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 General Studies
Ms. Yehudis Benhamou, Director of General Studies, 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.
Dr. Natalie Williams
Dr. Natalie Williams, Associate Principal, is a Ph.D. in K-12 Educational Leadership and has an M.A. in Teaching. 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.
Dr. 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.
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.
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. Nancy Schiff
Mrs. Nancy Schiff, School Administrator was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and 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.”
Dr. Leora Orenbuch
Director of Guidance
Dr. Leora Orenbuch, Director of Guidance, is a proud YULA Girls alumna. She received her B.A. in Psychology from NYU and obtained her Psy.D. in the APA accredited School-Clinical Child Psychology Program at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. Dr. Orenbuch has extensive experience treating children and adolescents of all ages. Previously, she has worked as a school psychologist at Yeshivat Noam, Scarsdale Middle School, and the Frisch School. She also worked at the NYU Child Study Center, where she interviewed, assessed, and conducted therapy with children, adolescents, and adults who presented with symptoms of ADHD. Her combined experiences has allowed her to work with and understand the social, emotional, and academic development of adolescents, particularly within a Jewish environment.
Mrs. Esther Pearl Kreiman
Director of Student Learning
Mrs. Esther Pearl Kreiman, Director of Student Learning, works directly with students and faculty at YULA Girls to make sure that every student has the tools and educational support to succeed. Mrs. Kreiman is instrumental in facilitating academic accommodations and curricular modifications and serves as the academic advisor on the YULA Girls’ Guidance Team. Prior to joining YULA Girls, Mrs. Kreiman was the General Studies Principal of Ohel Chana High School from 2013 – 2018, where she designed curricula and differentiated educational programming for diverse learners across multiple educational platforms, including innovative options for diverse learners in mathematics and technology and an AP Cohort Program for Gifted Learners.
Mrs. Kreiman graduated from Touro College with a B.A. in Psychology and continued on to Teachers College of Columbia University where she earned a combined Masters Degree in Psychology and Education with a specialization in Gifted Education and Curriculum Design.
Ms. Rachel Shandalov
Dean of College Guidance
Ms. Shandalov earned her B.A. in Psychology and MSW from Yeshiva University. Prior to joining YULA Girls, Ms. Shandalov spent 5 years working as the Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at YU. She has worked with college guidance departments and university admissions offices around the country, strengthening her passion for the the intricacies of the college admissions process. Ms. Shandalov is committed to helping each student realize her educational and professional goals and developing several different pathways to arrive at that ideal destination.
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.