5th Grade Hebrew (Kitah Gimmel)
9th Grade Confirmation
2020-21 marks Dasha's 10th year at BETC. A Jewish educator for over 25 years, Dasha holds Masters' degrees in both Jewish Education and Jewish Studies. In addition to teaching at BETC, Dasha is the Education Director at Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley in Lowell, a B'nai Mitzvah tutor with Gateways, and is a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Responder. "I love teaching because I believe every student can succeed, and it’s my job to find the right way to teach them," says Dasha. "My strongest connections to Judaism are music and the words of Torah. I'm looking forward to my students’ insights, their joy, and joining the 5th graders at services." A fun fact about Dasha is that she's a huge Star Trek and Star Wars fan and has been indulging in her passion by watching DVDs during the pandemic shutdown.
2nd Grade Sunday
Originally from San Jose, California, this is Rachel's third year as a BETC teacher and her first as both BEFTY advisor and Summer at BETC Coordinator. She received her B.A. from Brandeis University with a double major in Politics and Education Studies and a triple minor in Legal Studies, Social Justice and Social Policy, and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Rachel literally grew up at URJ Camp Newman in California, spending 12 summers as a camper and staff member. She also spent a summer at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in the Machon Kaplan program. This past year, she interned with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. Currently, Rachel is a Commonwealth Corps Employment and Partnership Coordinator at More Than Words in Boston. Rachel is passionate about Jewish education and helping her students find their own Jewish passions. She strives to work for social justice and is excited to show her students how their voices can impact the world. When she's not working, Rachel enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and baking.
12th Grade Post-Confirmation
Leslie-Anne Copes-Finke is no stranger to the BETC community, having served as temple president several times over the past 20 years. However, this is Leslie's first year on the BETC teaching staff and she is thrilled! Leslie is passionate about cultivating Jewish leaders and seekers (of all ages), and creating joyful, strong, safe, productive, meaningful, and spiritual experiences. Over the past several years, Leslie has been studying and practicing Mussar, an ancient Jewish practice of ethics and mindfulness that offers practical guidance for wise living. Leslie looks forward to sharing her passion and joy of Mussar with the 12th graders this year, providing our young adults with an opportunity to explore their inner lives through practices of awareness, self-reflection, and meaningful discussion; she hopes that her students will develop new spiritual and personal tools for living that will give them greater awareness and control over their own responses, embolden their confidence in expressing their personal values, and deepen their connection to Judaism and their own spiritual practice. Leslie has over ten years of experience as a consultant and facilitator in the areas of leadership and team effectiveness within the Jewish community, and another ten years’ working in professional fundraising. Leslie earned her BFA from the UCLA School of Theater and Film. Currently she's writing, developing, and launching Challenges and Choices: A Jewish Teen's Guide to a Balanced Life, an online educational program from the Mussar Institute's Teen Task Force. Leslie has three children, all current or former students at BETC, and lives with her family in Belmont.
6th Grade Hebrew (Kitah Dalet)
Abby's very busy at BETC this year. In addition to starting her 8th year as a teacher and b'nai mitzvah tutor, Abby is currently serving as President of the BETC congregation. She's also been a longtime member of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), where she has in served several positions: Chair of the WRJ program for the 2017 Consultation on Conscience, Vice-president of Advocacy, Marketing & Communications, Program chair for the Centennial Assembly in 2013, and President of WRJ’s Northeast District. Currently she is WRJ Vice-president of Philanthropy. Abby holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. In addition to her work with WRJ, Abby is the immediate past and founding chair of URJ Six Points Sci-tech Academy east, and serves on the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Abby enjoys playing the bassoon, bicycling, and playing golf. She lives with her husband and her dog, and enjoys visits from her two adult children.
5th Grade Hebrew (Kitah Gimmel)
This may be Rachael's fifth year teaching at BETC, but Rachael has been a member of BETC since she was born! She grew up in Cambridge, went to BETC Religious School, became a madricha, and was an active member of BEFTY and NFTY, serving as BEFTY President during her senior year. She was a camper and counselor at Crane Lake Camp for nine summers, spent a semester in Israel as part of NFTY-EIE semester abroad program, and was active with Hillel during college. A graduate of Harvard University, Rachael is a Quantitative Data Analyst at a tech startup in Cambridge and plays rugby for a women's Premier League Team in Boston. "Beth El has been a huge part of my life," says Rachael, "and I am excited to be back teaching this year. The community I found at Beth El during my years in the religious school was so important to me and I am excited to help foster that community with a new set of students. I love watching the students become more confident and stronger readers over the course of the year and then eventually see them become a B'nai Mitzvah."
3rd Grade Sunday
This is Shaina's first year at BETC. Shaina grew up in Chicago and moved to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University, where she studied studied Anthropology, Psychology, and Religious Studies. Growing up, Shaina spent her summers as a camper at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin where she became deeply connected to the Jewish community. She stayed on at Camp Ramah for several more summers as a counselor, educator, and most recently, as the camp photographer. In Chicago, Shaina worked at a religious school running programs and teaching Israeli dance classes. In her free time, Shaina loves to do jigsaw puzzles and is on a mission to find the best donuts in Massachusetts.
6th Grade Sunday
This is Becky's first year teaching at BETC. Originally from Cleveland, Becky's a senior at Brandeis University double majoring in Education and Near Eastern Judaic Studies. "I love finding ways to get students excited about Judaism through games and discussions," she says. "I am excited to learn with my students this year!"
7th Grade Hebrew (Kitah Hey)
This is Lily's first year teaching at BETC. She grew up in Memphis, TN and attended Jewish day school from elementary through high school, worked at Jewish summer camps, and spent a year studying in Israel. Currently she's a senior at Brandeis University double majoring in Education and Judaic Studies. "I believe children have just as much, or more, to teach me as I have to teach them," she says. "I love learning with kids and hearing their wonderful, beautiful, interesting perspectives on Judaism, their lives, their inner worlds, and more." In the classroom, Lily enjoys working on Hebrew words and skills, discussing our connection to Israel, and getting to know one another as a community. Outside the classroom, Lily loves to sing with Manginah, her a cappella group at Brandeis. Manginah, by the way, means "melody" in Hebrew.
4th Grade Hebrew (Kitah Bet)
Jill has been teaching kindergarten and Hebrew at BETC for over 9 years. She graduated from Brandeis University and Suffolk University Law School, and completed further coursework in Jewish education at Hebrew College. She is also a trained Teacher/Naturalist for Mass Audubon and a Mikveh Guide at Mayyin Hayyim. "I love seeing the connections students make with Judaism and other parts of their lives, and sharing what I know (and don't know) with students," says Jill. "Sharing holiday traditions and philosophical discussions is also special. I enjoy teaching the students I knew as kindergarteners once again in 4th grade, and seeing how they've grown in so many ways. The "aha" moments make it worthwhile." In her spare time, Jill enjoys the ocean, reading, baking, and cooking. Gardening and being in nature also make her happy.
1st Grade Sunday
This is Cheryl's third year teaching at BETC. With over 25 years' experience teaching students ranging from young children to adults, teaching is still her passion. "It gives me the opportunity to share my love of Torah and Jewish life," she says. Cheryl's a crafter in the classroom and out. She enjoys doing projects with her students that connect to their studies. One of her favorites is making Shabbat Boxes, a portable box filled with all of the things a family needs to celebrate Shabbat at home. Outside the classroom, Cheryl has taken up a new craft: watercolor painting. She also enjoys gardening. This summer she planted new rose bushes, hydrangeas, sunflowers, lots of annual flowers, as well as herbs, tomatoes, and hot peppers. (And then she spent a lot of time trying to keep chipmunks and rabbits out of her garden!)