Faculty Bios


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Scott Newman
Director of Youth and Family Education

Scott joined the Beth El team in July of 2015, a year following his family’s relocation to the greater Boston area from Stamford, CT.  Having grown up in a small but impactful Jewish setting in Monroe, NY, Scott’s life experience has prepared him well for his current position.

Scott discovered his Jewish professional path after graduating from SUNY Albany with a BA in Communication and a double-minor in Business and Hebrew Language.  Initially, he went out into the advertising world, but quickly found that his work was not fulfilling in the way he imagined.  Upon reflection, he discovered that Judaism was a meaningful and common theme in his history that offered him guidance, community, and support.  He became determined to convey Judaism to others in this way.

Scott’s college experience included a year abroad in Israel on the Hebrew Union College “College and Kibbutz” program which more deeply ignited his love for Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) and Am Yisrael (the Jewish people).  Scott founded ‘RUACH!’, a Reform Chavurah (group) on campus that still exists to date.  Subsequent similar successes in building two youth programs motivated him to continue what he considers to be the holy work of fostering Jewish community and continuity through a ‘Jewish Journey’ lens.

Scott says, “Journeys are not necessarily physical movements, although they can be.  They are experiences which include memorable moments that affect us deeply and continue to resonate with us.”  A favorite quote of his comes from Martin Buber:  “All Journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”   Scott feels that good Jewish teachers  extrapolate learning from both the intended  and unintended parts of a journey.  He is very proud of his faculty and encourages them to use their many varied gifts and authentic teaching styles.

Scott loves playing  utilizing Jewish music and his guitar as a teaching tool for families and children alike.  He is also an avid technophile, and cannot get enough gadgets and techie toys.  (His wife disagrees!)

Scott presently lives in Natick with his wife Andrea, son Gabriel (7) , and daughter Eliyana (6).  They have a cat named Simba, and the children are enrolled in the BE InSpirEd Education Program here at Beth El.

Scott’s door and phone line are always open.  You can email him at snewman@bethelsudbury.org .

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Rachel Kornreich

WASTY Advisor
11th High School Elective Teacher

Bio coming soon.


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Hillary Landau
Pre-K Lead Teacher

 Hillary Landau has been a teacher and member of Beth El for over 3 decades with a proven track record of being an excellent early childhood educator.  Hillary has recently been co-leading J-Start Tot Shabbats once per month and is thrilled to be piloting the newest Pre-K class.   Hillary’s daughters Elena and Jana grew up at Beth El and Elena is now an active member of the Youth and Family Education Committee. Hillary’s granddaughter is currently enrolledin the Be InSpirEd program!

 joan makepeaceJoan Makepeace
Special Education, 2nd Grade Family Hebrew

This is Joan’s 10th year as a teacher at Beth El. She is a teaching member of the Sudbury Valley Jewish Special Education Initiative, teaching at several area temples and working with both typically developing students as well as students with learning disabilities and a wide variety of special needs. In addition, she has the pleasure of tutoring b’nei mitzvah students (of all ages and abilities!). In addition to her work as a Hebrew Reading Specialist, Joan is the Hebrew teacher for Beth El’s 2nd grade students and their parents.  “When not jumping out of airplanes (see pic), Joan enjoys writing music for Beth El’s Shabbat Rinah musical services.”

dummy place holderRoberta Unger
Kindergarten Hebrew, Holidays and Judaica Teacher

  Morah Roberta has a love of education and young children. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and spent her Junior Year in Israel. Roberta is a lifelong Hebrew learner who loves transmitting her love of Hebrew and her pride in being Jewish to her young students. Roberta has been teaching elementary school age students, many with needs for specialized learning and behavioral support, for more than 15 years. She is a critical thinker with a keen interest in facilitating our youngest families’ experience at Beth El. She is the loving mother of Rena, who, having grown up at Beth El, is newly away at college. Roberta is eager for young students and their families to have the rich experience that she had as a student in the Beth El education program.

dummy place holderGretchen Marks Brandt
3-6th Grade “Stories of The Torah” Teacher

A fifth generation Californian and graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Gretchen Marks Brandt lived, learned and taught in Israel for several years prior to doing graduate work in Social Psychology with a focus on Jewish identity at Boston University. For decades, a Jewish educator in the Greater Boston area, she has held leadership and teaching positions at the New Jewish Academy (formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School of Worcester), Striar Hebrew Academy and the MetroWest Jewish Day School. Most recently, she has been spotted teaching at Temple Israel of Natick, Congregation Or Atid (where she is the TELEM coordinator/educator) and at the Chabad Center of Natick (where she is the Family Enrichment coordinator). On Wednesday mornings, she can be found with her Hebrew hevruta discussing Hebrew fiction and poetry. She is the proud mother of Emma, Jacob and Aaron Brandt and Ilana and Adam Bernstein, and Aviya’s savta. A life-long learner, she shares Rabbi Hanina’s reflection: I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues and the most from my students. (Ta’anit 7a) Gretchen resides in Natick at what is lovingly called ‘The Brandt Bed and Breakfast’ with her husband, Stewart and her cat, Bucky.

dummy place holderDebbie Percher
3rd-6th Grade
 Hebrew / Tefila Teacher

Debbie Percher has joined our faculty this year as our 3-6th grade Hebrew teacher on Sundays and Thursdays.  Deborah is an exceptional educator who exhibits Jewish values in all she does.  She is kind and genuinely cares about her students’ lives and success.  Deborah holds a Masters Degree in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and has taught at several area congregations in different roles.

rabbi with shofar program 1 (2)Rabbi Charni Flame Selch
7/8th Grade Eilu D’varim
10th Grade Comparative Religion
Documentaries & Discussion Elective (HS)

A rabbi who believes that Judaism is meant to be engaging, personal and do-able. An award winning educator, she combines her experiences and depth of knowledge with the traditions of Jewish life and learning. She spent two Summers at Camp Tel Noar, served in the IDF, has taught all over the world, and loves interacting with amazing students of all ages who teach her as much as she tries to teach them about how to live a Jewish life in the twenty first century

Jaime Brody Jaime Brody
3rd-6th Grade Torah /

Jaime Brody is a highly experienced educator in both classroom and experiential settings.  She uses her background in museum education to build a creative, experiential teaching and learning environment. Jaime is currently working as the Student – Teacher Coordinator at OnlineJewishLearning.com where she is exploring the intersection of technology and Jewish education. She is currently on maternity leave from MetroWest Jewish Day School in Framingham where she has been a Middle School Lead Teacher and the Community Educator for the past 6 years.  Jaime was most recently the Youth Educator at Temple Beth Am in Framingham, the Education Director at the Old South Meeting House Museum in Boston and the Assistant Director of the Holocaust Resource Center & Archives in Queens, NY. Jaime received her Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Buffalo in English & Classics and her Master of Science Degree in Education, specializing in Creative Teaching and Learning, at the College of New Rochelle. She won the Creative Teaching Award from by the Rockland Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education in 2004. Jaime lives in Wellesley, MA with her wife Meghan and their two young children Emmie and Ellis.

wendy gonsenhauserWendy Gonsenhauser
Jewish Culture and Cuisine Elective:  (HS)

Wendy has been a Jewish educator for 30+ years, teaching in schools in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.  She has experience in teaching core classroom subjects like history, bible, T’filah, Tikkun Olam, Halacha and Hebrew, as well as, art, cooking, ethics, and social justice.  She currently teaches classes and coordinates T’filah at Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Westboro, as well.

Wendy’s Beth El roots began over 20 years ago when her children, Rachel and Sarah were preschoolers.   After that, it was becoming an early childhood teacher at Beth El, then teaching in the religious school, and later, high school.  Wendy and her family were Beth El members way back, and have always felt so lucky to be a part of this special community.

Wendy and her husband, Alan, and their daughters, Rachel and Sarah live in Northborough.  She enjoys art, music, movies, yoga, and spending time with her two dachshunds.  They are also trying to spend more time traveling with their daughters through the college and post college years.

Rabbi Rabbi David Thomas

Our Rabbi, 12th Grade ‘Siyyum’ Facilitator

Click here for Rabbi Thomas’ Bio




lorel3_022510Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler
9th Grade Core: “Underpinnings of Judaism and Israel”, Our Cantor

Click here for Lorel’s Bio






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The opportunities for adult study are exceptional. I had a wonderful opportunity to study Torah for my adult Bat Mitzvah. Now my daughters are experiencing their own Bat Mitzvah and I am fully able to appreciate their journey.
— Maxine H