Kara Seidel: Joan & Morton Baylin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching

Kara Seidel is in her fourth year of teaching at the religious school at Beth El. On Sundays, she teaches Kitah Bet, Tikkun Olam and J-STEAM electives, and 3rd grade Hebrew. She also helps with the monthly family Gemilut Hasadim VolunTeam and teaches at Beth El’s Towson neighborhood school. During the week, she is a PhD student in Language, Literacy, and Culture at UMBC where she is a graduate assistant and studies linguistic inequalities in education policy as they relate to race and disability. Kara has a B.A. in Psychology from UMBC (valedictorian c/o 2018), and an M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University (conferred 2020).

Kara shares that when she was in high school, she was in Students Taking Action for Change (STAC) – a program for Jewish teens to learn how to lobby and work with the state legislature. In college, she went on an Interfaith Educational Birthright trip through Hillel to learn about geopolitical tensions. Over the past two years, she has had the pleasure of working closely with Amy to help her facilitate VolunTeam every month. While she has taught multiple electives, she is the most proud of teaching the Tikkun Olam elective, as she takes the approach of teaching students how to connect Jewish values to expanding the meaning of service.

In her class, she has a routine – when she takes attendance, she asks every student how they are doing and why. They then review our schedule and she asks students “Will you ever get in trouble for making a mistake or being wrong in my classroom?” and they say “No! As long as you try!” Kara says she hopes her students understand that putting in the effort is a huge success in and of itself, even if that means just getting through the day because you are feeling down.

Kaleb Dressin, a 2nd grade student in Kara’s class says, “ Morah Kara is a very kind teacher. When I was in the hospital, she, Morah Amy, and Cantor Blatt came to visit me to cheer me up. She offered to tutor me since I had missed some classes when I was in the hospital. Morah Kara helped my family and me with all of the ups and downs that we have been through this year. She always makes me feel comfortable and makes sure that I am okay. Thank you, Morah Kara and Mazel Tov for earning this award. You deserve it!”

Dr. Bor, Director of Education, says, “Kara is a serious teacher who carefully plans all of her lessons that are “hands-on.” I admire her commitment and dedication in pursuing a Ph.D. program. This degree will enable her to teach at the college level.  Kara is a friendly, warm teacher who cares deeply about her students. I am so happy for her upon receiving the Offit Award. Mazel Tov and all the best.”

Jodi Teitelman: Daniel Grayson Award

Jodi Teitelman is the Program Associate for Days of Service at the Macks Center for Jewish Connections, an agency of The Associated.  She received her Master’s Degree in Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service from Towson University’s Baltimore Hebrew Institute last May. While an undergraduate at TU, Jodi began working as a support teacher at the religious school. She worked one on one with students, supported classes, and helped plan all school activities.  Two years ago, Jodi started teaching the 6th grade students. Last year, she received the Joan & Morton Baylin Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Jodi always knew that she wanted to pursue a career in Jewish Education.  Looking forward to attending religious school in her West Hartford, CT Conservative synagogue and participating in her madrichim program, youth groups, and Hillel in college, Jodi has always been an active member of her Jewish community. She often brought home questions or thoughts that she had from a lesson and shared them with her dad, debating about them for hours at the dinner table.  Jodi was always a natural educator, asking questions and wanting to learn more.  This year, Jodi has had a leadership role in crafting the inaugural BMitzvah program for 5th & 6th grade students and their families. Amy Goldberg, Religious School Director, “Jodi has taken the lead on this project as a teacher and has built a program with the clergy that she should be very proud of. She engages with the 6th grade families and supports them in understanding and preparing for their BMitzvah.” 

Dr. Bor, Director of Education shares, “ I have known Jodi as a friendly, supportive student at Towson University.  She has a heart of gold; her classmates adore her. She is a wonderful student who volunteers to assist her peers. Jodi is a very creative teacher in our school. She prepares lessons and activities that show her creativity in every aspect of her teaching.  Mazel Tov to Jodi upon receiving the Daniel Grayson Award.

Jodi has enjoyed spending her Sundays the past 6 years with the students at the Berman-Lipavsky religious school as it makes her feel connected and reminds her a little bit of home.  We look forward to seeing where Jodi’s path takes her and know that whatever she does as a Jewish professional will bring much joy to her and those she works with.

Avery Cohen: Dr. Eyal Bor Leadership Award

Avery Cohen is a 7th grade student at Mount View Middle School in Howard County. She is in the Lapid Learners class at Religious School and has been a student at Beth El since preschool. Avery has been an avid dancer since she was 4 years old, dancing in all forms including jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, and point. In her free time, Avery enjoys hanging out with friends and cooking and baking. She and her family bake challah as part of their Shabbat tradition each week, making all sorts of flavors including everything seasoning, chocolate chip and apple challot.

Judaism is an integral part of Avery’s life. She says that her family Hanukkah party on her mom’s side of the family with 2nd and 3rd cousins is her favorite celebration of the year. The Lapid Learners class has so far been Avery’s favorite class in Religious School because she enjoys talking about current events including Israel, anti-semitism, and other modern Jewish topics. She values the discussions with the Rabbis and her teacher Morah Justin Harvey, who shares his appreciation for Avery this year  “Avery is a deserving recipient of the Dr. Eyal Bor Leadership Award because of her demonstrated leadership in the areas of allyship, advocacy, tzedakah, and her understanding of broader Jewish values centered around our communal responsibilities. She willingly offers her perspectives and experiences even when discussing challenging topics.  I can’t count on Avery to break the silence or offer an opposing, yet well thought out viewpoint. Thank you, Avery, for enriching our class this year.”

Avery’s Bat Mitzvah was in May. When speaking with her about her upcoming simcha, Avery said she is excited, and not too nervous. She’s on stage a lot for dance and looks forward to sharing her interpretation of her Torah portion with the congregation. She relates to her portion, which is about Shabbat laws, sharing that she values Shabbat each week, as it gives her the time to rest and be with family.

Eva Scheinberg: The Joseph Lipavsky Academic Achievement Award

Eva is a 6th grader at Ellicott Mills Middle School. Her favorite subject is Theatre.  Eva has been attending Beth El since she was a 4 year old in the pre-K program.  My favorite class so far has been her current class, Kitah Vav. She loves it because Morah Jodi, the Kitah Vav teacher, is such a great teacher and she makes everything more fun.  Morah Jodi shares, “Eva is extremely deserving of the Lipavsky Award. She never hesitates to share her opinions and insight in class and always poses thoughtful questions. She, and her family, are committed to Jewish education and make it a priority to attend classes each Sunday and the occasional Saturday Shabbat programming as well. Eva always enters the classroom with a smile and enriches the class by offering her perspectives”

Amy Goldberg shares, “Eva has always been such an engaged student at Beth El. She participates in programming with enthusiasm and always brings her humor on Sunday mornings!”

Outside of school, dancing and cooking are her favorite things to do for fun. But, not at the same time 🙂  Without a doubt, her favorite Jewish family tradition is Sushi Shabbat. Every Friday night she, along with her parents and brother have sushi, challah, and grape juice. They use real sushi dishes too. It’s the best!!  Eva’s Bat Mitzvah will be on November 11, 2023. Just 6 months away! Her Torah portion is Chayei Sarah and she can’t wait to sing her favorite song, Adon Olam. She is the 2nd generation in my family to be a Bnai Mitzvah at Beth El. My father had his Bar Mitzvah in 1992. Instead of a party, her parents are taking me to Israel. She can’t wait to ride a camel!

Ariel Myers: The Morton Offit Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement & For Continued Participation in Jewish Education

Ariel is in 9th grade at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology where she is in the Acting Program. She also participates in the school’s Jewish student group, JSU, where they have delicious holiday snacks. Ariel is a 3rd generation Beth El member and has been attending Beth El Schools since she was an infant in preschool. This year, in addition to her participation in the Achshav high school program, Ariel is a madricha, a teacher’s assistant in the religious school. She works in Kitah Bet, 2nd grade, where she helps both classes on Sunday mornings. 

Morah Kara Seidel, Kitah Bet teacher who Ariel works with on Sunday mornings says,     “Ariel is integral to all of our Kitah Bet students’ success. She takes initiative, is quick on her feet, and knows every student. The students adore her, as do Morah Hannah (Smelkinson) and I, and we cannot imagine our Kitah Bet kehillah without her! This award is just the beginning of her success.” 

Ariel has always been an involved student at the religious school. She and her siblings participated in the Tefillah Team and attended many Shabbat and holiday events. Looking back, Ariel’s favorite activity in religious school was when the class built the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem, out of boxes. They each wrote a note or two and put them in between the boxes, as they would at the Kotel. 

Ariel loves to spend time with her family. Her favorite holiday celebration is Passover, when her mom’s entire family gets together at her Bubby’s house for seder. They share stories and food as they retell the story of the Exodus. 

Amy Goldberg shares, “ I’ve watched Ariel grow into an intelligent, kind, and enthusiastic young Jewish adult. I adore seeing her every Sunday morning with the 2nd graders. And I am so lucky to see her again each week, on Tuesday evenings at Achshav, where she comes ready to learn, exhausted after teaching dance to 3 year olds at the JCC.  I see how Jewish education has shaped Ariel’s life and I have been honored to be part of her journey. She will continue to do great things!”

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