Tammy Keces is a passionate educator and school leader. Tammy holds a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA, an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction, a Clear California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from UCSD and an Administrative Services Credential from Cal State University Fullerton. Tammy has taught elementary school in various private and public schools including the JCC, Tarbut V’Torah, and New Horizon in Irvine, CA. Tammy has been an educational consultant for public, charter, Montessori, and private schools, providing professional development training and mentoring for administrators, school counselors, teachers, and staff. Her school consultation work has included trainings in the implementation of Common Core and a comprehensive social-emotional learning curriculum for grades K-12. As a certified Positive Discipline Trainer, Tammy has led Positive Discipline trainings for the Jewish Educator Association (JEA) for religious educators in 15 local synagogues and public, charter and private schools throughout California. She also provides parenting education workshops regularly.


Tammy has done extensive academic research and assessments on motivating children to learn, which was included in Dr. Debra Stipek’s book, “Motivating Children to Learn: From Theory to Practice.” Tammy’s language arts curriculum is featured in “Positive Discipline in the School and Classroom; (4th edition)” and the “Problem Solving Wheel of Choice Program,” both by Jane Nelsen. Most recently Tammy wrote the foreword for “Positive Discipline Tools for Teachers” by Jane Nelsen, being published this fall. She is on the advisory board of the Orange County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a past board member of Transition Laguna and is regularly invited as a guest speaker at events held by the Orange County Private School Association.

Tammy enjoys spending her free time with her family in her organic vegetable garden, cooking, playing board games or hanging out the beach with her husband Matthew and children Maya (21,) Natasha (18,) and Colby (14). She has been raised with beautiful Jewish traditions which have enriched her life, and she values the opportunity to partner with the wonderful families at IHDS to create a warm and unique school community. Tammy is grateful to be a part of IHDS family.

D’vorah Miller has been teaching formally and informally, children and adults, for over two and a half decades across four continents. D’vorah holds a Judaic studies teaching certification from Bnot Chayil College in Jerusalem, a general teaching certification from the New South Wales Board of Education in Australia and a diploma in therapeutic counseling from MST college in London.

D’vorah and her husband, Rabbi Shmuel Miller, served as Rabbinical couple in Cape Town, South Africa where D’vorah facilitated youth and adult workshops on relationships, self-esteem and spirituality. D’vorah has published Divrei Torah and articles on effective parenting and personal growth. Rabbi Shmuel and D’vorah are the blessed parents of eight children, three wonderful daughters-in-law and a son-in-law, and precious grandchildren.

D’vorah grew up in southern CA and returns excitedly to a familiar landscape after nearly three decades of globetrotting. D’vorah is eager to begin her work as Director of Jewish Studies at Irvine Hebrew Day School.

amber-headshotAmber Saldana, originally from Oregon, moved to Alaska shortly after graduating high school where she attended the University of Alaska, ultimately graduating with a Bachelor of Science from Northern Arizona University.  Amber soon discovered her passion for the classroom and went on to get her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and her Masters in Teaching from Chapman University.  Amber has extensive experience as an early childhood educator, and most recently she piloted and built a successful Transitional Kindergarten program from the ground up. Amber is trained in Positive Discipline and believes in the philosophy wholeheartedly.  

Amber lives in Laguna Hills with her husband, Matt and her children Lucy (6), and Jake (3).  You will find her at the beach on most weekends, and she is always up for a camping trip.  She loves reading, browsing the housewares section of Anthropologie, mountain biking, and exploring new places with her family.

orly-new-and-improved-headshotOrly Levy was born and grew up in Israel. She attended middle school and high school in Toronto, Canada and received both her BA in Psychology and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from UCI. After graduating, Orly moved to Israel and taught middle school English for six years. She also earned her MA in Social Psychology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Orly and her husband decided to move to Irvine where they started their family. Orly worked as a third-grade general studies teacher at Tarbut V’Torah, as a Preschool Teacher at the Irvine JCC, and with the Irvine Unified School District for the past ten years. Orly lives in Irvine with her husband Yosef, their daughter Leeluv, and two sons Shenhav and Mattan. 

Orly enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, arts & crafts, Israeli folk dancing, relaxing by the beach and spending time with friends and family.  While she loves teaching young minds, she enjoys learning from her students and experiencing the world through their eyes. Orly cannot wait to greet her students with a big smile every morning and discover the many adventures that await them each day.

auchmoodyAndie grew up in Irvine, went to Venado Middle School, University High School, and graduated from UCI with a degree in social science. After college, Andie taught art throughout LA and OC with “Meet the Masters,” a program designed to explore and educate about master artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. During this time, Andie discovered her passion as a classroom teacher and went on to teach elementary school in both public and private school settings. Andie also brings over ten years of experience as a certified Positive Discipline educator.

Andie currently lives in Mission Viejo but enjoys traveling to new places, meeting the locals, and discovering hidden gems on her adventures. She loves music, the outdoors, gardening and animals (she has had dogs, birds, lizards, fish, rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, goats, and Luke the Wonder Horse!). She has two grown children (Kate and Ian) and a daughter (Grace) who attends high school. After meeting her, you won’t be surprised to learn that her favorite color is sunshine yellow!

Morah Andie is looking forward to having an incredible year of joyful learning with her incoming second grade students.


Chelsea Van de Brooke was born and raised in Southern California. Her passion for teaching was cultivated at a very young age, and while visiting family in Oregon, she found a college that offered classes that aligned with her long term goals. She, therefore, moved to Oregon to attend Southern Oregon University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. After graduating, she moved back to Southern California in order to obtain her Teaching Credential. While settling back into Orange County, she had the fortunate opportunity to come to Irvine Hebrew Day School as an Instructional Aide, and she was thrilled to rediscover her Jewish roots. She loved learning the tefillot and brachot, and celebrating Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. At IHDS she learned about the important impact Positive Discipline has on both teachers and students and grew to love the encouraging and supportive environment of the school. Her passion for teaching is evident in her creative approach to teaching, which includes experiential and project based learning. Chelsea graduated from California State University, Fullerton after receiving her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and has taught both kindergarten and 3rd grade.

Chelsea currently lives in Aliso Viejo, and in addition to teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, going to the beach, hiking, and walking her dog, Titus. Chelsea knows that her positive energy, joyful spirit and optimistic outlook on life will shine through as she engages her students. Chelsea believes that a school community should include meaningful friendships, joyful learning, and inspired imagination, and the key to teaching is giving each child the foundation to believe that he or she can accomplish anything!


Anat Vizanski Levi was born and raised in Israel and has been teaching Hebrew to children in grades K-6th for the past 4 years and teaching Art Education for over 20 years. Anat enjoys developing unique hands-on experiential Hebrew curriculum connected to her passions for art, yoga and baking. Anat has a certificate in “Hebrew Through Movement” and will be participating with IHDS staff in the “Hebrew at the Center” professional development program through the Bureau of Jewish Education, Los Angeles.

Anat Holds a M.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Haifa University in Israel and has a teaching certificate in Art History and Visual Arts from Bet Berl College. Anat’s teaching experience has given her the knowledge to choose different techniques to highly engage learners and to adapt subject matter to the student’s individual areas of need.

Her creative, caring approach creates an intimate learning atmosphere to encourage meaningful learning.

Throughout her career, Anat has also developed an interest in Israeli cinema and literature. The cultural knowledge she has accumulated allows her to make interesting connections in the classroom and develop unique, creative lesson plans.

Anat lives with her husband and her 12 year old daughter, but frequently visits her two adult children in Israel. She spends her time traveling and exploring places with her family, teaching yoga and owns a small home business baking and decorating cookies. She also lived in Italy for 6 years and speaks Italian.

Jason Rosner is ajason-rosnern Orange County native, ordained as a Rabbi by Hebrew Union College. He is passionate about expanding the Jewish educational opportunities in Southern California and has returned to his home county to work with the groundbreaking Irvine Hebrew Day School. In addition to ordination, Rabbi Rosner also holds a Master of Hebrew Letters from HUC, a Master of Literature from the University of St. Andrews, and was commissioned as a reserve officer and chaplain candidate in the US Air Force. Jason is coming directly from running a synagogue in Wimbledon, southwest London. In addition to the UK, Rabbi Rosner has also lived in Sweden and Israel. He is married to Noémie Taylor-Rosner, a native of Paris with whom he met while living in Jerusalem. Rabbi Rosner has a great love of animals, long walks, and coffee.

The Board of Trustees of Irvine Hebrew Day School (IHDS) invites you to explore the school and meet its leadership. We are looking to expand our circle of volunteers to include visionaries who are interested in building something truly unique in Orange County. Please contact one of the board members below if you would like more information or wish to be involved with IHDS.

President: Karin Hepner, Ph.D.,
Karin and her husband Absalom moved to Irvine 13 years ago, where they now are in the throes of raising five young children. Both Karin and Absalom attended Modern Orthodox day schools in New York and Los Angeles, respectively, and both dedicated time to learning in yeshivot in Israel before attending college on the east coast and UCLA for graduate and medical school. Moving to Orange County, they recognized the need for a progressive, experiential Jewish education that is committed to educational best practices. As a molecular biologist and research scientist, Karin is excited about adopting the most cutting-edge science curriculum, one part of IHDS’s innovative educational program.

CFO: Andy Elster,
Andy and his wife Beth have been residents of Irvine for over 30 years, where they have raised their four children. Over these 30 years, Andy has held numerous positions on the boards of three different synagogues and served for 16 years on the board of Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School. He brings a wealth of board experience with him as well as a background in programming and software/web development.

Development Chair: Mike Sirota,
Mike Sirota is a Development Professional, his career beginning as the Director of Resource Development for the Jewish Big Brothers Association/Camp Max Straus where he more than tripled fundraising revenue during his six-year tenure. As a fundraiser, he also worked with United Cerebral Palsy, the Jewish Federation, and with Sinai Temple as its Director of Development. Originally from Tuscon and now a resident of LA, Mike attended UC Berkeley and received his credentials in Early Childhood Education/Ecology. For eight years he worked as an LAUSD teacher in the start-up Alternative School and the challenged inner-city Holmes Avenue School. Mike has a deep connection to music, to his Jewish roots, its heritage, and its liturgy. He is a cantor at Temple Ami Shalom in West Covina and is a member of a three-part-harmony folk trio, The Folk Collection. Mike also runs his own business, Permitwiz, providing permit services for sign companies in Southern California. Joining the IHDS board is a reflection of his core value: that we are all one Jewish community, and we must do everything we can to nurture it. Mike is also a proud grandfather to Jack Spitz, a current kindergartner at IHDS, and is deeply committed to the school’s vision and prosperous future.

Board Member: Allan Gindi,
Allan and his wife Carol founded Adoption Network which has evolved into Adoption Network Law Center, currently the largest adoption law center in the United States. He has a Juris Doctorate with academic honors from Western State University and is a proud father of six children. Allan comes from a modest family with simple means. A priority for his parents was to ensure that all four of their children had a Jewish education, from pre-school through high school. Although during his childhood there may have been times of economic challenges, their children’s Jewish education was never a contemplation of compromise. Continuing in his parents’ footsteps, Allan has actively served the local Jewish schools and synagogues as a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Allan has also served on the Board of Directors for Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County.



By Andy Elster

IHDS IconI am honored to share with you the story behind the tree in the logo. It has been part of my family for over thirty years thanks to my mother, Rhoda Elster z”l. In addition to a long career as a nurse my mother was an extremely talented artist whether it be drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, weaving or any other pursuit.

As long as I can remember my mother was always drawing pictures on my lunch bags, sewing dresses for my sisters, knitting and making afghans and blankets. She began creating Jewish ritual art many years ago being involved with the creation a torah mantle for the congregation where I grew up. Her interests branched out into weaving, first with a floor loom when she wove my father and I each a tallis for my Bar Mitzvah and then on to weaving tapestries. She also started learning about wimpels, a Yiddish term for binder or sash. These are used to wrap a torah as well as wrapping a baby boy for his bris.

My mother designed our wimpel, to be used for my aufruf, the Shabbat celebration before my wedding. She added both my wife’s name and my name to the base of the tree with room to grow. With the birth of each child the wimpel was part of their naming and their names were added to the family tree. We used the wimpel to wrap the torah for each of their bar/bat mitzvahs. By the time my oldest daughter was married, it fell upon me to add my son-in-law’s name next to my daughter’s and I have had the honor and privilege to add the names of three grandchildren as well.

My mother passed away over a year ago and during this time I became involved with the creation of Irvine Hebrew Day School. When discussions began regarding a logo the tree that my mother created over thirty years ago immediately came to mind. What better way to express the values of our school than to reach into our personal history and share it lovingly with our children. The creation of a new experiential school rooted in Jewish traditions seemed like a perfect fit and an ideal way to honor and cherish my mother’s legacy.