Torah Tots


Erin Mahone has taught Torah Tots at Or Ami for several years. She is passionate about creating a warm, fun, and wonder-filled environment for our youngest students to explore Judaism with their peers. When she is not teaching at Or Ami, Erin is working as the Director of Cultural Arts and Jewish Education at Richmond’s Jewish Community Center and performing in local theater productions. Erin has three wonderful children who also attend Or Ami’s Religious School.






K-2nd Grades


Alana Silbert grew up actively involved at Congregation Or Ami. As a high school student, she served as the president of Or Ami's youth group, OATY, as well a classroom aide and camp counselor for several years. Alana is now a student at VCU and will be teaching the K-2 class under the mentorship of seasoned teacher Rachel Loria. Alana is excited to share her knowledge and passion for Judaism with the next generation of Or Ami kids.








3-4th Grades


Alyssa Freeman has worked in the field of Jewish education since 1999. She has taught kindergarten, 3rd, and 4th grade in addition to working at Camp Sababa (a local weeklong Jewish community summer camp with K-6th grade campers). Originally from New Jersey, Alyssa graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland in 1987, moved to Virginia in 1988, then earned her teaching certificate from VCU. In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys reading, hiking, nature photography, and playing saxophone as well as clarinet for Or Ami’s klezmer band – Klezm’Or’Ami’m.





5-6th Grades


Lindsey Sheldon grew up highly involved in her temple community in northern Virginia. As a high school student, she took on leadership roles in her temple and regional youth groups; and today she is still committed to furthering her own Jewish education while sharing it with others. Lindsey graduated with her Master’s degree in Teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University. She currently teaches fourth grade in Richmond City Public Schools. This past summer she had the opportunity to journey to Israel on Birthright, and she is so excited to share her passion for Israel with her students and fellow congregants this year.







7th Grade


Kiel Posner grew up actively involved at his synagogue Temple Rodef Shalom in McLean, VA. He was a Madrich (Religious School classroom assistant), a leader of his NFTY youth group, and a camp counselor at Camp Rodef Shalom. Kiel is currently an art major at VCU and looks forward to sharing his passion for Judaism and art with our students this year.








8th Grade


Margaret Sequeira is a professional religious educator, working with all ages of children as well as adults. Margaret has her Masters Degree in Theology (MTS) with an emphasis in Ethics and Social Theory. She has over twenty years of experience teaching in and directing religious education programs in various religious communities. Engaging in multifaith work has been a key part of her life, especially while working at the College of William and Mary. Margaret has been been an active participant in Or Ami's Shabbat services and adult education programs since 2015. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge of Judaism and other world religions with our 8th graders this year.







K-2nd and 7th Grade Classroom Mentor

RachelRachel Loria grew up at Or Ami since the age of 5. She attended Christopher Newport University and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2009 while getting a minors in religious studies and leadership studies and helping at a local synagogue. She earned her Master’s in Education in Early Childhood Special Education in 2012 and worked at Richmond Public Schools while in school. Rachel has taught at Or Ami for several years and will be working with the K-2 class and the 7 grade class as a mentor to our new teachers and extra hand in the classrooms. During the week, Rachel works as a Disability Advocate. She is happy to give back to Or Ami as a teacher after all of her years of being a member.









Nancy Nelson has been teaching professionally for the past 27 years. She has taught both Religious School and secondary mathematics in public schools in the Richmond area (at Henrico High School for the past 18 years). Her passion for education led to her pursuit of National Board Certification and a Master’s in math education. Nancy is also our youth advisor for OATY (Or Ami Temple Youth) and has been a youth group advisor for almost 20 years. Nancy has a passion for working with youth and sponsors many student clubs in addition to teaching at Or Ami and Henrico High School.









Henry Horwitz is a member of Or Ami with a passion for music. He is a talented guitar player who looks forward to sharing his love of music with our K-8th grade students this year. Henry is also a graduate of VCU, married to the lovely Laura, and a volunteer at Richmond Animal League.










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Elaine Ragone began as Or Ami’s cantorial-soloist many years ago and continues to work at Or Ami as our chanting specialist. Her enthusiasm for life and Jewish music is highly contagious. Elaine meets with the 5th-7th graders ten times each year to review the melodies for prayers they will need to know for their B’nei Mitzvah ceremonies. She also tutors B’nei Mitzvah students who would like to learn how to chant Torah trope.








Religious School Director

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Rabbi Ahuva Zaches has been teaching students of all ages for over a decade. As the Director of Education at the Joy Kramer Religious School, Rabbi Ahuva leads creative assemblies for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade every Sunday morning. Every other Sunday evening, she also teaches our Confirmation students in 9th and 10th grade. And on other days the week, Rabbi Ahuva leads Or Ami’s Torah Study group, Reel Theology (a film-based class), adult Hebrew, and our Introduction to Judaism course (open to Or Ami members and guests).



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