Our YEP! Team

Renee Joffe – YEP! Administrator

Renee not only is the synagogue administrator, but in 2016 she took on the important role of YEP! administrator. She works closely with Rabbi and Dr. Stephanie Kirklin to create the unique program which is YEP! Renee’s past roles as a nanny, preschool administrative assistant and youth group advisor have strengthen her skills to work with children and it shows in the love and attention she gives to the students.​

 

 

 

Stephanie Kirklin – Kehillah’s Online Learning Center (OLC) Director

Since 2015, I have worked as YEP!’s Online Learning Center Director.  As a Doctor in Education, I have a strong passion for using online tools and resources to enhance learning and engagement in the classroom.   One of the things that makes YEP! so special is our online presence.  Before the coronavirus, we already had been maintaining a strong online presence in addition to our in classroom learning.  I am so proud of how we have safely and effectively transitioned to a fully virtual Religious School experience!  

In addition to working for YEP!, I am also the parent of two wonderful daughters, Alana (age 4) and Zoey (age 10 mo.)  Just like how our love of Judaism enhances our teaching in the school, my kids and I learn and bake together  during the day (we especially enjoy baking our challah on Fridays for Shabbat).  I am excited to continue to learn and engage with our students, families, and faculty at YEP! this year!  

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Bob Bessen – 4th & 5th grade Hebrew Teacher

I was first inspired to teach religious school to spare my children from the numbingly boring experiences from my own childhood religious school memories. Some 20 years later, in addition to trying to make learning Hebrew more fun, I still embrace the opportunities to help our youth nurture their spirituality, understand what God means to them and their peers, and think about the influences that God has in their lives. Overhearing a child say, “I really like coming to YEP!” is what inspires me now.

 

 

Debbie Sobel4th & 5th grade Judaic Studies Teacher

I teach Judaica Studies to the 4th & 5th grade students.  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, studying Elementary Education and enjoys assisting me.

 

 

Whitney Sobel4th & 5th grade Teacher’s Assistant

I go to ASU and I am majoring in Education in hopes of becoming a classroom teacher. This is my 3rd year assisting my mom at YEP! In my free time, I like to hang out with my dog Koogle and I love to cook and bake.

 

 

 

Scarlett Allison – Middle School Hebrew  Teacher

Hello!  I am Morah Scarlett Allison and fall 2020 is my third year teaching Hebrew at CK.  I moved to AZ from CA a few years ago.  I was a JH and HS English Teacher in CA, for many years, and I spent many, many years in Graduate School in Jewish Studies, as a TA and researcher, with concentrations in Jewish Literature and Hebrew.  My daughter Rebecca is currently preparing to become a Bat Mitzvah on January 9th, so this crazy year is also a very busy and exciting one! 

 

 

 

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 Bates – B’nai Mitzvah Tutor

After 36 years in Jewish Education I have decided to retire from being Congregation Kehillah’s YEP! Hebrew Teacher, but I am excited to be staying on as a sub as B’nai Mitzvah tutor. Teaching is my profession, but working with children in Jewish education is a passion. For many years I served as Director of a synagogue preschool. Outside of religious school life, I have held various positions. To touch on some highlights, I served as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Coordinator with the Arizona Department of Health Services and created  statewide programs for children from preschool through grade 12, promoting bicycle and pedestrian safety. Another interesting job was developing a music education program called MusiKids, for children eighteen months to 10 years old, supervising 51 programs and training teachers throughout Arizona. While working these jobs, I have continued to teach religious school, Adult Hebrew and tutor Bar/Bat Mitzvah students. A few years ago,  I received my advanced certification as a Life Coach and continue a part-time practice today. I look forward to continuing this journey with Rabbi Sharfman and the rest of the YEP! team in a different, yet just as important, position.