Kehillah High’s faculty includes a variety of unique professionals from the greater Houston community including local clergy, Jewish, and secular educational professionals. Take a look at our amazing Kehillah High faculty!
Katelyn Bleiweiss is a 4th generation native Houstonian, who is proud to be serving her community. She attended HSPVA and then went on to do Young Judea Year Course in Israel. Upon her return, she attended the University of Texas at Austin and received a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Jewish Studies. After a few years in Austin, she returned to Houston to attend the University of Texas Health Science Center- School of Public Health, and earned her Masters of Public Health with a focus in program planning, implementation, and evaluation. As the need for suicide prevention was increasing, Katelyn was recruited into the new mental health programs department to serve as a mental health program coordinator. She is now the first and only certified Sources of Strength instructor in Texas, and is very passionate about finding the positives in life. In her free time, she likes to hike, pet dogs, play music, and create crafts.
Sacha Bodner is a grateful dad, husband, and licensed master social worker in Houston, TX. He was inspired to pursue his career after experiencing transformative alternative break trips in El Salvador, Mexico, Ukraine, and Ghana. With graduate degrees in Social Work and Law and Social Policy, he has dedicated his profession to advocating for vulnerable children and families across schools, communities, and cultures. He has recently served as a Trainer with Fuel Ed, a Houston based non-profit organization that fuels schools with the power of empathic relationships, as well as a Regional Facilitator with New Politics Leadership Academy, a national non-profit dedicated to creating opportunities for service veterans to engage with policy and politics. Since shortly after Hurricane Harvey, he has managed Act Now Houston, a volunteer initiative that engages the local and national Jewish Community in rebuilding a greater Houston through service. Creative as well in artistic pursuits of music, photography, and cooking, Sacha is passionate about building inclusive community and empowering individuals to maximize positive social progress.
Kate Chavez was born and raised in Los Angeles and went to Sonoma State University, where she earned a degree in political science. Kate is passionate for public service, international relations and learning about the Middle East. In university, Kate pursued political internships with congressmen and senators, involved herself in student government on campus, and participated in trips to Israel with pro-Israel organizations and political organizations on campus. Kate also formed the first Israel club on her college campus! After graduating, Kate spent a year immersing herself in Israeli society and taught English to children in Bat Yam, Israel. During that year, she fell more deeply in love with the people, culture, religion, and the country of Israel. Kate is very excited to have returned to the Southwest region to educate teens across 10 states about Israel!
Michael Duke is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist for Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice newspaper. Michael joins the faculty of Kehillah High with more than a dozen years of teaching experience, ranging from the college undergraduate level to high school and middle school. Beyond the traditional classroom setting, he has helped guide teen trips to Israel, Poland and Washington, has run journalism and photography workshops, and is a curriculum developer and presenter for the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s Teen Israel Ambassadors program. Born in Tehran, Iran, two years before the Islamic Revolution, Michael regards himself as an unapologetic Zionist, who is passionate about helping students find their own connections with Israel as a means of strengthening their Jewish identities. Outside of work, Michael pursues street and documentary photography. He enjoys collaborating with his wife, Rachel, an art historian, who works in the Latin American Art department at Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Sophie is a housing and environmental justice researcher and advocate at Texas Housers. She derives her inspiration to work for community equity from the Jewish value of b’tselem elohim, the idea that we all exist in the image of the divine. Prior to working on housing justice issues, she did corporate accountability research and studied biology and public health. In her spare time, she provides educational workshops on topics related to Judaism and social justice as an Avodah Justice Ambassador. Some other interests of hers include intentional communities, hiking, dancing, and folk music.
Sheryl Eskowitz is the Education Director at Congregation Beth Yeshurun. She is a native Houstonian and has loved coming full circle to work at the synagogue she grew up in. After graduating with a degree in Elementary Education from The University of Texas at Austin, she attained her Master's Degree in Reading Education and her Mid-Management Certification. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in public school. She served as the Elementary School Principal at The Shlenker School for fourteen years and held a dual position of Acting Head of School/Elementary Principal for two of those years. She later became the Regional Director for Lonestar Region BBYO, where she worked for five years. In her spare time, she enjoys playing mah jongg and spending time with family and friends.
Rabbi Gideon Estes
Rabbi Gideon Estes is the Rabbi of Congregation Or Ami, a Conservative Synagogue in West Houston. Rabbi Estes was Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2010. He got his BA from UCLA in 2003 in Jewish Studies. He is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is very excited to be teaching at Kehillah High.
Rabbi Sarah Fort
Rabbi Sarah Fort is the assistant rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun. She graduated from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, California in 2017, and holds a BA in Government and International Politics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. A native of the DC area, Rabbi Fort spent years working in Jewish formal and informal education: as a youth group advisor, religious school instructor, Hillel president, and assistant preschool teacher. While in rabbinical school, Rabbi Fort was awarded the Jacob Pressman Award in Homiletics, interned at Shomrei Torah Synagogue, and had the opportunity to travel to Birobidzhan, Russia to serve as a camp rabbi at the JDC Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Camp, alongside her husband, Rabbi Ariel Sholklapper. Together, both rabbis enjoy binging on TV shows, cooking, and traveling the world.
Yoni Glatt is the Director of the Jewish Teen Educational Experience Network (JTEEN), for the Jewish Federation of Great MetroWest NJ- The largest teen Federation program in the world! He has published over 1000 crosswords puzzles worldwide and is the author of the “Kosher Crosswords” book series. He is also a former Marvel employee and author of the graphic novel “The Anointed: Rise of the Shepherd King”. He has a MA in Creative Writing from Queens College and a Halacha Mastery degree from Yeshivat Orach Chaim in Jerusalem. Yoni is also a member of the Gen Now Fellowship with Danielle Alexander, and every March he optimistically/ foolishly thinks “This is the year the Mets win it all.”
Sarah Goldberg is the Program Associate at Congregation Beth Yeshurun. Sarah grew up outside Philadelphia, PA and attended Tulane University, where she studied Psychology, Sociology, and Jewish Studies. She worked at Camp Ramah for five summers which sparked her passion for experiential Jewish education. Sarah moved to Houston in 2016 and enjoys traveling, going to concerts, and exploring the diverse local food scene.
Zoë Goldberg was born in Memphis, TN and grew up in Orlando, FL. She went to Florida Atlantic University, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology and became active in her local Hillel. After graduation, she started her career in the Jewish world as the Director of Undergraduate Engagement at Houston Hillel. After two years in Houston, she relocated to Florida and served the role as the Youth Engagement Professional at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton. Over the past few years she’s engaged with youth groups from K-12th grade, taught in the religious school and worked with NFTY-STR Regional Board on programming for upcoming Kallot/Conventions. Zoë is also currently in the process of receiving her Masters in Jewish Education. Zoë became the Regional Director of BBYO of the Delta Region back in February 2020.
Elyssa Fink Gottheim
Elyssa is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. A native Houstonian, Elyssa went to the University of Michigan where she received a BA in psychology and the University of Chicago where she received a masters in Social Work. Elyssa worked at various schools, hospitals, and nonprofits providing therapy to children, adolescents, adults, and families. Elyssa is passionate about destigmatizing mental health through open conversations, education, and support. In her spare time, Elyssa loves baking, traveling, doing creative projects, and playing with her one year old and husband.
Carol Jacobson is the AIPAC Early Engagement Director. She works with high schoolers all over the US on political activism and supporting the US-Israel relationship in a bipartisan way. Carol grew up in Seattle, Washington and graduated from Yeshiva University. She currently resides in Tel Aviv where her husband is in medical school. In addition to her joy for teaching, Carol is a passionate baker and has a small bakery business out of her house in Tel Aviv. She’s so excited to be a part of the Kehillah High family!
After 20 years working in professional sports and entertainment, Olga enrolled at the Jewish Theological Seminary and graduated in 2014 with a Master's Degree in Jewish Education. She holds an B.A. Degree in Sociology from Princeton University.
Dena Levie, of Teaneck, New Jersey, designs and creates beautiful personalized papercut artwork. Dena has always had a love for the arts. At Stern College (Yeshiva University) she received degrees in both Computer Science and Fine Art. She began to experiment with papercutting when her oldest daughter was born 26 years ago. Since then she has made this her full time passion creating almost 2000 paper cuts.
Dena enjoys working with people to create a personalized piece of art that will be enjoyed for years to come. This includes hand calligraphed ketubot (Jewish wedding documents), family trees, wedding and Bar Mitzvah gifts as well as artwork for school and synagogue honorees. Ms. Levie was commissioned to design a few pieces that were presented to Michael Douglas, Steven Spielberg and Bette Midler. She also created the cover of the Youth Dub CD for the musician, Matisyahu. Most recently she was commissioned to create a piece for the Jewish Children's Museum in New York City.
Dena has taught papercutting at many schools and synagogues and in 2020 started teaching on zoom. She is now able to teach classes to students all around the world! She is excited to be teaching at Kehillah High. She can be reached through her website.
Cantor Mark Levine
Cantor Mark Levine is the Director of Education at Congregation Brith Shalom. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the State University of New York and a Judaic degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary, he earned a master's degree as a Chazan at the Manhattan School for Cantors. Cantor Levine has taught in Religious Schools, Day Schools, and The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning programs across the country. He has led several teen trips to Israel and worked for more than 15 years at Camp Ramah. Cantor Levine brings a burning passion for Jewish learning, psychology, and professional sports, all of which he utilizes in his teaching.
Rabbi David Lyon
Rabbi David Lyon is Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel. He is an advocate for Israel, promotes interfaith relations in greater Houston, and serves the Reform Movement as a board member of the CCAR. He is the author of “God of Me: Imagining God throughout Your Lifetime” (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2011). Every Sunday morning at 6:45am, he can be heard on the radio at KODA 99.1. At Kehillah High, Rabbi Lyon is eager to teach and inspire, and he welcomes time with students over coffee/latte/chai tea to talk about their concerns and interests. On vacation, he loves to hike in the Colorado Rockies and fly fish on the Roaring Fork River. Rabbi Lyon is married to Lisa and they have four children.
Manizeh Mirza-Gruber, M.D.
My name is Manizeh Mirza-Gruber, M.D., and I am a licensed, board-certified psychiatrist with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. I work in community mental health and am the founder of my private practice, Mindful in Practice™. As an individual, parent, and psychiatrist, I follow a holistic approach to life. I believe in connecting mind, body, and spirit for healing. I am “mindful in practice”, taking one moment at a time to help others on their journey to becoming their true and authentic self.
I focus on wellness – healthy lifestyle, stress management, exercise, and nutrition. I am a Certified Mind-Body Skills Facilitator with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. I have been facilitating Mind-Body Skills groups and workshops since January 2018 to bring healing in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and now through the pandemic. I am also a Certified Yoga Teacher with the National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers.
I am happily married to my husband and we have two adult children. I am an avid runner, a marathoner, and ultramarathoner. I have a daily practice of running, yoga, and meditation. I love to read, cook, spend time with my family and friends, and volunteer. I am a forever learner.
Rabbi Steven Morgen
Rabbi Steven Morgen is an Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun. He graduated from UCLA School of Law and practiced corporate and securities law in Los Angeles for over nine years. Rabbi Morgen was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1998. He has written action papers for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism on "Courtesy and Civility" and on "Organ Donations" and wrote and edited the text for a CD ROM on Kashrut for the Conservative Movement. Rabbi Morgen coordinates Adult Education programs at Beth Yeshurun and runs the Conversion Program for those interested in joining the Jewish faith and people. He is married to Cantor Diane Dorf. Their son Daniel is a Kehillah High alum.
Jennifer Quick is the Assistant Principal of the Miriam Browning Jewish Learning Center at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, Texas. Before coming to Texas, Jennifer was the Youth Program Manager for Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, California. She has worked in various roles in Jewish education over the past 10 years including family educator, youth group advisor, Hebrew tutor, retreat coordinator, and classroom teacher. Jennifer is a proud recipient of The Smotrich Educator Award from the BJE of Los Angeles (Builders of Jewish Education). She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Northridge. She is currently enrolled in the Executive Masters Program for Leadership in Jewish Education through Hebrew Union College. Jennifer is also a certified Yoga teacher with a focus on teen and children yoga.
Matt Rissien lives in the Northwest Suburbs outside of Chicago, where he has an active presence within the Greater Chicagoland Jewish community. Matt is the Midwest Managing Director for IsraelLINK and the National IsraelLINKConnect Coordinator, bringing interactive Israel education to middle schools and beyond. Matt has also staffed over 10 trips to Israel for ages ranging from Middle School through young adult. Matt is married to Brittany, a middle school special education teacher. Matt has also created a number of Jewish YouTube parodies (check out his dreidel rap and more)!
Rabbi Aaron Sataloff
Rabbi Aaron Sataloff holds a Master of Arts in Jewish nonprofit management from the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit, a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from HUC-JIR, and a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies from University of Oregon. Rabbi Sataloff was ordained in 2017 from HUC-JIR, Los Angeles and upon ordination, he served as the spiritual leader at Temple Beth Israel in Macon, Georgia, from 2017 to 2020. Then in July 2020, Rabbi Sataloff began the next chapter of his rabbinate by joining the Congregation Beth Israel clergy team as the Assistant Rabbi. Many people know Rabbi Sataloff through his blog, rabbiaaron.com. His imagination is endless, his gift for writing is visible, and he continuously encourages deep conversations. Rabbi Sataloff loves the Jewish people, learning about others, making connections, and embracing spirituality. He also has a special place in his heart for community, music, Israel, Hebrew, social justice, summer camp, his dog, Charlie, and of course, black coffee.
David M. Scott, RJE is the Director of Lifelong Learning & Engagement at Congregation Beth Israel. He has served the congregation full time since January 2014, after practicing law for thirteen years. In 2017, he graduated from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Executive Master’s (EMA) Program with a Master of Arts Degree in Religious Education in 2017 and subsequently received his RJE certification in 2018. He also serves as a national Board Member of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE). David completed his undergraduate studies with a major in Government at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 followed by a law degree at the University of Houston Law Center in 2001. David is also an alumnus in the Wexner Heritage Foundation class of 2006. David enjoys music, playing piano, performing magic, and is a licensed hypnotist. He also enjoys working with his wife, Rabbi Adrienne Scott, who is Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, and they have two children, Beryt and Ezra.
Rabbi Adrienne Scott
Rabbi Adrienne Scott is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, she received her B.A. with Honors in Judaic Studies in 1998. Rabbi Scott served a one-year fellowship with the Hillel Foundation of Greater Houston, working as a Jewish Campus Service Fellow focusing on outreach programming for the undergraduate students at Rice University and the University of Houston. She received her ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and served student pulpits in Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Additionally, she was very involved in both choral and orchestral groups. Rabbi Scott has been recognized as a Woman of Influence by the National Council of Jewish Women.
McKenzie currently serves as an Assistant Director at URJ Greene Family Camp focused on hiring and supporting the best counselors and staff members. Residing in Houston during the year and working with the Houston Jewish community, McKenzie feels fortunate to be able to create camp magic all year long! Prior to her current role at Greene, McKenzie was a student at the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!) studying elementary education and Religious School Director at the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation. During her free time, McKenzie enjoys yoga and exploring the best of Houston parks!
Dolph Simon has been teaching religious school for 15 years. He was recognized as one of the 2016 Irving L. Samuels Outstanding Teachers for Judaic Studies award recipients. When not teaching religious school, he works for a steel company where he trains personnel, manages sales representatives, develops large accounts and directs change management. Dolph is married and is the proud father of four children, three turtles, two dogs, and one snake. His hobbies include: golf, tennis and cooking.
Lisa Stone is a native Texan and a Jewish educator since age 14, when she became a teaching assistant at Congregation Emanu El. Lisa graduated from Yale with a BA in “Literature and Society” and later a Masters in Public Health. Since returning to Houston, she served as Upper School Principal at Emanu El from 1992-2012. She now works for ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, which has been fighting prejudice and hate since 1913. She is very happily married to Scott Cantor, an enthusiastic karaoke singer, volunteer at Congregation Beth Israel and professor of medical decision making; together they have three wonderful adult children. In her spare time, Lisa really enjoys being in the mountains, yoga, exercise while reading science fantasy by women writers, and knitting while watching movies or traveling!
Rabbi Brian Strauss
Rabbi Brian Strauss joined Congregation Beth Yeshurun in July 2001. He is the author of the new book, “To Life, To Family, To Me: 6 Keys to a Good Family Life,” an Amazon.com #1 Category Best Seller. Rabbi Strauss grew up in Dallas and was very active in BBYO serving as the president of the Dallas Council. He is a graduate of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu and president of the UT Hillel. He is still a huge Longhorn fan. Rabbi Strauss was selected as the winner in the men’s spiritual leader category in Houston’s city-wide “Gen Next” contest, which recognizes Jewish professionals in their twenties and thirties. He was also a member of the prestigious program Rabbis Without Borders, sponsored by the National Jewish Center for Learning & Leadership (CLAL). Rabbi Strauss is married to Lisa Shapiro Strauss, a practicing attorney and a previous fellow in the Wexner Heritage Program. They have three children.
Rabbi Ranon Teller
Rabbi Ranon Teller is the rabbi at Congregation Brith Shalom. He graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in Television Writing. Rabbi Teller earned a Master's Deggree in Education from the Fingerhut School of Education and his rabbinic ordination from Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He served on the board at Jewish Family Service and is the President of the Houston Rabbinical Association. Rabbi Teller has a beautiful wife, Vicki, and four beautiful children, Ariella Pearl, Maya Naima, Jake
Aaron, and Nava Liba, and a dog named Jessie Afikoman. He plays guitar and loves Jewish music, blues, folk and any music with deep roots.
Alyssa Weinstein-Sears is the Summer Learning Experiences Manager for Holocaust Museum Houston. She also works on their Educator in Motion team to bring Holocaust, genocide, and social cruelty curriculum to schools in the Greater Houston area. Alyssa has a BA in English and Creative Writing from the Pennsylvania State University, a certificate in Strategic Communication from University of Texas, and is completing her Masters in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Gratz College, in Pennsylvania. She believes that utilizing the past to understand the present can help young people build a better future. When Alyssa isn’t teaching, she likes to spend time with her husband, their two children, and her two dogs.
Dr. Stephan Wexler
Dr. Stephan Wexler has been a member of Congregation Beth Israel since the 1960s. After retiring from Plastic Surgery practice in 2001, Dr. Wexler went on to receive a masters degree in Theatre, an MBA and a JD. He has been teaching religious school since 2002. Among the many hats he wears, Dr. Wexler practices Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law working with authors, artists and musicians, teaches Art Law at Glassell School of Art, is Chief Medical Officer for Arcos, a local startup designing software for critical care medicine and he started a legal aid clinic for patients at Legacy Community Health.
Sarah Yonas is the Regional Director for BBYO Lonestar Region. Originally from Ohio, Sarah attended The Ohio State University, Kent State University, and most importantly, graduated with high honors from her hometown’s community “Hebrew High”. She taught religious school for a variety of ages in Austin, and was a 2012 recipient of the Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Sarah has truly missed teaching since moving to Houston a few years ago, and can’t wait to be back in the classroom! When Sarah isn’t working, she loves to bake (ask her for some challah!), read, cheer on her Buckeyes, and explore Houston.