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Our Staff

For VBS clergy info, click here.

Administration

Matthew Weintraub, Executive Director

Matthew Weintraub is the new Executive Director of Valley Beth Shalom. Prior to VBS, Matthew served as the Associate Executive Director of IKAR, a progressive, social justice-focused Jewish spiritual community in Los Angeles, Director of Marketing and Communications at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, Director of Marketing & Communications at Shalhevet School, and Director of Talent Development at Professional Leaders Project. Prior to transitioning to the nonprofit sector, Matthew held communications and marketing roles at Cornerstone OnDemand (SaaS Software), Loeb & Loeb (law firm) and Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (PR). He's been very involved as a lay leader in the Jewish community, specifically focusing his time and efforts on Jewish education, Jewish camping, and social and economic justice issues. Matthew was the founding President of the Board of Online Jewish Academy, which was named by Slingshot as one of the country's most innovative Jewish organizations. He's also an alumnus of the Progressive Jewish Alliance's Jeremiah Fellowship. Matthew recently served on the Bureau of Jewish Education’s NextGen and Marketing Visibility committees, and is a board member for the IBD Support Foundation. He is a 2019 MBA candidate from the Graduate School of Non-Profit Management at American Jewish University, and received a B.S. in Business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Matthew lives in Sherman Oaks with his wife LeeAnn and two children, Noah and Madeleine.


Bart Pachino, Director of New Building Projects and Major Gifts

Prior to joining the VBS professional staff in 2011, Bart Pachino had an extensive career in law, real estate and education. At the end of 2018, he transitioned from his role as Executive Director to his new position as Director of New Building Projects and Major Gifts overseeing the construction and remaining fundraising of the current and future VBS building projects. As a volunteer, Bart has served as a member of the boards of directors of VBS Temple and the VBS Day School. His wife Linda is a counselor in the VBS Counseling Center and their sons attended the VBS Day School. Bart has been intimately involved in the Building Committee and the development of the proposed Master Plan for the renovation of the Temple and schools. In his adult spare time, Bart has coached dozens of youth sports teams at Encino Little League, Balboa Park and at AYSO. He is an avid reader and golfer. He and Linda reside in Encino.

Elana Vorspan, Director of Marketing & Communications

Elana Vorspan joined the VBS staff in 2013 as the Director of Communications at the Day School. She oversaw the Day School website, marketing and social media efforts. In summer 2015, Elana began her current position as Director of Marketing & Communications for VBS and its schools, a new department and position responsible for raising the profile of the synagogue and schools through improved and coordinated marketing and communications efforts. Prior to joining the VBS professional staff, Elana worked for 11 years at the Jewish Free Loan Association of Los Angeles as the Director of Program & Marketing. Elana holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from CSUN and a Bachelors Degree from UCLA. Elana has served on many volunteer boards, and is also a certified notary public. Her sons attend the VBS Day School.

Elana Zimmerman, Program Director

Elana Zimmerman joined the VBS staff in 2000 as the Program Director. Previously she worked at the Los Angeles Jewish Federation as a Campaign Associate, as well as at the United Appeal as Director of Young Leadership and Overseas Programs, and American Jewish University as the Director of Making Marriage Work. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Jewish Studies and her MA in Education from American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism). Currently, she serves on the Board of Trustees of de Toledo High School (formerly New Community Jewish High School) and is a Past President of their Board. She is a Graduate of the Wexner Heritage Leadership Program. She is married to Scott Zimmerman and has two daughters.

Natasha Benzaken, Membership Manager

Natasha Benzaken joined the VBS staff in 2014 as Clergy Executive Assistant and Membership Liaison. In 2016, her position evolved into the Membership & B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator. She enjoys welcoming new members to the VBS community and continues to engage with them to ensure that their experiences at VBS are fulfilling and meaningful. Prior to joining VBS, Natasha worked at Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills. Her son currently attends the VBS ECC.


Orit Rappaport, Operations and Facilities Manager

Orit Rappaport joined the VBS Staff as Administrative Assistant in 2015. She currently serves as Facilities and Operations Manager working with department heads, maintenance and security in the planning and coordinating of all the activities and events that take place in the synagogue. If you're having an event at VBS, you likely know Orit! Prior to joining the VBS professional staff, Orit worked for 18 years as the Office Manager/Controller for her family's construction company. Orit holds a BA from UC Berkeley and has served on many volunteer boards including many at VBS. She is an alumna of Valley Beth Shalom Day School and her four children have and are still attending Day School.

Marlene Edenzon, Development Coordinator

Marlene Edenzon joined the VBS staff as Executive Assistant in 2013. She currently serves as Development Coordinator responsible for the VBS Annual Campaign, Annual Gala celebration, coordination of special events and Building Campaign liaison.

Liat Cohen, Marketing & Communications Designer

Liat is our "go-to" person for internal and external production needs. She joined our professional staff in 2016 to support the growth of VBS and our expanding community both in print and online. Prior to joining VBS, Liat directed the Art Department at a niche global Jewish advertising agency. She also works independently as a freelance artist. Liat is a graduate of UC San Diego, where she studied Visual Arts, Communications and Web. Her experience in communication design paired with a Jewish-Israeli upbringing make her fine-tuned to the needs of our synagogue. Her son currently attends the VBS ECC.

 

Susan Rubin, Caring Connection Director and High Holiday Seating Manager

Susan Rubin joined the VBS administrative staff in 2008. She truly enjoys working with the VBS clergy to reach out to members of the congregation who are in need of extra community support, whether recovering from an illness, celebrating a birth or mourning a loved one. She works with a dedicated team of VBS volunteers who find it deeply rewarding to help their fellow members. A Caring Connection program highlight for Susan is Dinner for Docs. This innovative program, now in its 6th year, brings together VBS members who are medical doctors to discuss diverse doctoring and medical issues melded with the study of Jewish wisdom. Susan also coordinates high holiday seating.

Nitzan Barlev, Volunteer Engagement and Community Organizing Coordinator

Nitzan Barlev joined VBS as the Volunteer Engagement and Community Organizing Coordinator in 2019.  She believes relationships are at the heart of social action work, and can't wait to meet more of the VBS community, so stop by her office! She loves talking with people from all walks of life, and finding ways for them to connect to their Judaism through direct service. Prior to VBS, Nitzan served as an Americorps member in Seattle where she worked with immigrant and refugee elders across several nonprofits.  Originally from Israel. but raised in Las Vegas, Nitzan graduated summa cum laude with her BA in Anthropology from UNLV.  Outside of work, Nitzan can be found baking bread (especially challah), going on bike rides, and learning French with her husband Arthur.

Monica Pierce, Administrative Assistant

Monica recently joined VBS as an Administrative Assistant. Prior to becoming a member of the professional staff, Monica worked as an Office Manager for EdgeLine Capital Partners for over four years. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, she moved out west to attend Pepperdine University where she earned a B.A. in Sociology. Outside of VBS, Monica enjoys spending time with her husband, Scotty, and their dog, Chewbacca.

Yvette Ciaramilaro, Administrative Executive Assistant

Yvette Ciaramilaro joined the VBS staff as Executive Assistant in 2019. Yvette’s love for working with the public has allowed her to enjoy her time working in various industries (Accounting, Event Planning, Property Management and the Theatre to name few).  Always up for the challenge to be able to add tools to her professional backdrop she looks forward to her time here at Valley Beth Shalom.

 

Morris Hunter (aka Hunter), IT & Media Director

Hunter joined the VBS staff in 2020. He is a driven and detailed professional with over twenty years of experience in IT management, online/distance learning, technical support and sales within higher education (Rutgers and Princeton University), government and private sectors. Through his work, Hunter eventually found himself working with and mentoring students ranging from K-12 to the college level. He has a love for photography and video and is the founder of 704ST Media.  He has worked as a production assistant with companies such as NBC, EPIX, and Oxygen on media projects. Hunter has a passion for rescuing dogs and helping them find loving homes. He currently resides in Pacific Palisades where he looks after his friend and two dogs (Ivy the Husky and Audie the Border Collie).  

Religion

For VBS clergy, click here.

Yossi Dresner, Ritual Director

Yossi’s career at VBS began in 1971. Originally hired as a Day School and Bar Mitzvah Teacher, Yossi became the Ritual Director in 1988 while continuing to teach Torah trope and Shabbat service prayers to children and adults. Over the past 50 years, Yossi has taught over 3,500 students, including multiple generations! Born in 1938 in Tel Aviv, Palestine, Yossi was 9 years old when he stood with his family to hear the United Nations vote, one by one on Israel’s statehood.  A defining moment in his life, the survival of the Israel is always at the forefront of his mind and heart. As a young adult, Yossi distinguished himself as captain of the Tel Aviv Maccabi youth soccer team and at 18 he began his service in the IDF. As a paratrooper, Yossi jumped behind enemy lines in the 1956 war against Egypt and still proudly possesses his “wings” from those days. In 1966, during a trip to the United States, Yossi fell in love with this country, especially the American Jewish people and stayed. While teaching at VBS he met his wife, Dr. Maxine Newman-Dresner. They have two wonderful children, Jeffrey and Robin, and three beautiful grandchildren--- Melanie, Joshua, and Andrew. Yossi has worked with young people as a B’nai Mitzvah teacher to help them learn Torah and develop a love of Judaism. He sees this as his mission, to carry on the traditions that he was willing to fight for as a young man. As each of Yossi’s students prepare for their B’nai Mitzvah, they have the good fortune to know that they are in the hands of a master. Yossi is a master teacher, a knowledgeable Torah scholar, and an accomplished Bal Kria. In the tradition of those who endear themselves with certain traits that only they seem to possess, Yossi is tough but compassionate; he walks faster than anyone else in Shul; he gives directions on the Bimah without opening his mouth, and he talks so fast many people think he is speaking a foreign language.

Janet Djalilmand, Clergy Department Manager

Janet Djalilmand has been part of the VBS professional staff since January 2002. She is responsible for coordinating and implementing a daily wide range of life cycle events and the pulpit schedule of services in support of the Senior Rabbi and the VBS clergy team. Wearing many hats here at VBS, Janet is also responsible for managing a selection of commnication materials to support the synagogue's community including life cycle notifications and High Holiday booklets. She previously authored the entire range of VBS publications such as flyers, programs and brochures. Prior to joining the VBS staff team, Janet managed many medical, clothing, restaurant and entertainment corporate offices and she has volunteered at many Jewish organizations. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA and graduated from the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning where she has been taking Graduate Classes. Janet has three sons who graduated from the VBS ECLC.


Toby Schwartz, B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator

Cantor Toby Schwartz grew up in Lakewood, NJ surrounded by Cantorial Music. She grew up listening to the Choir Director at her childhood shul, Goldie Malovsky, one of the daughters of the legendary Cantor Samuel Malovsky z”l. By age 11, Toby was singing in her shul choir and was a soloist by age 12. After moving to Los Angeles to attend the USC Thornton School of Music, she sang at the Synagogue of Creative Arts. While raising her children Melissa and Joshua, Toby completed the Bal Tefillah program at the University of Judaism under Hazzan Jeremy Lipton. She joined the Cantor’s Assembly's CICA program for learning the Cantorate.

Cantor Toby has been a member of Valley Beth Shalom for 28 years and began teaching B’nai Mitzvah over 10 years ago. She also serves as High Holy Days Cantor at Sha’arei Am synagogue in Santa Monica. Toby has also worked at Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach and sang with Lev Eisha, a monthly women’s service for many years. She is happiest being able to daven with meaning and Kavanah.

Accounting

Janice Berlin, Controller

Janice Berlin has been the Controller at VBS since 2001. She enjoys working in the Jewish community; prior to working at VBS, she was the Controller at the Los Angeles Hillel Council for 25 years. Her family has been a member of Temple Ahavat Shalom for over 20 years. Janice has a Bachelors Degree from CSUN. Her husband, Steve, is an Enrolled Agent with a Masters in Taxation working at a local accounting firm. He was on the Board of the North Valley Jewish Community Center (NVJCC), where their three sons grew up and her youngest son attended New Community Jewish High School (de Toledo).

 

 

Diane Goldstein, Bookkeeper

Diane Goldstein has been working in the Accounting department for over 15 years. If you have any questions regarding your bill, please feel free to contact her or any member of the accounting team.

Stephanie Specht, Accounting Associate

Stephanie recently joined the VBS accounting department as an Accounting Associate.  Prior to becoming a member of the professional staff, Stephanie worked as a Full Charge Bookkeeper for the last 15 years at a small entertainment licensing agency specializing in brand development and intellectual property management.  She brings over 20 years experience in general accounting in addition to HR administration and payroll.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and doing her outdoor sporting activities.

VBS Schools Business Office

Karin Mendel, Director of Finance and Operations, VBS Schools

Karin Mendel joined Valley Beth Shalom in 2016 as the Director of Finance and Operations for the Valley Beth Shalom Harold M. Schulweis Day School. In 2019 she became the Director of Finance and Operations for all of the schools of Valley Beth Shalom, including the Day School, Early Childhood Center, and Etz Chaim Learning Center. Prior to joining VBS, Karin was the Director of Operations for Jewish National Fund, an organization that raises money for Israel. In her spare time, Karin loves to travel, spending time with her family, and being outdoors.

Allison Truscheit, Business Office Associate, VBS Schools

Allison comes to VBS to support the financial and operational systems of the Day School, Hebrew School, and ECC. As a small business owner for the last eight years in the San Fernando Valley, Allison looks forward to contributing to the VBS community. Allison is originally from Dallas, TX and came to Los Angeles to pursue a Cognitive Science degree from Occidental College. In her spare time, she enjoys gymnastics and spending time with her dog, Jax!

Youth Department

Camryn Kruger, Director of Youth Engagement

Camryn Kruger joined VBS in 2016 as the Assistant Director of Youth Engagement. In 2019, her role changed to Director of Youth Engagement, managing the day-to-day youth department activities and functions. With a BS in Journalism from The University of Oregon, and a decade plus in Sales and Marketing throughout the Music and Entertainment Industries, Camryn realized her true calling: mentoring youth. Since 2010, Camryn has ran several Youth-based programs, both Judaic and Secular, focusing on Camp and Leadership. Camryn is also a certified Youth Development Coach from CTI and is a Graduate of the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. At VBS, she oversees Teen Tuesdays, K-6 Programming, VBS USY, Holiday Programming, the Purim Carnival and all Youth based programs and activities.

Early Childhood Center

unnamed_1.jpgAbby Andiman Mars, Early Childhood Center Director

Abby Andiman Mars joined the VBS Early Childhood Center staff in 2016. She has more than fifteen years of experience in early childhood education as an administrator, curriculum specialist, mentor teacher and lead classroom teacher. She most recently served as Assistant Director for Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Temple Isaiah Preschool in Los Angeles. Prior to that, she served for four years as Early Childhood Education Lead Teacher, Teacher Mentor and Outdoor Classroom Specialist at The Bay-Nimoy Early Childhood Center at Temple Israel of Hollywood.

During the summer, Abby has been the Parent Liaison at Camp Ramah in Ojai. Abby has developed expertise in outdoor classroom and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curricula, as well as integrated Judaic and Israel curricula. Prior to her work at Temple Israel of Hollywood, Abby worked at Stephen S. Wise Early Childhood Center, where she served as an Early Childhood Education Teacher and Parent Education Facilitator, offering parent education workshops in addition to classroom teaching. Part of Abby's continued passion is to create local and national alliances to promote best practices in Jewish Early Childhood Education. Abby holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Composition from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. She holds a master teacher and Site Supervisor certificate in Early Childhood Education from the State of California, and an Outdoor Classroom Specialist certificate from The Outdoor Classroom Project. Abby is an active Alumni Fellow of the Jewish Early Childhood Educators Leadership Institute (JECELI) and sits on the leadership council for the BJE's Early Childhood Centers Director's Network.

Renee Kalmanson, Assistant Director

Renee joined the administrative team as Program Coordinator and then Assistant Director after teaching in a Sprouts classroom. With six years of experience as an early childhood educator under her belt, she now works collaboratively with the ECC administration and teaching staff to create, facilitate, and manage the day-to-day programming and operations of the ECC. Renee recently received her California Child Development Program Director Permit, and feels lucky to be able to learn and grow as an administrator in such an incredible community. Fun fact: Renee is half Chinese and half Israeli, and was raised Jewish in Hong Kong.

Molly Mills, Infant-Toddler & Family Center Director

The ECC warmly welcomes Molly Mills, our new Infant-Toddler and Family Center Coordinator. Molly brings an impressive and eclectic mix of training to her new position. She's a certified Infant Specialist with special training in RIE Foundations. Molly's a Graduate of UC Berkeley and is a member of the First 36 Fellowship. Molly is a native Californian and mom of two children. Her son Rowan is a student here at the VBS ECC. Molly is passionate about helping parents through the first years of parenting. And here's our favorite fun fact: Molly studied voice and opera for 10 years!

Claire Berger, Director of Admissions and Communications

In the dual role of Admissions and Communications Director, Claire Berger connects with families, children and the community through compassion and humor. Claire worked for decades in the entertainment industry as a comedian before joining the VBS ECC in 2012. Claire is an enthusiastic marathon walker, having completed seven marathons for Leukemia Team in Training. She lives a double life in Italy as a trained chef. Claire is the proud grandmother of her sweet baby granddaughter, has two grown children, one fabulous son in-law and an adorable grandpuppy.

Etz Chaim Learning Center

Keri Loventhal, ECLC Director

Keri Loventhal is the Director of the VBS Etz Chaim Learning Center, providing supplemental Jewish education to students in grades K-7. She began working at VBS in 2011. Prior to joining the ECLC, Keri was the Director of Education at Mishkon Tephilo and worked previously at Stephen Wise. Keri graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. She later earned her Masters of Arts in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism (now known as the American Jewish University) along with a second Bachelors Degree in Hebrew Literature. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Mark and two daughters, Skye and Payton. Additionally Keri enjoys pilates and reading!

Emily Arzio, Communications & Administrative Assistant

Emily Arzio joined the Valley Beth Shalom Etz Chaim Learning Center in 2019 as the Communications & Administrative Assistant. Emily has been working with children for over 16 years and holds a certification in Early Childhood Development. This past year, Emily worked in our VBS Day School Kids Place aftercare program overseeing after school activities. In addition, she worked at Kids World as the Director of Events for the past four years organizing and executing camp and school outings and donations. Prior, she worked for five years at a preschool in Van Nuys and before that at Pinecrest Schools in Woodland Hills. In her free time, she enjoys developing her small baking business, spending time with her husband and four children, and learning new things about different cultures! Emily can be reached at 818.530.4043.

OurSpaceLA

Susan North Gilboa, OurSpaceLA Director of Programs

Susan came to VBS as a co-founder of the B'Yachad (Together) social group back in 1984 and since then has worked with our youth directors and heads of ECLC. Shortly after, she was hired as the coordinator of the Shaare Tikva (Gates of Hope) and Moreshet (Heritage) classes, plus the JFS Chaverim program when it was housed at VBS. During those 20+ years, Susan created Parent Chats, a B'nai Mitzvah prep program, a post B'nai Mitzvah class, and the Artistic Spectrum of Jewish Learning adult arts program. Susan was the Israeli Dance/Creative Movement Teacher in VBSDS for 18 years, where she created and ran the first Resource Room for the school. Susan also created a Dance Artist in Residence Program for synagogues and school communities, which was piloted and ran at Valley Beth Shalom for two years prior to the Schulweis Arts Institute was created.

In 2007 she became the co-founder and part time director of the OurSpace (now "OurSpaceLA") collaboration between Valley Beth Shalom and Temple Aliyah. This allowed the existing programs to expand and based on the ever-changing needs of people in the community, for new programs to be offered. Susan has served and continues to serve on numerous task forces, advisory boards, and as a consultant for the Jewish Federation, BJELA, Camp Ramah's Tikva program, and various synagogues in LA and Orange County. She has taught sessions for AJU Service Learning, Delet and Master's of Education students at HUC and for teacher in-service training at various locations. Susan's vision and goal has always been to create spaces and programs where opportunities to participate in living a full Jewish life are experienced by everyone in our community. Susan is a true pioneer in the field, and an inspiration for all.

Susan and her husband Rami are long time members of the VBS community, and their children, Talia and Aviv, are VBS, Heschel and NCJHS alumni. Following in the footsteps of their mother, they both attended Camp Ramah (as toddlers, campers and on staff) and are on the alumni board of Ramah. Susan (born and raised in NY), and Rami (born and raised in Israel) have been members since 1993, they both took the Para- Rabbinic class with Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (z"l), are active shul goers, and that includes Rami attending the N'Shama Minyan of which Susan is one of its co-founders and committee members.

VBS Harold M. Schulweis Day School

Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei, Head of School

Rabbi Schuldenfrei was named the new Head of School in 2018. Her personal and professional experiences demonstrate her exceptional commitment to the values that define Valley Beth Shalom Day School: academic excellence, a strong Jewish identity, nurturing the whole child, Tikkun Olam, and global citizenship. She is confident and enthusiastic about her ability to honor our past and also to move us forward as a leader in progressive, diverse and joyful education. She is deeply committed to what she calls “soul-centered education,” a social-emotional learning approach to learning. Prior to VBS, Rabbi Deborah served as the director of education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s (HUC-JIR) DeLeT program, teaching students to be teachers. She and her husband, Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei of Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay in Rancho Palos Verdes, have three sons who currently attend the VBS Day School.

To learn about the VBS Day School staff, please visit their website at vbsds.org.

Mon, September 21 2020 3 Tishrei 5781