Meet Our Team
Dr. Jeffrey S. Kress
Interim Dean, The Davidson School
Dr. Jeffrey Kress is interim dean, associate professor of Jewish Education, and academic director of the Experiential Learning Initiative at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary. His interests include developmental issues in Jewish education, program implementation, and social, emotional, and spiritual elements of Jewish educational contexts. He is the author of the book Development, Learning, and Community: Educating for Identity in Pluralistic Jewish High Schools (Academic Studies Press, 2012).
Dr. Zachary Lasker
Director, Melton Research Center for Jewish Education and The Davidson School Education Projects
Dr. Zackary Lasker served for 10 years as director of Camp Ramah in California, a position that was preceded by many summers as a counselor, head of singing, and unit head. He has mentored graduate students as an instructor in the Fingerhut School of Education at American Jewish University, and taught students in both day and supplemental settings. Prior to his pursuits as an educator, Dr. Lasker worked in nonprofit marketing at Gary Wexler + Associates: Passion Marketing.
Dr. Lasker earned his doctorate in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. He holds an MA in Education from American Jewish University, and a BA in Sociology and Judaic Studies from the University of California, San Diego. He has published articles in eJewish Philanthropy, Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and San Diego Jewish Journal, and in the book Ramah at 60. In 2005, he and his family were honored by Adat Ari El in Valley Village, California, for their synagogue leadership.
Dr. Deborah Miller
Associate Director, Melton Research Center for Jewish Education
In her role at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Dr. Deborah Miller administers the grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation that provides funding for many elements of The Davidson School, while also working on the teams for the Etgar and MaToK curricula. Dr. Miller has taught every grade and age from nursery school through adult education, and headed the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley in East Brunswick, New Jersey, for 14 years. She also headed congregational schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in Clark and Cranford, New Jersey. She earned her BA at Barnard College and her doctorate and MA in Jewish Education at The Davidson School.
Dr. Janette Silverman
Outreach Director, The Davidson School
Janette (pronounced "Janet") is a veteran Jewish educator in both administration and teaching. She earned her MA and doctorate in Jewish Studies from the Spertus Institute, and her MS in Public Administration from Florida State University. Janette has earned certifications in Jewish education from both the Conservative and Reform movements, and is a member of the Jewish Educators Assembly and National Association of Temple Educators. Professionally, Janette has worked in congregational school education, and in Jewish Federation and Hillel settings. She joins us directly from her position as director of education and youth programming at Beth El Congregation in Phoenix, Arizona. Janette, who is also involved in the international Jewish genealogy community, is no stranger to JTS and The Davidson School. In 2009, she worked closely with Jane Shapiro to bring the JTS Mitzvah Initiative to her congregation, and has also taken advantage of our Etgar curriculum.
Yehudit (Edie) Freudenberger
Education Technologist, The Davidson School
Yehudit (Edie) Freudenberger brings more than 20 years of experience in design, writing, editing, case management, counseling, and curriculum design for children, adults, and special populations. Her technology-based professional background includes a focus on instructional design, social networking, and educational technologies. Edie studied at the University of Cincinnati, where she earned an MEd in instructional design and technology, and is a doctoral student in the same area. She has done work in education technology at the University of Cincinnati in programs such as the Family Science Academy-with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-and at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. She also consulted in the field while running her own marketing and design company, Edward Willis Group, Inc., in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Director, Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project
Charlotte Abramson has served as the director of Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project from its inception in 2003. She has been passionately involved in Tanakh education since beginning her career as a teacher at Hillel Day School of Farmington Hills, Michigan. As a teacher of text, Ms. Abramson was puzzled by the fact that her students, often fine students of Hebrew, were challenged when reading the biblical text in Hebrew. Her research into this phenomenon resulted in her master's thesis in Jewish Education for The Graduate School of JTS on "Teaching Students to Become Independent Readers of the Biblical Text in Hebrew."
Ms. Abramson served as dean of studies at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, Upper School, for 12 years, and as principal of its middle school. The Standards and Benchmark project allows her to combine her passion for the teaching of Judaic studies with supporting day schools in their quest for educational excellence. She is currently in the Executive Doctoral Program at The Davidson School, investigating how instructional leadership improves teaching and learning in the day school. In 2013, she received the Benjamin Shevach Award for distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership at the commencement exercises of Boston Hebrew College.
Project Manager, Project Etgar
Debbie Kerschner has a BA in Economics from Brandeis University and an MBA in Marketing from New York University. She was director of marketing at C. F. Hathaway Company, and a marketing manager at AlliedSignal. She taught Project Etgar to sixth grade students at Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, New York.
Frances M. Urman
Director, Day School Leadership Training Institute
Frances M. Urman was principal at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange, New Jersey, from 1999 to 2004. She previously held leadership positions at the Solomon Schechter High School of New York and the Yitzhak Rabin High School in Ottawa, Canada. Additional professional work includes 20 years of teaching experience in the Orthodox, Conservative, and community day schools of Canada and the United States. Ms. Urman holds a master's degree in Education from Tufts University and a bachelor of arts degree from Sir George Williams University in Montreal. She completed the Secondary School Leadership Training Program (precursor to DSLTI) at The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1999, and has studied at the Principal's Center, Harvard University.
Director, MaToK: Bible Curriculum for Day Schools
Galya Greenberg is currently a doctoral student in Jewish Educational Leadership in a joint program between Northeastern University and Hebrew College. Her particular area of interest is the professional development of Jewish day school teachers. She has an extensive background in day school education as both a teacher and administrator, and has supervised MaToK teachers at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford. Ms. Greenberg graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and earned an MA in Jewish Education from The Davidson School of JTS.
Rabbi Jason Gitlin
Project Manager, ReFrame
Rabbi Jason Gitlin brings a variety of valuable assets to his work with ReFrame, particularly his skills in engagement, project management, communication, and teaching. He received his ordination at The Rabbinical School of JTS, and has also completed degrees in Journalism and Mass Communications and in Near Eastern Studies. Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Gitlin worked as a journalist and then at UJA-Federation of New York, where he managed a portfolio that included work with interfaith communities and interactive/marketing services. As a student, he took on a variety of jobs with agencies such as the Educational Alliance and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, taught at Ramah Nyack, and completed his pastoral work at a local hospital. Rabbi Gitlin has also worked in synagogue settings, leading services and teaching. Most recently, he served as congregational engagement associate at the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn.
Director, Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute
Lyndall Miller has been the director of Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute since its inception. She has also directed the Legacy Heritage Institute for Jewish Early Childhood Educators, a site-based transformation initiative, and the Jewish early childhood education department at Gratz College. Ms. Miller has been a consultant for Jewish early childhood education with various organizations, including the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative, and the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education in the Greater Philadelphia area (now Jewish Learning Venture). Previously, she worked as a specialist and classroom teacher in Jewish early childhood programs, public schools, and self-contained settings for young children with special needs. Ms. Miller has been in the field of early childhood education for almost 40 years, and is working on her EdD in Jewish education.
Mark S. Young
Program Coordinator, Experiential Learning Initiative
Mark S. Young has lead the design and implementation of The Davidson School's new master's degree concentration in Jewish Experiential Education and the Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute, a professional development and career-growth training for mid-level professionals at Jewish Community Centers across North America. Prior to JTS, Mr. Young served in human resources for Episcopal Social Services of New York, a child welfare, education, and adult services nonprofit, and at New York City's 92nd Street Y. He also spent 14 summers at the Mandel Jewish Community Center's Camp Wise Resident Camp in Cleveland, Ohio, serving for several years as song leader, Judaic director, and staff-in-training director. Mr. Young earned a BS in Psychology and Economics from McGill University in Montreal, and an MPA in Nonprofit Management and MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University.
Program Coordinator, Ivriyon Summer Hebrew Institute for Day School Teachers
Principal, Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School
Russell Braman comes to the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School with experience in public high schools, supplementary schools, and Jewish summer camp. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and American Jewish University in Los Angeles, with dual master's degrees in Education and Nonprofit Management. Mr. Braman has worked with high school campers at B'nai B'rith Camp in Oregon, taught high school Spanish at South Houston High School in Texas and Sellwood Middle School in Oregon, and served as a religious school teacher at several synagogues.
Mara Bernstein began working at The Jewish Theological Seminary in November 2011, and is happy to be on the teams of the Day School Leadership Training Institute, Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project, and other Melton Research Center programs. Prior to her position at JTS, she served as an educator at the Museum at Eldridge Street, teaching visitors of all ages about the landmark synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Ms. Bernstein also interned in the education department at Fraunces Tavern® Museum, and worked as a resident assistant at New York University. A native southern Californian, she graduated from New York University with a BA in History, and minors in Hebrew and Judaic Studies.
After a lengthy Solomon Schechter Day School education, Michal Pinto earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in Development Sociology and a master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. Prior to working with the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute and The Jewish Theological Seminary, she was the assistant to the mayor of Great Neck, which allowed her to work with a diverse Jewish community, and organize programs that highlighted the involvement of children in improving neighborhoods. In her role as the JECELI program associate and assistant to the director of the Melton Research and Davidson Projects in Education, Ms. Pinto is happy to be part of the exciting and colorful world of early childhood education, and to learn from the leaders in the field about community building.