Rabbi Dr. Yossi Kastan, our Head of School grew up in North Miami Beach. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Business from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, his semicha from Rabbi Ari Kahn, and his Master’s and Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in South Florida. He is a graduate of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) and the Harvard Principal’s Center. Prior to coming to Berman, he was the Head of School at Brauser Maimonides Academy in Hollywood, Florida. He is married to Kara, and they have four children, Anaelle, Netanel, Lielle, and Gavriel. When he is not at school or spending time with his family, Rabbi Dr. Kastan can be found reading, cooking and baking, or exercising.
Rebecca Gautieri, our Preschool Director, grew up in the Washington area in a family that was always active in the Jewish community. She earned her Bachelors degree in Nursing from Boston University. She completed early childhood lead teacher training with the State of Maryland and she holds a Certificate of Early Childhood Leadership through the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Saul Zaentz Early Childhood Initiative. She is an active participant in the Jewish Federation’s Early Childhood Directors’ Council and is an alumna of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute. She co-facilitated the Mesorah Community of Practice of orthodox early childhood leaders from around the country. Morah Rebecca lives with her husband Joe in Olney, Their three grown children all attended Berman.
Rachel Handloff, our Lower School Principal, grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan where she attended Hillel Day School. Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and a minor in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan. After a one-year fellowship at University of Michigan’s Hillel, Rachel moved to Maryland to be the full time youth director at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, MD. While working at Beth El, Rachel attended The Johns Hopkins University and graduated with a Master of Science in Counseling. Rachel was a middle school guidance counselor at The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and The Potomac School prior to joining Berman in 2009 as the Lower School Guidance Counselor. Rachel lives with her husband Rich and daughters Hannah and Sophie in Rockville.
Suzy Israel, our Lower School Principal, was born in Israel and raised in Toronto, Canada. She attended Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem after High school. She obtained her BA from York University in Toronto, after which she returned to the teachers’ program at Midreshet Moriah for an additional year. Suzy earned her MA from State University of New York while living in Rochester NY. While in Rochester, Suzy taught 3rd Grade in an elementary school as well as resource classes in a girls’ high school. Since moving to Maryland in 2003, Suzy has been an Educational Support Services teacher and Director at our school. Suzy is passionate about finding the appropriately challenging educational program to meet the academic and spiritual needs of every Jewish child. She lives in Kemp Mill with her husband and children.
Shira Loewenstein, our Middle School Principal, has spent the majority of her career in the field of Jewish education. For ten years, she taught both General and Judaic studies to middle school and upper elementary students. She was both a teacher leader and director in her middle school, advancing both the social and educational development for her students. She also served as a mentor teacher for beginning teachers through the Delet program. She served as Director for Yeshiva University School Partnership and Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools for seven years, leading national programs for teacher development including the New Teacher Induction Program.
Dr. Loewenstein earned her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College at Columbia University in math and statistics and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Brandeis University through the Delet program. She completed her doctoral dissertation through Yeshiva University writing about teacher leadership in Jewish day schools.
Mr. Brett Kugler was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a graduate of the Berman Hebrew Academy. He studied at Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Washington before getting his BA in Studio Art from the University of Maryland and an MS in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University.
After working with Sulam, he has worked for the last 16 years at the Charles E Smith Jewish Day School as a learning specialist. In his time at CESJDS, he ran the Middle School Mechitza Ashkenazi Minyan for over 10 years and was the Z’man Kodesh Coordinator of the High School minyan program for the past 2 years. He also coached the girls middle school basketball team to 5 championships, winning 3 in his 6 years as coach.
He has mentored new teachers, served on an Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) accreditation committee, and has been published in both Prizmah and Lookstein’s educational journals in the past 3 years. He was selected as an honoree by the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) as a teacher who weaves positive thinking and a growth mindset into skill-building and reflection with students. In his spare time, he enjoys maintaining a travel blog, sports, and volunteering with the NCSY’s Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars program, where he has been a mentor for the past 10 years. He is currently finishing up a one-year program as a fellow with the Teacher Institute for the Arts and has worked as the Youth Director at Young Israel Shomrai Emunah for 7 years. He also worked at Kol Shalom both as a teacher and as the Director of Experiential Jewish Education. He lives with his wife (who also teaches at Berman) and his 3 children (all Berman students) in Kemp Mill.
Rabbi Allan Houben, our Rabbi Moshe H. Levinson Upper School Principal, joins our community after serving as the High School Judaic Studies Principal at the Atlanta Jewish Academy (AJA), an Early childhood – 12th grade Modern Orthodox Day School. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Yeshiva College, an M.S. in Education from Azrieli Graduate School of Education, and Smicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). He participated in the inaugural YU Lead (now YOU Lead) leadership training program and has since served as a cohort mentor and unit facilitator. He has taught professional development courses through Yeshiva University and Prizmah including: Classroom Innovation in the Judaic Classroom, Revitalizing Jewish Education with Project-Based Learning, From Teacher to Leader, and Furthering Your Career. Rabbi Houben was chosen to be a member of the 2018 Avi Chai sponsored cohort at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership and Cohort 11 of DSLTI- The Day School Leadership Training Institute.
Rabbi Houben also spent three years as an Assistant Principal at SAR High School in Riverdale, NY and nine years at the Weinbaum Yeshiva High School (now Katz Yeshiva High School) in Boca Raton, Florida, where he served as a Judaic Studies Teacher and Assistant Director of Student Activities. As a member of the Boca Raton Community Kollel, from 2005-2007, he served as the spiritual leader of the Elinore Lome z”l Explanatory Minyan and lectured as part of the Boca Raton Synagogue Adult Education Program.
Rabbi Houben spent 11 summers at Camp HASC in Parksville, New York, most recently as the Director of Recreational Programming, retiring after the 2015 summer. He is an Eagle Scout, a passionate Boston sports fan, and has completed two ING Miami Half-Marathons.
Ms. Malkie Hametz, our Upper School Dean of Students, joins us from Shalhevet High School where she served as the Mashgicha Ruchanit, Director of Chesed, and a member of the Judaic Studies faculty. In her roles at Shalhevet, Ms. Hametz works directly with students both in and out the classroom, designing engaging lessons, providing opportunities to deepen connections with the broader community, and supporting the academic and social-emotional growth of the students.
Prior to Shalhevet, Ms. Hametz taught in middle school and ran student programming at Gindi Maimonides Academy. At Gindi, she helped develop and implement an advisory program designed to support the social-emotional growth of students. Additionally, the student activities and programming enhanced the school culture and community through experiential education. Ms. Hametz has also served as the co-director of Next Step: Israel Internship, where she led 55 students on an internship leadership summer program traveling through Israel.
Ms. Hametz graduated with a Master’s degree in Education from American Jewish University, holds a BA in English Communications and Public Relations from Stern College for Women, and an Associates Degree in Judaic Studies.
Yonah Singer joined our team in the summer of 2020. He previously served as the Athletic Director at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School. Before turning his professional attention to athletics, Yonah received his Masters in Special Education and taught special and general education at private and public schools for nearly ten years. In addition, he has coached basketball (including our very own Boys Varsity team since 2016), soccer, and baseball.
Through his role as our Director of STEM Education and Innovation and Director of Education Technology, Rabbi Tzvi Hametz will continue to enhance our STEM program offerings and develop a cohesive curriculum for our Preschool-12th grade students, creating opportunities for innovation and hands-on learning. In addition, he will train and work with Berman educators on how to integrate technology into their classrooms to best facilitate and enhance learning.
Rabbi Hametz joins us from Gindi Maimonides Academy where he has served as the Director of Creativity and Innovation for the last 7 years. At Gindi Maimonides Academy, he helped create the Innovation Lab and developed a curriculum so that students can utilize the tools available inside the lab, and explore learning in a more hands-on fashion.
Rabbi Hametz is also a Professor of Innovation and Technology at American Jewish University’s Graduate School of Education, as well as a LEGO Master Educator, working with the LEGO group to train teachers all over the country about the power of playful learning.
Rabbi Hametz received his undergraduate degree from Yeshiva University in neuroscience, where he also attended RIETS and received semicha. He received his Master’s in Education and Teaching from American Jewish University, as well as a Master’s in Educational Technology from MIT.
Rachel Cohen brings her passion for reaching and teaching every learner to her position as the Pre-Kindergarten and Lower School Director of Teaching and Learning. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Washington University in St. Louis, her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and holds a certificate in Gifted Education from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. A life-long learner herself, Mrs. Cohen always looks for opportunities to develop her knowledge of effective education for all learners. Additionally, Mrs. Cohen recently participated in the YouLead Program with Prizmah to hone her leadership skills.
Before joining the Berman staff in 2015, Mrs. Cohen spent time working in Baltimore in both public and private schools and in West Hartford, CT. She served as a classroom teacher for fifth grade. She worked for P’tach in Baltimore, leading a resource room at Yeshivat Rambam. She served as Special Services Coordinator at Hebrew Academy of Greater Hartford in Connecticut as well as taught kindergarten Judaics and Middle School Math. At Berman, Mrs. Cohen has taught many students in educational support who benefited from resource or enrichment opportunities and taught elementary science. Most recently, her role as Lower School Curriculum Coordinator allowed her to share her excitement for student achievement, progress monitoring, and supporting teachers.
She lives in Kemp Mill with her husband, David, and 2 sons, Yonatan and Akiva.
Melanie Eisen, our Middle School Director of Teaching and Learning, grew up in the Montreal. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies from McGill University MA in Rabbinic Literature from McGill University, and MA in Education and Human Development from GW University. After 22 years of classroom teaching, Mrs. Eisen has spent the last six years coaching teachers and directors, most recently in her role as Director of Educational Innovation at Prizmah, and before that at the YU School Partnership. She has provided professional development for schools and \communities around the country and has guided curriculum implementations at every grade level. Melanie lives in Northern VA with her husband, 2 children, and dog.
Chava Cohen joins us from the University of Maryland College Park Foundation. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business and she is a certified public accountant. She started her career at Pricewaterhouse Coopers and then spent 9 years at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington United Jewish Endowment Fund. She has served as treasurer of her shul and currently sits on the finance committee of Maryland Hillel. Chava lives in Kemp Mill with her husband Rafi, and they have three children, Talya (Berman ’27), Eliana and Akiva.
Shmarya Gasner joined our school in 2020. He previously served as the Executive Director at Kohelet Yeshiva. Prior to working at Kohelet, he was the Director of Development, Marketing, and Communications at Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia. He has also held administrative and teaching positions at Westchester Day School, Yeshiva University High School for Boys, and the New York City Teaching Fellows program. He received his Bachelor of Science from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business with a concentration in Business Management, a Master of Science from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration (Yeshiva University), and a Master in Public Administration from Penn State University with concentrations in Nonprofit Management and Human Resources. Shmarya lives in Kemp Mill with his wife, Julia, and their three children.
Ellie began her career as an elementary school teacher. Following the completion of her Master’s, Ellie worked as the Data Analyst for the University of Chicago Charter Schools. While at the University of Chicago, Ellie developed and executed research projects that studied student and charter school performance; coordinated strategic planning for K-12 campuses and promoted data as a tool for informing and improving decision making. Most recently, Ellie was a Program Manager at Measuring Success where she worked with independent schools on recruitment, retention and data-driven enrollment growth. Ellie earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brandeis University. Ellie lives with her husband and 3 kids in Potomac, MD and originally hails from the great state of Minnesota.
A passionate marketing professional, Sarah has spent nearly 15 years working with startups, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses. While working at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, she found a love for marketing and worked to enhance the brand, messaging, and performance for the organization. Prior to joining Berman, Sarah served as the Managing Director at ignite: action, a boutique marketing firm that focuses on helping purpose-driven organizations. She has experience leading projects including brand and messaging development, website design, as well as digital campaigns and initiatives. As a Berman parent of three, Sarah is excited to help showcase the amazing stories that occur every day in our school.
Jennifer Zukerman, our Director of Institutional Advancement, was born and raised in Southeastern Virginia. She obtained her BA from George Mason University, after which she spent a year learning at Nishmat in Jerusalem. She was working toward a MA in Psychology when she turned her attention to Jewish communal service. After moving to Maryland Jennifer worked for the Hillel Center for Jewish Life at the University of Maryland for 3 years and developed a very favorable impression of the Berman Hebrew Academy graduates she met there. In 2002, Jennifer joined Berman as the Director of Development, where she filled roles both in development and in marketing/communications. In 2014, Jennifer became our first Director of Institutional Advancement, with responsibilities focusing on building use, development and external affairs. She lives with her family in Silver Spring, and she and her husband are the proud parents of three Berman graduates and one current student.