Our YEP! Team

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.

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

Since 2015 I have worked as YEP!’s Online Learning Center (OLC) Director. I have a strong passion for using online tools and resources to enhance learning and engagement in the classroom and out of the classroom. I set up, manage, post, and reply to students through Google Classroom, our chosen learning platform.  

In addition to working for YEP!, I am also a parent of a wonderful little girl. She takes up a lot of my time during the day that I otherwise devote to my Doctoral classes in educational leadership. I love Jewish education and I look forward to continuing to grow the OLC content and connections for YEP! 

Erica Morris – Music Teacher and more!

Shalom! 2016/17 was my first year working with YEP! but you’ve probably seen me at services (I have a close connection with the Rabbi). In addition to teaching music, I also help out with Hebrew and Judaics. You can find videos of some of the music we learn together on the OLC [Online Learning Center] – more to come soon! Working with the kids, and the wonderful staff, is one of my absolute favorite things. One of the very first songs I learned in Jewish day school (that I remember) was called, ‘We See the World through Jewish Eyes.’ When I’m working with the kids, teaching them prayers and holiday songs, I try to help them put on their ‘Jewish glasses,’ and give them a tool to connect to the stories from Judaics and the Hebrew from Hebrew class through music. If you can, I would encourage all the parents and grandparents reading this to sing Shabbat songs, holiday songs, and the Shema with your kids and grandkids as often as you can. Music has a way of reaching into our souls that few other things do, and the music and traditions they learn now will stay with them for the rest of their lives. When I’m not at YEP!, you can find me practicing law, baking, reading historical fiction, or playing piano and singing.

Debbie Sobel – Judaic Studies Teacher

Stephanie Farber – Teacher

Jared Erman – Teacher and B’nai Mitzvah Tutor

Bob Bessen – Hebrew Teacher

Alex Ariemma – Teacher

Scarlett Allison – Hebrew Teacher

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.