Meet the VHA Team

Meet Our Faculty & Staff


Mrs. Ellia Belson


Ellia Belson, a Vancouver native, is a devoted mother to four children who all attended VHA (Vancouver Hebrew Academy). With a background in Judaic Studies education from Beth Rivkah Seminary, she holds a B.A. in English Literature and Teaching Certification from Simon Fraser University, along with a Master’s in Special Education from the University of British Columbia. Ellia’s teaching approach emphasizes embracing each student’s unique strengths and styles, fostering an inclusive environment for optimal learning within a rigorous academic framework.

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General Studies

Mrs. Vida Shahghabi

Daycare Manager, General Studies Teacher

With the experience of working with children and families as an Early Childhood Educator for over 20 years, Vida is very excited to be a part of the VHA team. She has taught ECE courses and facilitated practicum students as an ECE college instructor for over 10 years. She has a strong philosophy regarding the importance of a child’s healthy development in their early years and its impact on their life. At the present, Vida is also teaching ECE courses part-time in Vancouver Community College.

Vida has two grown up children, and enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, listening to music, and writing poetry in Farsi.

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Mrs. Carmela Ben Saadon

Daycare Judaic Studies Teacher

Mrs. Carmela Ben Saadon was born and raised in Panama City.  She had the opportunity to live in New York, Israel and now in Vancouver since 2016.

Morah Carmela has a Degree in Business Administration and Early Childhood Educator A. Certificate.
She has been working in VHA for the last six years and is passionate about Jewish education, culture and community.

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Ms. Darlene Wilson

Resource Teacher

Ms. Wilson is delighted to be a part of the VHA family for her eleventh year as the Resource 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 twenty-four 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 the school, district and provincial level. Ms. Wilson has recently completed her Orton Gillingham Practitioner training and will be working with students in small group and one-to-one settings. She had always wanted to teach 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.

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Mrs. Angela Viragh

Daycare Teacher

Bio coming soon

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Ms. Mitchie Lam

Kindergarten/Grade 1 and Grade 2/3 General Studies Teacher

Ms. Lam is excited to join the VHA family! She was born in Hong Kong and completed her Bachelor of English Studies at City University of Hong Kong. She then went on to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Elementary Education. She taught for 2 years in the public school system in Hong Kong before moving to B.C. in 2023.

Ms. Lam enjoys hiking in her spare time. She also likes reading and spending time with her friends and family.

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Mr. Michael Anaka

Grade 4/5 General Studies Teacher

Mr. Anaka is excited to teach Grade 4 and 5 at VHA. Hailing from Vancouver, he completed both his Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education at Simon Fraser University. He has taught at various schools in Vancouver, including Vancouver Technical, Sir Winston Churchill, and most recently at Shalhevet Girls High School. Mr. Anaka discovered his passion for education while working as a teaching assistant for biology courses when he was in university.

In his spare time, he enjoys learning more about science, going for walks, or relaxing with his cat.

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Coach Gugu

Physical Education Teacher

With over 15 years of dedicated experience working with children, Gustavo Costa Val Vieira, affectionately known as Coach Gugu, holds a role as a Physical Education Teacher at our school.

Graduating in P.E. in 2012, he initiated his career as a Soccer Coach for A.C. Milan, a prominent team in Italy. Subsequently, Coach Gugu contributed to the largest educational system in Latin America as a committed P.E. Teacher. Before coming to Canada, he commenced his Master’s Degree in the Science of Sport in Brazil.

Bringing his wealth of expertise to Canada, Coach Gugu has spent nearly 5 years working closely with the Jewish Community. His position as a Program Coordinator at the Jewish Community Centre underscores his dedication to community engagement. Beyond his accomplished career, Coach Gugu is the founder of BreakForFun, overseeing after-school programs for over 150 children in Vancouver.

A passionate athlete himself, he played semi-professional soccer in Brazil until the age of 20 and continues to engage in various sports, including soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, during his leisure time.

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Ms. Susan Eskandari

Grade 6/7/8 Girls and Grade 6/7/8 Boys General Studies Teacher

With over six years of hands-on experience, Ms. Eskandari is excited to combine compassion, enthusiasm, and intelligence to positively contribute to VHA’s reputation as a leading and acclaimed institution. In addition to her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, she holds a second master’s degree in English and is pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of British Columbia. As an educator, she has published books and articles on a variety of topics in education and strives to stay current in her field. Ms. Eskandari believes that education should be interdisciplinary, relevant, and integrated with real-world experiences to be authentic.

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Mrs. Preet Toor

Innovation Specialist

Mrs. Toor grew up in Penticton, BC and later moved to the lower mainland to pursue post secondary education. She graduated with her Bsc and a minor in education at Simon Fraser University. She later went on to pursue ABA training, focusing on children on the Autism Spectrum as a Behavioral Interventionist.

Mrs. Toor loves doing arts and crafts, playing all kinds of sports, and working with the children at VHA.

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Judaic Studies

Mrs. Dikla Mizrachi

Kindergarten and Grade 1 Judaic Studies Teacher

Israeli born, Dikla Mizrachi served in the IDF as a teacher, and continued to peruse her passion in education at Beit Berl College in Kfar Saba. After immigrating to Canada 18 years ago, she has worked as a Hebrew and pre-school teacher at VHA, at the JCC’s Bagel Club which is a social program for adults with different abilities.

Dikla enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and four kids. Dikla is looking forward to another amazing year with the Daycare team!

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Mrs. Einat Gotlib

Grade 4/5 Judaic Studies Teacher and Jewish Life Coordinator

Mrs. Einat Gotlib was born and raised in Bnei Brak, Israel, and came to Vancouver in the Fall of 2022.

She had the opportunity to live and teach in San Francisco, Sweden, and Israel.

Einat loves to travel and enjoys going on long journeys with her family. She has two bachelor’s degrees in Life science and Pharmacy and a master’s degree in health management.

She is passionate about “Shlichut”, and it’s her 3rd time on the road.

Einat has five children, and four of them are learning in VHA.

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Mrs. Malky Bitton

Grade 6/7/8 Girls Judaic Studies Teacher

A native Vancouverite, Mrs. Malky Bitton graduated with honours from the Lubavitch Girls High School of Chicago, and went on to receive a diploma in education from Beth Chana Seminary in Safed, Israel, and a B.A. in Judaics studies from Talpiot College in Toronto.

Following her graduation, Mrs. Bitton spent a rewarding three years teaching high school students in both Toronto and New York, and more recently, at Vancouver’s Shalhevet Girls High School. Along with serving as co-director of Chabad of Downtown Vancouver, Mrs. Bitton is mom to nine children BH, both alumni and current students of VHA!

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Rabbi Mordechai Gurevitz

Grade 6/7/8 Boys Judaic Studies Teacher

Meet Rabbi Gurevitz, a dedicated member of our staff. Hailing from the vibrant city of Brooklyn, NY, Rabbi Gurevitz’s learning journey has taken him across the global landscape of top-tier Jewish institutions, with stops in Los Angeles and Israel that have enriched his knowledge and understanding.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in rabbinic studies and continued his advanced learning for two impactful years in an advanced Kollel program. In 2022, Rabbi Gurevitz became an integral part of the VHA team, bringing his wealth of knowledge and passion for education to our school.

A lover of nature and connections, Rabbi Gurevitz enjoys hiking and engaging with people. Beyond his professional commitment, he finds joy in family life in Coquitlam with his wife, Nechama, and their two adorable children.

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Mrs. Nechama Gurevitz

Grade 2/3 Judaic Studies Teacher

Mrs. Nechama Gurevitz is entering her second year at VHA, as the Grade 2-3 Judaics teacher. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Nechama is a graduate of Bais Rivka High School and Beis Chana Teaching Seminary in Tzfat, Israel. Morah Nechama is committed to lifelong learning and consistently seeks new ways to enhance her teaching methods. The proud mom of Menachem and Shmuel Dovid, Nechama enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and community. She is looking forward to a great year at VHA!

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Ms. Gal Naftalovich

Grade 1-7 Ivrit Teacher

Gal Naftalovich was born and raised in Israel. She lived in Tel Aviv for the last 10 years, before moving to Vancouver in January 2020. She has a Bachelor of Social work, M.A of School Counseling and a teaching license from Tel Aviv university. Gal worked as a school counselor for elementary schools in Tel Aviv. She loves working with children in school environments and she is very happy for the opportunity to be a part of the amazing VHA staff.

Gal loves hiking and enjoys the incredible views of BC. She also enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her friends and family.

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Office Staff

Mrs. Jolene Marston

Admin Coordinator

Mrs. Jolene is excited for her 5th year as an Admin Coordinator and she’s so happy to be part of the VHA family!

Mrs. Jolene lives with her husband and their pets. In her free time she loves reading, playing board games, camping and hiking.

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Ms. Vanessa Marks

Financial Secretary

Ms. Vanessa is excited to be a part of the VHA community!

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Mrs. Inês Cindra

Communications and Events Coordinator

Mrs. Inês Cindra is thrilled to be part of the VHA team! Originally from Brazil, she spent a decade living in Cape Town, South Africa, before relocating to Vancouver. With a background in Communications and Graphic Design, she holds an MBA in Marketing from the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

In her spare time, she volunteers with the United Jewish Shield. She loves spending time with her husband and kids and traveling to new places.

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Support Staff

Mr. Fred Fernandes

Support Staff

Fred was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and his passion for sports thrived during his childhood, fueling his ambition to become a P.E. teacher. He graduated from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in 2014. Fred spent ten years working alongside his brother in his parents’ restaurant, where he absorbed essential values related to family business and hard work. Additionally, he taught at four different schools in Brazil.

Fred couldn’t be happier with his decision to come to Canada and join Vancouver Hebrew Academy. The warm welcome from the  community and the opportunity to contribute to the education of their children have left him genuinely grateful. Fred is 100% committed to bringing joy to VHA.

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Mr. Babak Farzaneh

School Counsellor

With over 15 years of professional experience, Babak is excited to be working at VHA as the school counsellor. He graduated from UBC with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Counselling Psychology. He has worked with children, youth and families in various professional settings. His primary way of counselling is building a strong and safe environment for his clients, and promoting discovery of what may be needed. On his days off, Babak enjoys spending time with his family and meditating daily. Babak goes to silent meditation retreats when time allows.

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