Religious School Faculty

Ela Alexander - Kindergarten and 1st Grade -

Ela Alexander was born in Israel and has been teaching children for many years. Even before graduating high school she has been working with preschool children in her Kibbutz, Rosh Hanikra. After immigrating to the US Ela continued working with children while attending college to earn a certificate in Early Childhood Education. She ran a home day care business while raising her son and has worked in two preschools in which she was a head teacher as well as a director. Currently she is employed by the Wornick Jewish Day School where she has been teaching for over ten years mostly in grades K to 2. Ela has been teaching at CBJ since 2011.

Natalya Martyushova - 2nd Grade Teacher, Program & Family Director, Preschool Teacher -

Natalya Martyushova has been part of the CBJ staff since 2003. She was born and raised in Ukraine. She got her Master Degree in Child Psychology and English at Kirovograd State Teachers Training University. She graduated Pre-rabbinical program at Kiev Collage for Modern Jewish Studies. Judaism is her passion and she shares her knowledge with her students from preschool age as well as religious school. She takes an active part in the life of CBJ Community and runs numerous programs at CBJ. She likes to travel, paint, play the piano, do art and spend time with her family and friends.

Esti BenDavid - 3rd Grade -

Esti BenDavid was born and raised in Israel and served in the IDF for two years. She studied Hebrew Language Studies at the Haifa University and gained her certificate in Graphic Design from the Technion extension, the Israeli Institute of Technology. Esti was a part of the BINA development team for an educational computer program designed for elementary school children in Israel. After relocating to California with her family in 1999, Esti earned her BSc in Psychology and Social Action from Palo Alto University and her Communication Studies degree from De Anza College. Esti has a great passion for Jewish studies and has been teaching Hebrew and Jewish studies for over 10 years. Esti loves to spend time with her family, dance, hike, read, and watch movies.

Terrah Yevilov - 4th Grade -

Terrah Yevilov grew up in Southern California and has always had a love for children. She began babysitting which led her to spend her summers working as a counselor for kindergarteners at a Jewish day camp. She then went on to teach in the local Hebrew School. Currently she is studying psychology at Menlo College. During her spare time she enjoys going to the beach, spending time with friends, and art. She has a younger brother whom she enjoys spending time with. Her favorite color is blue; and she loves chocolate, pizza, and peanut butter.

Nia Taylor - 5th Grade -

Nia Taylor was born and raised in Palo Alto. As a teenager, she spent many weekends babysitting and summers as a camp counselor at her local JCC. Those early experiences inspired her to become the Jewish educator she is today. Over the last 8 years years, Nia has lived in Amherst, MA; New York City, Los Angeles and Paris. She is excited to be back in the Bay Area and working at CBJ! With a B.A. in Social Justice Education and a M.A. in Visual Arts Administration, Nia loves working with children of all ages, studying Jewish culture, and making art.

Riva Jacobs - 6th Grade -

Riva Jacobs is privileged to begin her third full year of teaching at CBJ. She received a Master's degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and has been a Jewish educator in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. She is a specialist in Torah and T'filah (prayer). Riva spends most of her time tutoring B’nai Mitzvah students and consulting and supporting our Curriculum Committee at CBJ. Riva has 2 grown sons who live in NY and usually spends at least 2 evenings each week doing Israeli folk dancing.

Rotem Bluvstein - 7th Grade -

Rotem Bluvstein is excited to be working with the highly-praised students, staff, and community at CBJ! Rotem was born and raised in Israel, and moved to California in the fifth grade to learn English. She thus found a fascination with languages and linguistics, and began collecting as many as permitted by her schedule while she studied for her Bachelors in English at UC Berkeley. She has recently earned a California Teaching Credential for teaching literature. By day she is a high school teacher's assistant in Special Education, and by night (or late afternoon) she is starting her first year at CBJ.  When she's not frittering away afternoons at karaoke or watching animated series, she likes writing short stories that never see the light of day and going out for pearl milk tea or Oreo ice cream with friends.

Bill Futornick, Ritual Director and 6th Grade Teacher, Mondays Period 1 & 3 -

Bill Futornick became Ritual Director of Congregation Beth Jacob in 2002, after a distinguished career in the business world. Coming from an East Coast family steeped in Jewish education, the Rabbinate, and Yiddishkeit, Bill coordinates and leads services, personally tutors every Bar and Bat Mitzvah student, teaches people of all ages, leads a variety of programs, and aids Rabbi Ezray in caring for members in need. Prior to his current position, Bill was a Partner at a major executive search firm. Bill holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University.

Cantor Barbara Powell, Cantor and 6th Grade Teacher, Mondays Period 2 -

Barbara Powell, Beth Jacob’s Cantor since July, 2007, leads services, teaches music and tefillah, coordinates lay service leaders and Torah/Haftarah readers, and leads the “Journeys” family education program. Prior to CBJ, Barbara taught and led services at congregations in Northern California and the East Coast, taught music privately and at San Francisco public schools, and did extensive social service work. Her singing career spans many genres, and she released the CD “Smooth Road” in 1996. Barbara, who is currently working toward cantorial ordination, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz, studied in Israel, and grew up on the Peninsula.

Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray, Rabbi and 7th Grade Teacher, Mondays Period 1 and 3 -

Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray has served at Congregation Beth Jacob since 1995. Before coming to CBJ, he served at Temple Emanual in Newton, Massachusetts. He also served as Director of Camp Arazim in Northern California. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary and his undergraduate degree from UCLA in political science. Rabbi Ezray has been actively involved in the broader Jewish and civic community. He has served on the Board of the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School, AIPAC, New Israel Fund, Jewish Healing Center and Peninsula Clergy Network. He serves on the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Shalom Bayit and has been active in the synagogue/Federation partnership.Rabbi Ezray was born and raised in Sacramento, and is blessed with a winderful wife, Mimi, and two children, Emily and Ethan. His joy as a Rabbi is teaching, building community, and fostering relationships that have developed between him and his congregants and the broader community.

Rabbi Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon, Education Director and Principal -

Rabbi Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon joined Congregation Beth Jacob in 2015 as rabbi educator, directing the religious school and deepening relationships between religious school families and the synagogue community.

Rabbi Ilana connects to people of all ages with joy, honesty, and empathic listening. She also engages deeply with Jewish tradition, using creativity sharpened by knowledge to draw the past into our lives today.

She received rabbinic ordination from the Academy of Jewish Religion, CA, a post-denominational school with a spiritual bent. She also studied in the Kollel of the Conservative Yeshiva. The rabbinate is a second career for her; she received her PhD in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University.

Rabbi Ilana and her husband, David, moved to the Bay Area in 2002, and their home has been a center for Jewish community ever since. They are blessed with three children, aged 13, 10 and 2.

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