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Our Staff 2020-21

Ellen Lefkowitz (she/her) – Early Childhood Director
I hold a Joint Master’s degree in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College. Since receiving my Masters degree, family and early childhood education have been the focus of my work. From 2003-2008, I was an educator at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, CA. There I ran a weekly family education program and Hebrew school. From 2008-2010, I served as the Assistant Director at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center preschool and completed my coursework in early childhood education. My passion for Jewish early childhood education is based on the belief that the core mission of this work is to help children grow and to inspire families to embark on Jewish journeys. When not at work, I spend as much time outside with my as possible whether it is yoga, bike riding, running or hiking.

Molly Peritore (she/her) – Associate Early Childhood Director 
Molly holds a B.A. in ECE from the Evergreen State College and is currently in American Jewish University’s Master’s in Early Childhood Education program. She has been in the field of ECE since 2004 where she spent 13 years as a teacher before stepping into her current role as Associate Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple Sinai in Oakland. She finds inspiration in using Jewish values to guide her work with children, staff and families. Outside of school, Molly enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors with her twin daughters and husband.

Avigail Ben-Gigi (she/her) – Shemesh Teacher
My name is Avigail and I am one of the teachers in Shemesh. I have been working with kids for over 20 years. Before I joined this wonderful family, I used to have my own daycare which I closed to go back to school and get my BA in Human Development. After I finished school I worked as an ABA therapist for two years. This is now my fifth year of working here at Temple Sinai.

Carlota Buada (she/her) – Etzim Teacher
I have been in Early Childhood Education since 2014. This is my third year working with the 3’s in Etzim at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Mills College. I love working at Temple Sinai because of the strong community bonds the school has worked so hard to build and maintain. Creating relationships with the children and their families each year is always a joy!  I enjoy hiking and traveling with my husband Santiago.

Rachel Elefant (she/her) – Etzim Teacher
My name is Rachel Elefant. I have found my love and passion to be working in early childhood education and am incredibly excited to be working in the Etzim classroom this year. I am a graduate of UC Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and United States History with a minor in Human Rights. I have been working with children in various manners for ten years. Such opportunities have included being a teacher’s aide in Hebrew schools, working as a recreation leader for Emeryville Recreation Center, a camp counselor for UC Davis Youth Programs, an ESL teacher in Guangzhou, China, and, now, working in Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. I love spending my time outside reading, biking, and listening to music. Live music especially has a special place in my heart.

Robert Espinosa (he/him) – Keshet Teacher
My name is Robert (Bob) Espinosa and I have been an Early Childhood Educator since 2005 and I am happy to say that I am beginning my seventh year here at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. It is exciting for me to grow, learn and develop with your children. I love the sense of community at TSDPP and am looking forward to building new relationships with families and strengthening the bonds I've already gained.

Keith Gaboury (he/him) – Gan K’tan Teacher 
I have worked in early childhood education for over six years in both Massachusetts and California. Prior to joining the Temple Sinai team, I previously worked at Temple Emanu-El preschool in San Francisco for two years. After earning a graduate degree in creative writing (poetry) in Boston, I discovered my love for working with children and haven’t looked back since.

Sue Hartnett (she/her) – Perachim Teacher
I have been at Temple Sinai since 2003. I previously spent many years teaching in Jewish Community Center preschools and synagogues. I have a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, studied Early Childhood Education at San Francisco State University, and completed a Jewish mentoring program in Boulder, Co. I am the mother of three, grandmother of two (with another one on the way!), and I also dance/teach hula and Hawaiian music here in Oakland at the Academy of Hawaiian Arts. I enjoy strumming my guitar or ukulele with the kids here at school and planning class adventures!

Felicia Johnson (she/her) – Perachim Teacher
This is my sixteenth year here at TSDPP! I recently graduated from San Francisco State with my BA in Child Development and am now pursuing my master’s degree in educational leadership. I became interested in working with children because my mother worked with children for seventeen years at the JCCS. I see myself as someone who likes to build relationships with children first and then once that has happened the learning begins. I have a MAJOR love of movies and I go pretty much every week to theater. I also enjoy working out at the gym, reading, meditation, and getting a massage whenever possible and enjoying the city.

Stacey Kimbley (she/her) – Alonim Teacher
I am so happy to be a part of the teaching staff here at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. I have worked with children in many different settings for the past 25 years. I studied Early Childhood Education and Communication Studies at College of Marin and began my teaching journey at an after school program in Novato. I then went on to manage an Infant and Toddler Program at a large center in Novato. In 2004 I was delighted to open my own large in-home daycare in Novato. After successfully operating my daycare for 7 years while being a foster mom, I decided to move to Oakland. I look forward to obtaining my B.A. in Early Childhood Education in the very near future. In my spare time I love to bake, swim, go camping with friends, snow skiing and spending time with family and friends. I look forward to getting to know all of the families and children here at TSDPP and to be a part of this wonderful community.

Yasmin Kudrolli  (she/her)– Shemesh Teacher
Born in India, I came to the United States to attend Graduate School. My passion to learn about being a quality early childhood educator brought me to this country. I have a Masters in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. I taught at The Brooklyn Friends School, a Quaker school in downtown Brooklyn, for 10 years. I am fortunate to have worked there with stellar educators who had a deep understanding about how young children learn through play and how to integrate developmentally appropriate practices into the curriculum. This is my 26th year teaching children and I cannot imagine another career for myself. I believe that in order for children to develop a life-long love for learning, teachers have to make a nurturing connection with each child, learn their needs and figure our strategies to bring out the best in each child. It is an honor to be part of their young lives and help lay the foundation for their success in life. I live in Oakland with my husband. My daughter is presently attending college in Seattle.

Lindsey Loving (she/her) – Gan K’tan Teacher
Shalom! This is my fourth year at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool and I work in the 2’s classroom. I first fell in love with the early childhood field with the birth of my daughter, Cadence. I realized I knew nothing about tiny humans and how to best foster their growth and development, so I began taking courses at my local community college. From there I began working at a Reggio Emilia based preschool in San Francisco and transferred to CSU East Bay to achieve my bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood. Currently, I have been working the field for 5 years. I have worked with a variety of ages from 6 week-olds to 5 year-olds and my true passion is working with toddlers. I have specialized training in the RIE method, project approach, early childhood creative dance, infant toddler intensive, and the Reggio Emelia approach. I have also given presentations about projects done in the classroom and received a certificate of honor from first 5 commission and the city and county of San Francisco, at the annual Festival of Learning.

Cate McCormick (she/her) – Keshet Teacher
My name is Cate McCormick and I am from Berkeley, Ca. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Arizona, taking a gap year to figure out my next steps. In my free time, I enjoy going on hikes around the Bay and trying new recipes. Fun fact about me is that I spent my last 3 summers working as a lifeguard!

Jo Presberg (she/her) – Gan K’tan Teacher
This is my third year teaching at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. I grew up at Temple Sinai starting in Gan K'Tan when I was two years old, so I am extra excited for this school year. I also went to Camp Newman for ten years, and the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) is close to my heart. In my free time I like to juggle, hike, and read.

Sarah Quiat (she/her) – Shemesh Teacher
I grew up here at Temple Sinai, where I attended religious school and Midrasha.  I was also confirmed at Temple Sinai. This is my second year teaching at the Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. This year I will be teaching the 4s with Yasmin and Avigail. I am currently working to complete my Early Childhood Education credits. I am so excited to help your children grow strong relationships and acquire a passion to learn. I am also very excited to see what I can learn from you and your children. Outside of school I enjoy kayaking in Lake Tahoe, seeing live theater, listening to music, and going on hikes with my two dogs named Miriam and Moses. 

Christine Rocha (she/her) – Keshet Teacher
I earned my A.A. in Early Childhood Education from Merritt College while working in the field over the last 20 years. I first joined Temple Sinai in 2011 as the Club Shelanu head teacher, then moved to Keshet in 2016. I am happy to return teaching the threes this year! I live with my husband Isidro, and two sons, Alexis and Antoine, in Oakland. Our family enjoys soccer and camping. In my spare time I also like yoga, swimming and gardening.

Rebekah Sherman (she/her) – Alonim Teacher
I am so excited to be joining the Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool team! I have my B.A. in Psychology and am currently working towards my ECE certificate. I grew up deeply involved in Reform Jewish communities, and I am passionate about Jewish education, especially with young children. I have spent a total of 13 summers (so far) at URJ Camp Newman as both a camper and long-time staff member, working with kids ranging from ages 1-6 years old and grades 3rd-7th, and I also spent a year working with high school students at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, NC. Most recently, I have spent the last year working as an afterschool educator at Edah in Berkeley and am continuing that role part time. I am looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with the Temple Sinai community!

Mon, May 16 2022 15 Iyar 5782