Our highly skilled middle school teachers also serve as advisors to our middle school students. They are confidants, counselors, and experts in the teen years who motivate their students with meaningful literature, math concepts, Talmudic studies, science labs, and more.
BatSheva Berman, Hebrew Language Coordinator and Grades 5-8 Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher, was born and raised in Israel and served in an education unit of the Israeli Army. BatSheva teaches both Hebrew Language and Holy Studies/Limudei Kodesh/לימודי קודש in Hebrew and has pioneered a Torah study track conducted entirely in Hebrew, for which she wrote the curriculum for grades 5-7. Before coming to Heilicher she taught Hebrew language at Torah Academy in Minneapolis for 20 years and wrote all of the holiday programs for the school. She was also in charge of the summer Hebrew program at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for 20 years. BatSheva continues her education by taking summer classes in teaching a second language at the Karla Institute at the University of Minnesota and taking Torah study classes at the Pardes and Herzog Institutes in Israel.
Ariel Brudoley, Grade 6 Jewish Studies and Grades 7-8 Hebrew Teacher, studied in Yeshiva University and the Rabbinical College of America, where he earned a B.A. in Talmudic studies. He first realized his love for teaching at Camp Moshava, Wild Rose. His education endeavors include working for several synagogues as a Bar Mitzvah tutor, teaching for the Oholei Menachem Cheder of Kansas, and serving as the Director of Jewish Education on the NCSY Kansas City chapter board. He is working toward rabbinical ordination and an M.A. in Jewish education from Yeshiva University. He is also currently teaching for the Jewish Learning Network. Ariel has the joy of being married to his wife, Shira, and currently lives in St. Louis Park. He enjoys spending time with family, playing piano, and delving into the mysteries of the universe.
Simcha Cohen, Grade 6 Hebrew Teacher, has a background as a Jewish experiential educator. He worked for 8.5 years at Gann Academy in Boston first as the Jewish and Student Life Program Coordinator and then the Assistant Dean of Students. Simcha also has extensive camping experience working at Camp Interlaken JCC in Wisconsin as well as the Herzl Camp as the Assistant Director, where he found his love and passion of windsurfing, ultimate frisbee, and working with youth. Simcha has an executive master's in Jewish educational leadership from Hebrew Union College - Institute of Religion and a master's concentration in Israel education from the iCenter. He also has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Hebrew, Jewish studies, and Middle Eastern studies. Simcha lives in Minnetonka with his wife, Julie, and their three kids, Rory, Eden and Lilah.
Davida Cytron, Middle School Math Teacher and Middle School Coordinator, earned her B.A. in history and Hebrew from the University of Wisconsin and her master's in adolescent education from Bank Street College. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty in 2007, Davida taught fourth grade at the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago. Davida is also the parent of two Heilicher alumni. In her free time Davida enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, and amateur mixology.
Dalia Davis, M.A., Grades 7-8 Jewish Studies Teacher, Dalia double majored in Jewish history and dance at Barnard College prior to studying at Israel’s Nishmat Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. She has an M.A. in Jewish education and a certificate in Talmud and Halacha from Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty, Dalia taught at Heritage Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, and served on the Jewish education/chinuch/חינוך staff at Camp Ramah in New England. She also served as Head of Torah Study Hall/Rosh Beit Midrash/ראש בית מדרש for the Merkavah Women’s Torah Institute in Berkeley, California, and has taught several courses for the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. Dalia is the creator of Beit Midrash in Motion, a fully embodied approach to Jewish text study. Dalia is blessed to be married to Rabbi Max Davis and to have four amazing daughters, Revaya, Hodaya, Tifferet, and Kalaniya.
Mollie Divine, Middle School Math Teacher, earned her B.S. in elementary education with a minor in health education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition to teaching, she has taken graduate level courses at Hamline University with a focus on math education in both elementary and middle school. Prior to joining the Heilicher faculty in 2007, Mollie taught a fourth- and fifth-grade resource class at Shabonee Elementary School in Northbrook, Illinois. Mollie currently resides in St. Louis Park with her husband, Jason, and her sons, Rudy and Arne. When she is not at school, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching sports, attending yoga classes, cooking, and being at the lakes as often as the Minneapolis weather will permit.
Rafael (Rafi) Forbush, Physical Education Teacher and Athletic Director, is also an entrepreneur and public speaker. He has been an active member of the Twin Cities Jewish community, serving as a coach and mentor for Jewish youth at various organizations for over 12 years. He has worked with the St. Paul Talmud Torah, Twin Cities Jewish Middle School, the Newman School, the St. Paul Jewish Community Center, and, beginning in 2015, Heilicher. Rafael had his Bar Mitzvah at Beth Jacob Congregation and attended the St. Paul Talmud Torah day school where Hector Sztainer was his teacher and he discovered his love and passion of sports and fitness.
Wendy Goldberg, Assistant Director of Jewish Living and Learning/Mashgiah Ruhani and Jewish Studies Teacher, is a veteran Jewish educator who joined Heilicher administration in 2017. Previously she taught at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul day school for seventeen years, and for the past seven years she served as the Director of Spiritual Engagement at Shir Tikvah Congregation. She also leads Shir Harmony, a women's a cappella group dedicated to raising funds for local and Israeli women's groups and "serenading people at meaningful moments." Educated at Brandeis University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and at Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, Wendy brings a depth to prayer life. She has a long history of working on issues of race and class, which will intersect with Heilicher initiatives toward social justice. Wendy is also a Christensen Interfaith Fellow at Augsburg University. Wendy is a Minneapolis native and parent of two Heilicher alumni.
Annika Graif, M.A.T., Middle School Social Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in history with a religious studies certificate from the University of Wisconsin and her Master of Arts in teaching from Hamline University. She has taught a variety of grades including fourth, fifth, and middle school social studies. No matter the grade or subject, Annika enjoys cultivating students' curiosity, creativity, and love for learning. She lives in Minnetonka with her husband and two sons. In her free time, Annika enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, and visiting museums.
Elena Levitt, M.A., M.A.Ed., Grades 4, 5, 7, and 8 Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher, earned her B.A. in Hebrew letters and M.A.Ed. from American Jewish University. She also earned her B.A. in political science and journalism and M.A. in liberal studies with a concentration in Jewish studies from the University of Memphis. Elena has worked in formal and informal education in both teaching and administrative capacities in Memphis, Los Angeles, St. Paul, and Minneapolis. Elena joined the Heilicher faculty in 2007. She is very happy to have come home to St. Louis Park with her husband, Matt, to raise their two amazing daughters. She has a great passion for sharing the breadth and depth of Jewish learning with her students. In her free time Elena enjoys reading, walking, and spending time with family and friends.
Aimee Orkin, M.F.A., Art Teacher, earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an associate's degree in architectural drafting from Minneapolis Technical Institute. She holds an M.F.A. in scene design for theater from Brandeis University. Aimee has been teaching art at Heilicher since 1995. She enjoyed having her two daughters as Heilicher art students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Her art projects most recently have included painting and drawing celebrations of life, murals, marriage contracts/ketubot/כתובות, and other Judaic art. Her artwork is in the permanent Judaic collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She is a member of both the Jewish Women's Artist Circle and the Jewish Artist's Lab, and she exhibits with them regularly. Visit the artist circle website at jewishwomensartistcircle.com.
Dana Provus, M.A., Middle School Learning Specialist, earned her B.A. in elementary education from the University of Iowa. She also has a master's degree from Concordia University in reading and literacy and another from National Louis University in school administration and supervision. Dana began her career in Skokie, Illinois, teaching sixth-grade language arts and then went on to teach third grade in a neighboring district. Before moving to Minnesota, she served as a literacy coach in Deerfield, Illinois, collaborating with administration to improve student learning, coaching teachers to improve upon their craft, and helping both struggling and gifted students. Outside of school, Dana loves to cook, exercise, and spend time with her husband and young children.
David Shaw, M.A., Music Specialist and ISACS Accreditation Chair/Teacher Representative, joined the Heilicher faculty in 2001. He earned his B.A. in music education from Western Illinois University and his M.A. in educational administration from the University of St. Thomas. David also completed a fellowship for Aspiring School Heads through the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). David has advanced training in the Orff method of teaching as well as in the Kodály and Dalcroze music approaches. He is extensively involved in the accreditation process for our school with the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS). He completed his three-year tenure on the Professional Services Committee at ISACS in 2015 and assisted in conference/workshop planning for member schools in a number of states. His other ISACS work includes being on visiting teams to evaluate programs at different independent schools in the Midwest. David also serves on the Teacher Services Committee for the Minnesota Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) and is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). David loves learning in addition to traveling and especially enjoys seaside destinations on both coasts.
Hadassa Slager, Grades 4-6 Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher, was born and raised in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She made aliyah to Israel and studied and worked there for 11 years. Hadassah moved to Baltimore with her family 17 years ago and then relocated to the Twin Cities in 2006. She has taught Judaics, Hebrew, and ESL in the Netherlands, Israel, Baltimore, and here in the Twin Cities. She most recently taught International Baccalaureate Hebrew language at St. Louis Park High School, where many Heilicher alumni were among her students.
Lynn Slobodien, M.Ed., Middle School Language Arts and Science Teacher, earned her B.A. in history from Wesleyan University and her M.Ed. from UCLA. Lynn started her teaching career with toddlers in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and taught writing and literature for almost 15 years at the middle and high school levels in California. She relishes the intellectual challenge of working with students who love learning, and Heilicher students have kept her busy since she joined the Heilicher faculty in 2007. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and son. She is also a Teacher Development Coordinator at Heilicher.
Morgan Stair, M.A., Middle School Language Arts and Science Teacher, joined the Heilicher faculty in 2016. He served as Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Humanities Teacher at St. Patrick's School and Language Arts Teacher at the Cesar Chavez Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. He also taught fifth-grade humanities at Gatson College Preparatory, a KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) in North Carolina. Morgan is a Knoxville, Tennessee, native, and he and his wife, Elana, have two sons.
Victoria (Vic) Thor, Art Teacher and Grades 3-4 Teaching Assistant, earned her B.A. magna cum laude in art history and studio arts with minors in Jewish studies and Spanish from the University of Minnesota. Vic joined the Heilicher faculty in 1999. She coordinates Heilicher’s Art Adventure program, an art appreciation and history program in conjunction with the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She is particularly interested in integrating art with other areas of study, such as natural sciences and technology. Vic serves on the Sabes JCC Tychman Shapiro Gallery committee. Beyond children and art, she is interested in travel, wildlife and habitat preservation, gardening, and reading. Vic is the proud parent of two Heilicher alumni: Josef and Lily. Her family also includes husband, Marty Harris, a professional illustrator and graphic designer, and two adopted retired racing greyhounds.