BZBI, where you learn

Meet Our Team

Stacey Laskey 
Tot Shabbat (infants through 3 years old and their familes), Adasha Classes (Alef-Zayin)

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!

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.

Bethany Katz
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)

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.

Mirav Steinlauf
Bet (2nd Grade)

Leslee Schwartz
Gimel (3rd Grade)

I received my Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Education from Arcadia University.  I grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and recently moved back to Philadelphia from Bergen County, New Jersey. I am the proud Aunt of 3 nieces and 2 nephews, and just completed an 18-month Adult B’Nai Mitzvah Program. I am very excited to be joining the BZBI community and getting back to my first love; teaching.

Robert Patsko
Dalet (4th Grade)

Hi, my name is Robert Patsko and I will be joining BZBI this year as the 4th grade teacher.   Though this is my first year at BZBI, I have been teaching for 20 years.

My professional career outside of BZBI is still in the education field.  I am currently the Education Director at Keneseth Israel (in Allentown, not Elkins Park), and Professor of Religious Studies at Delaware County Community College.  I also teach music in preschools.

I like to bring my knowledge and love of Judaism into my classes as well as my some of my talents that lie in music and drama.  I believe that it is important to challenge students of any age intellectually, provide an emotional and spiritual experience and wrap this all up in fun.  I look forward to teaching this coming year here at BZBI.

Rachel Rosen
Hey (5th Grade)

I am excited to be spending the year with the Hey class. I am a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science and Urban Studies. This will be my third year teaching at Neziner Hebrew School. I have grown up in Philly, attending Masterman for high school as well as Gratz Hebrew High School. I previously was an assistant teacher at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim in the northeast. I enjoy travelling, painting, and trying new restaurants around the city. I look forward to another great year with the wonderful BZBI community.

Jared Rosenbloom
Vav (6th Grade)

One of my main passions is programming. I currently work full time at Friendship Circle Philadelphia, which is an organization that runs social programs for kids with special needs. At Friendship Circle my job is to create & plan fun, innovative activities for everyone to enjoy. I have also had a lot of experience working in the Jewish world, teaching at Hebrew Schools and youth advisor while in college. Before coming to Friendship Circle, I was the Ritual Coordinator at a synagogue in S. Jersey and a Children’s Programming Director at the JCC in Rockland County, New York.

Rebecca Krasner
Zayin (7th Grade)

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.

Jordan Konell
Confirmation (9th & 10th Grade)

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and am excited to begin my 2nd year as the Confirmation teacher at BZBI. My day job involves coordinating legislation and policy for City Councilwoman Helen Gym, where I focus on issues such as public education, transportation equity, and juvenile justice reform.  I completed my undergraduate degree in African American Studies at Yale and hold masters degrees in both Education and Criminal Justice from the University of Oxford. I have previously taught at the Hillel Children’s School in New Haven, and have certificates in Jewish Education and Hebrew Studies from Gratz College. My other teaching experience includes a stint as the Critical Thinking instructor for the Oxbridge Academic program,  four years of teaching health in New Haven public schools, and as a facilitator for Operation Understanding in Philly. I am looking forward to having engaging, critical conversations about community, Hashem, and justice at BZBI!

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.