Torah Tots (Preschool)
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.
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 for her second time this year. Alana is excited to share her knowledge and passion for Judaism with the next generation of Or Ami kids.
Stephanie Greer is a junior at the University of Richmond majoring in Pre-Law and Spanish. She is originally from Connecticut and began teaching Hebrew School when she was 13 at her local synagogue. Stephanie is also an avid dancer, baker, and board member of her University’s Hillel this year. She is incredibly excited to begin teaching at Or Ami this year and to get to know the community.
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.
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 7th and 8th graders this year.
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.
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.
Rachel Wolman grew up in Northern Virginia at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA. That is where her love of Judaism and Jewish music was born. Rachel has taught music and other subjects at Religious Schools in both Virginia and California for about a decade. She is passionate about building community through song, especially with kids and teens. Rachel is really looking forward to teaching the children of Or Ami all kinds of new Jewish music this year. She is excited to work at such a wonderful and warm synagogue.
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.
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).