We are thrilled to introduce the newest Matan Institute Cohort! These talented educators are participating in a year-long professional development experience with Matan, helping to ensure that their communities will be inclusive of all learners.
Read more about this impressive group below.
Ariel Glueck is the Director of Teen and Youth Programming at Park Avenue Synagogue. She has a license in social work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University and has experience as a teacher in formal and experiential settings.
Mackenzie Haun is the Youth Coordinator at Park Avenue Synagogue. She previously worked at Hillel International and the Institute for Southern Jewish Life. She grew up in Overland Park, KS and graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA in Jewish Studies.
Aaron Hersh is an assistant director of the Park Avenue Synagogue Congregational School in New York City, focusing on grades K-3. As a teacher and song leader, Aaron believes in the importance of meeting each learner “where they are”, as well as the potential of music as a way of connecting to Jewish content. Aaron received his MA in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to pursuing his Master’s, he was a Full Time Educator at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY and has spent many summers at URJ Eisner Camp.
Risa Kessler has worked at Adath Jeshurun Congregation – Minnetonka, MN for 28 years. She directs education programming for children and their families in Kindergarten through Grade 8 and beyond. Risa works with families to engage them in congregational life through cooking classes, Shabbat dinners, Hesed opportunities, reading Torah, etc. In her free time, Risa enjoys taking long walks, traveling as well as entertaining family and friends with her favorite meals, treats and traditions.
Rabbi Valerie Lieber is Director of Education and Family Programs at Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill Brooklyn. This is her 15th year in that role. She graduated Cum Laude from Swarthmore College and was ordained as a rabbi in 1995 from Hebrew Union College. She served as head rabbi at two Reform synagogues in the metro area prior to her time at Kane Street Synagogue. She lives in Park Slope Brooklyn with my wife Leah and our cats Eddy and Patsy. She loves riding her bicycle around the whole city and the other side of the Hudson, spending time with her 7 nieces and nephews, gardening, playing mediocre tennis and doing NYTimes crossword puzzles.
Jody Moreimi is the Head of School at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis, a 127 year old supplementary school that is the religious school of the two major conservative synagogues in Minneapolis. She has taught in both public and private schools for over 15 years and has worked with newborns through young-adults. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater and Drama from Indiana University – Bloomington, a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from National-Louis University, and a certificate in School Management and Leadership from Harvard Business School. Jody enjoys anything having to do with the arts, cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, baking, and spending time with her husband Tom and children, Robby (8) and Mari (5).
Rabbi Shawn Simonhazani is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, PA. In that role he oversees all educational programming from preschool through adult education for 700+ families. Previously Shawn worked in Israel with pre-IDF students and spent a decade as a middle school rabbi in a Solomon Schechter affiliated school. Shawn grew up in Miami and spent more than 12 years living in Israel where he served in the IDF. He is married and has three children and a rescue cat. He grew up a comics lover and is now a huge MCU fan.
Aviva Tilles works as the Director of Congregational Learning and Programming at Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains, NJ. She earned a Bachelors in Sociology and a Masters in Public Administration from Clark University. She worked full time for USY for 13 years. After spending a year in experiential hospitality and missing the Jewish youth world, she returned to Jewish education in the summer of 2020. Aviva is a proud aunt to 3 amazing nephews and likes to spend her time rooting on the NY Yankees, attending Broadway shows (and listening to the music in her office), cooking and watching Friends and The West Wing.