Lauren Gladish

Yalla! Pre-K

Lauren Gladish has been a member of B’nai Jehudah her whole life.  She is married and has a 13 year old who will become a Bat Mitzvah this year.  For the past nine years Mrs. Gladish has been a teacher at the Child Development Center at the Jewish Community Center.  Mrs. Gladish is really excited to be with your children in Yalla!  Pre-K. It’s going to be a great year! 

Debbie Beaman

Yalla! Kindergarten

Debbie Beaman received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Bradley University. She has a master’s in educational administration leadership as well as an ELL endorsement from Kansas State University. Mrs. Beaman has been teaching tiny humans since 1997.

Mrs. Beaman grew up in Davenport, Iowa and lived in Chicago for 17 years before moving to Olathe in 2014. Mrs. Beaman and her husband, Jason, have three children. Evan is 16 and Chloe and Lilah (twins) are 11. The Beaman family has been active members of B’nai Jehudah for 8 years and love being connected to the Jewish community.  

In her spare time Mrs. Beaman loves to read, binge watch WAY too many shows on Netflix, and go to all of her kids sporting events and activities! In a rare moment when Mr. and Mrs. Beaman get to go out without the kids, they love trying new breweries, Thai restaurants and BBQ! 

Mrs. Beaman is looking forward to a wonderful Kindergarten year at B’nai Jehudah!

Paula Suroff

Yalla! 1st Grade 

Paula Suroff has been teaching 1st grade at B’nai Jehudah for the past 8 years. Mrs. Suroff has a degree in Music Education from Indiana University and a Masters in Education from Washington University. 

Mrs. Suroff taught elementary music (K-6), pre-school, subbed in various grades and has even been a camp counselor. Her personal passion is singing. She has sung at the Muny Opera in St. Louis, Bells Of Indiana, various choirs, Jewish folk groups, a Klezmer band and independently at weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, nursing homes and community theater. She was the Cultural Arts director at the Kansas City Jewish Community Center and the creative assistant to the president of US TOY/ Constructive Playthings for 18 years.

Sam Oppenheimer

Yalla! 2nd Grade and 4th Grade Hebrew

Sam Oppenheimer was born in Kansas City, MO and has since lived in Jerusalem, Puerto Cabezas, Cork, Akko, NYC, London, and Minneapolis. She received B.A.s in Linguistics and International Studies from The University of Kansas, a M.A. in Children’s Literature from Goldsmiths University of London, and a M.A. in Teaching Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Miss Oppenheimer has led a strange, wandering life in the pursuit of knowledge and self, which is pretty Jewish of her. This will be her thirteenth year teaching religious school. In addition to Yalla! on Sunday mornings, Miss Oppenheimer teaches Composition and First Year Writing Seminar at Park University and Metropolitan Community College. She loves helping students develop their creative thinking and writing skills. Miss Oppenheimer lives with her cat, Physicist, and her struggling basil plant, Tim.

Deb Rock

Yalla! 3rd Grade and 5th Grade Hebrew

Deborah Rock is a wife, mother, dog lover, teacher, b’nai mitzvah tutor, and so much more. Mrs. Rock and her husband, William Rock are grandparents to three beautiful grandchildren, and she admittedly is a little obsessed with their two dogs, Howard and Reese.

Mrs. Rock has been teaching Hebrew and Judaics since she was 17 years old. And has loved it from the instant her first students took their seats in her classroom. 

Mrs. Rock has been teaching in The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah Religious school since 2006. She has taught kindergarten, 2nd grade, 4th grade Judaics and Hebrew, 5th grade Hebrew, and 6th grade Judaics. This is Mrs. Rock’s second year teaching 3rd Grade Judaics and 5th Grade Hebrew.  

Deborah Rock is also one of our B’nai Mitzvah tutors. She loves getting to know our students on a one-on-one basis, and is so proud to see her students become amazingly bright and wonderful young adults. Mrs. Rock loves teaching about our religion and learning from our children. 

Michael Shabason

Yalla! 4th Grade

Michael Shabason is a lifelong Kansas City area resident and grew up in B’nai Jehudah. He was raised in a rural area of farmland in Eastern Jackson County that is now known as Independence Center. Mr. Shabason attended, and later taught at UMKC where he was recognized for his scholastic and teaching potential with several teaching awards. In addition to UMKC, Mr. Shabason has taught at Moscow State University (Moscow, Russia), Georgetown University, the University of Houston, Johnson County Community College, the Metropolitan Community Colleges, in Kansas City, (MCC), and currently is a teacher at University Academy. Michael enjoys teaching World History, Western Civilization, American History, Psychology, Economics and Geography, and just about any other social science as needed.  

Today, Mr. Shabason, his wife Sarah, their son Eli, and their dogs and cats live in a rural area that keeps them near his love of forests. In his spare time Michael enjoys going to Royals and Chiefs games, playing golf, cooking and exploring the outdoors.

Emily Williams

Yalla! 5th Grade and K-3rd Grade Chuggim

Emily Williams has been a member of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah for over 20 years. In her youth, Miss Williams was active in PBnJ (the B’nai Jehudah high school youth group) and it’s national youth program, NFTY. 

Miss Williams attended the University of Kansas where she was an active member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority, and graduated with a Master’s degree in Curriculum Design and Instructional Strategies, with an emphasis on secondary education. 

Many of our families first met Miss Williams at the Kansas City JCC where she was a camp director, and after school specialist. She has been teaching in the B’nai Jehudah Religious School longer that any other teacher currently on our faculty. Among all of the amazing things Miss Williams does at B’nai Jehudah, she officially serves as the Multi Access Coordiantor and is responsible for the congregation’s audio, visual, and virtual technology. 

5th Grade Hebrew

Rabbi Larry Karol was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. His family was active for many years at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, where he became a Bar Mitzvah and was later Confirmed and where he was active in the Temple Youth Group.

Rabbi Karol was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1981. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from HUC-JIR in 2006. He served at Temple Israel in Dayton, Ohio (assistant rabbi in 1981-1984); Temple Beth Sholom in Topeka, Kansas (1984-2006); Temple Israel of Dover, New Hampshire (2006-2011); and Temple Beth-El in Las Cruces, New Mexico (2011-2020). During his congregational rabbinate, Rabbi Karol focused on Jewish education, innovative worship, interreligious and multicultural programs, and Jewish musical creativity. He has written often for the local press, including a monthly column for a weekly newspaper in Las Cruces. He released three albums of original Jewish music in 2003, 2005 and 2014.

Nate Shaw

Yalla! 6th Grade and 4th Grade Hebrew

This summer Jacob Shaw was one of the song leaders at OSRUI, Olin Sang Ruby Union Instute, a Union for Reform Judaism summer camp in Oconomowoc, WI. Mr. Shaw grew up in Overland Park and is back for the year before he finishes his college degree at the Universiry of Kanas. His hobbies include but are not limited to biking, guitar, and camping. He is also a self proclaimed Harry Potter nerd. Mr. Shaw is super excited to be working with the 4th graders and 6th graders this year!

Jamie Katz

Hebrew Specialist

Jamie Katz is excited to begin her second year teaching Hebrew at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah this year! Mrs. Katz has taught 1st and 2nd grade religious school for over 16 years. Before that, she was a madricha for over 5 years while she was in high school. Mrs. Katz holds a Master’s degree in public health from University of Kansas Medical Center and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and Jewish Studies (with minors in Hebrew, history, and human development/family studies) from Indiana University – graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and With Honors in psychology. 

Mrs. Katz serves as a prevention coordinator for Johnson County Mental Health Center. She has over 15 years of experience in working with communities on adaptive change to address substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion by focusing on facilitating collaborative approaches to leverage resources addressing priority concerns to support optimal behavioral health outcomes. She has an internationally recognized credential as a certified prevention professional. Additionally, Mrs. Katz is a fitness instructor at the J KC, teaching boxing, conditioning, and Zumba   

In her spare time, Mrs. Katz enjoys spending time with family and friends, including her husband, two amazing children, and two dogs. She also enjoys working out, eating out, taking pictures of her children, and cheering on the Indiana Hoosiers.

Laura Payne

Yalla! Music Specialist

Laura Payne is a musician and music teacher with a degree in Opera and Musical Theatre from the University of Kansas. Mrs. Payne has been performing professionally for 24 years and teaching for the last 8. She feels so fortunate to have the opportunity to provide music for the Jewish community of Kansas City, including The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah preschool, Yalla!, Shabbat, and High Holy Day services.  

Mrs. Payne lives in Prairie Village with her husband, Elliot, and her daughters, Lily and Stella.

Mark Kover

Inclusion Specialist

Mark Kover was born in Detroit, Michigan to David (Pharmacist) and Janet Kover (Teacher); both 1st Generation Jewish-Americans. His mother will soon be 103 years old! Mr. Kover’s family were members of Temple Israel, in Detroit and while he didn’t like Sunday School and Hebrew School very much, Mr. Kover loved the Rabbi and his wife, Rabbi M. Robert & Sonia Syme because they embodied wisdom, kindness and caring. Mr. Kover graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Urban Community Problems (James Madison College) and fulfilled the requirements for a degree in Psychology. During those years, he worked at Camp Tamarack as a Camp Counselor and as a Tripper – preparing and taking kids on hiking and canoe trips in Michigan. Mr. Kover always loved being out in nature, and biting insects have always loved him! Following graduation from MSU, Mr. Kover moved to Springfield, MO. in the position as a Volunteer in Service to America (V.I.S.T.A). He went on to earn his Masters in Agency Counseling and later School Counseling. After working at various Substance Abuse Centers and Mental Health Centers, Mr. Kover worked for twenty years as a School Counselor in Kansas City, MO. Public Schools, the last ten being at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. He has been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 1989 (MO) and have earned various certificates including as an Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapist. Mr. Kover still loves nature and is in a Missouri Master Naturalist Training Program.

 Mr. Kover and his wife, Karen Zigeler, met when he moved to Springfield MO. They raised two sons, Robbie and Brian who became B’nai Mitzvah and went on to be Confirmed at B’nai Jehudah. Mr. and Mrs. Kover are raising their grandson David who is in the Yalla! 2nd grade class, and attends Prairie Point Elementary in the Park Hill School District. 

Gene Deutsch

Yalla! Substitute 

Gene Deutsch is a student of life, he studied at Johnson Community College and continues to look for new opportunities to develop healthy and spiritual routines in everyday living. In his semi-retirement, Mr. Deutsch has a part-time business as a fitness instructor teaching indoor cycling classes with a focus on HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) cardio workouts. He is an avid bicyclist, and has ridden several “Metric Centuries” (62 miles) and three “Century Rides” (100 miles)! Mr. Deutsch is a sports fanatic and loves the Chiefs, Royals, Sporting Kansas City, and St. Louis Blues. 

Mr. Deutsch joined the Yalla! faculty in January of 2022. He is a man who always looks to enhance his faith and relationship with God and enjoys being in the classroom to guide and strengthen our students’ connection with Judaism. Mr. Deutsch is proud of his Jewish heritage and the way it has taught him to recognize the value of having a close and ongoing relationship with God in every aspec