Our Teachers


Torah Tots (Preschool)

 Rachel Loria

Rachel 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 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 graduate school. Rachel has taught students of all ages at Or Ami for a number of years. 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.

K-1st Grade

Eddie Lucas is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he is very active in Jewish life on campus. He recently completed a internship at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. Eddie is passionate about Jewish learning and is excited to begin his third year teaching Religious School at Or Ami.

2nd-4th Grade

Alyssa 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.

5th-8th Grade

Nancy Nelson




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.


Sarah Davis is a passionate about Jewish education. She has been very involved in the adult education programs at Or Ami over the past year and looks forward to sharing her passion for Jewish learning with the beginning Hebrew students in 2nd-4th grade. Outside of Or Ami, Sarah works in pharmaceutical product development and enjoys hiking as well as spending time with her husband, Jonathan, and their three cats.

Alex Simon

Alex Simon has taught in Or Ami’s Religious School for 20 years, taking time off only when serving as the congregation’s President. He has worked as a lawyer in Richmond for over 40 years and raised his family at Or Ami. All three of his children were Confirmed at Or Ami after their Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. Alex generously volunteers his time and works along with Nancy Nelson and the rabbi on prayer based Hebrew.


Vania Farnsworth

Vania Farnsworth has been a member at Congregation Or Ami for 10 years. Originally from France, Vania graduated from a French Business School in Reims, and moved to the USA more than twenty years ago. Vania is passionate about children and education. She taught second grade at Or Ami for four years and has always included art in her curriculum. Vania brings experience with a number of different media and techniques in painting, drawing, building, and sewing. She is excited to share her passion for art with Or Ami’s students this year.

Education Director

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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