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Religious School Staff

Debbie Grinacoff
Shabbat Chai 2nd Grade

Debbie has over 25 years of teaching experience in both public and private education where she taught nursery school for 6 years, 5th and 6th. She has a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelors of Science degree in Textile and Apparel Marketing. After relocating from New York in 2015, her and her husband found a warm and caring environment at Temple Beth El South Orange County. Debbie is on the BE Sisterhood Board where she actively participates in various committees and programs. She is also a member of the Women’s Retreat Committee and the New Membership Committee. Outside of TBE, she is a member of her HOA Board of Directors and board liaison to the Landscape Committee. In addition, Debbie is currently substitute teacher in the Irvine Unified School District. This will be her second year teaching Shabbat Chai at Temple Beth El South Orange County. She truly enjoys enriching the minds of children as they learn about Judaism. Developing innovative and creative lessons where every child touched, is of great importance.

Jesse Arzt
Hebrew (Alef) 3rd Grade

Jesse Arzt grew up n New Jersey. He received his undergrad in film and media studies and a masters in Elementary education form Cal State Fullerton. Jesse has been working with children for over 10 years and loves the enthusiasm that they bring into the classroom. He is looking forward to being a part of the TBESOC family, working together to teach the Jewish future.

Sandy Rothberg
Hebrew Gimmel 5th Grade

Sandy has been a member of TBE since Congregation Eilat merged in 2010. In addition to teaching Hebrew and Shabbat Chai she is a substitute teacher and tutor in local area school districts. She is married with three grown children. Her youngest son had his Bar Mitzvah at TBE, was in the first class of the 8th grade Tzedakah Board and was active in BESTY. You are sure to see Sandy around TBE preparing weekly Shabbat meals, reading Torah in the Conservative Services, dancing in the annual women’s service, and participating in the Women’s retreat and in the Purim Shpiels. Sandy is really looking forward to a wonderful year getting to know you all!

Michal Elkyam
Shabbat Chai 4th & 5th Grade and Hebrew Bet

Michal Elkyam was born and raised in Haifa Israel, served in the Israeli air force and graduated from Haifa university with a BA in social work. She worked with families, kids and teenagers in distress in northern Israel. Shortly after Michal got married and relocated with her husband to the US where I worked as a preschool teacher in Irvine. She graduated from Cal State Fullerton with an MA in Counseling. Michal has 3 children, 17, 14 and 9. The two older ones were in the Temple Beth El program and had their Bar/Bat mitzvah while the youngest is following in their footsteps. Working with kids has always been Michal’s passion. Being a teacher at the temple is one way to accomplish that.

Chavva Olendar
Shabbat Chai 6th/7th Grade, Dalet and Hay Hebrew  

Chavva has been privileged to work in Jewish education and at Temple Beth El of South Orange County for nearly twenty years. Helping students find their personal connection to Judaism is among her highest ideals, as is imparting the language, culture, and values that accompany our heritage. In addition to her work here and at other local synagogues, Chavva homeschools her fifteen and eleven-year-old daughters and is in the process of finishing a degree in philosophy.

Barbara Rheingold-Gerlicki
Hebrew Specialist

Barbara has shared her enthusiasm about Judaism as a Religious School and Hebrew teacher for more than forty-five years. She has taught children and adults about Jewish holidays, history and culture, prayer book Hebrew, Torah, music and folk dance. Students of all ages enjoy the mnemonic devices and “corny jokes” she uses to help them learn to read Hebrew and chant prayers and Torah melodies. Barbara also teaches Hebrew at Temple Beth El in San Pedro. In addition, here at our synagogue Barbara participates in the Jewish Life and Rituals Committee, chants Torah on many a Shabbat and holiday mornings and coordinates the Volunteer Greeters Program.

Lauren Gelb
Lauren Gelb, a 9th grade student at TVT has been attending Temple Beth El since preschool and is looking forward to working with the Shabbat Chai kindergartners this year! In her free time Lauren is a dancer at Pacific ballet Conservatory where she has studied ballet since she was four years old.

Arad Elkayam
I am a senior at Trabuco Hills Highschool. I babysit in my neighborhood and help other scholars master concepts in school. I use this experience to teach the students at Temple Beth El and make sure that everyone is involved. My favorite things to do outside of school are playing the bass and planning Dungeons and Dragons campaigns with my friends. I was born here in America, but I speak fluent Hebrew. My mom also works at the temple, and we plan lessons together. I love all the stories I hear from our students.

Lilith Lainer
Lilith is in high school and homeschooled. She enjoys photography, literature, and psychology. Lilith also loves teaching and volunteering.

Tue, December 1 2020 15 Kislev 5781