TAS Religious School / TAS High Staff
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)
Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik (Confirmation)
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.