Rabbi Joshua Spodek
Head of School
Rabbi Joshua Spodek, Head of School joins us from Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach, Florida, where he has been the Head of Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language since 2010 and, in addition, the Director of Fine and Performing Arts, since 2012. In those various capacities, Rabbi Spodek has been responsible for a student population of 1100 students, ranging from Nursery to Grade 12. Prior to that, Rabbi Spodek’s was a Rebbe and Student Life Director at the Weinbaum Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton, from 2002-2008, and the Alumni and Public Relations Director from 2004-2008.
Rabbi Spodek grew up in Toronto, Canada, and went directly to Israel, where he spent eight years learning in Yeshiva. He earned his Bachelors in Talmud Studies from Yeshivat Shaalvim and his Rabbinic Ordination from the Sha’al Institute for Rabbinic and Educational Leadership. Between 2004 and 2006, Rabbi Spodek earned a Masters in School Supervision and Administration from Loyola University of Chicago Graduate School. Rabbi Spodek is married to Tova Spodek, originally from Montreal. Together they have four children.
Mrs. Racheli W. Luftglass
Director of Judaic Studies
Mrs. Racheli W. Luftglass, Director of Judaic Studies, hails from The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey where she has been teaching students in the Nach Department and in Frisch’s special needs Learning Center since 2004. She began her career at The Moriah School in Englewood, New Jersey where she taught both mainstream and enrichment Judaic Studies as well as secular subjects in their Gesher Yehuda program.
Mrs. Luftglass graduated from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women with a B.A. in Music and Psychology and holds an M.A. from Columbia University’s Teachers College with a concentration in Education of the Gifted and of the Learning Disabled. She has also completed coursework at Columbia University towards a doctorate degree in Neuropsychology.
Ms. Yehudis Benhamou
Director of Curriculum
Ms. Yehudis Benhamou, Director of Curriculum, has served as the Social Studies and senior year Capstone Department Chair and Curriculum Coordinator at Scheck Hillel Community School in Miami for the past decade. She created and developed Scheck Hillel’s Capstone College Readiness Week and created a Holocaust education trip to Auschwitz and Terezin.
Ms. Benhamou earned her BA in History and Humanities at the Open University in Manchester, UK and her MA in European History from Florida International University.
Mrs. Natalie Williams
Mrs. Natalie Williams, Associate Principal, earned her M.A. in Teaching and is currently completing a Ph.D. in K-12 Educational Leadership. She was Director of Student Life and a member of the Judaic Studies faculty at Maimonides Academy of Los Angeles for five years before joining YULA Girls High School this summer.
Mrs. Williams is passionate about education and mentoring, with aims to help every student reach their fullest potential. She believes strongly that by creating a personal rapport with every student, an educator can nurture each student’s academic and spiritual growth.
Mrs. Nancy Schiff
Mrs. Nancy Schiff, Mrs. Nancy Schiff, School Administrator, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Mrs. Schiff moved to Los Angeles in 1989. For 10 years, she worked at Maimonides Academy as the School’s Operations Manager. Her goal was to manage an organization that was efficient and customer oriented.She took care of the staff and made sure they had the resources necessary to teach their students.
Mrs. Schiff joined YULA in February 2011 and continues these goals at YULA Girls High School. Mrs. Schiff and her husband Mark have three boys, all who have attended YULA at one time. Many of you might know her husband, Mark, who is a stand-up comedian. Mark tours with Jerry Seinfeld and entertains “kosher” crowds across the US. “I love the staff and students at YULA Girls. Not having girls myself, I look at all of our girls as my daughters. I am here for all of them.”
Mrs. Samira Miller
Director of Admissions
Mrs. Samira Miller, Director of Admissions and Marketing, Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mrs. Miller has always enjoyed being part of the vibrant and warm LA Jewish community. She earned her B.A. in Communications from University of California, San Diego as well as her M.A.Ed in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge. Mrs. Miller spent seven years as the Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Touro College Los Angeles and most recently, worked as Director of Community Support at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
“Working with students and parents through the admissions process puts a smile on my face. I love being part of a school that I am truly proud of. Each student brings something unique to the YULA community, and I am glad to be present on campus everyday to witness and enjoy the growth that I see.”
Mrs. Melissa Royal
Director of College Guidance
Mrs. Melissa Royal, Director of College Guidance, earned her B.S. in Business Administration from Hawaii Pacific University and her M.Ed. from the University of Washington. She has spent the past decade honing her skills at universities around the country, most recently as Transfer Student Program Director at UCLA and as Associate Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Orientation at Cal State Fullerton.
Mrs. Royal has immense interest in promoting education and a passion for working and connecting with students to help them achieve their educational and personal ambitions. She is honored to be a part of the YULA community, and is grateful for the opportunity to work closely with YULA girls and their families on the college admission process.
Dr. Leora Orenbuch
Dr. Leora Orenbuch, Guidance Counselor, is a proud YULA Girls alumna, and has extensive experience treating children and adolescents of all ages, serving most recently as a guidance counselor at The Frisch School in New York. She received her B.A. in Psychology from NYU and her Psy.D. in School-Child Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University.
Mr. Ethan Piliavin
Director of Educational Technology and STEAM
Mr. Ethan Piliavin, Director of Educational Technology and STEAM, is a technology-driven problem solver and educator with a diverse portfolio of experience across industry and academia. Mr. Piliavin guides the direction, coordination, implementation, and support of a 21 st century digital learning environment; he also oversees the Schlesinger STEAM Academy and Innovation Lab.
Mr. Piliavin, a native of Los Angeles, harbors a deep passion for STEAM and the Maker Movement, and loves to learn, tinker, code, play, experiment, innovate and share. He has taught and developed curricula for STEAM courses at the high-school and university levels and has served as Director of Information Technology at Touro College LA. Mr. Piliavin earned his M.B.A. from John Hopkins University.
Ms. Alexandra Novak
Director of Athletics
Ms. Alexandra Novak, Director of Athletics, earned her BA from San Diego State University in Psychology and Communications and her MS from Indiana University in Sports Management/Athletic Administration. The majority of her career was spent in collegiate and professional athletics working for UCLA, LA Clippers, San Francisco 49ers and LAFC.
Ms. Novak is also an adjunct professor at Indiana University teaching online classes in Sports Management. She is a local LA native growing up in Agoura Hills and is very involved in the JCC Maccabi Games. Creating greater school spirit towards athletics and implementing the idea of person before player, and where “we” makes, “me” stronger, is very important. Person before player and life over sport are both a reminder that YULA Girls Athletics will always place greater value on who the individual is off the court vs. what they can do on it.
Ms. Jordana Wertheimer
Director of Student Life and Leadership
Ms. Jordana Wertheimer, Director of Student Life and Leadership, Focuses on empowering our students to assume leadership positions at school, helping to organize and run Holiday and Rosh Chodesh programs, Shabbatonim and Chesed projects throughout the year. She also collaborates on programming for prospective students and their families.
Ms. Wertheimer has served as a mentor and grade advisor at the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in New York as well as an event coordinator for Yachad: National Jewish Council for Disabilities. She holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Liberal Arts from Queens College City University of New York.