Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth, Head of School
Torah Academy is fortunate to have Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth, a veteran educator with almost two decades of experience in administration, as its founding Head of School. Rabbi Zehnwirth was ordained by Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz, of blessed memory, and graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York with a degree in Computer Science. Soon after receiving ordination, he was asked to join the administration of the Jerusalem branch of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, where he was known for his warm personality and upbeat manner. While on faculty, Rabbi Zehnwirth was charged with delivering a graduate-level course in Talmud and administering student guidance. Several years later, Rabbi Zehnwirth became principal of the newly established Girls Division of Torah High Schools of San Diego, California, graduating its first class, and subsequently served as principal of Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School in Chicago for five years. Rabbi Zehnwirth is an accomplished writer and has co-authored the acclaimed Majesty of Man: Torah Insights Into Human Nature and its sequel Pinnacle of Creation, published by Artscroll/Mesorah Publications. Both volumes are adapted from the ethical talks of his mentor, Rabbi Leibowitz, and their theme is the majesty and grandeur of the human being. This is also the underlying concept of Rabbi Zehnwirth's educational approach - building up the confidence and self-esteem of each student and enabling all students to actualize their potential for greatness and success in life.
Rabbi Matis Hollander, Head of School
We are excited to welcome Rabbi Hollander to the Torah Academy team!
Rabbi Hollander grew up in San Diego, California, before transferring to Queens to study at the Rabbinical Seminary of America for his ordination. He has been involving in teaching and education for over seven years, and has studied intensively under prominent pedagogical personalities to learn the art of teaching. His involvement in education has ranged through the ages of elementary school to college-aged students, and his dynamic and charismatic personality has made him admired by many. His students enjoy his creative and logical style, and Torah Academy has already benefitted greatly from his efficient and practical approach to administration.
Morah Elisa Zehnwirth, Assistant Principal
Morah Elisa Zehnwirth grew up in Queens, New York and after high school enjoyed a year of study in Israel at Machon Gold - Gold College in Jerusalem. She returned to the States to complete her bachelor’s in Judaic Studies from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women in Manhattan and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.
Morah Elisa has over three decades of experience in education, having taught early childhood classes (3’s and 4’s), 6th grade Judaic studies, high school Judaic studies and Hebrew language. As an administrator, Morah Elisa established and supervised a preschool in Jerusalem, Israel. She has given multiple workshops for educators in the field of early childhood education, including here in the Chicagoland area where Morah Elisa was an instructor at Hebrew Theological College's Blitstein Institute and taught a course in Child Development. She is a warm and caring individual who connects with young children and their parents in a very special way. It is truly an honor to have such an experienced and personable educator on the staff of Torah Academy.
Morah Tzippy Hollander, Judaic Studies Teacher, 3rd-4th Grade
Mrs. Tzippy Hollander is full of positive energy and enthusiasm. As a veteran camp director and school psychologist, she combines professionalism and expertise with creativity and excitement. She served as head counselor of Camp Nageela West for six years. With her MsEd in School Psychology from Queens College of the City University of New York, she served as the guidance counselor in a prominent high school in the Queens neighborhood. We are fortunate to have her on staff with us, imbuing our entire school with an optimistic and joyful energy.
Torah Academy's talented Mathematics Specialist, Mrs. Geula (Julia) Chertok was born and raised in Russia. She came to the US in 1992 with her husband and her older daughter. Mrs. Chertok holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics Education from Belarus State Pedagogical University and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University at Chicago. She has over fifteen years of experience teaching Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and AP Statistics to students at Clemente HS in Chicago, Vernon Hills and Libertyville High Schools, and also, working with students from elementary and middle school grades. Mrs. Chertok's naturally friendly and sweet disposition have endeared her to parents, faculty and most of all, of course, her students!
Having brightened our school's classrooms and hallways last year as a beloved Hebrew language teacher, Morah Chen Cohen will this year be a regular kindergarten morning teacher in addition to Hebrew language classes for the older grades. Born in Israel and educated there, she received her Bachelors in Education for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, with specialization in Hebrew speech, from the Achva Academic College at Ben Gurion University. She holds a State of Israel teaching certificate, and has over 13 years teaching experience in the classroom.
Morah Chen is a dedicated, enthusiastic and dynamic teacher who uses her teaching as a means of creating a lifelong love of knowledge in children. She visits every classroom for a twice-weekly period, speaking Hebrew and modeling Hebrew speech in fun activities such as games, cooking and baking. Morah Chen is a wonderful asset to our staff.
Mrs. Mila Finklestein , Chess Specialist
Morah Debbie Frager, Early Childhood Teacher
Morah Debbie has been with Torah Academy since the beginning, bringing her warmth, expertise, and amazing creativity to our community. We all love to see her wonderful projects that she guides her students in making and are kept on our toes waiting to see what she'll come up with next! With many years of experience teaching the very young all about their Judaism, Morah Debbie is an essential component of our staff.
Mrs. Frid grew up in Russia and graduated from Belarus State University with major in Physics. She served with distinction as a Physics Teacher in school for 20 years ( 6-11 grades) in Minsk, Belarus. In December of 1991 she immigrated to US. She then worked as Programer Analyst for 16 years and Business Analyst for 4 years for major companies such as Sportmart, Allegiance / Cardinal Health, and Walgreens. Now, as Torah Academy's Science Specialist, she says, "I am back to what I admired the most - teaching." We are very fortunate to have such a caring, experienced and dedicated teacher on our staff.
Mrs. Ivy Freeman, Certified Master Teacher, 3rd-4th Grade
Mrs. Carrie Kaz, Administrative Team Consultant
Her positive, upbeat and helpful personality have endeared her to our staff and students alike and we look forward to her expert advice and input as we carry our school to the next level of excellence!