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Administration Bios

Debby Litman, Interim Executive Director (

Debby has been working consistently since 1985. She has been a youth outreach worker, a receptionist/ filer/office worker, a Hebrew school teacher, school counselor and psychologist

Debby is an excellent ideator, people reader, crafter and multi-tasker. She is a risk-taker, loves new projects, thinking about them, some of the planning but then letting others implement them.

Debby is a huge fact-finder. She love’s research, learning, spirited discussions...all of it. The concept of change and innovation motivates her, deadlines motivate her, experimenting and finding alternatives all drive her sense of curiosity. Debby is always looking for ways to have fun and for kids to have fun.


Faculty Bios

Mary Baumgarten (

Mary has been in the field of Jewish education for over 45 years.  Her experience includes teaching at synagogue schools, day school, and at the Talmud Torah.  Mary also staffed the MABA Program at Herzl Camp for 10 years and directed it for 10 years.  Her longest tenure has been as a faculty member at the Talmud Torah  of Minneapolis, for 43 years. Mary has also been the Education Director at Beth El Synagogue for the past 25 years.

Mary’s passion is working with kids of all ages. She especially loves teaching Torah and having her students grapple with issues that are relevant to their lives.  Mary loves Judaism, Israel, and being Jewish and she hopes that she imparts that to her students.  

Every year Mary works hard at building personal relationships with her students and their families. She feel that this enhances the entire learning experience and helps to build strong partnerships with our families.

Mary has been fortunate to have travelled to many places in the world, learning about the Jewish communities there. This has enriched her personally and professionally.  These days she tries to spend as much time as possible with her children and grandchildren. Mary’s granddaughter, Sella, is now a student in Beth El’s Aleph School so she gets to see her every day. Shoshy, Binny, Ari and Ronji live in New York and they try to see each other frequently.


Etta Bernstein 

Etta has worked in education in both public and private school settings, teaching both secular (math, science, music) and Judaic classes.  Etta has worked as a Med Tech at the University of MN.  Etta has also worked at various Jewish schools - Temple Israel, Talmud Torah Day School/Twin Cities Jewish Middle School, Torah Academy, and Talmud Torah of Minneapolis. Etta worked at TTSP Day School for 18 years. Etta has worked at Talmud Torah of Minneapolis for 10 years.

Etta’s skills that give Talmud Torah students an advantage are that in addition to receiving degrees in Music, Education, Hebrew/Jewish Studies she has also received the Minnesota certification for teaching grades K-12,  studied in a program at the U of MN for educating exceptional students, and has extensive work in Torah/Haftarah reading and chanting various tropes. Etta has learned most services and fills in for the Cantor at Adath when needed.

Etta is driven by wanting every student to feel excited about learning. Through love of learning, students can feel confident, proud, and excited about being part of the Jewish community. Students need to know that everyone learns in different ways, at a different pace, with different strengths.
Each student is an important part of the community as a whole.  As Etta facilitates the blossoming of each child, she feels she is contributing to the future of our Jewish heritage and, by extension, helping to repair the world of the present and the future.


Rabbi Daniel (Danny) Ettedgui  (

Rabbi Daniel (Danny) Ettedgui has been involved in Jewish Education for the last 27 years. In that span of time he has taught at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis (TTMPLS), The Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, Sharei Chesed Congregation and at many community-wide venues. He loves teaching TaNaKh and uses his art skills whenever possible; in addition to Jewish Education, Danny is a visual artist fusing his love of the mystical teachings of the Hebrew Letters, Kabbalah and his maps and experiences from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Here are some of his experiences that have enriched his teaching: Kivunim Israel & Morocco, Leader of the Minneapolis JFCS Seder for Adults with Developmental Disabilities, Hineni-Teacher for Artists-Mystery of the Hebrew Letters, Understanding By Design (UBD)  Training, Art Lab Artist, O.W.L. Our Whole Lives Training for Sex Education Grades 7-9, SMARTboard Technology Training, AVODAarts Jewish Lens and Objects of the Spirit, Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) Etgar Curriculum Training, ENVOY Developing Skills Using Non-verbal Communication, Biblio-Drama Master Teacher Peter Pitzele,The David Project Israel Advocacy, Hamline University Differentiated Instruction, CAJE-Israel Jewish Educators Conference, University of Judaism Summer Institute L.A. and studied Hebrew at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He has especially enjoyed officiating at the weddings of former TTMPLS students and has also officiated at funerals for unaffiliated families in the MPLS-St. Paul, Jewish community. He loves being able to lead Mifgash at TTMPLS; especially, Parashat HaShavua.

Beyond his degrees in Education (U of MN), Jewish Education (Gratz) and rabbinical ordination he seizes many opportunities to be a life-long learner. He would love to work and study at ancient-Israelite archaeological sites in Israel someday.

Missy (Tamar) Cohen Lavintman (

Missy Cohen Lavintman, also known as Tamar, has been a teacher at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis since 1975 and has taught at various institutions throughout Minnesota, including Yachad, College in the School Hebrew Program (CIS), the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, Carleton College, the University of Minnesota, Weight Watchers as a Leader and Coach and more.  She was Education Director at B’nai Emet Synagogue, Community mentor teacher, and has created and continues to create curricular materials for various grade levels.


Missy’s expertise includes being a good listener and meeting students where they are at, while encouraging them to work up to their fullest potential.  She has a passion for Hebrew and a love of Israel which she brings to her students through a variety of creative ways.  She has written original songs which have become part of the Talmud Torah culture. She has traveled extensively and has brought parts of her journeys to her classes.


In recent years, she has become more interested in health and wellness, including various forms of exercise such as Qigong.  With grandchildren on both coasts, she is interested in exploring more of the United States with her growing family and spending time with them in Israel and in other exotic places throughout the world.


Barbara Taragan (

Barb has taught children and adults all her life. Barb taught English at the Eshel Hanasi High School in Israel.  She has been a teacher at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School as well as the Minneapolis Talmud Torah since living in the United States.

Barb is a Beit Hamidrash graduate from the Minneapolis Talmud Torah. She has a BA from the University of Minnesota in Jewish Studies and Education and a BA from the Ben Gurion University in English and Education.  Barb has a MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College.

Barb is the proud mother of three children- Maayan, Afek and Yamit and proud grandmother to five granddaughters- Gal, Elah, Einav, Almog and Noa.  Barb loves teaching and sharing her love for Eretz Yisrael, Medinat Yisrael and Clal Yisrael to all her students!



Nechamit Yaari (

Nechamit earned her B.S. in Education from the University of Wisconsin and is a graduate of the Levinsky Teachers Seminar in Tel Aviv. She has completed coursework in Bible and Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. An Israeli native, Nechamit served in the Israeli army for 2 years and then taught in Israel before moving to the United States.  Nechamit has taught at the Minneapolis Talmud Torah for 42 years.

Nechamit is also always learning.  She has completed courses for the Tal Am Hebrew/Judaics Program. In addition to her work at Talmud Torah, Nechamit joined the Heilicher Jewish day school faculty in 1997. She has an enthusiastic approach, incorporating dance and music into Hebrew and Limudei Kodesh lessons. She has a deep connection to Israel that she brings to the class and travels to Israel every year to attend various seminars to enrich her knowledge in Hebrew and Judaic studies and learn more about different learning styles.  Nechamit is a recipient of the Vivian Mann Jewish Educator of the Year Award and the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.  Nechamit’s students are given a strong foundation of reading and writing Hebrew.  Nechamit's enthusiastic approach to teaching motivates her students to love learning. By incorporating music and dance with a broad knowledge of the Jewish holidays, Israeli culture, and the weekly Torah portion, Nechamit's students receive a well-rounded Jewish education.

Nechamit is most curious about and most driven by learning about the brain functions as it relates to learning as well as being educated about various learning styles.  She is the proud mother of three daughters who all graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin. She enjoys doing ceramics, walking, watching movies, traveling, learning about different cultures and most of all, spending time with her family and friends.

Kara Rosenwald  (

Kara Rosenwald has worked in Jewish Communities on both the West and East Coasts and for the past 5 years in Minnesota.  Kara has been involved in Jewish Education, both in formal and informal settings for over 20 years.  

Kara considers herself to be an expert at program planning. Being very detail oriented comes from being the daughter of an engineer and an artist, both of her parents taught her important skills that she enjoys using to build successful programs for participants.

Kara is passionate about the idea of understanding. She feels success when her students know the "why" of something. "Why it is done?" "Why it is that way?", etc. This keeps her passionate about constantly continuing her own learning, both in text and theory.  


Avi Baron (

This is Avi’s 7th year teaching at Talmud Torah. Avi has been working with with Jewish youth in various roles since 2007. Currently a camp director, Avi has been working in Jewish summer camps since 2007.

Avi is good at calming a class down, discussion based learning. Avi can relate to children well. He finds the odd-kids and make them feel more comfortable. Avi is an expert at formatting, MS Excel, organizing physical and digital stuff.

Avi likes solving puzzles, he loves being a guide to others solving puzzles, and allowing them to become self-reliant in their methods. Teaching others to think critically is something he thinks is incredibly important for our youth to know.


Susie Chalom (

Susie Chalom has been a Jewish Educator in the Twin Cities for the past 46 years. She has taught everything from Hebrew to Torah, Spirituality and Midrash to children as young as three at Gan Shelanu , Bar/Bat Mitzvah age at SMP at Adath, students at TT Bet Midrash and adults in the community.

She loves teaching all subjects to all ages but her passion is discussing the " big questions" in life and finding answers within Judaism's sacred texts - which is what she is doing this year with her 7th grade students in her class called " Text Messages".

Yefet Zadaka (
Yefet Zadaka has been teaching at the Talmud Torah and the Minneapolis Jewish Day School for the since 1990. He has taught pre-school to adult education classes for over twenty-five years in both Israel and Minneapolis. He truly enjoys teaching children, youth and adults. An accomplished musician, he plays the accordion and the cello, bringing music, Israeli dance, Jewish History and culture into the lives of the students at Talmud Torah.

Tutorial Staff Bios


Jeanne Astren

Jeanne loves helping students with reading and pre-B'nai Mitzvah studies. She received a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Minnesota with almost half the credits earned at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She also spent much time living and working on a kibbutz and tries to get to Israel often to visit. During the weekdays, she spends her time working in her family's printing business. Ask her about Israeli rock and roll. She knows!

Harriet Burstein

She was born in North Dakota and came to Minneapolis and Talmud Torah as a student in 6th grade. She is a graduate of Talmud Torah and has been a Torah reader at her synagogue (Beth El) for many years. She loves tutoring her students and watching their faces light up as they learn!


Office Staff Bios

Dan Geller, Administrator (

Dan grew up in Fargo, North Dakota (yes, he has seen the movie; no, he doesn’t watch the new TV series).  He attended religious and Hebrew school at Temple Beth El in Fargo, but spent most chagim and Shabbatot helping to make minyans at the Fargo Hebrew Congregation.  Dan stayed in Fargo for college at North Dakota State University (mass communications, minor in political science) before moving to Minneapolis to work in the marketing/IT field until 2014.  His periodic stints training corporate marketers to use business reporting and marketing workflow systems planted a seed for teaching.   Dan was convinced by supportive family and great friends to teach 2nd grade Sunday school at Adath Jeshurun beginning in 2009.  His friends and family were right – Dan has loved being in the classroom ever since.  Dan taught 2nd grade at Talmud Torah in 2013-14 and 8th grade the following year.  He continues at Talmud Torah in 2015-16 helping in the office and as substitute teacher whenever needed.  Dan also coordinates substitute teachers at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School and fills in there as needed.   Dan and his amazing wife, Heidi, have two sons: Andrew (12th grade) and Jordan (9th grade).


Barb Yanish, Financial Director (

Barb Yanish provides accounting and finance functions for several non-profit organizations, and has enjoyed working with Talmud Torah of Minneapolis since June of 2014. She is experienced in non-profit accounting, budgeting, audit management and financial statement preparation. A University of Minnesota graduate, Barb keeps up on non-profit accounting standards through membership in the Nonprofit Financial Group.

Ilana Yarmak, Bookkeeper (

Born and raised in California, Ilana is new to Minnesota and Talmud Torah.  She is currently working on her Bachelors in Business at Touro University Worldwide.  Ilana has worked as the marketing manager for a clothing boutique and makeup salon in Los Angeles.  Back in California, she was very involved in Jewish student outreach at Cal State Northridge.  She loves to be active and learn new things.  Ilana loves being at the desk to meet and greet all the students!

4330 Cedar Lake Road
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416