Matt joined the Shaare Torah community as its first Executive Director in May of 2015. Matt wears “many kippahs” and sits on most committees. Shaare Torah is committed to empowering its members to connect to one another and create positive experiences. Finding ways to support this mission while driving intentional, organizational change as we grow, is what excites him most about his position. Matt and his wife Rachel celebrated the birth of their son Henry, in late 2018. Henry is a regular shul goer and is attending the Early Childhood Center.
Allison joined the Shaare Torah community in June of 2015. She has worked in the fields of early childhood education and Jewish education since 1992. Allison’s role at Shaare Torah is two-fold: she directs our Early Childhood Center, private Kindergarten, and ECC Summer Program; and she leads our family engagement, special events, and Shabbat and holiday experiences for families with children 5 and under. Allison’s passion as an early childhood educator is to help young children develop a love of learning and learn how to learn. Understanding the process of learning and constructing knowledge provides a foundation for the children’s future academic careers and their entire lives. Allison herself is a lifelong learner and a co-learner with the children. She believes that the most important part of early childhood education is social-emotional learning, which fosters in the children independence, self regulation, social skills, problem solving, and conflict resolution. Allison partners with parents and teachers to raise good humans who are citizens of the world. She can always tell when she encounters an adult who did not go to a good preschool (ha ha!).
Allison is excited to lay the first foundation of Jewish identity and community by instilling a joy for Shabbat and Jewish holidays, a connection to Israel, and a set of Jewish values that are truly universal human values. In addition to her work directly with the children, Allison spends much of her time mentoring teachers and coaching parents. She is committed to developing a strong early childhood educator workforce within STECC/STK and in the broader community. Allison provides partnership, resources, and support for parents on a variety of topics, such as morning and nighttime routines, potty training, welcoming new babies, and moving to a new home.
Outside of Shaare Torah, Allison is an active participant in the Greater Washington Jewish Early Childhood Education Directors’ Council. Allison and her husband Ryan both grew up in active synagogue families, spending summers at Jewish sleepover camp, were actively involved in Jewish youth group and later in Jewish life on campus, and started teaching religious school as teenagers.
Leah Miller brings with her a great deal of experience, excitement and passion for Jewish education. She has worked with several congregations across the country and has over 15 years of experience working in youth, adult and community-wide programming. Leah is originally from Sacramento, California, and received her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University. Leah has worked in multiple JCCs, education programs and camps. She has a deep passion for community building and engaging the Jewish community. Leah also believes in hands-on, experiential education and project-based learning.
After discovering her passion for working with Jewish nonprofits, specifically synagogues, she moved to Baltimore and completed her master’s degree in Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service at Towson University through the Baltimore Hebrew Institute.
Most recently, she was the Religious Education Director at Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield, Virginia, where she managed the religious school and was responsible for all programming for school-aged children and teens.
In her spare time, Leah enjoys traveling, watching movies, musical theatre, and eating and making sushi. Leah lives in Germantown with her husband, Michael, and their children, Wesley and Sophie, who attend STECC. She looks forward to connecting with the Shaare Torah families in the coming months!
Jen Kramer joined Shaare Torah in 2021 as the Office Administrator after a decade as an active Jewish community professional. In her new role, Jen oversees programming and communications, helping our community to connect to Shaare Torah, to each other, and to their passions and interests.
Jen and her husband, Kirill Reznik, live in Gaithersburg with their daughters Caitlyn, and Gabriella (Gabby), who just graduated from the Shaare Torah Pre-K, and their 2 dogs, Mickey and Tinkerbell.
Abby brings passion, inspiration, experience and skills from her previous positions in Jewish social justices. Her most recent position was with Tivnu in Portland, Oregon where Abby was an RA to 20 gap year participants who served as interns in local social service organizations. As part of her responsibilities Abby created programming for students and led wilderness outings. Prior to Tivnu, Abby interned at Avodah in New York City, serving at Footsteps, an organization supporting adults and their families departing the ultra orthodox community (featured in One of Us).
Abby graduated from Dickinson College, with a degree in International Studies and certificates in food and security studies, where she spent a semester junior year at Kibbutz Ktura outside Eilat, Israel. Abby is passionate about social justice, and is excited to reconnect with her family roots in Rockville and to join the Shaare Torah community!
Beth Ann Katz
Beth Ann Katz joined the STECC/STK faculty in June 2021. Beth Ann is our school administrator as well as the school administrator for the Religious School. She has worked in the world of Jewish preschool and religious education for the better part of the past 30 years. Creative Movement, Israeli Dance, Parent & Child, Toddlers, 2s, 3s, 4s… she’s taught them all. Beth Ann has been a teacher in our religious school for the past three years. She was the Education Office Program Coordinator for 6 years at a synagogue in Washington, DC. She has a master’s degree in education and human development. She lives in Gaithersburg with her adorable dog, Buddy, and she has two amazing grown daughters.
Abraham is from Haifa, bringing with him his cats, Leah and Pluto, to be a part of the Shaare Torah community. Abraham was born in Venezuela and made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) with his family at six years old to Ra’anana. After finishing high school, Abraham began his way in the shlichut (a group of Israeli cultural emissaries) world during his shinshin (year of service) for the Federation of Greater Metro West in New Jersey. He was a combat medic for most of his Israeli Defense Forces service except for a year when he as part of the education corps to encourage and assist teens before army service to have a meaningful and suitable position. While studying for his BA in education and Jewish history, Abraham worked in NOAM, the Israeli conservative youth movement, leading various groups and writing educational programs. Abraham wishes to be a history and Jewish thought teacher in Israel, hoping to share with his students his understanding of Jewish peoplehood. Abraham is a DJ and believes he’s a good dancer, likes cooking and learning (particularly Jewish thought), and he is very excited to be part of this mishlachat (delegation of young Israeli adults) and be part of the Shaare Torah community.