BZBI, where you learn

Meet Our Team

Merissa Eve Richmond 
Bonim (Pre-K)

I have been a teacher for 21 years, with 11 years working in Jewish Schools. I have a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Special Education, and I hold PA State Certifications in Elementary Education and Special Education. This is my fourth year teaching at BZBI as the Lead Teacher of the Pre-K class. I am the Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Neziner Hebrew School, as well as, the Lead Teacher of the Hebrew School Bonim class. I truly love being part of the BZBI community and I am looking forward to another great year.

Sydni Yadin
Bonim Assistant

Cantor Rebecca Carl
Gan (Kindergarten)

I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and received my B.A. from Tulane University, and my M.S.M in Sacred Music and Investiture as a Hazzan from the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City!   My background includes extensive congregational, teaching and pastoral care experience, and work with children, teens and families. I am a full-time staff chaplain at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and spend the High Holy Days and Passover as the Cantor at Beth Israel Congregation in Fayetteville, NC.  I’m excited to be back for another year tutoring B’nai Mitzvah Students and teaching Gan at BZBI and looking forward to an amazing year!

Dorit Amos
Alef (1st Grade), Bet (2nd Grade)

I was born in Israel and I am a native Hebrew speaker.  I hold a Masters degree in Hebrew Literature in Jewish study from Gratz College.  I am also licensed as a Jewish Family Educator from the National Board of Licensing of North America. I have 15 years of teaching experience ranging in age from 2 years old through adults!  I am very excited to return back to BZBI. I am enjoying teaching the playschool children as well as the first grade students in the Neziner Hebrew School. In my free time, I practice yoga, travel, and read. I am also a lover of the arts – theaters, museums, dancing, painting, and many more.

Stacey Lasky 
Gimel Teacher (3rd Grade)

I am a Lead Teacher in the preschool, the Adasha Teacher at Neziner, and the Tot Shabbat Leader this year at BZBI. After many, many (many) years away, last summer, I returned to Philly, my birthplace, and was welcomed by BZBI when I became an Assistant Teacher in the Playschool 3 classroom, as well as the 7th Zayin Class Teacher and Modern Israeli Hebrew Maagal Instructor at Neziner.

Prior to returning to Philly, I was living in Atlanta, where I received my Childhood Development Associate credential (CDA). There, I was a Toddler Teacher for five years and a Camp Sunday (Sunday “School” taught in a camp atmosphere) Counselor at the JCC.

I lived in Israel for several years after graduating from the University of Florida with a Jewish Studies degree, and have always enjoyed being a Jewish Educator for all ages. Next Spring Semester, I plan to begin my Masters in Education with a concentration in Jewish Instructional Education at Gratz College. 

I’m truly excited to be a part of your children’s educational journey and look forward to seeing where this school year takes us!

Ella Rose
Dalet (4th Grade), Gimel/Dalet Adasha (Enrichment)

Julie Friedman
Hey (5th Grade)

Jason Lewis 
Vav (6th Grade)

Meirav Steinlauf 
Zayin (7th Grade)

Mallory Kovit 
Solelim (8th Grade), Hey/Vav/Zayin Adasha (Enrichment)

Rachel Beck
Solelim (8th Grade), USY Advisor

I am excited to join the Neziner Hebrew School staff this year with the 8th grade and USY! I grew up attending a Solomon Schechter day school in Pittsburgh, and was very active as a camper and staff member at Camp Ramah in Canada and in USY. After 6 years teaching art at a public elementary school in West Philadelphia, I am excited to be back working with Jewish youth.

I hold a BA in Economics from Oberlin College after a year in art school. I have been active in progressive grassroots organizing efforts locally and nationally. As a part of this I have been engaged in developing resources and tools for better understanding anti-Semitism and racism in today’s political climate, for Jews and non-Jews alike. Outside of teaching, I am a ceramic artist and starting a small business of handmade wearable and utilitarian crafts.

Joann Zimbello
Shabbat Floater & Faculty Support

Rabbi Max Nissen
Director of Youth and Family Education

I received rabbinic ordination and an MA in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. I graduated from Colgate University with my BA in International Relations, and studied abroad at the University of Haifa. I grew up in the Washington, DC area, and now live outside Philadelphia with my wife Joy and our daughter Ariella.

I come to BZBI from Congregation Beth El (Bethesda, MD), where I served as the Assistant Education Director and head of the Upper School. Immediately before beginning my tenure at Beth El, I completed my student teaching in the high school Jewish History and Jewish Text departments at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (Rockville, MD). I also served as the rabbinic intern at the Park Slope Jewish Center (Brooklyn, New York) and as the rabbinic leader of Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation (Fitzgerald, GA). Whether working in synagogues, Jewish schools, at camp and in other settings, I approach every experience as an opportunity for connection and growth. I believe in empowering my students and their families, partnering with them to create meaningful Jewish experiences that create community, foster personal growth and contribute to a better world.