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Our Staff 2020-21

Ellen Lefkowitz (she/her) – Early Childhood Director
Ellen holds a Joint Master’s degree in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College. Since receiving her Masters degree, family and early childhood education have been the focus of her work. From 2003-2008, she was an educator at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, CA. There she ran a weekly family education program and Hebrew school. From 2008-2010, she served as the Assistant Director at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center preschool and completed her coursework in early childhood education. She has been in her current position as the Early Childhood Director of Temple Sinai in Oakland since 2010. And currently serves as the First Vice-President of the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ). Her passion for Jewish early childhood education is based on the belief that the core mission of this work is to support children in their growth through play, foster a positive Jewish identity and to inspire families to embark on Jewish journeys. When not at work, she is spending time with her husband and daughter and getting outside as much as possible whether it is walking, 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 masters in Jewish early childhood education program. She has been in the field of ECE since 2004 where I 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

Ruthie Alpert  — Kochavim Teacher
Hello! My name is Ruthie and I am excited to be joining Temple Sinai Preschool this year! I discovered my passion for working with kids at my first job as a camp counselor and have spent the past ten years working with children. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in History at UC Santa Cruz.I am especially looking forward to being a part of the Jewish community here in Oakland and creating new bonds with the students. In my free time I love hanging out with my dog Bean, reading, doing art projects, and watching sci-fi.

Avigail Ben-Gigi (she/her) – Gefen Teacher
My name is Avigail and I am one of the teachers in our 4s program. 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 sixth 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 fifth year working with the 3s in Etzim at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Mills College and am currently working on my Masters in Jewish Early Childhood Education at American Jewish University. 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.

Jack Clerkin – Support Teacher
My name is Jack I live in Berkeley and regularly frequent Oakland, in my free time I enjoy drawing and playing music. I am taking a break from studies so that I could work and hopefully travel for a bit! A fun fact about me is that I can skateboard (badly though). I like to read and take walks around sunny California; I am really excited about working at Temple Sinai and can’t wait to meet you!

Rachel Elefant (she/her) – Gefen 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 Kochavim 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) – Gan K’tan 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 ninth 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.

Forrest Fleagle (she/they) – Kochavim Teacher
I'm excited to begin my second school year at Temple Sinai preschool. I have a BA in Gender Studies and I have studied Early Childhood Education at Merritt College and Montessori Teacher Education Center. I've also worked as a nanny and after-school science teacher for elementary students, and I began my first preschool teaching job in 2019. I love teaching children about social-emotional skills, science, art, and social justice, and in my free time I like to spend time with my friends, family, and my cat. I also like to spend time outdoors in nature and gardening. 

Keith Gaboury (he/him) – Etzim 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.

Sarah Garrett (she/they) – Gefen Teacher
I have been working with children since my early teens in a camp setting. This will be my 3rd year in early childhood education. I am excited to meet all the new faces in this community as we grow together.

Stacey Kimbley (she/her) – Keshet 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. In my spare time I love to bake, swim, go camping with friends, snow skiing and spending time with family and friends.

Alexis Lovelace – Kochavim Teacher
My name is Alexis Lovelace, and I am proud to be instructing your children. In 2020, I decided to pursue a degree in E.C.E at Diablo Valley College (D.V.C.). I have been teaching ever since. I continue to pursue an education to provide my students with the best experiences possible. Personally, teachers can best support their students when they combine academic resources with personal experiences with young children. The majority of my life has been spent nurturing young children’s development. Babysitting, tutoring, and counseling are all responsibilities I have previously fulfilled before choosing an Early Childhood Education (E.C.E.) major. Partaking in these past experiences has encouraged flexibility and accountability when interacting with children and their family support system.

Lindsey Loving (she/her) – Gan K’tan Teacher
Shalom! This is my fifth 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.

Sarah Quiat (she/her) – Keshet 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 fourth year teaching at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool. This year I will be teaching the 4s with Yasmin and Prunella. I just recently completed my core Early Childhood Education units to be a fully qualified teacher. 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 her 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.

Deborah Rose – Gan K’tan Teacher
My name is Deborah Rose. I have been working in Early Childhood Education since 2012. I I have worked in many different preschool environments from Gan Israel Preschool in Santa Monica to a play based outdoor nature preschool in Kensington. I also have spent some time working in elementary school prior to discovering my true passion for working with preschool aged children. Joining young children on their journey of exploration and discovery is a daily joy for me to participate in. Nurturing and facilitating friendships, providing loving support and guidance for children to explore the world around them, and building strong relationships with each child and family are some of the things I look forward to this school year.
I am very excited to be joining the Gan K’tan classroom this year.
I enjoy taking long walks, reading, watching movies, and flying kites. I also enjoy spending time with my family and curling up on the couch with my two cats.

Desiree Smith (she/her) – Gefen Teacher
I have been an Early Childhood Teacher since 2017. Teaching is my passion, some of my favorite memories have been fun activities with students and new explorations. It is important to me to create a classroom environment where every child feels happy, respected, and safe. Every year I look forward to getting know each child individually and making connections with families. I love spending time with my family, working out, and seeing new places.

Anthony Rose-Strochlic (he/him) – Etzim Teacher
I am super pumped to be joining the teaching staff at Temple Sinai. This will be my first year and I am super excited. I have been studying Early Childhood Education at Berkeley City College these past few years and am ready to learn more as I start my teaching career at Temple Sinai. I was born in Berkeley but have lived in Oakland my whole life. In my free time, I enjoy doing photography, playing guitar or many other instruments, being with family, cooking, car camping and exploring nature. Whether it’s being a camp counselor, nannying, or babysitting, I have loved every moment of it. Working with young kids is truly a passion of mine and I can’t wait for this journey to begin here at Temple Sinai. I can’t wait to meet everyone and have a great school year!

 

Tue, September 27 2022 2 Tishrei 5783