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.
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
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.
Our lerer (teachers)
Alef – Sarah Van Sciver
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
Beys – Leah Knopf
Giml – Alina Lieber
Alina is a Sholem graduate and has also gone through the Bat Mitzvah Program. She has taught Giml and Alef levels 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.
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.
Hey – Natasha Troop
Natasha Troop is a native Southern Californian, currently living the sweet life with her spouse and two children in the San Fernando Valley. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Comparative Literature and holds master’s degrees in Secondary Education and Creative Writing and—along with a vast accumulation of post-graduate courses including Educational Technology, Graphic Design, Internet Marketing and English Literature—is currently pursuing her doctorate in Organizational Leadership. Natasha firmly believes that if you don’t know how to do something, you should go learn how to do it. She is currently the high school Theatre Arts and Film Studies instructor for Larchmont Charter School. She recently completed the fourth and final novel of her horror series, The Lakebridge Cycle, which will be published in late 2018. Natasha loves gaming, is a passionate designer of things, and, more than anything, loves discovering how to solve problems.
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.
Aubrey Pevsner, Intern
Aubrey is a writer, editor, stage actress, and educator. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she studied creative writing and theater arts. Aubrey has over five years of childcare and tutoring experience and has worked with children of all ages. She believes that Jewish history and culture can provide a rich and personal context though which to understand and engage with the world. She has been a part of several progressive Jewish communities, most recently as a pioneer staff member at Eden Village West, an innovative Jewish farm camp. Aubrey is so thrilled to be joining the Sholem team and looks forward to a year full of learning, celebrations, and tikkun olam.