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Meet Our Teachers

Email marie.levitus@betshalom.org for teacher contact information.

Preschool: Madie Kerch

Biography

Originally from Highland Park, Illinois, Maddie came to Minneapolis for college at the University of Minnesota. She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a focus in neuroscience. She started college being interested in research and brain development, but left with a wide range of interests and an internship that led to teaching. Maddie worked as tutoring coordinator and assistant pre-k teacher at Prodeo Academy, a charter school in North Minneapolis, before starting at Bet Shalom Yeladim.

Maddie has worked with kids for 12 years starting with babysitting neighbors and younger brother, to becoming a camp counselor, youth mentor, literacy tutor, and finally pre-kindergarten teacher before falling in love with toddlers! She has always enjoyed taking care of others and loves using play to assist in the learning and growth that happens so quickly in young children.

This year Maddie will be teaching in the Sagol classroom in the preschool during the week, and will also be starting as the preschool/pre-k religious school teacher on Sundays.

Outside of school, Maddie can be found lesson planning for future classroom fun, trying different restaurants and cafes around Minneapolis, and taking dance and fitness classes!

Kindergarten: Jackie Weichman

Biography

Jackie was born and raised in the Twin Cities and then ventured off to The University of Kansas for college (Rock Chalk!). Upon graduation, she taught third grade for 8 years in the Overland Park, KS area and absolutely loved every minute of it.  Whether it was being a camp counselor, Sunday school teacher, or youth group leader, Judaism and kids have always been a big part of her life.

She is a proud wife and stay-at-home-mom! Her daughter Riley will be in fourth grade and her son Logan is entering first grade. In addition to teaching Religious school, Jackie has also been tutoring the past couple years.  She really enjoys working one-on-one with children and making a significant impact in the progress of their education.  Besides spending quality time with her family, she enjoys listening to music, socializing with friends, cheering on the Jayhawks during basketball season, and traveling. New memories were created this past summer as her family explored South Dakota, spent lots of overdue time with relatives, enjoyed weekends on the lake, and were grateful for a more “typical” summer experience with various camps for the kids.

She looks forward to meeting you and your child soon and values open-communication.  Please feel free to contact her at anytime with any questions or concerns you might have about your child’s education.

First Grade: Stacey Edlavitch

Biography

Stacey is very excited to teach 1st grade at Bet Shalom. Stacey, her husband and two children, moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago in 2015.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Since 2003, Stacey has taught Special Education to high school, middle school and elementary students.  She is currently a Special Education Teacher at Minnetonka High School.

Building self-confidence in children is one of Stacey’s passions and she believes the dramatic arts and creative movement assists with this.  She thinks these skills help create a strength that will mold the child in their future endeavors.

In her spare time, Stacey and her family enjoy camping, fishing, going to the zoo, exploring the Science Museum, and attending theater (The Guthrie and The Children’s Theater).  Stacey can also be found walking around the lakes with friends, reading the next book for book club and cooking for family and friends.

Second Grade: Mark Price

Biography

Mark was born in New York City and lived for 17 years in Stamford, Connecticut.  He graduated from Haverford College with a double degree in English and Spanish, and then got his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School.  When not working as a Solution Partner for Smart Data for ThreeBridge Solutions, a consulting firm, Mark is an avid Crossfitter, plays and follows tennis, is passionate about Liverpool in the English Premier League and obsesses about Really Big Dogs (RBD’s) .  He is also a storyteller and brings that skill to frequent use in the classroom.

Mark has been teaching religious school at Bet Shalom for the past 17 years.  While traditionally teaching second grade, Mark has also taught first grade, seventh grade and post-confirmation.  He has been trained in Responsive Classroom, All Kinds of Minds, and Teach Like a Champion approaches.

Third Grade & Hebrew Cohort: Heidi Roston

Biography

Heidi grew up in Crystal, Minnesota and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Throughout her life, she has dedicated a lot of her time teaching children. She has worked with toddlers in preschool, school age children in public school and just after college, she worked in the hospitals taking newborn baby portraits. Besides working as an infant teacher at Shalom Yeladim, she teaches third grade and is a Bar/Bar Mitzvah tutor in the Bet Shalom Religious School. She believes that some of the most important skills to have when working with children is patience, flexibility, and love. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, spending time with her family, and reading.

Fourth Grade: Julie Friedman

Biography

Julie Friedman has always been passionate about facilitating others in Jewish understanding and helping youth connect to their Jewish identity.  From her years as a teen counselor at her synagogue’s day camp in Illinois to working as a youth advisor at Siegel JCC in Delaware, she feels like she is always drawn back to her roots in Judaism. While teaching middle school science in New Jersey, she spent her free time involved with her synagogue, leading Pray and Play (their monthly preschool Shabbat program) and teaching second grade religious school classes.

Julie is excited to begin her fourth year teaching religious school at Bet Shalom. Julie and her family relocated to Minnesota in 2018 and are excited to be part of such a welcoming community at Bet Shalom.

When Julie is not teaching at religious school, you can find her cooking, enjoying music, playing in her garden, or having fun with her family.

Fourth Grade: Jared Kaufman

Fifth Grade: Kelsey Toetschinger

Biography

Kelsey is starting her fourth year at Bet Shalom.  She teaches fourth grade and eighth grade.  She has her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and her master’s degree in Special Education.  Outside of Bet Shalom, she is starting her tenth year teaching special education.  At home, Kelsey enjoys spending time with her threeyearold, Henry, husband James, dog Kasia, and cats Jack and Abby.

Sixth Grade & Pre-Cohort Boot Camp: Emily Jarecki

Seventh Grade & Pre-Cohort Boot Camp: Emily Rosenberg

Biography

Emily recently graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a degree in Special Education Teaching. Emily grew up at Bet Shalom and enjoys many fond memories including her Bat Mitzvah, confirmation, and her first trip to Israel. This will be her first year teaching at Bet Shalom religious school. Emily has many years of experience working with students and looks forward to building a community within her classroom! During her free time, Emily enjoys cooking, baking, and crafting! Emily is excited to teach at Bet Shalom and be a contributing member of our loving and supportive community. 

Seventh Grade and Hebrew and B’nai Mitzvah Cohort: Suzy Lurie

Biography

Suzy Lurie is excited to begin her fourth year as a Religious School teacher. After growing up in Highland Park, Illinois and earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from Northwestern University, Suzy lived all over the country with her opera-singing husband and had plenty of adventures. Becoming a mom and landing back in the Midwest has turned out to the best adventure of all! Suzy is glad to have found such a wonderful community at Bet Shalom and considers teaching Religious School to be the best job ever! Outside of work, she loves to hang out with her husband, Matt, and explore new places with her kids, Riley (7) and Brooklynn (4).

Eighth Grade: Jake Jarecki
jake.jarecki@betshalom.org

Ninth Grade: Shmulik Havilio

Post-Confirmation: Lily Booker
lily.booker@betshalom.org

Biography

Lily is so excited to be teaching at Bet Shalom this year, especially for Post-Confirmation! She is originally from the Chicagoland area and just moved to Minneapolis for her Master’s degree in Public Policy. Lily is looking forward to exploring Social Justice topics, coinciding with our Jewish Values. Lily is an OSRUI alum and loves seeing some of her former campers at the congregation! She also is the Youth Director and cannot wait to have so much fun with all of BeSTY! It’s going to be a great year!

3rd-6th Hebrew Specialist: Orly Ni

Pre-Cohort Boot Camp and Hebrew Chug: Gayle Kaplan

Biography

Gayle has taken on a new position this year, as both the coordinator for the revised Hebrew language program and the coordinator for school twinning.  (Bet Shalom is in our second year of twinning with Navon, an elementary school in Rehovot Israel.)  For the past 11 years, she has taught Hebrew, Torah, holidays, and Jewish history, among other subjects, to students in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades.

Gayle grew up in the Boston metro and graduated from Brown University with a BA in psychology.  She later received a MBA from Northwestern University and worked in Chicago for several years before moving to Minneapolis almost 30 years ago.  Gayle worked in market research on both the vendor and client sides, focusing on customer loyalty.  After leaving the business world, she taught business skills to immigrants at the Minnesota Resource Center. Gayle has loved the opportunity to teach at Bet Shalom’s Religious School where she can focus on her passion for all things Jewish.

Gayle serves on two Minneapolis Jewish Federation committees: The Education Committee, and Partnership2Gether, which deals with Minneapolis and our twin city Rehovot, Israel.  She is also a volunteer guardian ad litem for Hennepin County.

Gayle is married with one son.  She enjoys walking her dogs, reading and planting her new butterfly garden (in progress).  She also loves to travel, especially to Israel.

Hebrew Cohort: Shelly Christensen

Biography

Shelly Christensen is thrilled to be working with the b’nai mitzvah cohort program. She began b’nai mitzvah tutoring 23 years ago after chanting from the Torah for the first time in her life. She loved the experience so much she became one of Bet Shalom’s tutors. Shelly is a speaker, consultant, and trainer in the emerging field of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in Jewish community life. She is a published author. Her newest book is “From Longing to Belonging-A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community.”  Shelly and Rick, who live in Burnsville, joined Bet Shalom 38 years ago. Their three sons, Aaron, Jake, and Zac grew up at Bet Shalom, and now, Aaron and Nancy continue the tradition. Their children, Eli and Isaac, are in Religious School, and Anna and Eve, are in the preschool.

Music Specialist: Shana Eisenberg

Biography

Shana is thrilled to be teaching music for her seventeenth year! She songleads all over the Twin Cities including Shir Tikvah Congregation’s Jewish Academy for Moral Imagination and Mount Zion Temple’s Tot Shabbat. Shana can also be seen around town in a variety of different theatrical endeavors (when the theatres are open and running, of course). During those long months in isolation, she’s spent a ton of time learning new music to share with students of all ages.