Teachers

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Michal Birnbaum

Jewish Educator

New York City

Michal Birnbaum is a theater artist, born and raised in Bene Beraq, Israel, in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. She served in the IDF for three years as a reporter and news editor at the IDF radio station, Galei Tzahal (“GLZ”). There she created documentary programs and radio dramas. Upon moving to NYC she studied at the Yeshiva of “Mechon Hadar” with a full scholarship. Birnbaum then enrolled in the conservatory program of The Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, where she studied Method Acting, and was also trained at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

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Denise Della Porta, M.S.

Christian Educator

Westchester & Orange / Rockland/Bergen

Denise has a Masters in Education and Counseling, and a Certificate in Catholic Youth Ministry from the Center of Ministry Development in Naugatuck, CT.  Her training and experiences include serving as Director of Youth Programs at the Marydell Faith & Life Center and other Roman Catholic institutions, as well as on several Indian Reservations in San Diego, CA. Her love for children led her to the IFC where she has taught for many years, both in Orange/Rockland/Bergen and in Westchester. 

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Anna DeWeese

IFC Teacher Coordinator & Christian Educator

Westchester & Orange/Rockland/Bergen

Anna is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary where she received a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology, with an expressed interest in interfaith dialogue and social justice. She works at Fordham University as the Intervention Coordinator for CARE for Teachers NYC research project, studying a mindfulness-based professional development program designed to address teacher stress and well-being, and she also serves as a CARE program facilitator. She serves on the National Board for Church Women United, as a Young Church Women United representative. She also has experience as a writer and guest lecturer on the topic of faith and spiritual identity formation. She was an inaugural contributor to the Journal of Inter-Religious Studies “State of Formation” blog from 2008-2013, and was selected as a contributor to the forthcoming book, Kissing in the Chapel, Praying in the Frat House: Wrestling with Faith and College (Nov. 2014); she has also guest lectured at Penn State University. Her father was a United Methodist minister, and she has many years of experience teaching and working in church education settings.  She has been teaching for the IFC since 2008, and has taught classes for both children and adults in the Orange/Rockland/Bergen, Westchester and New York City chapters.

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Debra Fricano

Jewish Educator

Westchester & Orange/Rockland/Bergen

Debra was raised in an interfaith family in NYC, and is grateful to find an organization like IFC.  For the past 6 years, she has explored the pluralistic Jewish community by working in different congregational schools and sleep away camps.  Her specialization is in prayer, music, storytelling, and values based games.  This semester Debra will complete her Masters in Experiential Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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Annette Kasle

Jewish Educator

New York City & Long Island

Annette was raised in a Conservative Jewish household where she observed and enjoyed all the holidays and rituals. Annette was trained as an attorney but is currently enrolled at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She recently received her Masters degree in Bible and is pursuing a Doctorate in Hebrew Letters.

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Claire Mitchell

Christian Educator

Long Island

Claire is an experienced teacher, having taught every age from elementary school through college. She also has worked for several years as a religious formation educator with children through confirmation age at a Roman Catholic church. Claire has been teaching with us since 2010.

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Penny Silverman

Jewish Educator

Long Island

Penny is a very experienced Jewish educator with strong background in early childhood education. She has taught and developed both Jewish and secular programs at the Early Childhood Center at the Community Synagogue of Port Washington for two decades. She is very interested in the interfaith implications of her work as a Jewish educator. She has been teaching with the IFC for several years.

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Leslie Stern

Jewish Educator

Long Island

Leslie is an experienced English teacher who has taught in public schools in NYC and LI. Herself the child of interfaith marriage, she wishes there was an IFC when she was growing up and so is especially eager to teach for us. She studied Judaism and eventually formally converted. She now lives in Port Washington, where she is an active member of Temple Beth Israel. She has been teaching with the IFC since 2010.

Former Teachers

We are proud to have seeded a generation of clergy and educators, who, having taught in our schools, value our vision for interfaith families. Today, they are in positions of leadership around the country. 

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Rabbi Nehama Benmosche

Rabbi. Machar: The Washington Congregation for Secular Judaism

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Rabbi Lavey Derby

Director of Jewish & Family Life, Peninsula Jewish Community Center, California. Formerly: Senior Rabbi, Congregation Kol Shofar, Tiburon, CA

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Rabbi Joseph Berman

Rabbi, Temple B’nai Israel, Revere, MA

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Gina Bria

CEO at HYCHIA, Founder, The Hydration Foundation, New York

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Rev. Joel A. Gibson

Director of Faith Based Initiatives, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. Formerly: sub dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

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Rabbi Michelle Dardashti

Associate Chaplain of the University for the Jewish Community at Brown and Rabbi of Brown RISD Hillel

Kate Fridkis

Cantor, Congregation Kehilat Shalom, Belle Mead, NJ

Rev. Joel A. Gibson

Director of Faith Based Initiatives, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. Formerly: sub dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Rev. Dr. Beth Glover

Director, Pastoral Care & Education, New York- Presbyterian, The University Hospital Columbia and Cornell

Rev. Samantha Gonzalez Block

Associate Pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC

Moshe Goodman

Teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel School (independent Jewish day school), New York

Rabbi Ben Greenberg

Planning Executive, UJA-Federation of NY

Rabbi Hannah Greenstein

VP Outreach, Israel and Overseas, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Milwaukee, WI

Rev. Drew Harrison

Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, San Saba, TX

Rev. Erin Keys

Associate Minister for Congregational Life, First Presbyterian Church, Greenwich, CT

Kate O'Brien

Director of Education Innovation and Organizing, Workmen's Circle

Rabbi Aaron Potek

Campus Rabbi, Northwestern University

Madeline Richer

Teacher, Bronx Career and College Prep, Teach for America, New York

Andi Rosenthal

Planning Executive, SYNERGY at UJA-Federation of New York

Andrew Rosenthal, MDiv, LMSW

Coordinator of Clinical Services at Block Institute

Rabbi Ari Saks

Rabbi, Congregation Beth Mordecai, Perth Amboy, NJ

Andrew Schwartz

Climate Project Consultant, Union Theological Seminary

Nathan Smith

Teacher

Rev. Richard E. Spalding

Chaplain to the College, Williams College

Rebekah Wedge Thornhill

Curriculum Developer, Metropolitan New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Leo Cimini - Christian Educator