Steve Freedman is the Head of School at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. Previously, he served as Head of School at the Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills, Michigan for 16 years, and was a member of the board of the Association of Independent Michigan Schools (AIMS). Known for his expertise in school leadership, and his commitment to academic rigor and professional development, Steve has taught new educational leaders at the New Director’s Institute, sponsored by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and is past president of the Jewish Educators Assembly. He regularly leads sessions on leadership and change at Jewish educational conferences and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS); he also mentors new heads of school, has served as team leader on independent school accreditation visits, and currently serves on the accreditation review committee for the Independent School Association of Central States (ISACS). Steve is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Arts in Jewish Education and Principal’s Certificate in Day School Education, and a Doctor of Pedagogy, h.c. Among his proudest accomplishments are his family; together with his wife Joan, he is the father of four: Eytan (and Andie), Elana, Yoni (and Naomi), Talia (and Corey), and grandparent to Noah, Sadie, and Lyla.
Assistant Head of School for General & Jewish Education
Ricky Stamler-Goldberg has more than 30 years of experience in Jewish education, almost all of them proudly in the Schechter system. Having begun her career working in the field of General studies, Ricky followed her passion of teaching Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language and, as such, served as a Judaic studies classroom teacher in Grades 1-5 for over a decade and was the recipient of the Gruss Award for Excellence in Teaching. “Morah Ricky” as she is known around school, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. She has taught across the “ages” including the Florence Melton Adult Mini School and supervising graduate students at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s (JTS) Davidson School of Education. Under her guidance, her teachers have received training in numerous Hebrew Language curricula, and the Standards and Benchmarks Project in the Teaching of Tanakh, developed at JTS. Morah Ricky and her husband have three grown children and currently live in Englewood, N.J.
Rabbi Efrem Reis received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2012 and graduated with a Master of Arts in Jewish Education focusing on experiential education. Following graduation, he served as a pulpit rabbi in South Florida for two years before moving to the Solomon Schechter School of Queens. During his six-year tenure at Schechter Queens, Rabbi Reis held a number of roles, including School Rabbi, Mishnah and Talmud teacher, and Director of Student Life and Director of Educational Technology and Innovation. Rabbi Reis lives in Teaneck with his wife Lauren and three children: Ella, Leba, and Sammy, all of whom attend Schechter Bergen.
Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, Jen Coxe earned her Bachelors of Science Honors in Life Sciences with a minor in psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and a Bachelor of Education specializing in Junior-Intermediate Education from the University of Ottawa. She began her career at Schechter Bergen in 1998 after moving to New Jersey and marrying her high school sweetheart. Over the past 20+ years at Schechter, Jen has taught Grades 5-8, overseen the ever-popular annual Science Fair, developed and taught Schechter’s health education curriculum, implemented such technology as Google Classroom, and has become a fixture for the sixth-grade environmental experience at Stokes State Forest. In 2019, Jen became Schechter’s International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator and interim Middle School Principal. In 2020 she became Principal of the Middle School, which includes the 5-6 and 7-8 Kehillot. She and her husband, Charles have three amazing kids: Sean, Kirsten, and Ryan.
Lauren Goldman-Brown has more than 20 years of experience as a teacher and principal in both public and Jewish day schools. Before coming to Schechter, Lauren served as the Principal of Reuben Gittelman Hebrew Day School in Rockland County. Prior to her tenure at Gittelman, Lauren spent 14 years in Hong Kong working at the Carmel School where she was an elementary school classroom teacher, middle school coordinator, and then principal for eight years. Lauren led the school through its second accreditation visit resulting in a second maximum six-year term of accreditation. Prior to working in Hong Kong, Lauren taught Grades 3, 4, and 5 in New York City public schools. She received her master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Oberlin College in Ohio. Lauren lives in Piermont, N.Y., with her husband and three sons.
Gena Khelemsky has over fifteen years of experience working with young children and their families. After graduating from McGill University, Gena received her Masters in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention with a Dual Certification in General and Special Education, from Bank Street College of Education. Gena spent the first part of her career teaching 2’s and 3’s at the Barnard Toddler Center and Bank Street Family Center. After leaving the classroom after her first son was born, Gena worked as a Learning Specialist and Educational Consultant at The Horace Mann School and The Avenues School of the World. With her commitment to progressive and child-centered early education, Gena has created a play-based program that is Reggio Emilia inspired. Gena is also a proud Schechter alumna and parent.
Beryl Bresgi is Head Librarian and 5-8 Kehillot Curriculum Coordinator. A veteran educator and librarian, Beryl has been instrumental in creating and collaborating on programs that use literature to introduce students to diverse worlds. Currently she supports teachers in developing and documenting curriculum, aligning with state and national standards. She has led Schechter Bergen through the initial and second NJAIS accreditations. Beryl is proud to be a Schechter Alumni Parent and to now have five grandchildren at Schechter. Beryl graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, with a Bachelor of Arts-Honors and Master of Arts in Educational Psychology, and received her Master of Library Sciences (MLS) from New York's Columbia University, as well as earning certifications from Yad Vashem in Israel and Facing History and Ourselves.
Ilana Kustanowitz, PhD, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in Psychology and Jewish Studies. After conducting research at the NYU Child Study Center, she returned to academia to complete her doctorate in School Psychology at Fordham University. Dr. Kustanowitz has worked at Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County since 2007, initially in the middle school, and now extending throughout the entire school from Gan 3's through Eighth Grade. Her research interests include positive well-being, happiness, and the impact of community service participation on an individual’s overall life satisfaction. Dr. Kustanowitz is married to Simmy, a television executive producer, whom she met during their many years as staff members at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. Together, they are raising three happy girls who are current Schechter students.
Liav Shapiro joins the Schechter Kehillah after 13 years with the Department of Education in New York City and 11 years (total) on staff at Camp Ramah in New England and Ramah Nyack. As a teacher, coach, and district instructional leader, she worked with schools to build inclusive educational settings where teachers collaborate, families are partners, and students of all abilities thrive. Liav holds a Bachelors of Science in Childhood and Special Education from New York University, a Masters of Science in Special Education from Hunter College, a Masters of Education: Supervision and Administration (The Principal's Institute) from Bank Street College, and an advanced certificate in Educational Leadership (School District Leadership) from Bank Street College. Liav is the Director of Student Learning at Schechter Bergen where she collaborates with learning specialists and all faculty to support each child to reach their fullest potential. Liav lives in Teaneck with her husband and two daughters, current Schechter students.
Ronni Brenner served on the Schechter Bergen Board of Trustees from 2004-2012 as the Vice President of Finance before joining Schechter as the Director of Finance & Operations in 2012. She has a Bachelors of Science from the University of Maryland in Accounting, is a former Vice President of Finance for Morse Diesel/AMEC and a former member of the Sisterhood Board at Temple Emanu-El. Ronni lives in Closter, New Jersey with her children, Samantha and Asher (both Schechter alumna), and her husband, Michael.
Over the past 15 years, Michelle has served as a strategic leader in development and special-event planning for such organizations as the NYU Medical Center, American Red Cross, Westchester Medical Center, Table to Table, and most recently, Yavneh Academy. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing, she is a proud Schechter parent of two boys, Avi and Asher.
Charlotte brings with her 15+ years of professional experience in Jewish and Israel education. Most recently, she served as Deputy Director and Coordinator for the United Kingdom’s flagship Israel Experience program, where she spearheaded recruitment and admissions initiatives. She also has designed, implemented, and managed Jewish educational fundraising and training programs. A graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Charlotte is a proud Schechter parent. She lives in Englewood with her husband, Joel, and three children, Maya, Sophia, and Rafi, all current Schechter students.