Meet our Adult Learning Faculty
Jake grew up in New Jersey, made Aliyah to Israel after college, and currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona, where he works as a financial advisor and is active in the local Jewish community. Jake is President of the Grand Canyon State Caucus, a bi-partisan PAC committed to building a strong, mutually respectful, non-prescriptive US-Israel relationship. Jake is also a member of the Arizona AIPAC Council, and Chair of the Israel Engagement Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. Jake is the former Arizona Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, and is a frequent lecturer in the greater Phoenix area on the topics of Israeli and Middle Eastern history, politics and civil rights, as well as the Holocaust, Antisemitism, and the BDS movement. Jake is a grandson of Holocaust survivors and a combat veteran of the IDF special forces. Jake earned his BA from Amherst College and his MBA from Columbia University. Jake is married with two wonderful children.
Rabbi Laibel Blotner
Rabbi Laibel Blotner was raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. He received rabbinical ordination in Brooklyn, New York and advanced rabbinical training in Sydney, Australia. He is qualified to sit on a Bet Din. Rabbi Blotner is renowned throughout the Valley as a beloved teacher, lecturer, teen director and dynamic executive director of Chabad of Mesa.
Rabbi Yossi Bryski
Rabbi Yossi Bryski has served as the Executive Director of the Jewish Learning Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, for seven years. He currently sereves as the Rabbi of Young Israel of Phoenix. He is a gifted teacher and his adult education program attracts hundreds of students each year to its many offerings.
Rabbi Micah Caplan
Rabbi Caplan joined Congregation Or Tzion on July 1, 2010. He has long-standing ties to Phoenix, having grown up. Previously, Rabbi Caplan has served congregations in Florida and California where he introduced exciting adult learning and youth programming. Under Rabbi Caplan's leadership, Or Tzion has grown from 110 to 500 families. His vision is creating a place of learning, sharing and celebrating Jewish living together as a Kehillah Kedosha - a holy community. He is known for his warm, personal outreach. Rabbi Caplan and his wife Michelle are the proud parents of three beautiful children. Rabbi Caplan is an avid sports fan. His favorite teams are The Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is always willing to attend a game with anyone who wishes to take him.
Steve Carol, Phd
Dr. Steve Carol has a PhD in history, specializing in the modern Middle East, US history and government, the World Wars of the twentieth century, and the Cold War. He taught these subjects for some five decades. Now retired, he is busy writing and publicly speaking on a myriad of subjects. Dr. Carol is an Associate Producer, official historian and most frequent guest of Middle East Radio Forum, broadcasting out of Phoenix, for going on 14 years. He has written seven books including Encyclopedia of Days; Start the Day with History, From Jerusalem to the Lion of Judah and Beyond, and his latest book, Understanding the Volatile and Dangerous Middle East is a Middle East library rolled into one volume.
Bob Fine, PhD
Bob Fine, Ph.D, is a retired educator, having taught in a variety of social sciences, family studies and Jewish studies for half a century. His curiosity about these fields and what students make of them has never diminished, which accounts for his emphasis on inquiry and dialogue no matter what he teaches.
Sharonah Fredrick, PhD
Sharonah Fredrick, PhD is a multilingual anthropologist who teaches, publishes, and speaks Spanish, Hebrew, English and Portuguese. She specializes in the interface between culture, history and literature. Her doctorate, in Hispanic Language and Literature, is from Stony Brook University; her MA in Renaissance Global History is from Tel Aviv University; and her BA in Anthropology and Languages (Spanish and Hebrew) is from SUNY at Buffalo. At present, she teaches world history in Embry-Ridell University in Prescott, as well as giving minicourses in ASU's Osher Adult Education Program, and lectures on 16th-18th century Southwestern history and folklore, with the Arizona Humanities Speakers' Bureau.
Born into a Yiddish speaking home in the Bronx, NY, Leon Gildin remained active in Jewish organizational work that furthered the Yiddish language. With his brothers, they were the founders of the Rena Costa Chair in Yiddish and the Gildin Graduate Program at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. In 2000, he wrote YOU CAN'T DO BUSINESS (OR MOST ANYTHING ELSE) WITHOUT YIDDISH, Hippocrene Books, N.Y. that dealt with the amount of Yiddish spoken in English by Jews and non-Jews alike. He is pleased that this book continues to sell. Gildin continues to lecture about Yiddish, the International Language. In 2015, published THE POEMS OF H. LEIVICK AND OTHERS - YIDDISH POETRY IN TRANSLATION, Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, KY.
With advanced degrees in Political Theory and International Relations - including a speciality in Middle East affairs - Meir Jolovitz has been involved in pro-Israel advocacy for four decades. Meir analyzes Israeli politics, the region's geo-political dynamics, the ever-evolving relationship between the United States and Israel, and the media's perspective (and bias) as it relates to all the aforementioned. His sessions are a unique blend of modern history and current events, and often offer "the story behind the story."
Malka Kagan has been a Hebrew teacher for the past 38 years. She has taught in Hebrew day school in Buffalo N.Y., and in Scottsdale. Malka taught Hebrew high in Buffalo, and Scottsdale. She has been teaching adult education as well at Temple Chai for the past 15 years, preparing adults for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Sharing her knowledge of Hebrew with others is a great joy for her, as an Israeli. Malka has a special affection for her home land.
Rabbi Bonnie Koppell
Rabbi Bonnie Koppell serves as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Chai, where she directs the Deutsch Family Shalom Center. Rabbi Koppell retired from the US Army Reserve in 2016 with the rank of Colonel, following a 38-year career where she had the honor to be the first female rabbi in the US military. Adult learning is a special passion for her. In addition to her teaching for the Bureau of Jewish Education, she leads a weekly, in-depth Torah study class, teaches Introduction to Judaism, the Adult B'nai Mitzvah program, and Seeking Everyday Holiness. Rabbi Koppell has lived in the Valley of the Sun for 30 years. She is married to Ron Kushner and is the proud mother of two daughters and bubbe of two grandchildren.
Cantor Baruch Koritan
Cantor Baruch Koritan has served at Temple Beth Shalom of the Northwest Valley for over 25 years. He is also an accomplished actor and award-winning performer, pianist, composer and talented artist. He has been featured in musicals, concerts, operas, and nightclubs internationally, including Las Vegas, The Love Boat of Princess Cruises, and Vienna, Austria. His talents and enthusiasm in sharing the Broadway experience are unique and very entertaining for his audiences and students, alike.
Marcie Lee, MSW
Marcie Schoenberg Lee's passion is teaching and learning from those in her university and adult education classes, as well as her Jewish, Christian, Muslim and secular audiences around the United States and abroad. She teaches The Bible Through Art, Ethics, Human Sexual Behavior, Interfaith Relations, The Relationship of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, Child Development and Effective Parenting. As a Staff Member of Arizona State University's Office of Educational Outreach and Student Services, she works on "Campus Life and Community Initiatives," with a mandate to promote joy in university life. Educated at the University of California (BA), Hebrew Union College (MA), and Arizona State University (MSW), cultural exchange programs have taken her to Germany, Turkey and Bosnia Herzegovina, where she is a volunteer teacher and lecturer each year.
Linda Levin, MA
Linda Gellman Levin holds a dual Master's Degree in Early childhood Education and in Special Education. Linda worked as a Child/Family Development Specialist and Parenting Consultant in private practice for more than 35 years. Linda has co-authored 4 books in her profession. Linda was also a content specialist for Educational Management Group, a division of Simon and Schuster, creating a developmental educational videos and consumer education products for schools and other agencies. Linda has been an Adjunct College Professor, Special Education teacher, Pediatric Early childhood therapist, and a professor at a woman's prison. She is a "family issues" content writer and TV personality for SmartFem.com, an online magazine. Linda Levin has become the director for the Wise Aging program and has taught many educational classes for Universities regarding Adult Aging.
Jay Levinsohn, referred to by his students as Dr. Jay, teaches Holocaust studies for B'nai Mitzvah children at his Temple. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University Law School and is currently producing a movie about a Holocaust survivor. This film will be used to provide supplemental Holocaust education to teachers in the Phoenix area.
Jay Roth previously taught history at the OSHERLifelong Learning Program of Florida International University, Miami: Lincoln and the Civil War, The American Revolution, The American Century, andFDR and Truman. He was also an adjunct professor at Mercy College, Bronx, NY. He has degrees in both political science and in social work. His other professional work includes Executive Director of the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center; President of the Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee; Executive Director of Samuel Field YM-YWHA at Little Neck, NY; Assistant Director of Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, Bronx, NY. Mr. Roth has earned a Certificate in Developing Negotiation Skills from Harvard and professional development certificates from numerous other organizations. He was recipient of the Zaret Award as the Outstanding Jewish Community Professional, given by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and National Chairman of the Association of Jewish Center Professionals. His family consists of three children, two grandchildren and his wife.
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillah in North Scottsdale. Her scholarly interests range from Chassidic and Jewish mystical teachings and Jewish Thought (she has edited and translated various works) to contemporary trends in modern Jewish life and implications for synagogues and communal agencies. Rabbi Sharfman serves on the executive committee of the Board of Rabbis and is a Past President, as well as on the executive committee of the newly re-launched Jewish Community Relations Council and the board of The Arizona Faith Network, Co-Chair of its Theological Dialogue Commission. She is an alumna of the STAR PEER Rabbinic Executive Leadership Program and of the Monsignor Ryle Faith Leaders Public Policy Training Program.
Rabbi Sharfman is the founder of Pardes Jewish Day School and served as Head of School for over a decade. An Avi Chai fellow in Jewish Education, she attended the Principal's Center of Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Rabbi Sharfman lived in Israel for many years and holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, taught in Israeli schools, and also worked as a tour guide and folk dance instructor in Israel and as Assistant Director of the Israel office of the American Jewish Congress. She regularly leads trips to Israel for Jewish and interfaith groups, all highly customized, with her deep knowledge of the cultures and history of the area.
Rabbi Shalom Zagelbaum
Rabbi Shalom Zagelbaum is the director of the Scottsdale Torah Network, a new project of Ahavas Torah: the Scottsdale Torah Center. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, he studied in well-known yeshivot in Boston and Jerusalem, including the famed Mir Yeshiva under the tutelage of Rabbi Asher Arieli. While in Israel, he received his semicha/rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Yitzchok Berkovits and tested with distinction in many areas of Jewish law. He has taught at many Jerusalem schools, including Yeshivos Tiferes Yisroel, Shaarei Tevuna, and Nesivos Ahron, while also running programs at Machon Yaakov and Machon Shlomo and creating the Tanach program at the Jerusalem Kollel. The rabbi, his wife Penina, and their two children moved to Scottsdale in July 2018.