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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 Master’s 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 services as the First Vice-President of the Early Childhood Educators of Refrom 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 spends time with her husband and daughter, getting outside as much as possible 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 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 at the preschool since 2016. 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. 

Carlota Buada (she/her) – Etzim Teacher
I have been in Early Childhood Education since 2014. I have been working with the 3’s in Etzim at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool since 2018. 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 I have been here at Temple Sinai David Pregerson Preschool since 2015. 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!

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.

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.

Sun, August 14 2022 17 Av 5782