TAS Religious School / TAS High Staff

Rabbi Barry Lutz (Senior Rabbi) Since joining TAS in 1984 as Director of Education, Rabbi Barry Lutz has been the architect of our successful and respected educational program. Our nationally recognized Confirmation program, community trips to Israel and 11th grade social justice experience in Washington D.C. are among his proudest accomplishments. Rabbi Lutz served as assistant chair of the 1992 Conference for Alternatives in Jewish Education; as a member of the executive board of the National Association of Temple Educators, and as co-chair of the Bureau of Jewish Education’s Principals’ Council. He is a clinical faculty member for the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at the Hebrew Union College. Rabbi Lutz was ordained  at H.U.C. in 1999. He holds an M.A. in Jewish Education from H.U.C. and a M.S. in Educational Psychology from U.S.C. Rabbi Lutz is joined in his enthusiasm and dedication to this community by his wife Debbie and children Adam, Jeremy and Emily.

Barb Gelb (Director of Lifelong Learning) Barb Gelb is excited to return to Southern California and join the TAS family after a decade in Memphis, Tennessee where she served as Director of Education for Temple Israel, the largest Reform synagogue in the South.  Some of her favorite projects there included developing a vibrant post B’nai Mitzvah culture, creating a comprehensive adult learning program, and integrating theater, music and visual arts into all aspects of education.  Barb was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and spent her high school years in Laramie, Wyoming.  She received her BA in Psychology from UCLA, her MSW from USC, and her MA in Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Barb is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and spent many years working and teaching in the Los Angeles Jewish community.  She is motivated by a deep love for Judaism, the Jewish people, education and creative problem solving.  She likes to help families and students of all ages find and develop a love for Judaism, and looks forward to getting to know every member of TAS. Barb is a happy mother of three teenagers, Zoe, Elijah and Jacob, and enjoys ice-skating, theatre, traveling and sushi.

Reesa Shaw (School Administrative Assistant) After teaching at Ahavat Shalom for over ten years, Reesa also began working in the temple school office as the Religious School Administrative Assistant in 2008. Her administrative background includes an 18 career in the temporary personnel services industry where she managed numerous temp services over the years. She also has an extensive sales and social work background, as well.


Fanny Arana (10th Grade)

Lisa Bassett (Dalet) has been teaching Dalet at Temple Ahavat Shalom since 2007 after a long absence. While she attended preschool at the temple, much of her jewish experiences were through Temple Ramat Zion. Here she attended USY, hebrew school and taught in both the preschool and Hebrew school. After hebrew school was completed, Lisa stayed involved with the Bureau of Jewish education by attending Dor Hadash, Havorat Noar and Hallutz. These programs had such a tremendous impact on her that she taught Dor Hadash at Temple Ahavat Shalom until the program was cancelled. Besides teaching Dalet, Lisa is an inside account manager for Nexus IS. She is also happy and proud wife to Greg and mother to Josh.Esther Brombart (2nd Grade) has been teaching at Temple Ahavat Shalom’s ECEC for almost 20 years. She is a graduate from the University of Washington and lived in Israel for two years. Esther is a mother of three fantastic children and a grandma of four fabulous grandchildren. The main point is….she lovee kids and is honored to be able to teach your children!

Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik (Confirmation)

Efrat Doitch (Resource Tutor) is the supervisor of the Resource Room at T.A.S. and has been either a student or a staff member (on and off) since she was five years old! Her daughter, Maya, is in the Pre-K at the Temple and loves it. She also has a son, Ethan, who just turned one who will soon be attending the mommy and me class. Efrat is a school counselor, but has been a stay-at-home mom since her daughter was born four years ago she is now enjoying her job in the Resource Room. She enjoys reading, going to the beach, hiking, skiing, movies and traveling (but hasen’t done much of that since kids).

Irit Drori (Resource Tutor) earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from California State University at Northridge. For the past two years at Temple Ahavat Shalom, she has assisted students of various grades with their Hebrew skills, pronunciation, and grammar, as well as teaching a class on Holocaust studies. She has also helped work with students on prayers and the Jewish Life Cycle.

Marilyn Kessler (First Grade) has been happily teaching first grade at TAS since 2000. She focuses on Bible stories and how to make learning fun by doing various art projects, engaging in discussions, and acting out the stories in order to reinforce the lesson of the day. She has also been teaching for LAUSD since 1990 where she taught first grade for nine years and now is currently teaching a language development program at the pre-kindergarten level. Marilyn truly loves children and working at TAS!

Jacqueline (Jackie) Kovar (Aleph, Dalet) was born in Santiago, Chile. After spending a study year in Israel, she returned and began a 12 year term at Temple Solael in West Hills, where she taught a variety of age group from Kindergarten through 8th grades. She was also the curriculum coordinator. Jackie has been teaching at TAS since 1992. She teaches both 4th grade (Aleph) and 7th grade (Dalet) Holocaust studies. She is the coordinator of the Holocaust program. In her time off, Jackie enjoys reading, swimming, going to the beach and traveling.

Fanny Koyman (Bet)

Joan Krimston (Religious School Dance)

Michael Loewenstein (Bet) was born and raised in Israel, where he graduated from the agricultural school Ayanot. He served in the Israeli Defense forces from 1965 to 1968 and in 1967 took part in The Six Day war. He came to the United States in 1968 where he studied economics and marketing at UCLA. He began teaching Religious School at Temple Beth Hillel where he taught until 2002. In1973 he led the LA Ulpan program to Israel with Rabbi Julian White. He married in 1975 and has two daughters who both attended Kadima Hebrew Academy. Michael was also on the Executive Board of Kadima Hebrew Academy for 5 years and was the Vice President of Education for 4 years. Michael was honored by the Bureau of Jewish Education with the “Lainer Distinguished Educator Award” in 2001. He lives with his wife Sherry in Chatsworth.