Mexico for two years where I was able to travel and meet people from all over the world. A guest asked me towards the end of my experience, “What are you going to do when you settle down after Club Med?” I responded, “I want to work with children in the Jewish community. I now teach at Center City Jewish preschool and am the current Youth Advisor for Temple Beth Am, which is exactly what I had envisioned for myself. I am very happy to be back in the community where I grew up and inspire others to get more involved!

Michele MachlesMichele Machles
        This is my 17th year of teaching the sixth graders at Old York Road Temple Beth Am! I am a veteran Supplementary Hebrew School Teacher who has worked as a Jewish Educator teaching ages three through Confirmation, as well as adults. I was Omanut Director at Ramah Day Camp for five summers. Recently, I acted as coordinator of the Project SHEMA program at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life which encompassed being their facilitator of classes for visiting students with their elderly community. I earned Graduate Certification from Gratz College in Jewish Special Needs and I am also a graduate from their High School Normal Department. As a Supplementary Hebrew School teacher, I have participated in the following programs; Penn Literacy Network through the University of Pennsylvania, Nurturing Education in Supplementary Schools (NESS), Mentor Teacher Program and IConnect Israel Travel Studies through the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education.
        I am excited to be back at Old York Road Temple Beth Am teaching your sixth grade children! I am looking forward to a wonderful year of friendships and learning!

Debbie Gettes

Debbie Gettes Neibauer
        I have been working as a Jewish educator for 35 years. I retired from teaching special education in public schools and decide to become a special needs consultant for ACAJE which is now Jewish Learning Venture. A few years after I lost my first husband Andy, I remarried Fred Neibauer. We live in Elkins Park, next door to Rabbi Lieb and Randy! After belonging to Congregation Or Ami for 42 years we decided to make a change and joined Beth Am. I am so happy to be working with the teens in the Madrichim program and I look forward to becoming an active member of Beth Am!

Eric Neibauer
        Hello, I my name is Eric and I will be teaching seventh grade this year. It will be my first year at Beth Am and I am very excited for the opportunity to work with this fun group. I have been a history and social studies teacher for the past 20 years at the Crefeld School in Chestnut Hill and I look forward to teaching purely Jewish history again. I am very excited for the upcoming school year!

Alicia PaulAlicia Paul
        I am currently the pre-k teacher in the School of Early Learning and the kindergarten teacher in the Beth Am religious school. I have been teaching for 16 years now, ever since I graduated from the University of Delaware with my bachelor’s degree in education. I first came to Temple Beth Torah as a teaching assistant with the 4 year old class and the very next year I began teaching pre-k/K in my own classroom. I absolutely love teaching because the children can always put a great big smile on my face. On a personal note, I am lucky enough to be the mommy to a fabulous 8 year old who just started 3rd grade and a 5 year old who just began kindergarten in the Upper Moreland school district.

bruceBruce Sham
        I am the Co-founder of the Amanda Sham Resource Center and have been teaching in the center for 27 years. As a result of the program we have been able to accommodate students from all over the Tri-County area and provide them with a Jewish Education. Professionally, I am a Senior Vice President at Mass Mutual Greater Philadelphia, in Bala Cynwyd, Pa, where I specialize in helping families with children with special needs, navigate through the maze of government benefits, waiver programs, and Special Needs Trusts. I am the past president of Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Jenkintown, Pa and an Advisory Board member for the Friendship Circle and Access Sports. All these organizations provide social and educational programs for children in the local region. My greatest accomplishment was being able to facilitate the first Birthright trip to Israel for 40 students with special needs that continues today.

Dave SimonDave Simon
        I am one of the Confirmation co-teachers. I have been teaching at Beth Am for eight years.  I am our Ba’al Tekiah, or Master of the Horn. I blow the shofar for our High Holy Day services.  Professionally, I am a Comprehensive Wealth Advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors in Jenkintown.  I enjoy spending my free time with my wife Marla and three daughters Arielle, Marissa & Emily.

Stacey Stein

Stacey Stein
     I am very excited to be starting my fourth year in the Resource Room!  I work with students in Grades 4-6 in small groups, and assist them with strengthening their Hebrew reading skills.  This is done by helping the students with their individual needs, whether they be letter/vowel recognition, decoding words, or strengthening reading fluency.  Throughout the years that I have been working in the Resource Room, I have observed students flourish and become more confident in their ability to read Hebrew.

When I am not teaching in the Resource Room, I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and two sons.  I am also a special education teacher for the School District of Philadelphia.  This year marks my eighth year with the school district, and I am teaching Autistic Support to students in Grade 9. 

Orna TorgemanOrna Torgeman
        I was born in Haifa, Israel where I double majored in Education and Jewish History at Haifa University, after serving in the National Service. Upon Graduating, I was the assistant coordinator of Public relations and a secretary in the Humanities department at her University. Eventually I found my way to the United States where I found MY niche as an educator. I have been educating students for 2 decades now. I began teaching in Montessori day school in 1998 at Temple Beth Am, in 2000 I received and accepted a job offer to teach at an up and coming Jewish High School, which I am still a part of as the department chair of Hebrew Language.

Alison WaltersAlison Walters
        Shalom! I teach Grades 4, 8 & 9. This will be my eleventh-year teaching at  Old York Road Temple-Beth Am. During the week, I teach 30 fabulous first graders at Clara Barton School, in the Feltonville neighborhood of Philadelphia.

I love teaching here at Beth Am. The students are engaged, curious and inquisitive. I love being a part of their Jewish learning. I am looking forward to this year- we have so many new and exciting things happening in our Mensch Lab!

Jeffrey Zucker

Jeffrey Zucker
        I have loved educating others for many years. I suppose it all began with my days at camp. As a child and teenager, I attended a local day camp and learned not only sports and social skills, but patience and creativity as well. I then took my love of camp to the next level by attended Camp Harlam, a URJ camp in the Poconos. At Harlam I was both a counselor and unit head for nearly every age camper. That experience added a love of Judaism and tradition to my repertoire.
Partly because of my years of camp, I then became an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia. After teaching most grades between kindergarten and fifth I longed for a new challenge. I then received a certification in teaching English as a second language. I have been teaching English language learners ever since. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughters. I also have a deep love and appreciating for music and play, not only the guitar, but the ukulele as well.