Our Curriculum and Staff

Our Curriculum

Our integrated curriculum brings together creative play, music and art, Shabbat and holiday celebrations, language, literacy, math and science, all grounded in Jewish values.  Play allows the child to develop a positive sense of self and others, to grow as a curious learner, and to successfully negotiate the world around them.  We use the Massachusetts Department of Education Frameworks and Standards for Curriculum as the base of our secular curriculum.  Our fully integrated Judaic curriculum revolves around the holidays we celebrate together throughout the school year.


Going to the Sukkah during Sukkot is one of our favorite activities. We learned how to shake the lulav and etrog, then we had snack!


Learning about multiple attributes in the PreK classroom - number recognition, color recognition equals how many muffins go into the tin?


We used our potatoes during Hanukkah for more than just cooking latkes!

Our Staff

We are very excited to have a team of outstanding classroom teachers for all four of our classes.   As early childhood professionals, each one of our teachers has a love of children and expertise in child development.  They work with each child to provide experiences and opportunities that foster curiosity and exploration, and that develop every child's unique talents.  We recognize that a highly-qualified and well-trained staff are among the primary factors which contribute to an excellent and high-quality educational program.   Ongoing training is a requirement of our Massachusetts licensing agency, and is central to our program.  Our goal is to exceed the minimum number of professional development hours per year.  



debbi_fendell.jpgDebbi Fendell, Director of Early Childhood Education

Debbi Fendell is the Director of Early Childhood  Education at Temple Aliyah, and oversees all aspects of the preschool program.  In addition, she works closely with the Temple Tots group within Temple Aliyah, and collaborates closely with the Director of the Religious School to coordinate programming with the youngest grades (Kindergarten and First) as well, as a natural transition for children in the preschool to enter into our Mercaz Aliyah religious school.   

Debbi has been involved with our Gan Aliyah Preschool since before its opening, and has served in several roles during her tenure here.  Before we officially opened, Debbi served as our consultant to help us through the rigorous licensing process.  She advised us and helped us create all of the policies, procedures and forms which are currently in use at the preschool. After attending the licensing visit, she agreed to become the Interim Director of Gan Aliyah for the first two months of its existence to help us get the inaugural school year started without a hitch.    

Debbi has had an extensive career in the Early Childhood Education field which includes experience teaching as well as directing in various programs, both full day year-round and part day school-year.  She spent 6 years in a local Jewish preschool as the Assistant Director/Director of Admissions and is very familiar with the process of seamlessly integrating the Judaic and secular curricula at the preschool level.   Debbi is passionate about the importance of Early Childhood Education, and looks forward to supporting our well-educated and experienced staff as they create a rich Judaic as well as secular curriculum at Gan Aliyah.  She is especially excited because she feels that she has at home at Temple Aliyah.

Debbi has three grown children and four young grandchildren whom she wishes lived closer so that they could attend Gan Aliyah!

Debbi can be reached at (781) 444-8522 or by email.


    Jenifer Adelman, Special Projects

Jenifer Adelman feels that coming to teach at Gan is like coming home, coming full circle for her. Jenifer’s education background includes studying at Parsons School of Design as well as at Mills College from which she has a degree in Early Childhood Education, and Bank Street College of Education where she studied special education, all in NYC.
She has taught nursery school in both therapeutic and traditional settings.
Jenifer has owned a bookstore in NYC as well.  There, she developed and contributed largely to the children's selection and workshops. It was during those years she realized the importance of literacy and helping parents choose the right books for their children. Early literacy is so important to Jenifer that she ran a business for 10 years which not only brought quality children's books into the homes of hundreds of families, it also afforded her the opportunity to talk to parents and caregivers about the importance of reading daily at home to their children and helped guide them to choose appropriate books for their child.
Jenifer taught with a teaching partner for 12 years at the Wellesley cooperative nursery school in South Natick, working together to creatively develop curriculum. For five of those years she ran the music and movement program for three to five year olds.
For the 15 years prior to coming to Gan Aliyah, Jenifer helped start, develop and create the before- and after-school program for the town of Natick.  In this role she developed programming, supervised staff and oversaw enrichment for up to 60 students.
After retiring from the town she wasn't quite ready to stop working entirely, so she happily joined the amazing staff at Gan Aliyah in 2015 to continue to play, explore and help expand the program.
Jenifer believes that the best education comes from a child's learning through exploration of play!
Her goal at Gan Aliyah is to provide the children with the gift of time and the tools to explore and create in order to challenge and spark their curiosity to learn. We are thrilled that she has chosen to continue to work with us on Special Projects even after stepping down from a teaching position.
Jenifer grew up in Natick and is married to her husband Richard. They have raised five children and currently have eleven grandchildren. They are a family that loves to play and explore!


francesca.jpgFrancesca Bardsley, Preschool Teacher

Francesca is so pleased to have joined the stellar staff at Gan Aliyah in September 2017. Presently, she is continuing her education at Massachusetts Bay Community College after having studied at Bridgewater State College. For the past fifteen years, she has been working with children. Francesca was on the staff of the Wellesley Co-Op Nursery School as well as the Tobin School, both in South Natick. She participated in the development and implementation of the Early Risers Program at Johnson Elementary in Natick as well as A.S.A.P ( After School Activities Program ) at Kennedy Middle School in Natick. As the Supervisor of both programs, she and her staff worked closely with both the faculty and families, to ensure that each child benefited from proper educational instruction and attention during school hours and after. She served in this capacity for six years, until she started her family. Francesca was fortunate to have the option to be a stay-at-home mother to her first child, Lydia. This afforded her the opportunity to continue her work with children as a nanny for two families. Over the past four years, she has cared for six children, helping to prepare them emotionally and intellectually for the classroom. She found this work to be extremely satisfying and it also enabled her to spend time with her daughter. Francesca's son Jax was born in December 2016, and she enjoyed her time at home caring for him. When the educator in her began to feel the pull of the classroom again, Francesca decided to come back to working in a school setting, with Gan Aliyah's much respected curriculum. "I look forward to another outstanding year of enthusiastic learning and growth--and much fun!"


Stella Kamenetsky, Preschool Teacher, Judaic Specialist  stella_head_shot.jpg


Stella is very excited to be one of our teachers at Temple Aliyah this coming school year. She is an enthusiastic and experienced teacher who engages the children in both English and Hebrew. It is her passion to observe children incorporate the knowledge she has given to them in their play and hear them formulate their own interpretations. Stella is truly passionate about Israel and enjoys making it come to life in her work. Stella arrived here in 1999 from Israel, where she completed a four-year program at David Yelin Educational College in Jerusalem, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education. Since then she has worked in Jewish early childhood education, including preschool and Day School settings here as she did in Israel. Stella also teaches at Temple Emanuel on Sundays, with children ages 5-6. She lives in Sharon with her husband Alex, and their two boys Nathaniel (10), and Ben (14).


Sara O'Brien, Young Toddlers Teacher


Sara is very excited to officially become a member of the Gan Aliyah staff this school year! Sara grew up in Westwood, MA, the third born in a family of six.

Having always had a fascination with psychology and development, she realized at a young age that a passion of hers was working with children. In her teen years she found experience by working in the daycare program at Westwood Children’s school, she continued working with children of various ages throughout college spending 3 consecutive summers as a camp counselor at Dedham Health and Athletics Center. Her last 3 years have been spent nannying for a family she has come to consider part of her own, as well as substitute teaching at Gan Aliyah since 2016.  This past summer she began her studies at Becker College - completing her certification for teaching toddlers and preschoolers. Sara strongly believes that children are able to best express themselves when taught with joy, excitement, and compassion.






Tayech Workalemahu, Older Toddlers Teacher, Toddler Coordinator

Tayech joined our staff in our second year, 2015, as a teacher in the Purple Room. She grew up in Ethiopia and lived in Israel for 12 years. She lives with her 14 year old son Nahum in Newton, which has been their home town for the past 12 years. When she is not in the Purple Room Tayech enjoys being outdoors and spending her free time gardening, cooking, knitting and reading. Tayech can work magic with just about anything creative, and is a knitter without peer, creating original design doll clothes for all of the dolls at the preschool. She has also baked us three challot for our weekly Shabbat celebration, which have been preserved to use over and over to everyone's delight. Tayech loves teaching in the toddler classroom. The rate of their language acquisition at this age always amazes her. She is committed to providing the children in her care with a loving and developmentally sound foundation for a lifetime of learning. Tayech believes that play is a toddler’s most important work, and strives to create and maintain an environment where each child can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them. She also believes that every child should be valued and treated with respect. 

Tayech's prior experience includes 10 years teaching at the JCC and Schechter preschools. She feels fortunate and blessed to be co-teaching alongside our other amazing teachers at Gan Aliyah.








Temple Aliyah Welcomes You!

Temple Aliyah is an egalitarian Conservative congregation in Needham, Massachusetts, with a warm and inviting atmosphere.  We are a dynamic and diverse community that embraces people of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles.  With the guidance of Rabbi Carl Perkins, we encourage our members to enrich their Jewish lives, to enhance their Jewish identities, and to engage in lifelong learning.

Join us for Shabbat services and schmooze during kiddush following services. Check out the exciting Temple Tots programming for our youngest members.  Attend the Rabbi's Adult Education classes. Participate in one of our many Social Action projects. Become a member of our Sisterhood or Men's Club.    

Not a member?  We invite your family to join our family!

Join Us

Did you know...?

Did you know that Gan Aliyah Preschool is a fabulous place for young children and families? Do you or someone you know have a young child between the ages of 18 months and 5 years old?  Gan Aliyah seamlessly integrates secular and Judaic early childhood learning in deeply meaningful ways that support a love of Judaism, family and community. To set up a time to visit, email or call Director of Early Childhood Education Debbi Fendell at 781-444-8522.

Want to learn more fun facts about Aliyah? Click here!

If you have a fun fact about Temple Aliyah you’d like to share with our community, please email [email protected].

Shabbat and Weekday Services


Shabbat Morning Services  9:15 am
Sunday Morning Minyan* 9:00 am
Monday Morning Minyan   7:00 am
Weekday Evening Minyan 7:30 pm

* During the summer, minyan meets on Monday morning, and Tuesday and Thursday evenings.


Under the direction of our Adult Education Committee and as part of our commitment to lifelong learning, Temple Aliyah offers a wide range of opportunities for our members and others to enrich their Jewish lives throughout education.  Click here to see all of our current Adult Education offerings.

Sisterhood welcomes all women of our community, sharing our passion for Judaism, our families and ourselves. We invite you to learn more about becoming part of our amazing community. Whether you're looking for camaraderie, spiritual connection, social action, or the opportunity to get involved, Sisterhood is here for you. Click here to see our full calendar of events for 2018-19.