Cohort 1 (2012-2014)


Cohort 1 Members have graduated. More than half of this group are now part of the JECELI Alumni Fellowship, meeting regularly through webinars and a spring retreat.

Jill Abbey-Clark

Director of Early Childhood Education

Congregation Beth Israel

Charlottesville, Virginia

“I celebrate the joys of being a part of the lives of Jewish families every day and I am excited to begin my tenure as Director of ECE. I understand the challenges that lie before me and hope the JECELI program will help provide the professional growth and creative support to help me further develop as a successful leader of Jewish early childhood education.”

Karee Bilsky

Director of the Early Childhood Program

Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim

Deerfield, Illinois

“I wanted to be among one of the participants of JECELI because I consider myself on a lifelong journey of leaning and growth. I feel passionate about the field of Jewish Early Childhood and believe that it is my obligation to help teach children who they are and what they stand for based on our Jewish history. Creating meaning and purpose in a Jewish child’s life is a priority, and I believe that being a participant in JECELI will help me learn, grow and develop relationships that will strengthen and grow my early childhood program at BJBE.”

Lauren Blitz


Gan Shalom at Congregation Beth Shalom

Oak Park, Michigan

“Having the opportunity to learn, share and discuss ideas with fellow peers can only help enhance the Jewish education that we would like to bring to our community and in turn give parents another good reason why they should choose a Jewish preschool for their children.”

Alyse Eisenberg


Congregation Anshai Torah Preschool

Plano, Texas

“Creating an atmosphere that fosters Jewish pride, a love for Israel and a thirst for lifelong learning continues to inspire me to grow and develop my skills as a leader. I feel passionate about the power of collaboration and believe this collaboration will enhance our experience as we grow and develop in our leadership positions.”

Rachel Falk

Director, Jewish Community Center Preschool

San Rafael Campus of the Osher Marin

Sonoma County, California

“Being new to a full time director position in a Jewish setting, I am in the middle of a learning curve with both administrative duties and maintaining a commitment to the Jewish identity of our school.  My intention is to broaden my knowledge base and understanding in both areas and to be a part of a supportive group that will collaboratively contribute to my ability to successfully fulfill my role.”

Jenifer Friedman

Director, The Early Childhood Education Center

Temple Beth Tikvah

Roswell, Georgia

“Our children are the foundation upon which our Jewish future is built.  I am honored to be a part of the first JECELI cohort and am so excited for this journey. I hope that my experience gives me the ability to inspire, support and guide my staff and community in strengthening the Jewish identities in our youngest members.”

Rebecca Gautieri

Preschool Director

Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy

Rockville, Maryland

“Since I became the Preschool Director, I have learned how critical leadership skills are to the position. The opportunity to receive first-class training in these skills, coupled with the ethical values of Judaism, is one I am very excited to pursue.”

Jodi Gladstone

Lead Teacher, Jewish Resource Specialist

Beth El Nursery School

Berkeley, California

“I feel that being a part of JECELI cohort and working with a mentor will help me develop skills that I can use when working with parents and staff to create a community with a strong bond between parents, teachers and children.”

Liz Hirsch

Director, 14th Street Y Preschool

The Educational Alliance

New York, New York

“I look forward to deepening my understanding in the areas of Jewish text, law, values and leadership.  I am excited to be mentored and challenged to grow as a leader and to further develop my capacity to share a strong sense of Jewish values with colleagues and families alike through the arts, storytelling and celebrating holidays. I am confident that this experience with JECELI will help me to grow spiritually, intellectually and emotionally.”

Lisa Lasovsky

Lead Teacher

B’nai Shalom Day School

Greensboro, North Carolina

“I want to bring new, fresh and exciting ideas to my school and community. I want to help parents to connect to their Jewish roots, embrace their Jewish heritage and make it play a central part of their lives. I really look forward to making professional connections for collaboration.”

Ellen Lefkowitz

Preschool Director

Temple Sinai

Oakland, California

“My passion for Jewish early childhood education is based on the belief that the core mission of this work is to help children grow and to inspire families to embark on Jewish journeys.”

Julie Eisman Levy


Adat Shalom Early Childhood Center

Farmington Hills, Michigan

“I am excited to be part of JECELI because I believe children are competent, creative and inquisitive beings who deserve excellence.”

Robin Pappas

Director,The Early Childhood Center (ECC)

Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit

Farmington Hills, Michigan

“I am thrilled and honored to be part of the JECELI learning community.  I am always looking to learn more and give something back to my community.  The quote that fits me most is, ‘Find yourself a teacher, get yourself a friend.’  Pirke Avot 1:6.”

Cindy Sandler


The Judy Gordon Nursery School at Temple Israel

Natick, Massachusetts

“I am very excited to be a part of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute to broaden my knowledge as a Jewish educator. As a new director, I am looking to gain experiences in Judaic topics as well as work collaboratively with other Directors and educators. This knowledge will help me enrich my staff and to find new ways to strengthen our program.”

Kim Subrin


Chanen Preschool, Congregation Beth Israel

Scottsdale, Arizona

“I am thrilled to be a part of the first JECELI cohort.  I cannot wait to study, learn, laugh and grow as a leader with our dynamic group.  I know how much this will impact me personally as well as enhance our school.”

Rachel Wallach

Director, Bertha Alyce Center

Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center

Houston, Texas

“Ever since college, I have known that I wanted to work with children in a Jewish setting. Working in the early childhood realm is the perfect blend of all of my interests and talents. It is so uplifting to be with this age all day—and I feel that I am constantly learning from them! It is such an honor and a privilege to be allowed into the lives of young families.”