Service Corps Mentors 2013-14

Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman serves as the Program Coordinator of the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Based on the New York campus, she also helps to recruit for all of HUC-JIR’s Schools of Education programs. Prior to coming to HUC-JIR she served as CLAL’s Development Manager and as Program Associate at MAKOM, with the Jewish Agency for Israel. She has also served the Reform movement in many capacities working for affiliates such as the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) as the New York Regional Advisor. Originally from Miami, Melissa came to New York via Boston, where she received her MSW from Boston University. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Valerie Hoffman Klein is starting her 8th year as religious school director of Adat Chaverim in Plano, Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University and recently earned a Masters in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Valerie’s additional experiences in Jewish education include:

  • Faculty at Greene Family Camp for the past 7 years
  • Teaching kindergarten at the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School
  • Teaching Sunday school to both teenagers and preschoolers
  • BBYO advisor
  • Leading the URJ Garin Greene Israel tour 
  • Living in Israel for 2 ½ years.

She is married to David Klein and is the proud mother to 3 girls, 16, 12 and 9.

Daniel Abramson is a teacher, artist and Jewish Summer Camp veteran. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Education, Daniel currently teaches Art, Science and Environmental Studies at the Toronto Heschel School, a non-denominational Jewish Day School in Toronto. Daniel has worked at URJ Camp George for 15 years in various leadership roles. His most recent role at camp has been the Machon Director and Cornerstone liaison.

Amy Nissim Kagan discovered youth group late in her high school career, but spent seven summers at URJ Camp Harlam. Following her graduation from the University of Rhode Island, she served for four years as the Director of NFTY’s Garden Empire Region (GER), as well as its Director of Youth and Informal Education. Amy currently works as a School Social Worker and has been serving as the Youth Group Advisor at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ since 2009. Amy and her husband Jeffrey live in Westfield, NJ with their children Sophie and Noah.

Hope Chernak joined the Shaaray Tefila staff in July 2007. As director of youth programs at Shaaray Tefila, Hope oversees our Family educational youth group for families with children in Kindergarten through Grade 3, youth groups for students in Grades 4-12 (Club 45, JJS, Just 8, TaSTY -High School Youth Group and Rosh Chodesh group for girls in Grades 6-8) and college outreach programming. Hope works closely with the other educators and clergy at Shaaray Tefila to recruit for URJ Camps and coordinates their URJ camp reunions and engagement programs. Hope also oversees Israel related programming at Shaaray Tefila and is the project manager for Gateways and Tents; their partnership program with their sister congregation/school, Ohel Avraham-Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa.

Hope previously worked for the Union for Reform Judaism and during her eight years with the URJ she served as the Managing Director of NFTY, Director of Youth and Informal Education for the Southeast Council and NFTY-SER’s regional advisor. Hope has also served as a synagogue Youth Director for two Reform congregations, music teacher for kindergarten students, and as a religious school teacher for 8th and 9th graders. Hope has served as a faculty member at URJ's Camp Coleman and Kutz Camp and currently serves on faculty during the summer at URJ’s Crane Lake.

Hope received her bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and management from Webber International University where she also played basketball, soccer, and cross-country on collegiate scholarship. Hope has a certificate in Youth, Adult and Family Learning from the New York School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and received her master's degree in religious education from HUC-JIR, NYC in May, 2011.

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