Ross Helford, Principal, Vov & Hey lerer (teacher)

RossRoss 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. This year, Ross is excited to be teaching the Hey class for the first time.


Rebekka Helford, Vice-Principal, Alef/Beys Lerer, 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 (probably on hiatus for the 2020-21 school year), teaching Alef/Beys, 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

Hershl Hartman, Education Director/vegvayzer (leader)

hershl_2Hershl 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.

Music – Sarah Melnick

Sarah Melnick (née Van Sciver) is the Alumni & Family Assistant Director for CalArts, where she is responsible for fundraising, e-communications, event logistics and ticketing, and REDCAT membership and stewardship. Sarah has worked with many arts, culture, community, and education organizations and runs her own music business as a composer, songwriter, arranger, performer, educator, recording engineer, and sound designer. She received her M.F.A. from CalArts, B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and Professional Certificate from Berklee. In her four years with Sholem, Sarah has taught Alef, Giml, and Daled. This year, Sarah will be taking over our music program. Sarah will also be making videos and maintaining our new Sholem YouTube channel.

Giml – Etai Rogers-Fett

Etai Rogers-Fett is an Ashkenazic Jewish Trans person, an artist and arts educator, and an alumni of the Sholem community where he was a student and belfer. Etai nurtures a relationship with Yiddish language and culture through painting, printmaking, performance and translation work and is inspired by contemporary Yiddishist efforts that both honor and reimagine the language’s past connections to class, gender, and Jewish identity. He loves working with young people and figuring out what sparks curiosity and personal investment for each unique student. This year in Giml, Etai is most excited to tie the immigration curriculum to local Los Angeles histories, bring in family narratives, and connect to immigrant justice organizing efforts happening now in students’ communities. Etai currently lives with his partner on Piscataway land in Washington DC and is grateful to be rejoining the Sholem community virtually this year.

Daled – Katharine Collins

Katharine Collins taught nine to 10-year-olds at Sholem between 2008-2011 and is returning after a seven year absence. During that time, she got her teaching credential and taught English for five years: three at Santa Monica High School and two closer to home at Birmingham Community Charter High School working with at-risk students. This year, while remaining at Birmingham, she made the switch to teaching chemistry. In her spare time, Katharine enjoys traveling, especially in Europe, reading, and writing fiction. She is currently in the process of writing a science-fiction novel.