Our Staff

Pam Rush, School Director
grew up in Memphis, TN and graduated from CB University with a B.S. in Business Administration.  A member of the Grand Rapids community and Temple Emanuel since 1989, she has taught music at the Temple religious school since 1995, private piano instruction for over 25 years and is currently lay cantor and music director for Temple Emanuel. She is married to Jeff and they have two daughters, Samantha and Alex.  In her spare time she enjoys tennis, golf and playing in her rock band “TOO”.  She has a deep understanding of the mission and philosophy of the school and has been a binding force for its continued success.

Barb Duchemin, Curriculum Director has been a teacher at Temple Emanuel and has been on the religious school committee since 1995.  She has a B.S. in Biochemistry from Wayne State and a B.S. in Health Science from University of Detroit.  She also has a Master in the Art of Teaching from Aquinas College.  She is married to Steve and they have three children – Adam, Brian and Lauren.  Currently, Barb works as a Physician Assistant at Grand Valley Health Plan.

Gan Katan/Hebrew  Cantor, Marisa Krishef
Cantor Marisa Bear Krishef was ordained from the Academy for Jewish Religion, New York, in 1994.  She has been teaching religious school since she was a cantorial student.  She has taught students of all ages from pre-school to adults.  Her specialty subjects include Music, Hebrew, and Jewish holidays.  As an undergraduate, Cantor Krishef majored in Theatre Arts and Secondary Education at the University of Minnesota.  She grew up in the small town of
Superior, Wisconsin.  Cantor Krishef loves singing in the local Shir Shalom Choir and occasionally performing with the Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids.  She is married to Rabbi David Krishef, who is the rabbi at Ahavas Israel and they have three sons and a daughter who also attend Beit Sefer B’yahad.


  Pre-K Jana Soverinsky  and her family recently moved to Ada from Chicago   She graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and received her Master's Degree in Education Reform from DePaul University.  Jana has taught Early Childhood and Kindergarten classes for the past 20 years. She loves spending time with her family – her husband Jerry and their son Max (and two pet frogs Jack & Jill ). Jana loves traveling, hiking and just hanging out in her hammock with a good book. 

Teaching Assistant Debbie Kuhn grew up in the Detroit area, went to Michigan State for undergrad and Walsh College in Troy for graduate school.  She moved to the Grand Rapids area in summer of 2015 to be closer to extended family, currently living in Comstock Park with her husband, Chris and son, Torrey.  She currently works as an auditor in the mortgage industry.  She is looking forward to meeting new people and becoming a part of this great congregation.

Kindergarten Hasia Monselise was born and raised in Israel. She studied art education at Beit Berl College and graduated from SUNY Empire College with a BA in Education and Art.

She taught at many schools in the New York area, including Solomon Schechter , Beit Rabban School  Stein Yeshiva,Chabad Palisades and Jcc Harrison .

Hasia has always loved working with children and believes that educating our future generation is the most rewarding work. She helps them prepare to become Jewish adults.

"Our children have the fullest potential to speak Hebrew.  I am happy to see children gaining more knowledge every day. That’s what makes me happy and motivated to continue to teach." 


1st Grade Linda Zizos is VP of Membership Development for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.  Off time, she and her husband, Gregg enjoy working in their garden, spending time with family and friends and pampering their Shi Tzu Lily.  Linda has been teaching at Beit Sefer B'yhad for several years.  She enjoys the curiousity and fun of first graders, and loves helping them connect to Judaism in a way that is meaningful to them.  Linda's students are the reason she looks forward to Sunday mornings!

2nd Grade Melissa Popour Melissa grew up in the Detroit area.  She graduated from Western Michigan University in 2002.  She began teaching Sunday school at 16 years old.  Melissa moved to Jenison in 2006 where she currently lives with her husband and two sons.  She is an e-commerce database administrator at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.  When not at work, there is always time to be found to run or hang out with her family and friends.

3rd Grade Allyson Stein  

Hi  My name is Ally Stein, and I am so excited to be teaching 3rd grade this year. I am from Maryland, but have lived in Michigan for over 20 years. I work at Olives Restaurant and I am a social worker.  I have two amazing sons, Andrew who is in the 5th grade, and Brandon who is in the 8th grade. 

I can't wait to teach this year and put my Pinterest board to good use. 
See you after the High Holidays.

4th Grade Avram (Avi) Forstein was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. His father was the only rabbi in South Dakota for the 1980s and most of the 1990s. Avram moved to Kalamazoo in mid 2002 and moved up to the Grand Rapids area in May 2003. Avram graduated from Grand Valley State University in late 2010. During the week, he works as a Social Media Content Coordinator for Greatergood.com. Avram enjoys watching documentaries, listening to stand up comedy, playing games and hosting a public pop culture quiz at various locations in Grand Rapids every week. Avram is very excited to be teaching religious school again (he taught Hebrew classes at Mt. Zion Temple in Sioux Falls during his teenage years) and is looking forward to a wonderful year with his students.            

.5th/6th Grade Ellen Wease is originally from northern Michigan.  She attended Northwestern Michigan College to study dental assisting and then completed her BS at Central Michigan University.  Ellen works in the Cascade area as a Registered Dental Assistant.  She moved to Grand Rapids last year from Lansing with her husband Josh and daughter Emma (often seen dancing in her seat during Friday night services).  Although this is  Ellen’s first year teaching for UJS, she has experience working with Junior and Senior high youth groups.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with Josh and Emma, cooking, running, and entertaining.  Ellen is looking forward to a great year! 



Staff Continued