Our YEP! and Education Team

Renee Joffe-Hrlevich – YEP! Administrator

Renee with Bat Mitzvah Jacqueline Schatzberg

Renee joined the staff of Congregation Kehillah in February 2015 as the synagogue Administrator. In 2016 she took on the role of YEP! Administrator. She enjoys spending Sunday mornings with the YEP! students and even steps in as a sub when needed. It gives her great joy to watch the students learn in a fun environment and eventually join Rabbi on the Bimah as they become a B’nai Mitzvah.
To read Renee’s full bio please click on “About” and scroll down to “Our Administrator”.

 

 

 

Erica Erman – Middle School Judaics Teacher, Music and More!

I am so excited to be able to teach and work with our Middle Schoolers! Together with Moreh Jared, I teach 6-8th grade Judaics. You’ll also see me for Tefillah (prayers) and Music sessions. I’ve been teaching at YEP! since 2016 and you’ve probably heard me singing at Congregation Kehillah on the bima as one of our cantorial soloists. Please reach out to me with any questions you have at any time! My goal is to help make Jewish learning sweet, meaningful, and fun and to help give you some of the tools you’ll want and need as you navigate middle school, high school coming up soon, and life in general.

In 2020, Moreh Jared and I welcomed our first child, Debbie.  In 2023 we welcomed our daughter Shaina.

 

Jared Erman – Middle School Teacher and B’nai Mitzvah Tutor

Jared may have an in with the Rabbi since he’s married to her daughter Erica, but his resume in Jewish education has much deeper roots. Jared attended Heschel Day School in Los Angeles, where he studied Hebrew and Judaica from K-8th grade. While studying business at the University of Arizona in Tucson, he taught 6th grade at Congregation Or Chadash, focusing on Jewish immigration to the United States and preparation for Bnei Mitzvah. He also had the opportunity to live in Israel and work for a food tour company before moving to Phoenix in 2017! Outside of the synagogue, Jared is a manager at Charles Schwab and has a passion for teaching and training in martial arts.

 

Mara Gossack – K-3rd Grade Teacher

I am honored and thrilled to be taking over as the YEP! K-3rd grade teacher!  Our family joined Congregation Kehillah last year when it was time to enroll our son in Hebrew school, and we could not be happier with our choice.  I am originally from New York City and I have a master’s degree from Boston University in theatrical lighting design.  After working as an LD in NYC and the Boston area, I realized that neither the theatre nor the East coast was where I wanted to be.  So, in 1999, I became a certified Montessori teacher and moved to Arizona.  I then built and ran my own Montessori school until my focus once again changed; this time to motherhood, which has been my favorite thing to do by far.  As well as being a stay-at-home mom, I am a stained glass artist.  I practice yoga and I maintain the administrative side of my husband’s pedicab business.  I am so excited to bring my experience and creativity back into the classroom.  I am looking forward to getting to know your kids and you and being more involved in the Kehillah Community!

 

Debbie Sobel – 4th & 5th Grade Judaics Studies Teacher

I am excited to be teaching Judaics Studies to the 4th & 5th grade students once again.  I am a former Elementary School Teacher with a Master’s Degree in Education.  I have been teaching Religious School since I was in college.  I grew up in Omaha, NE  and attended the U of A.  I moved to Washington, D.C where I worked on Capitol Hill, but I always wanted to move back to sunny Arizona.  My daughter, Whitney is a Sundevil following in my footsteps, where she graduated in May in Elementary Education and is attending ASU for graduate school.  I am delighted that Whitney will continue to teach with me.  I enjoy baking, gardening, creative projects, traveling and spoiling my dog.

 

 

 

Whitney Sobel – 4th & 5th Grade Teacher

I graduated in May 2022 from ASU with a degree in Education.  In May 2024 I graduated Summa Cum Laude from ASU with a M.A. in Learning Sciences. Some of my hobbies include fitness, traveling and hanging out with my dog, Koogle.  I am excited to be one of the 4th & 5th grade teachers for YEP! this year. Some of my hobbies include fitness, traveling and hanging out with my dog, Koogle.  I am excited to be one of the 4th & 5th grade teachers for YEP this year.

 

 

 

Ilene Malka – the Education Chair on Congregation Kehillah’s Board of Directors

I am the connection from our school programs to the Board. Along with Rabbi Sharfman and our wonderful teaching staff, I am always looking for ways to improve our delivery of all things Jewish!

Most of my life has been spent supporting and encouraging Jewish education for young children, to give them a sense of who they are, where they come from, and to be proud of their very rich Jewish history. I am also a believer in adult education, because there is so much to learn and understand about our people, our history and our Torah. Developing a strong Jewish identity will help us all keep our values alive for future generations.

 

Vicki Bertch – B’nai Mitzvah Tutor

Jewish Education has been a part of my career in education for over 40 years and more than 30 of them spent with Rabbi Sharfman working as a classroom teacher for many different grades over the years, teaching Hebrew to adults and running a preschool for almost a decade.  It’s really exciting to be one of the B’nai Mitzvah tutors for Congregation Kehillah.  Teaching is my profession but working with children in Jewish education is a passion.  I love working one on one with each child and really getting to know who they are, as well as how they learn.

I look forward to continuing in this important, interesting and fun journey with Rabbi Sharfman, Renee Joffe, Ilene Malka and the rest of the YEP! team!