Nili Simhai, Director
Nili Simhai has served for over a decade as Director of the Teva Learning Center. A recent winner of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, Nili is considered an authority and leader of the Jewish environmental education movement. She has trained and counseled hundreds of educators in the pedagogy of Jewish environmental education and has put environmental sensibilities and programs squarely in the middle of Jewish educational programming and outreach. In addition, she is proud of her role in the creation of Teva’s Shomrei Chayyot, Yitziah, and “Bringing It Back to Our Schools” programs, as well as her contribution to the development of several Teva curricula. Passionate about all of Creation, Nili’s background includes study and work in ecological concerns ranging from wildlife conservation, wetland remediation, and entomology (Ohio State University) to ornithology (International Birdwatching Center in Eilat, Smithsonian Institute) and natural history (Natural History Museum of Cleveland). She lives in the sustainably designed Round House of Millerton with her husband Yosh and her little boy, Tal.
Alexandra Kuperman, Assistant Director
Alexandra holds a Masters of Public Administration and a Masters of Arts in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. She also received a Bachelors of Environment and Resource Studies from University of Waterloo in Ontario. In 2003, she was the Principal of the Temple Shalom Religious School in Waterloo. While at graduate school, she worked at a number of Jewish communal organizations including the Jewish Community Relations Council and UJA-Federation of New York. Ultimately, Judaism and the environment have been Alexandra’s greatest passions. She started her journey in this area at the Teva Learning Center’s nature program at Surprise Lake Camp in 2000. The following year, she became an educator in Teva’s spring residential day school program. After her first season working as an educator at Teva she co-founded the Jewish Nature Centre of Canada - Torat HaTeva. Today, Alexandra is the Assistant Director of the Teva Learning Center. In this capacity she leads Teva in fundraising, strategic planning, staff recruitment, administrative management, and green initiatives.
Laura Bellows, Director of Congregational and Community Programs
Laura Bellows first joined the Teva Learning Center, North America's leader in Jewish-environmental education, in 2005 and now serves as Director of Congregational and Community programs. In this capacity, she works with communities, clergy and educators of all affiliations and bio-regions. Ms. Bellows plans over 45 programs each year; teaches at numerous educator trainings, conferences, and Shabbat retreats; and coordinates the children’s track of the annual Hazon Food Conference. Laura holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College. She has extensive experience as an organizer, curriculum writer and educator at community gardens, synagogues, havurot, and rallies. Previous to her employment with Teva, Laura worked at Jews United for Justice assisting local campaigns for affordable housing and economic justice. In her home of Washington, DC, Laura enjoys introducing Torah to kindergarten students as well as cultivating spirited, just community and urban food gardens.
Jonathan Dubinsky, Special Programs Coordinator
After receiving his Eagle Scout award from a Jewish Boy Scout troop Jonathan studied environmental science at the University of Kansas and graduated in the winter of 2004. Jonathan has worked professionally as a mechanic, an organic farmer, a hazardous waste manager, and a teacher. In 2005 Jonathan came to work for Teva where his scouting skills, environmental degree, technical knowledge, and passion for Judaism came together. At Teva Jonathan flowed through most of the roles available and now works as Teva’s Special Programs Coordinator. In the last two years, Mr. Dubinsky developed a new Teva site, the Henry Kaufman Campground (HKC) on Long Island where he leads the creation, design and programs of a hands-on environmental education center and organic farm. Jonathan’s visionary year-round Teva programs at HKC will serve as a model for green technologies and sustainable design in the Long Island Jewish community. In addition to his work at HKC, Jonathan coordinates the Topsy Turvy Teva Bus, a hands-on educational learning facility that operates on used veggie oil (which is cleaned while in transit). Under his leadership, the bus and four other Teva educators recently finished a 10,000 mile cross country tour for the Jewish Climate Change Campaign.
Gila Lyons, Shomrei Adamah Program Coordinator
Gila Lyons first joined the Teva team in 1998 as a fall educator fresh out of high school. Twelve years later (and a bachelor's and master's degree later) she is coordinating the Fall 2010 residential Shomrei Adamah program. During the interim she has worked many spring Teva seasons, coordinated the Spring 2010 camping Achdoot program, and has also worked as a Hebrew teacher, nutritionist, yoga instructor, backpacking trip leader, mountain bike trip leader, staff writer, free lance writer, writing instructor, and editor. Her writing has appeared in The Forward, The New York Press, Tablet, The Faster Times, Go Ask Alice, Jewcy.com, and The Berkshire Review, among others. She continues to write from the Berkshires, where she is living in Falls Village, Connecticut, enjoying working as part of the Teva team once again.