Meet Our Faculty & Staff


Rabbi Don Pacht, Head of School

Rabbi Pacht joined the VHA family in August of 2004, coming to us from Rochester, NY, where he served as Principal of General Studies and Adjunct Professor of Talmud for the Talmudical Institute of Upstate New York. He holds both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Talmudic Studies as well as a Masters Degree in Education from the State University of New York, College at Brockport.

Rabbi Pacht’s familiarity with both Judaic and General Studies pedagogy makes him a unique fit for our school. Rabbi Pacht is also a Mohel, a Sofer, and is certified as a Shatnez Tester.


Rabbi Tzvi Goldman, Principal of Judaic Studies / Grade 6/7 Boys

Rabbi Tzvi Goldman will be starting his 14th year at the Vancouver Hebrew Academy. He came to Vancouver from Israel where he had been living together with his wife Etti for the previous four years. During those years he completed his Smicha (Rabbinic Ordination), and received his Teacher Certification. Rabbi Goldman has five children, and his youngest two, Shira and Teheela will be students at our school this year. His older three children Bayla, Nechama and Bentzy, are proud VHA alumni. Rabbi Goldman very much enjoys playing sports and being out in nature. This year he is excited to take on the role of Judaic Principal, as well as teaching the Grade 6/7 Boys. He is looking forward to a fantastic year.


Mr. Adam Zalba, Principal of General Studies

Mr. Adam Zalba joins us this year at the Vancouver Hebrew Academy. Originally from Victoria, British Columbia, Mr. Zalba has dedicated his career to international and intercultural education working in International Baccalaureate (IB), and BC-certified schools. He has many years of experience setting up, administering, and teaching in schools here in Canada and internationally, including countries such as South Korea, Vietnam, China, and Brasil. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, a Bachelor of Education, and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership.

Mr. Zalba’s primary role is the leader of the academic administration of the General Studies Program, responsible for the implementation and quality delivery of the BC Ministry curriculum. He very much looks forward to being a part of the continued growth of VHA and getting to know all members of the school community.

General Studies Staff

Mrs. Rutie Mizrahi, Preschool

Rutie was born & raised in Israel and has worked with young children and youth in different settings. She lived in Seattle for six years and worked as a nanny and a Hebrew teacher at a synagogue where she taught children and adult classes and also did private tutoring for both.

She came to Vancouver in 1998 and completed her ECE at VCC in 2000. She did volunteer work at the JCC and worked as an ECE and TA at VTT. She taught Hebrew at BI, worked as an ECE IN preschool at RJDS. She also worked as an ECE teacher at Icare daycare and worked as a TA in kindergarten at RJDS where she supported the class in general but also worked 1 on 1 with children with special needs. Rutie loves challenges, working with young children and being connecting to

Jewish life. She is very excited and happy to start working for VHA!

Rutie has 4 kids and she's a full time hockey mom. When she's not at the arena she loves being outside in nature with her camera taking pictures in the beautiful places of BC.


Eliana Claman, Preschool

As an Alumna of the VHA Graduating Class of 2007, Eliana Claman is delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to join the Vancouver Hebrew Academy family. With her Bachelors Degree in Jewish Studies with a Minor in Education from McGill University, Eliana is thrilled to be back in Vancouver working at the school that begun it all. After many years of being a camp counsellor and director, and working with children, she is delighted to be teaching Preschool at VHA. She is simultaneously completing her certification in Early Childhood Education through the University of British Columbia, and feels so fortunate to have this incredible opportunity to teach. Working with children, helping them reach their fullest potential, while instilling them an early passion for Torah and Mitzvote in a loving, fun and creative environment is a dream come true, and she cannot wait for what is it store. She looks forward to getting to know each and every student as they all learn and have so many fun adventures together. 

In addition, Eliana is working as the Family and Event Coordinator, combing her three years of experience in Event Coordination with her bubbly energy, in the hopes of creating a warm, cohesive and fluid connection between family and school. She looks forward to getting to know each and every family, and growing along side the school with all this coming year has to offer!

Mrs. Melanie Dayan

Mrs. Melanie Dayan is currently on maternity leave, but looks forward to returning soon. 

Mrs. Dayan is excited to teach Kindergarten and Grade 1 at VHA. Mrs. Dayan graduated with a Bachelor of Education, specializing in Elementary Education from the University of Victoria in 2010. Since then, she has gathered a wealth of experience working with young students. She has previously worked as a preschool teacher at Vancouver Talmud Torah, a summer staff at Camp Hatikvah and JCC Camp Shalom, and as a nanny.

Mrs. Dayan (nee Sanderson), was born and raised in Vancouver and attended grades 2 and 3 in VHA's current building, which was then part of the public school district. She enjoys spending time with her family, friends and husband, cooking and baking, gardening, exercising, listening to music, and knitting.


Mrs. Carmela Ben Saadon, Preschool

I'm happy and excited to be part of the VHA staff and to take the role in preschool. I was born and raised in Panama city, have a degree and working experience in business administration. Moved to vancouver from Israel almost 2 years ago with my husband and two childrens. I love working with children and I look forward to getting to know each and all of the kids in a loving, caring, fun and learning environment.



Mrs. Liron Silberg, Kindergarten

Mrs. Silberg is excited to be teaching grade 4 this year. She started working at VHA as student services aide in 2010 and went on to obtain her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia. Mrs. Silberg returned to VHA to teach Hebrew, as well as grade 3. She feels very fortunate to work in a warm and loving environment. She especially likes the small size of the school because it allows her to know all of the children.

Mrs. Silberg was born in Victoria and grew up in Vancouver. She also spent some time living in Israel as a child and an adult. Mrs. Silberg loves spending time with her family, going to sporting events, and being outdoors.


Mrs. Andrea Rubensohn, Grade 1

Mrs. Rubensohn (formally Miss Scharfstein/Miss S) has been apart of the VHA team since 2014 when she began her teaching career as a TOC. Born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Mrs. Rubensohn moved to Vancouver after completing her Bachelor of Education degree specializing in elementary and middle school years. With the bulk of her teaching experience taking place at VHA, she has taught preschool and kindergarten, worked in student services with all grades, and this year is teaching general studies to the wonderful grade one students. She is currently enrolled at UBC in a Masters of Special Education program specializing in supporting inclusive classrooms. Mrs. Rubensohn loves the VHA community and is looking forward to another great year at the school! 

Ms. Darlene Wilson, Grade 2/3, Grade 4

Ms. Wilson is delighted to be a part of the VHA family for her fifth year as the Grade 2/3 and 4 teacher. After obtaining her Bachelor of Education degree from Brandon University in Manitoba, Ms. Wilson began her teaching career and has done so with great enjoyment for the past seventeen years. She taught for 9 years in the public school system in Manitoba, then upon moving to B.C. in 2009, she taught at Richmond Jewish Day School for 3 years before joining VHA. Throughout her teaching career she has been on numerous committees at a school, district and provincial level. Ms. Wilson had always wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a young child. Once her own children started school, she took the opportunity to go to university and pursue her desire to become a teacher. Ms. Wilson resides in Richmond and enjoys reading, walking, biking, crocheting, spending time with family and friends, and almost anything that involves being outdoors.

Mrs. Lisa Altow, Grade 5, PE for K-Grade 5 and 6/7 Girls

Mrs. Altow is thrilled to be a Grade 5 teacher this year. She has taught grade 1 at VHA, grade 2 at West Point Grey Academy, grade 5 at York House, and grades 4 and 6 in the public school system in Kirkland, Washington. She feels lucky to have been able to experience a variety of grades and schools.

Growing up in Bellevue, Washington, she knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in Kindergarten. She practiced on her stuffed animals and then on her unsuspecting younger cousins. She received a BA in Psychology and her teaching certificate at the University of Washington in Seattle. She now resides in Richmond with her husband and four children. She enjoys reading, playing with her children, spending time with friends, watching movies, and baking.

Mrs. Finkleman, Grade 6/7 General Studies

Mrs. Finkleman is excited to return to the VHA staff, and is already enjoying her new position as the grade 6/7 General Studies teacher! After a year of study at Midreshet Harova in Jerusalem; Mrs. Finkleman came from Toronto to Vancouver almost a decade ago. In that time, she has successfully completed a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, a BEd from UBC, married her husband Jeremy, and has two young children. With teaching experience from as young as preschool through to and including all of secondary school; Mrs. Finkleman is a dynamic, creative, hands on educator with a passion for excellence and drive for success.


Mrs. Finkleman loves baking, biking, hiking, swimming and entertaining. Whether it’s whipping up a batch of muffins, or exploring the great outdoors, Mrs. Finkleman can usually be found with a smile on her face.


Mrs. Claire Daly

Mrs. Claire Daly is currently on maternity leave, but looks forward to returning soon. 

Mrs. Daly is delighted to be both teaching and learning from the entire VHA family. She grew up in a musically saturated environment with grown-ups’ loving support from an early age. She studied classical piano and guitar, and is very grateful to her mother for encouraging her to stick with it. As a busy teenager, she even went to piano lessons at 7:00am before going to school!

After graduating with a Bachelors of Art in Psychology, and a Bachelor of Primary/Junior Education she taught French in Saskatchewan and BC, in addition to early literacy programs at Oxford Learning Kerrisdale. She has led a “School of Rock” program for middle school students and also performed with an African Marimba ensemble as a support teacher in Brockton School's World Music Program in North Vancouver. Claire’s passion for all things music extends to movement, including different forms of dance, musical theatre, and also working as a choreographer for competitive synchronized swimming teams.

Judaic Studies Staff

Mrs. Sarah Blumenfeld, Preschool

Mrs. Sarah Blumenfeld  is currently on maternity leave, but looks forward to returning soon. 

Sarah Blumenfeld has always been involved in education. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Sarah was a counsellor and head counsellor in camps all around the world, including Ukraine, San Francisco and Georgia. Sarah began her post secondary education in an Ohel Chana Seminary in Melbourne, Australia and completed her BA at Touro College in New York, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Sarah taught in preschools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Talmud Torah in Vancouver and recently was involved in a day care in Vancouver.

When Sarah is not teaching she is busy at home with three young children. She enjoys baking and entertaining guests on a regular basis at her home in Richmond.

Mrs. Adela Heffes, Kindergarten

Mrs. Heffes is thrilled to be taking on the role of Kindergarten teacher at VHA this year.  Mrs. Heffes taught for over 9 years in Mexico City, at Elementary school as well as at Highschool, where she is originally from. She moved with her family from Mexico to Canada seven years ago. Mrs. Heffes graduated with a Masters of Education from the Hebrew University of Mexico, and she also has a specialty in New Techniques and Methodology to Teach the Tanach in Elementary and High School from the University of Jerusalem. She worked the last two years in our school as a Teacher’s Aide.  She loves working with children as a group as well as one on one. In her free time, she loves to read, cook and exercise. She is looking forward to an amazing year. 


Mrs. Rivka Lichtman, Grade 1

Mrs. Lichtman holds New York Professional Teacher’s Certifications in Early Childhood Education, in Students with Disabilities, and in Literacy (Birth through Grade 6). She has taught Grade 1 at Bais Yaakov Academy of Queens and has taught grade 7 Hebrew Language there since 2004. She is a much-loved teacher, who has endeared herself to the staff and students of which ever class or grade she has taught. Her knowledge and experience as a Hebrew language teacher will be most valuable in the continued development of the primary division of VHA. Furthermore, this knowledge will greatly enhance the entire Hebrew language program; as the school looks at ways to expand the program, Mrs. Lichtman’s experience in other schools will help tremendously.

Rabbi Avi Lichtman, Grade 2/3, Grade 4

Rabbi Lichtman began his teaching career in Vancouver in 2001, as a leader in the popular Seed program. Additionally, Rabbi Lichtman has been involved in JEP and in Project Hemshech, both programs designed to reach out and educate our youth. In addition to formal and informal teaching capacities in many fields, most recently Rabbi Lichtman has been a teacher at Yeshiva Teferes Moshe, where he is very popular and respected as one who is able to connect with students and be able to have profound influence on his charges. 

Rabbi Lichtman has extensive teacher training with well-known educator Rabbi Rottenberg. Additionally, he has completed training in the Lishon Hatorah Hebrew language program, which is the very same as is used here at the Hebrew Academy. As such, his expertise in this area will be crucial to the continued development of our Hebrew language program over the coming years.

Mrs. Devorah Brody, Grade 5

Devorah was born in Jerusalem, moved to New York when she was 14 years old and has been living in BC for the past 11 years. A master educator, in her more than 20 year career Devorah has taught almost every grade from preschool to twelfth grade. Currently she teaches grade 3 Judaic Studies at Vancouver Hebrew Academy. Devorah is full of life and joy; always dynamic, outgoing and engaging. She connects with her students and provides an environment that encourages growth and understanding, enabling each student to flourish. Devorah is married to Rabbi Hillel Brody and is super proud of her 5 awesome kids.


 Chanie Yeshayahu, Grade 6/7 Girls

Mrs. Yeshayahu has been teaching at VHA for over 7 years and is an Alumna of VHA. She currently teaches the Grades 2/3 and 6/7 Girls Judaic studies at Vancouver Hebrew Academy. She has an enormous passion for education . Passing by her classroom, you will notice that every single one of the students are engaged and fully attentive. Mrs. Yeshayahu loves going for hikes, exploring Vancouver and taking care of her 5 children.




Noga Metzger, Ivrit/Hebrew Language - Kindergarten to Grade 7

Mrs. Metzger is very excited about teaching Ivrit this year. After recently arriving from Israel to become a student at the University of British Columbia, she is now completing her M.Ed. degree in Special Education concentrating on Learning Disabilities. Mrs. Metzger has completed her B.A. in Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology at the Bar- Ilan University in Israel and her teaching certificate in special education at Oranim teacher's seminar in Israel. Before her arrival to Canada, she worked as a teacher and as a youth worker dealing with addiction and youth at risk. In her spare time, Mrs. Metzger appreciates hikes, nature, reading and spending time with her family and friends.


Mrs. Silvia Miles, Musical Theatre

Silvia Miles is very excited to bring drama and musical theatre to VHA. She has been passionate about the performing arts since junior high school, when she acted in various plays. After graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree from UBC, Silvia began her teaching career at Diamond Elementary School, in Cloverdale, where she taught for four years. During that time, Silvia had the chance to teach drama to many different grades and she took an active role in helping to organize the school’s two yearly productions.

In addition to teaching drama, Silvia has been a classroom teacher for grade 1 and grade 6, and she was a kindergarten and grade 1 teacher for four years at Beth Tikvah Hebrew School in Richmond. Silvia is currently a graduate student at UBC, where she is completing a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology with a focus on School Counselling.

Silvia lives in Yaletown and when she is not teaching or studying, she enjoys going to the park, the library, community centres, and Science World with her very active 2-year-old son.


Mrs. Gabrielle Sonnino, Student Services Assistant

Mrs. Sonnino is a newcomer to Vancouver, arriving in our lovely city from Brazil a little more than 2 years ago. After going through law school in Brazil and working as an attorney, she rediscovered a true passion within herself as a caregiver and teacher in Canada. Mrs. Sonnino has had experience working as a counselor in camp Gan Israel, staffing a daycare, babysitting, and now she’s thrilled to face this new challenge being part of the VHA staff as student services aide for the 4th grade.

Dancing has a special place in Mrs. Sonnino's heart. She has had danced jazz and ballet for over 10 years and taught jazz dance in Brazil, and for sure she’ll use that energy to get everyone excited in our every day.

Support Staff

Ms. Nancy Scambler, Administrative Secretary

Ms. Nancy is a self-described "Prairie Girl", having been born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Since her graduation from the University of Alberta, she has worked in both administrative and direct service positions in the social services and education areas.  She loves cycling and enjoying the natural beauty of Vancouver. When not at work, she can be found quilting, card-making, baking, drinking tea with family or friends, or providing volunteer leadership to a program for children in Downtown Vancouver.



Mrs. Gayle Taylor, Financial Secretary

Mrs. Gayle absolutely loves her job doing the finances at VHA. The kids, admin, staff, parents, and Board make her position in the office wonderful. Mrs. Gayle and her husband, Jack, spent 18 years with their three children in Kenya. They loved that experience as their children grew up. The Taylors have been settled in Vancouver since the summer of 1999 and Mrs. Gayle has been working at VHA ever since. Her interests include scrapbooking, singing, hospitality, friends and family, and especially her nine grandchildren.


Ms. Teagan Horowitz, Project Coordinator

Ms. Teagan grew up in Montreal and moved to Vancouver three years ago to pursue her degree is graphic design at Emily Carr University. Prior to that she obtained her certificate of professional hotography at Dawson College in Montreal. Ms. Teagan is so excited to be apart of the VHA team as the Project Coordinator and to be able to get to know each student as well as the Jewish Community a lot more! Her interests include film photography, graphic design, podcasting, Jewish studies and really yummy food.