Welcome to our New Faculty

August 23, 2020

We are thrilled to welcome the following individuals to our Berman Hebrew Academy faculty this year. Please join us in wishing a warm welcome to the following new staff members.

Shiri Appel
Lower School Judaic Assistant

Shiri and her family moved back to the United States from Israel four years ago. Shiri studied nutrition in college and was leading workshops in Israel. She looks forward to working with our Lower School students.

Brita Camaniti
Upper School English

Ms. Brita Caminiti joins our Upper School team as an English instructor. Ms. Caminiti taught at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Study since 2001; she has also served as Coordinator and Lecturer in the English Summer Program and been an English Professorial Lecturer since 2005. She has taught ESL at Towson University and the College of Notre Dame, and served as Lead Instructor and Resident Advisor at Phillips Academy, Andover. 

Ms. Caminiti is a former lecturer at Tufts University and served as a teaching assistant at Harvard University, where she was awarded an Outstanding Teaching Award. She has also taught at EF Language Schools and the New England School of English. Her primary interests are second language acquisition, intercultural communications, and curriculum design.

Rabbi Nathan Fein
Lower School/Middle School Judaic Studies

Rabbi Nathan Fein was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Philadelphia. He has lived all over the world including Jerusalem, Efrat, Australia, Baltimore, New York, and most recently Cleveland. He has a BA from the University of Maryland in History, a MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli, Semicha from YU-RIETS, and studied at Yeshivat HaMivtar. He joins us after 7 years teaching 5th Grade at the Fuchs Mizrachi School and woodworking at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland. He and his wife Naomi (a Berman alumna) live in Kemp Mill with their three sons (Nafi-7, Ami-5, and Eitam-3) and their goldendoodle, Feivel. Rabbi Fein is an Eagle Scout and is still active in scouting; he loves woodworking, reading, sports, and being outdoors.

Dr. Alexsey Gibson
Upper School English

Dr. Aleksey Gibson is excited to join our Upper School team as a member of our English Department. Dr. Gibson attended high schools in Palo Alto and Brussels and graduated from the University of London with a BA and MPhil in Russian Literature & History. After completing his doctorate at the University of Virginia in Slavic Languages & Literatures, he served as academic advisor to a project created by the Getty Conservation Institute dedicated to the cultural preservation of St. Petersburg, Russia. After several years, he realized how much he missed teaching and returned to George Washington University to obtain his certification as a secondary school teacher in ESL. Dr. Gibson has taught English and History for many years at independent and international schools around Washington and whenever possible has enjoyed participating in the Summer Classics program at St. John’s College in Santa Fe.

Ellyn Gibson
Kindergarten General Studies

Hi my name is Ellyn Gibson and I will be teaching kindergarten. I am from the Bethesda area and have two brothers and a beagle named Bitsy. My favorite part about teaching is helping children be able to accomplish individual goals and strides. I am very excited for the upcoming school year. One fun fact about me is that I have been studying dance since I was six years old. 

Efrat Kesner
1st Grade Judaic Studies

Efrat Kesner was born and raised in Gush Katif, Israel. She moved with her family to the USA two years ago, for a few years long of adventure. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Bar Ilan University, spend two years of Jewish Studies at The Institute for Advanced Torah Studies (Midrasha) Bar Ilan, and earned a master’s degree from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Efrat is Harry Potter’s number one fan in Kemp Mill, where she lives with her husband and four children. 

Niki Kimani
AP Psychology/Lower School Assistant

Ms. Niki Kimani is excited to join the Berman family as an AP Psychology teacher and Lower School Assistant. Ms. Kimani is a Maryland native and spent four years living in Kenya. She attended University of Maryland where she received her BA in Psychology with a minor in African Studies. During her time at University of Maryland, Ms. Kimani worked in diversity and inclusion through teaching sociology and social psychology. Additionally, she assisted in teaching multicultural psychology with a focus on teaching about asylee and refugee mental health. Ms. Kimani loves to travel and traveled to 5 countries over 3 months last year.

Chana Kreitman
Kindergarten Assistant

My name is Chani Kreitman and I live in Kemp Mill with my husband. I grew up in Baltimore with three younger brothers, and am continuing to pursue my master’s degree in school counseling. A fun-fact about me is that the character Boo from the movie Monster’s Inc. was modeled after me! Most of all, I’m so excited to get to work in the lower school again this year!

Ariel Kramer
ESS Coordinator

Ms. Kramer grew up in Brookline, MA, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Goucher College in Baltimore, a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from American University, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy at Vanderbilt University. 

Ms. Kramer was a member of the 2019 cohort of the Leadership Institute in Secondary Special Education with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and a Curricular Innovation Fellow with DC Public Schools. She was awarded the Math for America Fellowship in 2011 and subsequently the Master Teacher Fellowship. Moreover, Ms. Kramer has taught Math and Special Education in Washington, DC and worked as a case manager within her school. In her free time she enjoys running, crocheting, and reading. Ms. Kramer lives in Washington, DC with her energetic dog, Ginger.

Dina Kritz
3rd Grade General Assistant

Dina Kritz, a native of Silver Spring, is excited to mark the tenth anniversary of her graduation from Berman by returning to teach! After Berman, she spent a year at Migdal Oz and studied at Brandeis University. She has a certificate in Tanach and Jewish Education from Matan Institute in Jerusalem and is pursuing a Master’s in Jewish Education at Yeshiva University. Dina is looking forward to a wonderful year in 3rd grade.

Rabbi Dan Margulies
Upper School Judaics

Rabbi Dan Margulies is a Bethesda native and recently returned from New York. He studied at Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi in Jerusalem, received his BA in Chemical Physics and Mathematics from Columbia University, and his semikha from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. After receiving semikha, he served as co-director of community learning at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, assistant rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and then as the first rabbi of The Riverdale Minyan. Concurrently, he taught Talmud at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, and continued his learning in the kollel at YU–RIETS. He has published several articles on contemporary halakha at TheLehrhaus.com. He and his wife Ilana (a plastic/reconstructive surgery resident at Georgetown) live in DC with their daughter and golden retriever Menachem, whom they trained as a therapy dog. Rav Dan’s love of the outdoors (especially backpacking) goes back to his youth involvement in DC area Jewish scouting.

Daniella Penn
Middle School English/Coding

Raised in Los Angeles, Daniella graduated from Stern College/Yeshiva University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, after which she decided to do something “useful” and learn to code at the Flatiron School. Two years into a job at a tech startup, she decided she missed the humanities and enrolled at Yale Divinity School to study the history of religion. Always finding a way to teach on the side, Daniella has finally decided to translate her passion for education into a formal role as a classroom teacher. She can’t wait to share her love of literature, writing and creative expression with her students, and to become a member of the Berman community.

Karen Philipps
Middle School English

Karen Philipps grew up in Bethesda.  After attending Williams College and earning her master’s degree at Boston College, she returned to the area.  For the past 16 years, she has taught English at Holton-Arms.  Mrs. Philipps lives in Bethesda with her husband and two daughters.  She enjoys reading, knitting, and gardening.

Shoshana Price
Kindergarten Assistant

Shoshana Price (Shrank), was born in Washington, DC but grew up in the Kemp Mill neighborhood. Shoshana attended the Berman Hebrew Academy under its former name the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington starting in 3 year old nursery until graduating from 12th grade in 1996. Shoshana earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland – College Park and her Master’s in Social Work from Temple University in Philadelphia. Before taking a professional break in order to raise her children, Shoshana had worked as a social worker and as a child and adolescent therapist in New York, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Shoshana is married to David (Dave) Shrank and together they have 3 children, Zachary, Sarah, and Cobi.

Interesting fact: Shoshana is a 2nd generation Hebrew Academy graduate. Shoshana’s mother, Barbara (Billauer) Price graduated 9th grade from the Hebrew Academy in 1961 before there was a high school.

Nuvin Rughoonundun
Middle School Math

Mr. R. holds a BA. (HONS) in Mathematics from SNHU and an Associate in Teaching, and is in the process of completing his Masters in Teaching with a concentration in Secondary Math. He has been a math teacher for the past 20 years. His goal is to help students be successful in class by providing them the essential tools and support. His classes are built around a positive, productive and holistic learning environment.

Melanie Schaeffer
4th Grade General Studies/ESS

Hello everyone, I am Melanie Schaeffer. This year, I will be teaching 4th grade and I will be a part of the ESS team. One fun fact about me is that I love to sing, and I have taken voice lessons for ten years. I also enjoy spending time with family and exercising. I am extremely excited to join this wonderful group of staff and students!

Rabbi Avi Spodek
Upper School Judaics

Rabbi Avi Spodek is originally from Toronto, Canada. He earned a BA in History from Bar Ilan University (Israel), a Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew College (Boston) and received smicha from Rav Daniel Landes and Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg. Rabbi Spodek has been teaching and living in the US since 2001, making this his 20th year in Jewish education.