marleneMarlene Beraha is a native of Cincinnati and holds a Bachelors Degree in Education and a MAED in Administration and Supervision from the University of Cincinnati. Marlene began her teaching career as a TA for Mrs. Bernstein when she was in High School. She taught for the Cincinnati Public Schools at Hoffman and Schiel Schools and was a Demonstration Teacher for U.C.’s Education Department. Marlene taught kindergarten in our Religious School for years and taught at the Adath Israel Pre-School for years as well.  She has also volunteered and worked in the school office for more than forty years.                             


Sydney is from St. Louis, MO.  She recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Religious Studies and a certificate in Jewish Studies. Her years at Herzl Camp in Wisconsin, attending USY events, and studying abroad in Jerusalem, have steered her towards a career in the Jewish sector.




Phylicia was born in Baltimore and moved to South Florida in 2000 where her love for Kadima and USY began! Growing up in conservative synagogues, Phylicia loved learning the ins and outs of temple life which lead to her eventually becoming USY chapter Membership-Kadima Vice President, President, and Regional General Ruach Chair in her home region of Hanegev. She received her B.A. in English from Florida Atlantic University in 2013, but her passion for USY continued as she became the youth director at Temple Beth Am in Margate, Florida during her senior year. In 2016, she made the brief move to Pittsburgh to complete an 11-month service year as an education justice fellow for the Jewish non-profit Repair the World. Phylicia is thrilled to move to Cincinnati this summer and get back into the world of USY and conservative Judaism!”


tobyToby Samet, a Cincinnatian by birth, graduated from Hughes High School and the University of Cincinnati College of Education (with high honors). She has taught at Adath Israel since 1966, while also teaching kindergarten at Yavneh Day School (Rockwern), preschool at the Jewish Community Center, and was Director-Teacher at Adath Israel Preschool. Her family includes son Mike, grandson Danny and daughter Michelle & husband Sam, ( both of blessed memory).  Hobbies are gardening, animal conservation (volunteered at the Zoo for 25 years), classical music, and mah jongg. The Resource Room is where you can find her, supporting the needs of Religious School children.

chanaChana Wolfson has enjoyed teaching Hebrew school classes ever since she participated in Mrs. Kogan’s Teaching Assistant Program during  junior high. She has taught Hebrew and Judaic Studies to grades three through eight and was a teaching assistant for students as young as pre- kindergarten. She began her Judaic Studies at Yavneh Day School (now Rockwern Academy). She graduated from their 8th grade and continued her studies through four years of Mercaz. She has completed college courses in advanced Hebrew, modern Hebrew poetry, history of the Hebrew language, and Hebrew Bible. Chana graduated from the University of Cincinnati. She is very excited about  teaching at Adath Israel and looks forward to sharing her creativity, enthusiasm, and knowledge with her students. 



mitchMitch Cohen has been teaching music at the Jarson Education Center for several years. He is Adath Israel’s High Holy Day Choir Director and enjoys composing original music. He started in the choir as a congregant when he was 16 and became Director in 1991. Mitch also directs Adath Israel’s Friday Night Live band, Shir Ami, and other synagogue music programs. He also enjoys teaching at the Mercaz Hebrew High School. Mitch is a graduate of Walnut Hills High School, and earned a BA with high honors in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati, where he received the Claire E. Hubert Award. He runs an Internet dot com company he started with his wife Sherry. Mitch is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah teacher for Adath Israel  & regularly davens, and chants Torah and Haftorah. He is married to Sherry and has three children, Jeff & Emily, and Ben all Jarson Education Center graduates.



sherrySherry Cohen grew up in Amberley Village Ohio. She earned her Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education at U.C. She taught preschool, daycare, and finally Kindergarten where she received the Martha Holden Jennings teaching award for excellence. Sherry left teaching to raise her own 3 kids, but also runs an internet company with her husband Mitch Cohen. Now that Sherry’s kids are grown, she returned to teaching at Adath Israel. Sherry received the Walter Hattenbach teacher of the year award her first year back in the classroom. Her interests are walking, watching HGTV, playing Candy Crush, visiting Disney World and her Corgi.

Vicki Spector is a native of Cincinnati.  She graduated from Anderson High School and then received a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Kentucky University in Elementary Education.  Also, she has a Master’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati in Special  Education.  She taught grades kindergarten- second grade for 8 years in Ohio, Kentucky and South Africa. Currently, Vicki works as a Literacy Support Specialist for Kindergarten- 3rd grade at Sands Montessori. Her loves of her life are her husband, Kevin and her three children, Ben, Sean and Katie. She enjoys doing Zumba and hiking in the woods with her family and their dog, Cali.



debbieDebbie Lempert grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  She earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and Masters in Literacy from the University of Cincinnati. Debbie taught first and second grade over 8 years at the Wyoming City Schools in Wyoming, Ohio. She left Wyoming to teach two very special students, Zachary and Hannah Lempert. Currently Debbie teaches Kindergarten at Adath Israel Religious School. Among her many interests, Debbie spends a lot of time volunteering at Adath Israel and is currently serving as the synagogue president.  She also is learning to play the guitar.  In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and enjoys cooking, making scrapbooks and playing games.



deenaDeena Abernathy was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. She graduated with a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of South Florida. She moved from Lexington, Virginia with her husband Brett Schwartz and their daughter Gracie, and has since had daughter Sadie and son Oliver.  She worked as an Ophthalmic Technician as well as a substitute teacher. Deena enjoys being a part of the Adath Israel community and teaching 1st grade. 




Allison Lester is a Midwestern-Western hybrid from Long Beach, California and Bloomington, Indiana. She has an M.A. in Educational Studies with a concentration in teacher action research and curriculum design, and is pursuing her PhD in educational and community-based action research.  She has taught in a variety of educational settings, including teacher education at University of Cincinnati, special education in North Carolina, Reggio Emilia early childhood education in Ohio, and in Israel. Allison is the Curriculum and Evaluation Specialist for Breakthrough Cincinnati, a 6th-9th grade academic enrichment program. Allison is excited to be teaching 2nd grade.



Zahava Rendler earned a teaching degree from the Pedagogical Institute in Israel and a teaching certificate of Jewish Study from Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  In Israel Zahava taught Hebrew as a second language to immigrants.  Zahava has taught for over 30 years in different capacities in Cincinnati, including at Yavneh day school, Cincinnati Community Hebrew schools, and Adult Education. Zahava has also served as a Yavneh Ambassador at large over the years.  She started the Hebrew enrichment program at Yavneh.  As a Holocaust survivor she is active in the Holocaust and Humanity center. Currently, Zahava teaches at Adath Israel’s Hebrew school.  In her spare time she likes to read, knit and cook. Zahava will be teaching 3rd grade. Zahava also holds her teaching license through the state of Ohio.



  Zak Lempert is a Judaic Studies major at the University of Cincinnati entering his second year. After 8 years of attending Religious School at Adath Israel and 5 years of serving as a teaching assistant, Zak is very excited to join the teaching staff. Apart from his time teaching fourth grade, he teaches high school students at Mercaz, the Conservative Hebrew high school. During the year Zak can be found helping with risk management and inclusion for AEPi, the Jewish Fraternity at the University of Cincinnati. When he’s not in school, Zak teaches theater at local summer camps, and enjoys spending time with his friends and family. 



 Michael Evers is excited to join the Adath Israel teaching staff this year. A fourth year teacher he is excited to continue working with students in the Cincinnati area after previously teaching at Temple Sholom and Kulanu. A graduate of Sycamore High School he departed town for DePaul University in Chicago earning a B.A. in Political Science, specializing in Political Theory. Michael spent time in Israel and Detroit, MI. learning from various teachers along the way. He most recently studied at (Mechon) Hadar in New York City during the summer of 2015. On weekdays he works as the Director of Cincy Internships with Hillel, helping college students secure internships and mentoring. His free time is spent with friends, reading and/or catching up on Game of Thrones.



 Fulfilling a middle school dream, Chelsea Simon moved to Cincinnati from New York in 2015 to pursue a Ph.D. in Second Temple Jewish History at HUC-JIR after several years spent in the finance and investment sector. Her interfaith background and family provided her unique perspective and range of knowledge in religion and spirituality. Last year, Chelsea taught Comparative Religions at Kulanu. At HUC and UC, you can find her studying, archiving as a Research Associate at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center, or working on a Nabatean and Nelson Glueck exhibit for the Cincinnati Art Museum (UC/HUC). Her hobbies include playing clarinet and saxophone, genealogy, visiting museums and historic houses and cooking.




 Rand Burke  attended Arizona State University, majored in Jewish studies and was active in the Hillel there.  He grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and was a member of Congregation Beth Israel and served as the membership and communications VP for his youth group.  He also served as a Madrich, teaching assistant at the religious school there.  Rand is currently a second year Rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College. He will be co-teaching the 6th grade and is looking forward to getting to know the students and parents at Adath Israel.   Also he is training to be a Navy Chaplain and has been participating in training this summer. 


Leslee Lisnek is a fifth-year student at HUC. Raised in a Reform Jewish household in Charlotte, NC, she grew up in a Jewish community that highly valued collaboration between Jewish denominations. Leslee continues to value collaboration across boundaries, as in the last year she worked to strengthen interfaith connections in Cincinnati, and for the past two years served Reform and traditional Jews as the student rabbi for United Hebrew Congregation in Joplin, MO. Leslee looks forward to working at Adath Israel this year as a Fellow and learning from the talented leadership at this synagogue.




Brett Schwartz, orginally from Philadelphia, earned M.S. in Organizational Development and Leadership and has been working in Jewish communal settings for the last seven years. Brett started off his career at Adath Israel as the Youth and Family Programming Director and is excited to be back with this wonderful community with his wife, two daughters and son. Brett will continue teaching 7th grade.





Gail Jacobs has been a life long member of Adath Israel Congregation. She became a bat mitzvah here and attended Adath Israel Religious School. She was also a teaching assistant when she was in high school. She was active in Kadima and USY and attended Camp Livingston and Camp Ramah. She also traveled to Israel. She studied Elementary Education/Early Childhood Development at the University of Cincinnati. Gail is returning for her 13th year teaching at Adath Israel. She is the mother of five, all Adath Israel and Mercaz graduates. She lives in Wyoming with her pit bull Moses and her chihuahua Skitch. Gail will be lending her expertise in the classrooms this year.




barbaraBarbara Morrison-Bresler grew up in Dallas, Texas and holds a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Texas and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia. She was a  librarian at the University of Nebraska, the Archivist/Director for the Nebraska Jewish Historical  Society, and a consultant archivist with the Jewish Women’s Archive in Boston. Since moving to Cincinnati, Barbara has served as the Librarian at  Adath Israel.  Barbara is married to Scott Bresler and is mom of Lenny, Elka and Micah.




Dara Wood holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Cincinnati and a Montessori certificate. She spent time substitute teaching with Lakota schools and then served as head teacher at a local Montessori pre-school for 4 years. Dara served six years as the Director of Mercaz Conservative Hebrew High School. She has been an active volunteer at Adath Israel and served as an officer for many years. She had previously served as the chair of the religious school board, the membership committee and religious services committee.  She is married to Rob and has two grown children, Brittany and Becca, both Adath Israel Religious School and Mercaz graduates




  • Sherri Symson – Chair
  • Erin Allen
  • Chrissie Blatt
  • Amber Feldman
  • Emily Hunt
  • Deb Leonard  
  • Jonathan Pressman
  • Julie Jacobson Ruby
  • Lisa Zelvy