Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program Director
Sandra Razieli is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program Director and has been teaching at Kehilla since 2000. She also serves as a Kehilla Spiritual Leader and enjoys participating in the community as a congregant. Sandra has studied and lived extensively in Minnesota, Israel, and California, and holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and Stanford University. Her academic work focuses on the anthropology of the modern Middle East. She created the 6th grade curriculum at Kehilla and is the author, along with Alaiya Aguilar, of Tree of Life: Torah for Bar/Bat Mitzvah Students. Sandra also teaches yoga with a specific interest in yoga for scoliosis. She holds a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT500) designation from Yoga Alliance and a teaching certification from the Instituteof Yoga and Jewish Spirituality. Her yoga website is www.raziyoga.com. Sandra is also an avid soccer player. She can be reached at email@example.com
Chevruta Teacher and Youth Programs Coordinator
Natalie Boskin started at Kehilla School in 4th grade, had her Bat Mitzvah ceremony in 2006, and became a Madricha for the 6th grade class at Kehilla School as a teen. Ever since her Bat Mitzvah, when she used her drash to question why G-d threatens with violence, she has been drawn to the big picture questions about the sacredness that permeates our world. She used her time at the University of Puget Sound to academically explore sacredness as she worked towards her Bachelors of Arts in Religion. The University’s comparative approach to religious studies has given her a deep foundation of interdisciplinary knowledge that she is excited to now use to turn inward and explore her own faith and spirituality. She joyfully returned to Kehilla Community Synagogue in 2015 to not only further her personal exploration of these questions, but as a teacher charged with introducing her students to the mysteries of existence. She is humbled to have the opportunity to share a little bit of her passion for investigating sacredness with youth that are on the verge of taking control of their own connection to that very mystery.
Chevruta Teacher and Trope Teacher
Elizheva Hurvich brings an ecclectic Jewish background to her teaching. Raised in Northern California in an open, hippy-Jewish family, she is comfortable with tambourines and oriental carpets as part of her practice. As a seeker of Jewish rhythm and ritual, Elizheva has lived in Reconstructionist, Renewal, Conservative, and even Orthodox communities in Philadelphia, Israel and New York. She holds a master’s degree in Jewish Art and Material Culture from JTSA and finds that teaching B’nai Mitzvah students is a perfect way to bring together her passions for Judaism, ritual, creativity, critical thinking, community, and empowering people to express their true selves. Elizheva has been a part of the Kehilla community since 2000, serving as school Rosh from 2000-2010. She currently works for the Contemporary Jewish Museum and makes tallitot and huppot for fun. Elizheva lives in Oakland with Max, Bob, and Griffin.
Rabbi Carol Caine
Chevruta Teacher and Trope Teacher
Rabbi Carol Caine graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and also received private ordination from Jewish Renewal founder Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi. She currently serves as high holiday rabbi for B’nai Haaretz in Garberville, regular adult education instructor for Lehrhaus Judaica, meditation service leader for Netivot Shalom, and rabbi, instructor, workshop leader and ritual facilitator for other congregations and individuals, in the Bay Area and beyond. Rabbi Carol is a familiar face at Kehilla, having taught in our b’nai mitzvah program since 2006 and offered a popular Talmud course through our adult education program. She also teaches privately, for both youth and adults.
Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller
Julie served as Rabbi at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco for the past thirteen years, where one of her most fulfilling roles was studying with b’nai mitzvah students and their families. The first place she ever taught Hebrew school was Kehilla, while studying at UC Berkeley (where she majored in Peace and Conflict Studies, with a focus on Israel/Palestine and a minor in Hebrew). She recently led a series of programs bringing together her love of the outdoors and the nature-based wisdom and practices in Judaism. She also loves to bring together Jewish practice and social justice work – in interfaith coalitions as well as in Jewish ritual and study. She is married to our Executive Director, Michael Saxe-Taller, and is the mom of Sam, who is 14.
Rabbi Gray Myrseth
Rabbi Gray Myrseth was ordained by the Hebrew College Rabbinical School in June of 2017. Born and raised in San Francisco, Gray has returned to the Bay Area after five years in Boston to work as Kehilla’s School Director. Gray has worked as a Jewish educator, a congregational rabbinic intern, a consultant and trainer on LGBTQ inclusion, and as a chaplain with a focus on the spiritual care of LGBT elders. When not at work, Gray can be found walking their excellent dog, expounding on the wonders of Talmud study, and reading everything from poetry to young adult novels.
Suggested Hebrew/Trope Tutors
These teachers work independently and are available to be contracted on an individual bases.
Julie Nesnansky has been a Musical Prayer Leader at Kehilla since 2000 and has been teaching trope to Bar/Bat Mitzvah students since 2006. She also facilitates the yearly Introduction to Trope workshop for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program. As a Special Education Teacher in the West Contra Costa Unified School District since 1988, currently working with preschool students who have autism, she merges trope-teaching strategies she has learned over the years with her specialized abilities to reach students with differing abilities. Watching the light bulb shine when BBM students “get” the trope system is always thrilling to her. She supplies them with various types of learning resources and techniques, is a patient, creative teacher, and brings with her many years of experience and expertise. She has helped to create specialized Bar/Bat Mitzvah services for young people who have learning and more severe disabilities. She loves teaching students to chant from the Torah! Julie has performed in folk, Balkan, and jazz groups, singing (and playing the acoustic folk bass) in venues as varied as folk festivals, birthday parties, weddings, memorial services, fundraisers, clubs, retirement parties, and classes. She has sung publicly for over 30 years, and has been recorded on many albums. Born and raised in Southern California, she has lived in Oakland since 1982.
Beth Dickinson has been a joyful member of Kehilla’s teaching staff since 2010. She teaches trope (Torah chanting), has been a chevrutah teacher, and has lead Kehilla school Tefillah services. She has served as Musical Prayer Leader at Kehilla since 2008, leading Shabbat, High Holiday, and B’nai Mitzvah services as well as other ceremonial services. Beth’s background includes training in group facilitation, psychology, meditation and therapeutic music. In her B’nai Mitzvah teaching she strives to help each student connect to the parts of Judaism that resonate for them, to define their own belief system, and to have a supportive and positive experience. As the child of an interfaith family, she actively supports her students in embracing their multifaceted backgrounds.
Cantor Shira Batalion
Cantor Shira Batalion is a dedicated Reconstructionist Cantor who has been teaching Hebrew, trope and prayer to Bar/Bat Mitzvah students since 2001. She has over 15 years’ experience as an education director, camp song leader and day school teacher. Shira has also served as an international Service Leader for the American Jewish World Service, as well as for numerous synagogues. Shira holds a degree in holistic health and is a certified life coach. She loves to help Bar/Bat Mitzvah students work through the text of the Torah and to find the joy of prayer and song. She recently moved to the Bay from Arizona and upon her arrival began teaching at Kehilla.
Rabbi Margie Jacobs’ love of chanting Torah and leading prayer services began as a child in Jewish Day School. She has had the pleasure of teaching Bnei Mitzvah students as Rabbi of Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond, CA, Rabbi-Educator at Congregation Netivot Shalom, and currently as Bnei Mitzvah tutor at Congregation Beth El. As former Regional Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Rabbi Margie brings her experience with Social/Emotional Learning and Mindfulness meditation to her teaching. She is a life coach and ritual facilitator, teaches on the spirituality of eating and leads groups for parents of young children. Margie the mother of Elana (age 4) and Shoshana (age 2).
Bon Singer has been a cantorial soloist and teacher for fifteen years. She has been teaching prayers, Torah and Haftarah trope and chanting. She has taught at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, Temple Israel in Alameda and privately. Bon has worked with kids to develop a meaningful and inspiring d’rash (sermon or teaching) and help them to understand and personalize their service.
Ruth Weisberg brings with her 15 years experience teaching trope. She has taught students from many different Jewish backgrounds and denominations across the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz. Ruth is passionate about Trope and the art of chanting Torah, and loves teaching it to others. Ruth especially enjoys teaching Bar and Bat Mitzvah students as she likes the challenge of finding individual ways for her students to connect to their studies while providing a positive experience. Ruth is no stranger to the Kehilla Bar/Bat Program as she was a chevruta and trope teacher 2001-2008. A recent graduate of SFSU, Ruth holds a Graduate degree in Communicative Disorders and is beginning her career as a Speech Language Pathologist. In addition to trope, Ruth enjoys dancing to live music and walking the hills and stairs of San Francisco. Ruth meets with her students in her home in Hayes Valley in San Francisco or in Berkeley near the North Berkeley BART station.
Gavriel Strauss is a Spiritual Counselor and founder of Evolving Judaism. He is a certified yoga instructor, Jewish educator, artist, and dancer. Gavriel’s orthodox Jewish upbringing seeded his commitment to the path of universal truth and human development, and greatly informed his current trans-denominational approach to Jewish Spiritual Practice. In 2005, four years after the completion of his BFA and upon becoming a certified yoga instructor, Gavriel made aliyah to Tsfat, Israel where he studied Kabbalah, taught yoga, and helped found an environmental NGO. Gavriel lives with his wife Shayna in Berkeley, CA and is working on a book called, “Evolving Judaism”. He teaches trope, co-creates and facilitates rites of passage for adult life-transitions and b’nei mitzvah. Find out more at www.gavrielstrauss.com
A native Hebrew speaker, Merav grew in Jerusalem to Bluegrass-playing British parents. She has a BA in Music and Jewish Studies and an MM in violin, and has performed in everything from symphonies to international folk dance bands. She is currently a lecturer in Musicianship at UC Berkeley, where she completed her PhD in Ethnomusicology, writing about Israeli women singer-songwriters. She loves the connection of working with students on violin, sight-singing, and trope, figuring out what they need, finding creative ways to explain things, and seeing them light up when they get it. Tutoring B’nai Mitzvah is a continuation of her lifelong Jewish learning through scholarship, teaching Hebrew school, studying Torah, and participating in synagogue services. Merav is also an energy worker, avid tango dancer, and mother to 3-year-old Kalina
Rebecca’s journey as a Jewish educator began as a summer-time teenage trope teacher in her hometown of Dallas, TX, and has included working at an array of summer camps and Hebrew schools, co-facilitating an adult B’nei mitzvah program for college students, and leading shabbat services for kids. She found home in earth-based and social justice oriented Jewish community at Eden Village Camp on the east coast, where she directed a rite-of-passage program for teens. Her passions include regenerative Jewish culture, depth psychology and holistic health, and she is particularly interested in integrating spiritual practice, embodiment and creative process. In addition to tutoring B’nei Mitzvah students, Rebecca currently works as a mentor for Wilderness Torah’s B’naiture program, teaches mindfulness and yoga, and makes art in her home studio in Albany.
Renna is a Jewish community organizer, with a strong passion for facilitating communal song, prayer, and ritual. She first started tutoring b’nai mitzvah students more than 15 years ago, after becoming a bat mitzvah herself at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, and she has been one of their primary b’nai mitzvah tutors over the past few years. She holds a BA from the Jewish Theological Seminary and an MS in Nutrition. She loves serving as a mentor to her students and also learning from them during such a formative time in their journey into adulthood.
Ariel is a Berkeley native and loves to teach other people how to chant from the Torah. During high school, he taught the b’nei mitzvah program at Congregation Netivot Shalom and has tutored a variety of students since that time. During his college years in New York City, Ariel worked as a professional Torah reader while studying at both Columbia University (Philosophy) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (Talmud). Ariel has spent many fun summers at Camp Ramah in California where he was a counselor for 12-15 year olds and served as a division head, responsible for 17 staff and over 100 teenagers! He finds meaning in exploring the different ways each student connects to Judaism and sees the tutor/student relationship as an opportunity for both parties to learn together and from each other. In his spare time, Ariel loves to play Ultimate Frisbee and bake bread.