North Suburban Synagogue Beth El


Ganon (Pre-K)


Gan (Kindergarten)

Leah Brajer

Leah is the teacher of our Kindergarten class, Gan. One of her favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein: “Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.“

Alef (1st Grade)

Chaya Minkus

​Chaya holds a Masters Teacher Certification from Associated Talmud Torah of Chicago and a Teacher’s Certification from the State of Israel’s Department of Education. She is a graduate of Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. Chaya also has taught early childhood education at Arie Crown Hebrew Day School for 32 years.

Bet (2nd Grade)

Sigal Zamir

Sigal has dedicated her career to Judaic and Hebrew language education to children in the Chicago area. She was born and raised in Ramat Gan Israel, and joined the mandatory military service I.D.R. at the age of 18. A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A. in Education, Sigal holds a teaching license from ISBE, certified in English and Hebrew.

Ariela Haymberg

Ariela Haymberg was born and raised in Israel and has been living in Chicago for the last fifteen years.  Ariela also taught at West Suburban Temple Har-Zion.

Gimmel (3rd Grade)

Pnina Arsers


Dalet (4th Grade) & Hey (5th Grade)

Debbie Feiger

Debbie Feiger lived and worked in Israel for a year on the Hachshara Israel Program, and completed the Judaic studies program at Orot College in Elkenah. She also has taught Religious School classes at Congregation Hakafa and Congregation Beth Am for the past 14 years.

Maayan Shtal

​Maayan was born and raised in Israel. She has run a very successful family business for 11 years, and during those years she taught private lessons in Hebrew. For the past 4 years she has substituted at CRS and other Hebrew schools, and taught the adult Sunday class at Beth El. Maayan is also an entrepreneur as a Senior Property Tax Consultant and a Senior Energy Consultant.

Orit Israel


​Vav (6th Grade)

Noreen Ohcana

​Noreen Ohcana has taught mathematics at the Sager Solomon Schechter Middle School for the last 21 years. She is an active member of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. Noreen believes in building a Jewish community in the classroom where students feel as though they are part of that community as well as a contributing member.

Gesher (7th Grade)

Chuck Kahalnik

Chuck has a BA in Political Science & Education from Northeastern Illinois University, and a State of Illinois Teacher’s Certificate. He has been serving the Jewish community of Chicago for over 30 years, primarily in formal and informal Jewish education. Chuck has taught at BethEl for the past 10 years, and was the Executive Director of the synagogue from 2007-2016.

Rabbi Michael Schwab

Rabbi Michael Schwab is completing his 13th year at NSS Beth El. He received his BA from Rutgers University, where he majored in History and Jewish Studies, and he received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in May, 2004. In addition, Rabbi Schwab received an MA in Jewish Education from the William Davidson Graduate School of Education.

Rabbi Alex Freedman

Rabbi Alex Freedman is our newest rabbi. He and his family have recently moved to the Highland Park area. 


Teachers Who Service All Grades:

​Tutoring/Enrichment (Halomdim)

Simcha Ackerman

Simcha Ackerman is a native of Israel who grew up in Tel Aviv before moving to the Chicago area. She has taught Hebrew in different organizations; for the last 19 she has worked at Congregation Solel as a Hebrew Teacher, tutor and B’nei Mitzvah Educator.

Stacy Daybook

Stacy has a BA in Elementary/Special Education from Northeastern Illinois University, CFJE/Spertus Education Fellowship Seminar, is a member of Israel Curriculum Planning Committee, and a presenter at CAJE Conferences. She currently coordinates the Enrichment Room services for students and teachers at CRS.

Silvi Freedson

Silvi is currently the principal of Beivrit: Conversational Hebrew Made Easy, a private multi-level language program that focuses in Conversational Hebrew. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Haifa, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, to earn her MBA from the business school of Herriot Watt University. In 2003, she settled in Chicago. The mother of a 14-year-old son, Silvi is also an active member of the Board of the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema.

​Tefilah/Musikah (Prayer/Music)

Hazzan Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett has been a professional Jewish educator for more than 20 years. A member of the Cantors Assembly, Barbara received her commission as Hazzan-Minister from the Cantors Assembly in 2018. She holds a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Political Science, and is an award-winning novelist, writer, and public speaker. She has published works on a wide variety of topics, from pop culture to spirituality. She has studied Hebrew and Judaic studies through the University of Wisconsin and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Hazzan Benjamin Tisser

Cantor Benjamin Tisser has taught Judaic Music for many years in Jewish Day Schools. A graduate of the American Jewish University with degrees in Hebrew Literature and Middle Eastern Political Science, he recently completed his Masters of Sacred Music and Cantorial Ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Sifriyah Director (Library)

Rachel Kamin

Rachel Kamin, the Director of the Beth El’s Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural and Learning Center, has also worked as the Preschool Liaison Librarian at the Des Plaines Public Library and as the Director of the Libraries & Media Center at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She holds a B.A. in History from Grinnell College and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Michigan.

Sifriyah Informal Asst. (Library)

Marcie Eskin

Marcie has been the assistant to the CLC Director since January 2010. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Cornell and her Master of Library and Information Science degree from Dominican University. In addition to her work at NSS Beth El, she is the librarian at
Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette.

T’nuah (Movement)

Ilyce Zoloto

​Ilyce Zoloto is the owner and program director of Stretch-n-Grow of the
North Shore. She is a Certified Youth Fitness Instructor and a member of NASPE (National Association for Sport and Physical Education). Her classes focus not only on developing age-appropriate gross motor skills, but also incorporate theme-based lessons focusing on Jewish holidays and values.