Jason Zidell is a fourth generation Portlander who enjoyed MJCC's early learning program for preschool and kindergarten, day camp, B.B.Y.O...
I teach because I love to help young people develop healthy relationships with the food we eat, the bodies we inhabit, the communities we belong to, and the earth we share. I strive to help young people reconnect with themselves and become who they truly are.
I teach because teaching is a gift. Middle schoolers are amazing. They are old enough to understand the true complexities of life, but young enough that they’re not yet jaded. They make me smile everyday, and I get to share all of my passions—literature, poetry, drama, history, social activism—with them.
I teach because it is the best way to learn. I love learning from the students and staff at PJA.
I teach because children teach us so much and remind us to be silly and have fun. I find so much joy in being a partner on their journey to discovering themselves and the world around them.
I teach because it is the best way to help young people know from the beginning of their lives that they are part of a community, part of the fabric of human life, and part of a storied and ancient Jewish tradition. Because if I do it well they may never question their inherent worth and belonging. And because it is FUN!
I teach because I love learning and love to think of creative and meaningful ways to spark wonder and curiosity in young people. My hope is that my students will seek out and embrace opportunities to learn, grow, and expand their understanding of the world and their responsibility to it.
I teach because “We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”
― Stephen King, 11/22/63
I teach because connecting to children through books and storytelling is my passion. Exposing kids to a variety of literature that helps them see all the ways they can leave kindness imprints on the big world around them is what excites me.
I teach because I want to help raise a generation of kind, curious, and compassionate humans.
I teach because it is so rewarding to see students reach their personal best through encouragement, inspiration, and challenge.
I teach because the smile and laugh from a child is the most precious part of my day. Teaching is my passion and I love teaching our future! I love PJA.
I teach because this is a job where I am surrounded by open minds, new ideas, and and our best hopes for the future. The learning and growth I see on a daily basis is inspiring!
I teach because I love helping children realize that learning can be hard and that's okay! And nothing is better than having one of my students realize they’re stronger and more resilient than they ever thought possible.
I market for PJA so people can learn about how our school makes mensches!
I teach because I can't not teach.
I teach because I enjoy working with children. Teaching is creative and interesting work and it fills my heart. In particular, I love finding ways to connect with each child.
As Admission Director, I love sharing the powerful story of PJA with families.
I teach because I love having the opportunity to build a socially aware, compassionate, kind community of young people with foundations in growth and learning!
I teach because there is nothing I find more rewarding than supporting a child as they learn and grow.
I teach because everyday is different with a new challenge with new opportunities to grow. I teach to see the simplicity in observing children discovering the world around them.
I teach to see the joy on children's faces which gives me an infusion of energy and inspiration as I watch these children, that represent our future, develop and grow, knowing that I was a small part of that future, a better world.
I teach because I can't think of anything that better combines my love of Judaism, children, creativity and community. My work is varied, exciting and challenging and after 25 years of teaching, I'm learning new things from my students on a daily basis.
I teach because teaching and learning are endlessly fascinating - we can improve our world through curiosity, creativity, understanding and growth. Being a part of a leadership team that supports children, teachers, and our community to "think for themselves and work for the world" is energizing and personally fulfilling work. I can’t imagine doing anything else!
l teach because it brings me joy and I am able to help shape the lives of my student.
I teach because I love to share the joy of education with children and to see their eyes light up with new learning!
I teach because it is who I am. It is my passion, my calling and my world.
I teach because I know how important early childhood education is. Young children are not to be molded but people to be unfolded. I enjoy experiencing the wonder and awe of learning with small children. There are so many new things to learn from a group of citizens that are preparing for a future world.
I teach because I love nurturing and taking care of plants, animals, children and anybody else who needs some extra TLC.
I teach because encouraging the confidence in children that they are being listened to, are supported, and are cared about, means everything. The views we hold of ourselves, and the world we live in, begin to develop during childhood, and the interactions and experiences we provide children as early educators are fundamental to their individual, and universal growth.
I work for PJA because it is not just a school, it's a community. Families and staff work together as one.
I teach because I want to plant the seeds in my students to be kind, always wonder and ask questions, to leave things better than they found them, to trust themselves when they make mistakes, and to try to do the right thing, even when nobody is looking.
I teach because I believe in the power of education. My own teachers have and continue to influence my life and I similarly aspire to positively impact the lives of my students.
I teach because I want to create an environment where each individual child feels welcomed and special. Everyday is a new adventure with my two year olds! I’m so grateful to have the privilege of witnessing important milestones.
I teach because I truly believe that every child is a capable learner. I'm driven and delighted by the way a student's face lights up when their hard work pays off with an "Ah Ha" moment.
I teach because…children are our future.
I teach because working with middle schoolers energizes and inspires me everyday. Mathematics is the tool, because I find great joy in it, but teaching is my destiny. My goal is to help every student discover the great joy in Mathematics, not only the ones for whom it comes easy, but especially for the one who believes it’s not for them.
I teach because the children of today are the future of tomorrow. It is our responsibility to help the future generation reach their full potential and change their world for the better.
I teach because of all the joy it brings to me each and every day. From the smallest of moments to the biggest of victories, I love and cherish my time with my students!
I work at PJA because I believe that community can play a large part in people's lives. For me, community was what brought me back when I found myself spiraling out of control - when you have others you can lean on for support, it can mean the difference between recovering from hardships or letting those hardships define and control you.
I teach to help students gain the ability to be critical thinkers, who can solve real-world problems both inside and outside the classroom.
I fundraise for PJA because I believe that everyone should be able to take advantage of all this school has to offer, regardless of their financial situation. Mensches come from all walks of life. Our ability to offer scholarships enriches our student body and makes our community stronger.
I teach because I believe in the power of music. Music is an opening. It creates connections. It sparks memory. It motivates. It helps us realize that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Witnessing students explore and discover new parts of themselves through music is sacred work. They are the music makers, and through them, I believe in the healing of the world.
I teach to provide a strong social, emotional, and academic foundation for every child.
I teach because my students show me how to remain creative and open while making art. Their ideas and energy renew my optimism for our world.
I teach because I believe that educational beginnings based on curiosity and kindness create not only an engaged learner, but an open and confident person who can also help and teach others.
I work at PJA because this has been my community since I was a student here the first year it started as Hillel Academy in 1961. As a former student, parent, board member and now staff – I love PJA.
I teach because I am a ready collaborator who loves all things library. Connecting kids, teachers and parents to the right resource at the right time is what makes me tick!
As PJA's Early Childhood Registrar, I enjoy helping families enroll their children in a safe and caring environment where children can feel comfortable and happy to explore and learn each day.
I teach because I love children and hope to guide and assist them to reach their potential.
I teach because I believe that kids can make a difference.
I teach because children are capable to learn. Seeing them being nice and caring to others is precious. When I teach, I learn new things from them,too!
I teach because... Little people are my passion!! I truly feel inspired learning from them - every day is a new beginning, a new journey that unfolds a new path creating new memories and welcoming new adventures. If only we slow down, observe and listen we are able to support already creative minds. I’m honored to be an Early Childhood teacher and to witness as each little person welcomes their “Firsts”.
Steve Albert, Executive Director
B.S. Haverford College. Ed. M. Harvard University. M.S. Portland State University. Steve is passionate about music and theater, and he enjoys singing as well as attending concerts and plays. He also enjoys hiking, kayaking, and skiing, and he likes to travel – especially to visit his grown children who are scattered around the country. He spends more time than he should caring for his saltwater reef tank at his home, which he shares with his wife, Janie, and dog, Lola. Steve’s favorite thing about PJA is the strong sense of community and the genuine care expressed by individuals for one another. This mirrors the collaboration that exists at all levels – from students to teachers to parents to school leadership – and creates a foundation that fosters learning and service on campus and off.
Becky Ewer, Marketing and Creative Director
Becky is the Marketing and Creative Director for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Portland Jewish Academy. She started working here in 2005 and loves the family feeling of the MJCC and PJA. Becky grew up in Seattle. She graduated with a B.S. in Business from Skidmore College and a Masters of Science in Arts Administration from Boston University. Becky is passionate about music as she has played the violin since the age of seven and is married to a professional violinist! She and her husband Greg Ewer founded the local nonprofit, 45th Parallel. Becky enjoys playing with her two children, cooking, knitting, and travelling. As a breast cancer survivor, Becky serves as a mentor to other women who are newly diagnosed.
Beth Germain, Chief Financial Officer
B.S. Finance - University of Illinois, MM (MBA) Accounting from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
Beth is responsible for all aspects of financial management and budgeting. Beth has held CFO positions in real estate development companies in both Chicago and Portland from 1989-2002. Beth joined the PJA Finance Committee in 1999, became Treasurer of PJA in 2000 and was hired as Controller in 2002. Beth is married to John and they have two sons, Payton and Louie, who are both PJA graduates. "PJA has been my strongest connection to the Jewish Community and I am grateful to have it be such as large part of my life." Beth enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest and being outdoors skiing, walking and boating as well as being indoors doing yoga and puzzles.
Sarah Glass, Director of Admission
Sarah grew up in Portland. At the age of 18, she moved to New York City where she earned her BA from Barnard College of Columbia University. After college, she taught in a public school in Brooklyn for three years before returning to graduate school to earn a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU. All three of Sarah's children attended PJA. "I love sharing the story of PJA with families. This is a school that truly lives by its core values. Our students learn to think critically, work together to build community, and know that they can make a positive impact in our world."
Charlotte Gund, Assistant Director of the Afterschool Department
Charlotte was born and raised in Riverdale, NY. She graduated Oberlin College with a Bachelors in Biology, and later, a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She has lived in Portland for seven years now, six of which she has spent working in the PJA Afterschool Department! In addition to providing a meaningful, inclusive environment for kids to grow and learn in after school hours, Charlotte enjoys running races, reading, studying languages, and exploring different parts of Oregon with her partner, Rick.
Natalie Haskins, Director of PJA Afterschool Programs
Born and raised Northeastern Oklahoma, Natalie grew up exploring the foothills of the Ozark mountains, riding horses, climbing hay bales and playing music on her dad's family farm. In the spring of 2006, Natalie and her husband, Tim, relocated to Portland, Oregon where Natalie has continued her love of exploring the great outdoors. When not hiking or investigating coastal tide pools, Natalie can be found tending her vegetable and medicinal herb gardens, riding a bike with her dogs racing alongside her or reading several books at once. She also still very much enjoys playing music. Natalie studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Oklahoma and has worked in Afterschool with PJA since 2006. She teaches because she believes every child deserves a safe and supportive learning environment during their out of school time.
Merrill Hendin, Principal
Merrill grew up in Brooklyn, New York where she attended Jewish day school through high school. She graduated with a BA in English from the State University of New York at Binghamton and worked at a Jewish day school in Brooklyn before moving to Vancouver, BC, where she completed the graduate education program and received her teaching certification through the University of British Columbia. Merrill and her husband lived in Haifa, Israel, where she taught English to adults, seniors and children in a variety of settings. When her young family returned to the United States, they made Portland their home and their PJA lives began. Merrill taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies at PJA before taking time off to raise her growing family. Her involvement at PJA has taken many forms over the past 29 years as she became involved as a lay leader and then for the past 12 years, has served as a member of the PJA administration as the Director of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Assistant Head of School, and for the past 8 years, as the school's Principal. Jewish education has always been an integral part of Merrill's life and when she and her husband were looking for a place to live after he finished medical school in Israel, at the core of the decision was to ensure that wherever they moved, there would be strong Jewish education and community for their family. PJA was home to all three of their children and remains an integral part of the Hendin family's lives.
Allison Hernandez, Assistant Director of Early Childhood Programs
Allison was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She received her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University. Previously, she lived in New York City and worked as both an educator and an acrobat. She lives with her family in Beaverton, Oregon, and in her free time enjoys running obstacle course races, gardening, and spending time with her family. Allison joined the PJA community in 2016, and believes that young children are capable, contributing citizens of our world.
Michael Hyde, Director of General Studies
Amy Katz, Director of Jewish Life
Amy Katz has been working in Jewish Education for over 20 years. She taught in Jewish Day Schools, synagogue schools, and Jewish summer camps in Wisconsin, Canada, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco before moving to Portland in 2004. Amy taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies for seven years at PJA before becoming the Director of Jewish Life. Amy's favorite thing about PJA is forging strong connections with students and faculty and encouraging everyone to learn a little more about the beauty of Judaism. Her favorite part of each week is Middle School tefilah. She lives in Northeast Portland with her husband, two teenagers, and her dog Sox. Amy graduated from Beloit College with degrees in Creative Writing and Literary Studies, and has a Master's in Jewish Education from Boston's Hebrew College.
Saul Korin, Development Manager
Saul Korin, MBA, is the Development Manager for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Portland Jewish Academy, where he builds relationships and enables philanthropic dreams. He is active in Havurah Shalom where he makes Purim happen, and occasionally DJs Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs on the side. Saul graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and as an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
Erika Saiers, Director of Early Childhood Education
Erika grew up in central Pennsylvania. She attended Green Mountain College in Poultney Vermont and earned a BS in Elementary Education and Teaching with a concentration in Recreation and played collegiate soccer. During her senior year at Green Mountain she attended the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) where she spent 3 months in the PNW mountaineering, sailing and rock climbing and decided that Oregon was where she was destined to be. She packed up a small pickup truck, spent a month traveling the country and has been rooted in Portland ever since, now calling the PNW home. In Portland Erika earned her MEd in Educational Leadership and Administration from PSU and continues her love of exercise coaching the PJA middle school cross country team, hiking and biking. Both of Erika's children attended PJA as "lifers" meaning they started as infants and graduated 8th grade and believes this community is truly a wonderful environment to grow up in.
Photo: Executive Committee: Left to Right: Danelle Romain, Jason Zidell, Amy Blauer, Steven Klein, Marni Glick.
Not pictured: Erik Richmond
Danelle Romain is an attorney in private practice specializing in government relations at The Romain Group (TRG).
Richard Barker is a Wealth Management Advisor and Senior Portfolio Advisor with Merrill Lynch...
Steven is an attorney with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s Media and Intellectual Property group...
Amy Blauer grew up in Seattle and has lived in Portland for over 20 years...
Marni was born in Brooklyn, raised in Philadelphia and came to Portland in 1982 with her husband, Hank Kaplan...
Barry Benson is originally from Massachusetts has been a Portland resident for the last 15 years..
Joyce has recently retired after forty years in the field of education...
Larry Gloth is an East Coast transplant who grew up in Massachusetts where he attended UMASS Amherst before joining the U.S. Marine Corps and moving West...
Gail Mandel is Deputy Director of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE). Prior to joining the professional team at OJMCHE, she served as Director of Philanthropy at the OJCF.
Carol is originally from Arkansas. She graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with a Doctorate in Pharmacy in 2000 and moved to Portland the following year....
Erik Richmond grew up in Arizona and came to Portland in 1986 to attend OHSU School of Dentistry and became an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon...
Jonathan is a fourth generation Portlander and graduate of PJA's first eighth grade class who spent his formative years at the MJCC...
Ahuva is a printmaker and painter who was born in Tel Aviv, Israel...
Jennifer grew up in southern California and moved to Portland in 1997...