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Administration and Faculty

Our commitment to providing each child with a quality education tailored to his/her abilities and needs begins with hiring and supporting outstanding teachers and administrators.


Head of School Zvi Weiss
School Rabbi and Director of Integrated Learning Rabbi Laurie Hahn Tapper
Chief Finance & Operations Officer Dr. Diana Wilmot
Dean of Learning and Instruction    (4-8) Cindy Schlesinger
Director of Learning and Instruction (K-3) Melody Randel
Controller Sue Balfus
Director of Admissions and Marketing Joy Null
Director of Development Daniela Silverstein
Office Administrator Jennifer Horton
Advancement Associate Lauren Carlinsky

Grace Lee
                                                         Elaine Shtein
Lior Ben-Hur
                                               Aylon Cohen
Rene Prupes

 Administration Biographies

 Zvi Weiss - Head of School

Zvi Weiss has taught and administered Jewish educational programs in a wide variety of formal and informal educational settings including: congregational schools, high school programs, youth retreats, adult education, parent education, family education, Hebrew language immersion, Israel programs and March of the Living. With an academic background in Educational Psychology from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Zvi worked as school psychologist in a number of schools in the Jerusalem area, directed educational programming at an institution for persons with developmental disabilities in Tiberias and served in the Israel Defense Force’s Behavioral Sciences Division.

Professionally, Zvi has served as the Associate Director of the Bureaus of Jewish Education in both Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently, he served as the Director of Early Childhood and Family Education at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of the school from 85 to over three hundred students while leading strategic initiatives that introduced new approaches to education and staff development.

Zvi and his wife Debra have four children. Several years ago, the whole family spent a year traveling through the seven continents and visiting Jewish communities in many unusual places. Zvi’s career path continues to focus on his main passions: a belief in learning that is creative, individualized and accessible to all, a love for the Jewish people, and a strong commitment to the State of Israel.

Rabbi Laurie Hahn Tapper - School Rabbi and Director of Integrated Learning

Rabbi Laurie Hahn Tapper is a graduate of Stanford University. She earned a B.A. in History, graduating with Honors in Jewish Studies. She was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary and received an M.A. in Education. Rabbi Hahn Tapper is also an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.

Prior to coming to Yavneh Day School, Rabbi Hahn Tapper served as the Director of BCI and Adult Programs at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, a trans-denominational Jewish experiential education retreat center. She also worked at Reform and Conservative Jewish summer camps across the country and taught at various Jewish day schools in both the New York City and Los Angeles areas. Additionally, she lived in Israel where she studied Sacred Texts at the Pardes Institute and worked for Hillel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Hahn Tapper engages our students in the joys of the Jewish community through a variety of creative forms of education and spirituality. She enjoys watching the students explore their Jewish identities as they focus on Jewish life connections discovered through the arts, the outdoors, and alternative Tefillot (prayer).

Rabbi Hahn Tapper says that her interest in the Rabbinate began when she was a teenager at Camp Swig, watching the sunrise with her bunkmates from atop a mountain. She lives in Redwood City with her partner, Dr. Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, along with their two young children and two cats.

Dr. Diana Wilmot - Chief Finance and Operations Officer

When Dr. Wilmot graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy in 1996, she envisioned leading a school’s efforts to teach children through innovative curriculum design and implementation. In 1998, she started as a high school math teacher in NY and then continued to teach math at Los Altos High School. Dr. Wilmot left the classroom to receive her Ph.D. in Education from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Her research mainly focused on measuring and evaluating students' procedural knowledge and conceptual understanding in mathematics. As a past administrator for the county and Palo Alto Unified School District, she has applied her research in classrooms and supported school leaders and teachers in their efforts to focus on academic growth and make learning more visible in order to improve student learning.


Cindy Schlesinger - Dean of Learning and Instruction (4th-8th)

Cindy Schlesinger comes to Yavneh after 21 years as an administrator, learning specialist and teacher at Jewish day schools. During her tenure at Gideon Hausner, Cindy taught in the math and science programs, bolstered the school's capacity to address individual needs for both gifted students and those with learning challenges and, during her role as Head of Middle School, was instrumental in building and supporting an outstanding faculty while increasing enrollment to its highest levels.  

Cindy’s academic background includes an MS degree in Science Education from USC, participation in Harvard University's Principals’ Center institute and Columbia University's course on gifted education. She has participated in intensive summer training seminars and has implemented Project Based Learning, Design Thinking, Social Thinking, Responsive Classroom and Facing History and Ourselves. She trained as a Silicon Valley Math Initiative coach, and has completed extensive Special Education coursework.

Cindy is a Bay Area native and met her husband, Jon, working as a camp counselor at the Palo Alto JCC. Their son is a graduate of Kehillah and is currently a student at Yale University. Cindy served on the Board of Directors at Congregation Beth Am as well as on their senior rabbi search committee.

Melody Randel - Director of Learning and Instruction (K-3)

Melody joined the Yavneh family in 2014. She thoroughly enjoys the challenge of using her many years of classroom teaching, from kindergarten through 8th grade, to support students in any way that makes their learning a more successful and meaningful experience. While Melody's academic passions are diverse: humanities as well as science and technology, her particular expertise is in the area of mathematics education. For the last twenty years, she has supported teachers and school leaders across the nation in understanding how to maximize effective learning experiences for every student. With a Master's Degree in Counseling, Melody has also been a middle school counselor, supporting parents, families and students.

When Melody is not at Yavneh, she can be found reading in her garden, practicing Hebrew cursive, and taking long walks with her wife Susan and their dog Ziva along the river or ocean in Santa Cruz.

Sue Balfus - Controller

In 2006, Sue earned her MBA with a focus in Global Operations. She has over 18 years of experience in operations and finance management. Before coming to Yavneh, Sue was the Director of Sales Operations with a heavy emphasis on compensation and fiscal responsibility (budgeting).

If you don't see Sue in the office, odds are she is upstairs in the kitchen surrounded by students who love cooking.

Joy Null - Director of Admissions and Marketing

Joy Null comes to Yavneh with 19 years of experience in marketing and communications having worked with companies ranging from energy saving ("greentech") products to semiconductor equipment. Joy is excited to bring her expertise to Yavneh and help get the word out about all the wonderful aspects of the school.

Joy lives in San Jose with her husband Jonathan and two children, who are both Yavneh students. She enjoys tennis, knitting, writing and "family game night".

Daniela Silverstein - Director of Development

Daniela Silverstein joins Yavneh’s Administrative team as the Director of Development. Previously, Daniela has served as a member of the Board of Trustees and as President of Yavneh’s Parents Association. After earning a B.S. in Political Science and M.A. in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University and a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management from Washington University in St. Louis, Daniela has worked in Human Resources and Childcare Counseling and has enjoyed serving on committees hosting community events and fundraisers serving Jewish Family Services and Yavneh Day School.

In her spare time, Daniela enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys (both Yavneh students), traveling to visit family on the east coast and exploring new places.

Jennifer Horton - Office Administrator

Jennifer Horton was born and raised in Northern California. She brings to our front office warmth, professionalism and organizational skills which she has acquired from her 15 years of administrative and customer service experience.

Jennifer is currently pursuing a dual major, a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education. Prior to Yavneh, Jennifer worked as the Front Desk Administrator for a private middle school in Palo Alto.

She loves working with children and has two young children of her own that attend school in San Jose. Jennifer spends most of her free time with her friends and family. Her hobbies include camping, hiking, and building living room forts with her children.

Lauren Carlinsky - Advancement Associate

Lauren Carlinsky joined the Yavneh team as Advancement Associate. She is focusing on alumni engagement and collaborates with admissions, marketing, and development.

After receiving her BA in Public Communications from Ramapo College of New Jersey and a K-8 teaching credential, Lauren taught as a public school elementary and middle school teacher. She also taught Judaic studies at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ. Lauren’s previous experience includes work at a NJ non-profit where she was program coordinator of a youth empowerment tobacco prevention program. After relocating to California in 2007, Lauren began working for Sylvan Learning in Cupertino, as the Center Director.

Lauren enjoys spending time with her three children and husband Eric. She also loves playing Mah-Jongg, cooking, traveling, snowboarding, and volunteer work. 

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Faculty Biographies

Nira Ben Simhon - Kitah Gan (Kindergarten) Teacher

Nira is a Reggio-Emilia inspired educator with many years of experience in kindergarten and early childhood education. Before coming to Yavneh, Nira worked at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto as a Hebrew immersion teacher and program coordinator. Prior to that, she taught kindergarten in Israel and worked at a preschool in Sunnyvale. Nira loves working with children and especially enjoys exploring the world of the Hebrew language with them in a fun and exciting way. Nira holds a degree in child development and education from David Yellin College in Jerusalem.

Nira and her husband Ilan have 4 children. She enjoys exploring art and nature, passions which she often shares through projects that she creates with her students.


Millie Greenberg - Kitah Gan (Kindergarten) Teacher

Millie has a B.A. in Speech Communication and a multiple subject teaching credential. She has taught in Mountain View, Milbrae and Campbell. Her first teaching job was as a  teacher's aide at Yavneh in 1989.

When Millie's not teaching, she volunteers at the APJCC as the chair of South Bay Teen Idol and for the JCC Maccabi Games. She enjoys hiking, traveling, visiting her sons in Wisconsin and Michigan, and playing with her two small dogs.



Michelle Mathews - Kitah Gan (Kindergarten) Teacher

Michelle was born and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she grew a love for nature and the outdoors. Michelle is a very creative educator with a degree in Child and Adolescent Development and a Master's in Education from UC Santa Cruz. Prior to teaching kindergarten, she taught at Circle of Friends preschool for over four years.

Michelle's passion lies in project-based learning and building classroom community. 


Sagit Kirson - Kitah Gan (Kindergarten) Teacher

Born and raised in Israel, Sagit graduated from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a degree in International Relations and East Asian Studies. Shortly after, she and her husband moved to the U.S. where she taught Hebrew at Emery Weiner High School in Houston, Texas and pursued her masters degree in Public Administration and Leadership in Education at the University of Houston.

In 2007, Sagit and her family moved back to Israel where she managed 300 volunteers and organized community events as the volunteer coordinator at the Israel guide Dog Center for the Blind. In 2015, her husband's work brought her back to the U.S., this time to San Jose where they raise their four children. She loves spending time traveling with her family and exploring beautiful places. Sagit enjoys interacting with students and believes in building positive, open and kind relationships with them.


Tom Kerem - Kitah Alef (First Grade) Teacher

Born and raised in Israel, Tom graduated from Haifa University with a B.Sc. in Science education. Tom has always been passionate about children and their education. That is why she decided to go back to school in Israel and get certified as an elementary school teacher. Her program included hands-on work experience in the classroom. During this experience, she was recognized for her ability to capture students’ interest and attention by employing diverse teaching techniques. Tom believes in building positive relationships with her students by using an open and kind approach and engages children in the fun and exciting world of the Hebrew language and culture.

Tom loves animals and nature and in her free time she enjoys traveling and getting to know new places and cultures.


Yael Ross - Kitah Alef (First Grade) Teacher

Yael was born in Israel and raised in Los Angeles. She studied Social Science with an emphasis on the Middle East at San Diego State University. After graduating in 2007, Yael worked in the non-profit Jewish world, focusing primarily on community engagement and Israel advocacy. Yael began her teaching career in Israel where she volunteered as an English teacher. She is a proud graduate of the DeLeT program at Hebrew Union College, where she received her teaching certificate in Jewish Day School Education. Most recently, Yael taught kindergarten at Brawerman Elementary School East at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Yael and her husband recently moved to the Bay Area and are looking forward to exploring the beautiful things it has to offer. She is particularly excited to inspire the minds of her students at Yavneh and connect to our community!


Kari Wolff - Kitah Alef (First Grade) Teacher

Kari Wolff is excited to be returning to Yavneh Day School in a professional capacity, where she taught first grade in the past. In the classroom, Kari is known for her warmth and caring for students. Kari has studied Economics, Computer Science, Hospitality Management and Education and possesses B.Sc. and Master's degrees from Cornell University and University of Santa Clara. First grade is Kari’s passion and she especially enjoys engaging students in long term interdisciplinary projects. She is looking forward to continuing to build her relationship with the Kitah Alef children as she facilitates their continued academic growth.


Vered Zimmerman - Kitah Alef (First Grade) Teacher

Vered Zimmerman has been a teacher at peninsula area schools for over a decade. Shortly after receiving a degree and starting her career in computer science, Vered discovered her true passion - education. She subsequently earned an early childhood credential and a California elementary teaching credential, as well as training in Hebrew Immersion education. Vered was born in Israel and is fluent in both Hebrew and English.

Vered loves hiking and the outdoors and is an avid practioner of yoga. She is married to Michael and has three boys who have each completed their own education in computer science at UC Berkeley, UCLA and UCSC.

Ilana Friedlander - Kitah Bet (Second Grade) Teacher

Morah Ilana started at Yavneh Day School in 1991. Born in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, Morah Ilana earned her teaching degree in Elementary Education (K-2) from Nahalal Teacher’s College. She furthered her education at UC-Santa Cruz’s extension campus where she focused on Special Education. Morah Ilana said that she likes being a teacher because she enjoys interacting with children and she wants to give of herself and share what she knows about Israeli culture, Jewish holidays, Hebrew language and more. She likes when her students have the “light-bulb moments”. She is quite comfortable with the environment at Yavneh because it reminds her of being in Israel.

In her spare time, Morah Ilana enjoys reading, watching TV and taking long walks. Morah Ilana lives with her husband and one son as well as her dog, Yukon. Her daughter is married and lives in Israel. Morah Ilana visits Israel often in order to visit her grandchildren as well as other family and friends.


Amy Schiff - Kitah Bet (Second Grade) Teacher


Amy Schiff was born and raised in San Jose, and has both an undergraduate degree and a teaching credential from UC Berkeley as well as a CLAD certificate from UCSD. She has been a tenured teacher in the East Side Union High School District, a fifth grade teacher at Rocketship Si Se Puede and an associate teacher of first and second grade at Bullis Charter School. Amy adores children of all ages and is passionate about both Judaism and education.

Amy is devoted to her husband and family, books, theater, art, travel, Israel, politics, animals, justice and nature.

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Gila Naveh - Kitah Gimel (Third Grade) Teacher


Gila Naveh was born in Israel and received her B.Ed from the Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv. Prior to joining Yavneh, Morah Gila was an Elementary School teacher in Israel for over 12 years. After immigrating to the United States, she was a Hebrew instructor at the University of Utah.

Morah Gila says that she chose to be a teacher because she likes working with children and she enjoys helping them develop and grow into more able-bodied people. She is a firm believer in the uncompromising quality of teaching and considers learning a life-long process. She very much enjoys the atmosphere, the children and the faculty here at Yavneh. She says that from the very first day, she felt welcomed so warmly and was thrilled when she received the opportunity to be a part of this community. She says, “I feel very fortunate to be part of Yavneh Day School and the educational activity. This is what makes me happy to come to school.”

When she has free time, Morah Gila enjoys reading and traveling, and values precious moments with her family.


Elaine Schtein - Kitah Gimel (Third Grade) Teacher

Elaine has been teaching for 11 years. She has a passion for inspiring children to learn and cultivate their unique talents. Elaine received her degree in Psychology from UCSD and her masters degree and teaching credential from UC Davis. Her first teaching job was in Pleasanton teaching a dual immersion 2nd grade class. 

Elaine lives with her husband Misha, her 10 year old daughter Sophia and 8 year old son Jackson. In her spare time, she likes to workout, run, hike, cook, travel and hang out with friends and family.

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Renee Fine - Kitah Dalet (Fourth Grade) Teacher


Renée Fine began teaching at Yavneh Day School in 1999 and is currently our  4th grade teacher. Renee studied at San Diego State University and National University in Madrid, Spain and has her B.A. in Social Work and in Spanish. She most recently completed a Hebrew Ulpan at the University of San Francisco. 

Renee chose to become a teacher because she enjoys children and wants to create a positive educational experience in the classroom for as many students as possible. Teaching at Yavneh is a “dream come true” for Mrs. Fine because Yavneh’s school philosophy to integrate Judaism with General Studies is a concept Renée believes to be key in enabling young minds to see the value of living a Jewish life in the global community. Mrs. Fine holds dear the celebration of Shabbat and “living the Jewish Calendar." When she is not teaching, she spends time with her five children (all of whom have attended Yavneh) and her husband.


Zack Sleep - Kitah Hay (Fifth Grade) Teacher

Zack joins the Yavneh team as a co-teacher in fifth grade. Zack, who attended a Jewish day school himself, has a BA in History and Political Science from McGill University in Montreal. He has spent several years working with students of all ages in a variety of formal and informal educational settings. Most recently, he received a teaching certificate and worked as an English teacher at an elementary school in Quang Binh Vietnam. 


Ellen Abelar - Kitah Hay (Fifth Grade) Teacher

Ellen Abelar is a self-confessed math geek. She holds a BS in Mathematics and a BA in Quantitative Economics from Tufts University. It wasn't until she stepped out of the corporate tech world that she realized how important her math teachers were in her formative years. Since that realization she has begun to share her enthusiasm and knowledge with students in both elementary and middle schools. Prior to teaching at Yavneh, she taught math to middle schoolers and administered the after school program at Aptos Junior High. Ellen enjoys fostering a love of thinking "outside of the box." Besides academia, Ellen loves spending time with her husband and 3 sons. 


Maria Cammisa - Middle School Science Teacher

Maria was born and raised in San Jose. She has a BA in Music and Multiple Subject Credential from San Jose State University. Prior to joining Yavneh, she worked with students of varying ages from preschool through eighth grade - middle school is by far her favorite age to teach. She is passionate about encouraging growth mindsets, promoting mindfulness, and integrating technology.

During her free time, Maria enjoys cooking, traveling, singing, painting pottery, and spending time with her family.



Aylon Cohen - P.E. Teacher, Athletic Coordinator

Aylon joins Yavneh with experience working with young people both in Israel and the United States in many sports and athletic related ventures. Recently, he was manager and program director of Camp Newman's Adventure Mountain, an extensive physical challenge program.


Einat Freundlich - Middle School Hebrew Teacher

BA and MA from Bar Ilan University. Einat ­joins us having taught lower school Hebrew at a Jewish Day School, and Hebrew in the Beged Kefet after school program for the Israeli community. Einat is a very dynamic educator who believes in teaching Hebrew as a living language following student's interests to create greater engagement.

Einat’s teaching background is diverse. She taught courses in industrial thinking and nature among other topics in Israeli elementary schools and was an education officer in the Israeli Air Force. Prior to teaching she was a certified social worker.

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Shanin Fox - Librarian


Shanin Fox is the Librarian at Yavneh Day School, having joined the faculty in the Fall of 2008. Additionally, Ms. Fox teaches Literacy and Library Skills. She has a degree in English Literature and a Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Ms. Fox decided that she wanted to be a librarian because she wanted to share her love of books and her passion for reading and learning with students and teachers, alike. 

Ms. Fox chose the Yavneh environment for our warm, family atmosphere and because the school’s focus is on teaching the students the necessary skills required for the 21st century. When Shanin is not teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, scrap-booking, hiking, cooking and spending time with her family.

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Angela Gold - Music Teacher, Songleader

Angela leads our community in song every Monday, Thursday and Friday in our whole-school assemblies. She supports students in every grade as they prepare to share their learning in a "milestone ceremony and teaches students Jewish songs in her weekly music class. Additionaly, Angela is incorporating Modern Band into her music program, teaching students to perform, improvise, and compose using popular styles such as rock, pop, reggae, hip hop, R&B and other styles. Modern Band classes feature guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, vocals, and technology.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Angela grew up in a very musical and artistic family. She has a B.S. in Art Education (K-12) and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from University of Missouri–Columbia. Morah Angela combines her passions for the creative arts and Jewish culture to give students skills and experiences that they can integrate across the board: from school subjects to daily life to Jewish identity -- all are threads in the colorful and harmonious tapestry of life. Says Angela, “I really enjoy getting to help create the musical vibe of this community. Some of my favorite musical moments are when I hear the students singing as they walk down the halls of the school, or when they spontaneously jump out of their seats to express their joy while singing a new favorite song."

Angela enjoys traveling, skiing, social dancing, live theater shows, photography, and jewelry-making in addition to playing the guitar and singing. She is active in the Jewish community and feels inspired at Yavneh Day School to share her talents with our students and faculty alike.

Aviva Greenberg - Hebrew and Music Teacher

Born in Ohio, Aviva's parents made aliya when she was an infant. She grew up in Israel and served in an Intelligence Unit in the Israel Defense Forces. She majored in English and drama at the University of Haifa and has a teaching certification and a Masters Degree in TOEFL. Morah Aviva has been teaching for over 15 years including 8 years at the well-known Reali High School in Haifa where she also founded and directed the school choir. She has also taught Hebrew in Atlanta, GA at the Davis Academy.

For Morah Aviva, teaching Hebrew is more than teaching a language. It is a beautiful combination of culture, values, religion, and the study of our Homeland. At Yavneh Day School, she feels at home and enjoys working with a welcoming staff and community and with inquiring and intelligent students. Morah Aviva has four young children, 3 of whom attend Yavneh. In her free time, Morah Aviva enjoys playing with her children, traveling with her family, baking, and singing.


Ted Pierce - Middle School Global Research Teacher

Ted holds a Social Studies teaching credential, in addition to a degree in Economics. In recent years while primarily raising three children as a stay at home father, Ted taught part-time in Campbell, Los Gatos and San Jose schools before joining the Yavneh staff. Ted is excited for the opportunity to help your children fully appreciate the importance of world history and politics and understand how they influence current events. He is very fond of the quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Ted believes in holding students to high academic standards while encouraging them to embrace their role in the community.


Vanina Sandel - STEAM Coordinator

Vanina coordinates our Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programming. She helps teachers implement their curriculum in Full Options Science System (FOSS), and is the lead Science teacher in Fourth Grade. She supports technological integration in all subject areas and oversees all of our school devices. She offers a middle school elective class in Coding and Design Thinking, helps students publish their work on their online personalized portfolio, directs our after school enrichment programs in Jr. and First Lego League, and teaches our after school class in Tinkering.

Vanina is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she earned a degree in Systems Information Engineering with a minor in Business. There she worked in high tech and established a software development company. Vanina moved to California 10 years ago to work for Hillel of Silicon Valley, first as a Program Director and then as an Assistant Director. She has also been involved as a volunteer in the Jewish community with organizations including the Jewish Federation, the APJCC Preschool, and Congregation Beth David (where she also taught in their Hebrew High program). In Argentina, Vanina attended Jewish Day School from the age of 2 to 18. Now, she coordinates the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) initiative with teachers and students.

Vanina is married to Sharon and together they have two children, Ethan and Naomi.


Lizi Sand - Hebrew Teacher

Lizi was born in Maryland, lived in Africa, and was raised in Israel from the age of 9. She brings to Yavneh over 10 years of teaching experience, including Hebrew and English, from preschool through high school in Israel and the U.S.

Lizi's passion lies in the learning and teaching of languages and different cultures and as such, she has initiated and led projects that provided students with a rich and diverse experience of appreciating and celebrating differences. Lizi holds a BA in Education and Political Science and a teaching certificate in English, both from Ben Gurion University. She is also a Google Certified Innovator. 

Lizi is a former volunteer in the JAFI Partnership 2000 project and Beit Hillel. She is happy to be part of the Yavneh community, not only as a parent but also as an educator where she can bring her love of the Hebrew language, Jewish values and Israeli culture to this unique community.


Danielle Sapiens - Math Teacher


Danielle Sapiens leads our efforts across our school to coordinate a coherent, dynamic mathematics program that supports academic excellence. She teaches math to upper elementary and middle school and offers an elective class in Math Competition. In addition, she teaches Advisory and offers an after school enrichment class in Junior First Lego League. Danielle  comes to Yavneh with more than 11 years of experience educating children. In 2013, she moved to the US from Israel where she was born and raised. She has a B.Ed. in math and computer education from the Levinski College in Tel Aviv as well as an Israeli teaching license. She holds a M.Ed. in cognitive sciences from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She performed research in advanced learning methodologies designed to enhance students' intellectual capabilities.  

In her spare time, Danielle likes baking cakes and cookies for her family and friends. She also likes solving mathematical riddles and traveling with her family.


Judy Schultz - Arts Director/Teacher


Judy teaches students studio art throughout our lower school as well as a Visual Arts elective class in middle school. Judy also works collaboratively with all of our teachers to help students deepen their understanding and learning in multiple content areas. In addition, Judy teaches Advisory in our middle school, facilitates learning through students' independent Innovation Labs, coordinates our eighth grade Community Service/Social Action class, and offers after school enrichment in Art and Cooking. 

When Judy joined Yavneh, she served as the Gan Co-teacher and Gan/Gesher Art teacher for five years. Judy majored in interior design and art and received her degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Prior to Yavneh, she was an assistant teacher for three years at a local private school where she coordinated the after-school care program. Judy became a teacher because: “I love teaching children, working with different personalities and different abilities, and helping all students learn and feel confident.” Judy and her husband have two children. In her spare time, she enjoys surfing, hiking, painting, working out, camping, reading, riding horses, and spending time with family and friends.


Jenessa Schwartz - Middle School Language Arts Teacher

Jenessa teaches our middle school English-Language Arts classes through a collaboration with our Global Research and Jewish Studies teachers. With an emphasis in writing and publications, Jenessa supports students' online learning portfolios and gives students an opportunity to participate in the iterative process embedded in the Writer's Workshop model. In addition, Jenessa offers an elective class in Performing Arts to middle school and upper elementary students and teaches Advisory and Avodah/Service Learning.

Jenessa Schwartz is a proud Yavneh graduate (class of 1993) and is thrilled to be joining the Yavneh faculty. She graduated with a BA in English and Theatre from Warren Wilson College and returned to the Bay Area to work as a Stage Manager in local theaters. During that time, Jenessa also began tutoring and discovered a passion for teaching. She went back to school and received a Masters in Education from NYU. Jenessa loves talking with students about literature, helping them make connections between the characters in books and themselves. She also enjoys helping students become confident writers who can ably and eloquently express themselves. 

In her spare time, Jenessa enjoys practicing yoga, belting out showtunes in her kitchen, and spending time with her husband Mike and her kids Ramona and Solomon.

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Lee Weiner - Hebrew Teacher

Lee enjoys playing with children while helping them learn and grow. She holds a BSc degree in Education and Design from the Kibbutzim College (Seminar Ha'Kibbutzim) in Tel Aviv. She received her Israeli Teaching Certificate after interning as a High School Art teacher. Prior to joining Yavneh, she worked as an art director and teacher in the Moadon Kol Chadash school in Chicago, IL. At Yavneh she has most recently worked with both Kitah Alef and the Gan (Kindergarten) classrooms.

Lee loves exploring beautiful northern California with her husband, Gilad, and son, Jonathan.


Nate Witherbee - Modern Band Teacher

Nate Witherbee received his B.A. in Music Composition and Spanish from Bates College in Maine. After finishing school in 2008, he moved to San Francisco to be a part of the thriving community of local musicians. With his band, Guy Fox, Nate performed in some of San Francisco's most prestigious venues (like the Independent and the Great American Music Hall) and went on to license his recorded music to network television shows. 

Throughout his time pursuing his own music, Nate has found it essential to teach music and share his passion with kids. He loves the experience of fostering students' curiosity and discovering what makes them most enthusiastic. In the past, he has worked as a band teacher at Encompass Academy in East Oakland and as a ukelele instructor at Presidio Knolls School in San Francisco. Nate is excited to build on the Modern Band program at Yavneh.


 Jamie Zimmer - Middle School Jewish/Israel Integration Teacher

Jamie supports our middle school English-Language Arts and Global Research classes by integrating Jewish Studies with a collaborative and co-teaching model. She also teaches middle school Israel Studies.

Born in Cleveland, OH, raised in Melbourne, Australia and matured in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jamie comes to Yavneh with a wealth of Jewish communal and educational experience. A graduate of the King David School and former head of education for Netzer Australia, Jamie earned her BA in Journalism and Communications from Monash University in Melbourne, where she minored in Jewish History and Hebrew. She was the Youth and Education Director at Temple Beth Israel, Melbourne’s largest progressive synagogue, from 2004-2008. After moving to Tel Aviv in 2008 with her husband Ilan, Jamie went to work in youth and teen magazines at the Jerusalem Post while also teaching students on year programs for the Jewish Agency and leading shabbat services and seminars for Birthright groups. Her last position in Israel was as marketing communications manager for eTeacher, an online Hebrew academy, before relocating with her young family to San Jose.

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14855 Oka Road, Suite 100 Los Gatos, CA 95032 phone: (408) 984-6700 email:
Beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
Member of Prizmah-Center for Jewish Day Schools
Accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools
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