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One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. - Eleanor Roosevelt


"I love to see people learn, grow and succeed, but most of all to see them feel good about who they are as individuals. I believe that everyone has  “special needs as well as special abilities.”  When given the chance to find their own special gift/s, they can share it with their family, friends, communities and the world."  (SNG)

My hope is that when we bless our children every Shabbat evening, parents can say..."Be who you are- and may you be blessed in all that you are."  (The Book of Blessings by Marcia Falk)

Susan North Gilboa: Director of OurSpace is a renowned Jewish educator with an expertise in working with individuals with special needs as well as bringing cultural arts, and the Israeli Dance culture to thousands of people of all ages, for the past 38 years. She is a true pioneer in each field, and since her arrival in LA,  she has been filling voids by turning visions into reality. Passionate about every Jew having opportunities to learn, live and love a Jewish life, she has been co- founding informal and formal social groups, establishing classes, creating holiday programs, B’nei Mitzvah experiences, parent support groups, tikkun olam opportunities, a choir, and a spectrum of art and dance classes for individuals with special needs.

Susan combines her love of Torah, Jewish life, our rich culture, and the arts; with her knowledge of learning differences, special needs, and her belief that everyone is created “B’Tzelem Elohim”, in the image of God. Susan believes that when given the opportunity to learn in ways that meet all students’ learning styles and strengths, they can embrace the teachings, values, customs, traditions, and spirit of Judaism. By forming wonderful working relationships with Beit Issie Shapiro, Masorti and Kibbutz Kishorit in Israel, Camp Ramah, Etta Israel, Friendship Circle and the USY Hevrah programs in LA, Susan has helped families change dreams of their children experiencing Jewish life experiences into reality.

Susan holds a Master's Degree in Special Education, with certification from NY State Board of Education, BJELA, and while living in Israel in the 70's, she became a certified Israeli Dance Instructor. Susan is a member of the National Association for Educational Therapists, BJELA Community of Practice, and the Valley Collegial Consortium. Susan is a consultant for the BJELA Shlemut Network in the South Bay, and every year she is invited to teach a Service Learning class at AJU and a Delet class at HUC, in addition to presenting workshops for graduate students, teachers, administrators, and colleagues.


Please contact Susan North Gilboa, Director of OurSpace

at TA (818) 346-3545  and VBS- 818-530-4069


OurSpace leadership at both synagogues includes:

Rabbi Edward Feinstein- Valley Beth Shalom

Rabbi Josh Hoffman- Valley Beth Shalom

Cantor Fox and Cantor Baran

Rabbi Stewart Vogel-Temple Aliyah

Rabbi Gabriel Botnick-Temple Aliyah

Hazzan Stein and Hazzan Haselkorn- Temple Aliyah


Education Departments:

Keri Leventhal Etz Chaim Learning Center at Valley Beth Shalom (818) 530-4040

Rabbi Adam Schaffer, Temple Aliyah  (818) 346-3545

Teachers have training in a variety of direct and related fields: Special Education, Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Psychology,  Judaic and Hebrew Language Studies, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Informal and Formal Educational programming, and the Arts: from Music, Art, Theatre and the Art of Cooking.

Youth Departments:

Amiel Monson-VBS

Jake Weiner and Shahar Elmaleh-B’Yachad Bet Coordinators

Sarah Hartnig-TA

Kimberly Duenas and Shay Birwadkar-B’yachad Alef Coordinators


Kolot Tikva Choir:

Hazzan Mike Stein- TA
Shahar Elmaleh
B'nei Mitzvah Tutor:

Jeff Bernhardt-TA and VBS





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