Midrasha: Jewish Learning for Teens

Midrasha Faculty

Susie Chalom, Director of Midrasha

Susie Chalom has been teaching in the Twin Cities community since 1970, when she taught Hebrew language and Torah at Talmud Torah of Minneapolis. She trained in Linguistics/Second Language Acquisition and Literature at Tel Aviv University and since then has studied many other subjects always in search of deepening and expanding her knowledge of all Jewish topics. She has trained at Melton Bible Training, Gratz College, the Wizen Institute at American Jewish U, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Pardes in Jerusalem and is a fellow at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

After serving Adath Jeshurun for 27 years as Education Director, Susie was appointed Executive Director of the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis. She served in that position for ten years until retirement in 2016.

Susie strongly believes that an excellent Jewish education in one’s teen years is one of the most important factors in one making Jewish decisions in adult life. Quality high school Jewish education also strengthens a Jewish community by providing enlightened leadership and educators in the future.

She is very excited to join Talmud Torah St Paul as the new Director of the Afternoon school and the Midrasha and is looking forward to applying her dedication, creativity and commitment to excellence to the Afternoon School and to the Midrasha.

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Rabbi Yosi Gordon, Afternoon School Torah Teacher; Midrasha Hebrew, Torah, & Elective Instructor

Rabbi Yosi Gordon has been teaching since 1957 and working at Talmud Torah of St. Paul since 1978. He attended Camp Ramah for fourteen summers and earned degrees at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained as a Rabbi in 1972. He also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for three years. Rabbi Gordon worked as Associate and Acting Principal of the Los Angeles Hebrew High School and came to Talmud Torah to serve as Executive Director for 12 years. During those years the Talmud Torah opened the day school, moved to its current location, and expanded in many educational areas. In 1990, Yosi returned to full-time teaching.

Over the many years, Yosi has taught courses in Jewish studies and literature at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, and Hamline University. He has also published textbooks and articles in Hebrew language and Jewish studies and was a winner of the 1990 Covenant Award in Jewish education. Yosi served for 20 years as Rabbi at Temple Sholom in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he was known as the Chief Rabbi of the Chippewa Valley. He is now teaching at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul Afternoon School and Midrasha.

At Talmud Torah, Yosi teaches Torah, Rabbinic literature, Hebrew language, contemporary Jewish issues, and Jewish thought. He is also a frequent teacher for Hineni, TTSP’s adult education program. In addition to teaching, Yosi founded and participates in a Jewish-Christian-Muslim text study group, and is a regular participant in the Rabbinic Torah Study program of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

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Oren Eubanks-Segal, Midrasha Elective Instructor

Oren Eubanks-Segal hails from Tel-Aviv and is an enthusiastic educator with a profound love for Israel and its rich culture. He is a skilled teacher, boasting advanced degrees in Hebrew and Comparative Literature from Tel-Aviv University and Middle East Studies from the University of Michigan. Oren has a wealth of knowledge and a true passion for sharing the beauty of Israeli culture, which he imparts in his teaching. Currently based in Michigan, he continues to inspire students by teaching Hebrew and sharing his expertise.

Leslie Copes Finke

Leslie-Copes Finke, Midrasha Elective Instructor

Leslie-Anne Copes-Finke is the Director of Teen Program for The Mussar Institute (TMI), co-leader of the Teen Task Force, and a member of the Board of Directors. As a member of the education staff at Beth El Temple Center in Belmont, MA, she has facilitated TMI’s Challenges and Choices: A Jewish Teen’s Guide to a Balanced Life with a group of 11th and 12th grade teens for the past year.
 
Leslie has a deep love for Jewish learning and is particularly passionate about bringing Mussar to life with teens, hoping to plant the seed of seeking holiness and wholeness in the next generation of Jews and to provide ways for teens to better understand themselves to live more purposeful and healthy lives. Leslie embraces creativity as a way to open up entrances to holiness, spirituality, and access to a deeper knowledge of ourselves, each other, and the Divine.
 
With over ten years of experience in the areas of leadership and team effectiveness, and another ten years working professionally in fundraising, Leslie has served as a consultant for Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Leadership Development Institute, is a Vice-Chair of the URJ Communities Leadership Team (NE), and has held senior positions at several not-for-profit organizations, including Boston Baroque, WNET-NY, UCS, and Common Ground Stage and Film Company. She is the proud mother of three, ages (17, 20, and 23), and is a past president of her synagogue.
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Earl Schwartz, Midrasha Elective Instructor

Earl Schwartz began teaching at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul in the fall of 1976. He is retired from the Hamline University religion department, where he also served as director of the social justice studies program. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Jewish life and education, including The Arc of the Covenant: Jewish Educational Success on the Upper Mississippi, a study of Jewish communal education in St. Paul.

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Nina Samuels, Midrasha Elective Instructor

Nina Samuels has an MA in Adult and Continuing Education and Community Development from the University of Michigan. She lived in Israel for nearly two years, worked at the University of Minnesota in Continuing Education and Extension, and was a family life educator at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis before serving as the adult learning director at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka until 2016. She is an active community volunteer and enjoys her work at a local bakery.