Who's Who
K-12 Learning Staff
Clergy/Worship Team

Rachel Happel

Senior Director of Learning and Engagement

As our new Senior Director of Learning and Engagement, Rachel has broad oversight of our K-12 learning programs, TBS staff engagement and culture, and aspects of TBS community engagement. Rachel first joined the Temple Beth Shalom team as the Director of Elementary Learning in September 2013 and soon became the Director of K-12 Learning, a role in which she served through June 2021.

Throughout Rachel's many years in the field of Jewish education, she has worked with children, teens, and families to create rich, engaging, and dynamic learning experiences in a variety of settings. Immediately prior to joining TBS, Rachel's professional home was Brandeis University, where she served as the Director of BIMA and Genesis, two immersive summer programs for Jewish high school students, and as a consultant for the Institute for Informal Jewish Education (IJE). As part of her work with the IJE, Rachel served as one of the key educational consultants in the development of the TBS Mayim program; when she joined the TBS staff team, she brought a deep understanding of TBS's change efforts, vision, and goals for our children and our families. 

 

Throughout her career, Rachel has also worked at several local synagogues and after school programs as a teacher, youth group advisor, mentor, consultant, and director. She has participated in a number of fellowships, including the Relational Engagement Circle through the M2 Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and the Clinical Mentor Faculty Program at Hebrew College. Rachel received both an MA in Jewish Communal Service and an MBA from Brandeis University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College. Rachel lives in Natick with her husband, Jason, and their daughters, Eva and Josie.

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Director of K-12 Learning and Inclusion

Sara Berk

As the Director of K-12 Inclusion and the Assistant Director of Mayim, Sara collaborates with Jewish Learning Guides (JLGs) and families to ensure that all children can successfully access the curriculum. She also works closely with the JLGs to tailor the curriculum for each group of learners. Sara provides training for the K-12 faculty in order to support all of the children and teens in the Mayim and Etzim learning programs.

Sara also serves as the staff liaison to the Inclusion Task Force. Through this role, she provides training to TBS staff and lay leaders regarding inclusive practices for all congregants.

In addition, Sara represents TBS outside of the temple as a consultant and mentor for other synagogues who are learning to be more inclusive. She provides tools and resources for other temples to implement programs that meet the needs of all children.

Prior to joining the team at TBS in 2013, Sara worked as a special educator in MA and NYC. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and has a Masters Degree in Special Education.

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Director of Mayim Tamid

Liron Riess

Since 2010, Liron has worked in a variety of roles within our learning programs at TBS. She taught children in Mayim (K-5), Jr. Etzim (6-7), and the Children’s Center, and she also serves as a B. Mitzvah tutor.  Having started at TBS before the transition to our Mayim program, Liron was involved in piloting Project Based Learning in our setting, as well as creating parts of the Mayim curriculum. 

 

Liron was a pioneer in creating and teaching our Mayim Tamid program. Influenced by her early experiences growing up on a kibbutz in Israel, Liron sought to create a “home away from home” that allows children to attend TBS multiple days a week, engage in deep Jewish learning, and enjoy additional recreational activities to support their health, growth, and emotional connection to Judaism and to our temple. In 2016, Liron served as the Jewish Learning Guide for our first Mayim Tamid class; since then, Mayim Tamid has grown to include six classes in grades K-5 and engages over 75 children and their families and whole team of Jewish Learning Guides.

 

As the Director of Mayim Tamid, Liron works to implement a creative, rich Judaic curriculum, ensure the emotional and physical wellbeing of the children, and support the Jewish Learning Guides as they grow and evolve as educators, create a meaningful connection with parents and family members, and experience joy in their teaching.

 

Liron is a mother of three grown children and lives in Foxboro with her husband Bill.

Director of B'Mitzvah Journey Program

Sarah Damelin

Sarah has worked as an educator in the Jewish community for over 18 years.  Before moving to the Boston area in 2017, Sarah taught at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester in White Plains, NY, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford, NJ, and The Heschel School in NY, NY.  In those settings, Sarah strove to integrate Judaic and general subjects, firmly believing that when children approach learning as a whole person, their engagement and investment is more authentic and complete.  As a middle and high school teacher of art, Assistant Director of Experiential Education, and Judaic and Social Studies Teacher, Sarah connects naturally with students of all ages and thrives on collaboration with educators in various fields.  She consistently seeks to integrate creativity and artistic expression into learning – wanting to make Jewish learning accessible and meaningful.

Sarah is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where she received a dual major degree in Fine Arts and English Literature.  She received her Master of Science in Middle Childhood Museum Education from Bank Street College in New York City, and is certified in elementary education.

 

Sarah, her husband Marc, and their three children, Naomi, Leah, and Max, live in Needham and love being a part of the TBS community. In addition to sharing precious time with family, Sarah also enjoys challah making, “challah sculpture and baking art” (she has already taught a few workshops on this at TBS!), quilting and fabric collage, and gardening.

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Assistant Director of K-12 Engagement

Julia Zinn

Julia first started working at TBS in 2016 as a Jewish Learning Guide in the Mayim program. She is excited to make the transition to being the Assistant Director of 8th-12th Grade and Special Programming. Julia is thrilled to be able to continue to share her passion for Jewish learning with this community through her new role. She grew up with a family of Jewish professionals in Worcester, MA and has a degree in Psychology and minors in Judaic Studies and Theater from the University of Delaware. Julia has spent the past seven years working in synagogues and Jewish camps, focusing on Jewish life, education and general programming. Julia currently lives in Brighton with her puppy Madeline.

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K-12 Administrator and Logistics Coordinator

Jodi Fletcher

Jodi is very excited to be a part of the TBS Learning Program team! For several years, she has been on the other side of things - she is a TBS member and a parent of 2 current Mayim students. Jodi is so grateful to be connected to such an amazing, inclusive learning community, and she continues to be impressed by the experiences that the TBS Learning Programs have provided our family. Jodi grew up in Newton, and is fortunate to have my extended family in the area... she's been able to gather for so many important milestones in my children's lives - including Consecration and name celebrations at TBS! Jodi currently lives in Needham with her husband (Jason) and their children (Lilly and Aaron). The whole family feels so lucky to be a part of the Needham and TBS communities!

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