Ross Helford, Principal, Vov lerer (teacher)
Ross Helford is a writer and teacher with over a decade working in the entertainment industry as a screenwriter. He holds an MFA in creative writing, as well as a Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. As an educator, in any given week, Ross works with students of all ages, from four to adult. In addition to having taught Sholem’s Vov class (9th & 10th grades) since 2006, Ross teaches and tutors across multiple subject areas including karate, music, Spanish, creative and essay writing, literature, and film studies. Ross is also a graduate of Sholem’s Secular Yeshiva, a bar/bas mitsve mentor, and is a certified vegvayzer.
Hershl Hartman, Education Director/vegvayzer (leader)
Hershl has been Sholem’s education director since 1967. Between 1967 and 1985, he was also the school’s principal. He is a certified Secular Jewish vegvayzer who often officiates at weddings and other life-cycle events. Hershl holds degrees in Secular Jewish education and in Yiddish journalism, which he practiced as the first native-born Yiddish newspaper reporter.
A professional Yiddish/English translator and interpreter, he also serves on the Executive Board of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations (Sholem is an affiliate) and the District Committee of the SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle, with which Sholem actively collaborates. In addition, Hershl directs the Secular Yeshiva, intensive classes in higher Jewish learning for those willing to make the commitment, as well as for those interested in certification as vegvayzer/madrikhot(im)/leaders.
Rebekka Helford, Vice-Principal, Bagels ‘n Blox Coordinator, Klezmer Band Leader
When Rebekka isn’t busy running Sholem’s parent/toddler program, Bagels ’n Blox, co-leading the Sholem School Klezmer Ensemble, or performing her duties as vice principal at Sholem, she is conducting psychotherapy in her private practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or leading parent/toddler groups for Well Baby Center and the Cassidy Preschool. She loves making music with children and taught Music Together classes for three years in Santa Monica. Rebekka also teaches for Pepperdine University and Gerry Grossman Seminars, is a longtime practitioner of Kundalini yoga, and is a graduate of Sholem’s secular yeshiva and certified vegvayzer. A member of the Sholem faculty for over 10 years, Rebekka was drawn to Sholem because of her love for Yiddishkayt and passion for preserving Jewish cultural heritage in a personally meaningful and relevant way. She loves welcoming newcomers to the Sholem family, and enjoys introducing people to this unique community. Check out her musings on parenting and humanity at http://livingincaptivity.blog
Alina Lieber, Alef lerer
Alina is a Sholem graduate and has also gone through the Bas Mitzvah program. Previously, she taught Giml at Sholem and has come back consistently as a substitute. She has a degree in Mathematics from Occidental College and works as a high school math teacher and tutor. A life long singer and performer, you will always see her jumping up to join the music lerer in performing songs and at the Kol Nidre Observance in the chorus. Her love of music, arts, and education has fueled her drive to work with students of all ages. Alina is beyond excited to be coming back to Sholem as the Alef lerer and can’t wait to meet you all!
Lori Schnapp, Beys lerer
Lori writes, “I am delighted to be part of the Sholem community as the Beys lerer. The Sholem secular perspective parallels my personal philosophy and upbringing under the direct mentorship of the renowned Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of the Humanistic Judaism and The Birmingham Temple, Farmington, Michigan. I actively embrace and share my humanism with my three children and friends from all walks of life. I studied Economics at the University of Michigan and at received my Multiple Subject Bilingual Credential and M Ed at UCLA. I believe in learning by doing and in motivating through positive reinforcement. I am drawn to Sholem because of its strong connection to family, the community, and a meaningful perspective of how we connect to all others in this beautiful world. In my spare time, I immerse myself in nature, experiencing the exhilaration and tranquility of life. Life is good.”
Socket Klatzker, Giml lerer
Socket Klatzker is passionate about Jewish-ness, Social Justice, music, healing and learning. Socket is a teacher, trauma therapist, workshop facilitator, speaker, community organizer, ritual leader, and writer. When she is not busy with those things, she is a singer in a punk band. She grew up in L.A., left for 22 years, received a BA in Child Development from Hampshire College, in Amherst, MA, and a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Saint Martin’s University, in Lacey, WA, returning almost two years ago to be closer to her family.
Sarah Van Sciver, Daled lerer
Sarah is an educator, performer, arranger, and composer – writing for film and theatre and as a singer-songwriter. She is also an avid engineer, conductor, musical director, orchestrator, sound designer, chorister, and video editor. As a music instructor, her specialties are voice, piano, harp, choir, musical theatre, songwriting, arranging, and composition. A recent graduate of the Performer-Composer MFA program at the California Institute of the Arts, Sarah has been teaching pre-K through collegiate level music and theatre for over a decade. www.sarahvansciver.com
Claire Bergen, Hey lerer, Lead lerer, Curriculum Specialist
After six years of working with some of Sholem’s youngest students, since 2016 Claire has taught Sholem’s Hey class, while acting as lead lerer and continuing to research and develop Sholem’s curriculum. Claire holds an M.A in Teaching as well as a California Multiple Subject Teaching credential from USC, and spent a decade as a teaching artist in music and movement with organizations including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA), P.S. ARTS, and the Los Angeles Music and Art School. A third-generation klezmer musician, Claire has worked for the local cultural organization Yiddishkayt and has traveled to New York, Montreal, and Poland to study klezmer music and Yiddish culture. As a vegvayzer and graduate of Sholem’s Secular Yeshiva, Claire mentors bas mitsve/bar mistve students and is trained to lead secular Jewish celebrations and life-cycle events.
Wenni Yin, Intern & Special Projects
Linda Fisher, Music Coordinator
Linda has been a dedicated Sholemite from the third grade on, as a student and graduate of the Sunday school, then, returning as a Sholem parent, active on many committees. For the last couple of decades, she has also been Sholem’s music coordinator. In addition to her involvement with Sholem, she has worked as a singer (classically-trained, performing in a variety of genres), as a music educator and children’s performer, with regular and specialized programming at local independent children’s bookstores, schools, colleges and other venues, that include musical storytelling, classes and specialized workshops, along with music-in-the-classroom training workshops for pre-school teachers, and guest artist performances and workshops at literacy programs in schools around the Los Angeles area. She is a former music director, teacher and board member for WILPF Peace Camp, a project of Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom. For the last several years she has been a technique teacher at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, specializing in Elizabethan Song, and over the years has performed in a number of plays and musicals locally, including readings of new original musicals.
Ruthy Seid, Music lerer
Ruthy Seid is a third generation Jewish secularist as well as a Valley Kindershul and Mitlshul graduate. She has taught music at Sholem since 2000. Her day job is as a librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library.
Marshall Shackelford, Principal’s Assistant
Marshall Shackelford is a Sholem graduate who worked as a belfer for three years, before returning as the principal’s assistant. Marshall will be everywhere he’s needed this year, helping with site management and belfer oversight, as well as leading projects in the classroom. He loves music and has a Certificate in General Music Studies from Berklee College of Music Online. In his free time he enjoys playing basketball and skateboarding. As a long time student and staff member of Sholem, Marshall loves coming to work every Sunday to share his idea of Jewishness with an accepting, loving community of progressive-minded people.