Kehillat Ma'arav

1715 21st Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 / (310) 829-0566


Neomi Nemanim – 2nd/3rd Hebrew and Ulpan

Neomi Nemanim was born and raised in Israel. She served in the Israeli army and graduated from Bar Elan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. She studied criminology and special education and then worked as a teacher in Israel for 10 years. She is a very passionate teacher who loves passing down the traditions from our beautiful culture. Neomi has been a part of the KM team for the past 16 years. She lives in Los Angeles with her wonderful family, including two children and the two best grandchildren. She visits Israel at least twice a year.


Hila Robas, 5th Hebrew & 5th Judaica

Hila was born in Israel and loves teaching Hebrew and Jewish studies. She graduated the Open University of Israel with a B.A in Psychology and completed 16 Early Childhood Education units at Santa Monica College. Hila focuses on all aspects of development including social, emotional, physical, cognitive, language and literacy. In addition to her work as a Preschool Teacher for several years, Hila provides experiential custom-made Hebrew, Cooking and Judaic workshops for all ages. Worked as a Summer Camp Instructor for 4-12 years old and led tours, trips, created craft projects, games and outdoor activities. Hila is very excited to be teaching at KM and bringing her love and joy of learning to our community.


Joel Waldman, 6/7th Hebrew & 6/7th Judaica and Songleader

Joel is a musician (singer-songwriter, arranger, producer) and teacher, graduated from Berklee College of Music (’09) where he graduated with honors and won awards for international contests. He was born in the small Jewish community of Bogotá-Colombia, from a pair of recognized artistic and spiritual parents. Since 17 years old, he’s been hired as a cantor for High Holidays and weddings in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Israel and other countries. Joel can orchestrate music for many ensembles and has experience writing for theater and film.

In 2010, he released his first album in Colombia and started teaching music as well as producing. He’s co-written songs with Grammy award winners like Colombian superstar, Andres Cepeda, in 2014.

Four years ago, he returned to the U.S. as a songleader/chazan and teacher for different Jewish communities like Nashuva, Temple Aliyah, Temple Beth Am, Valley Beth Shalom, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, and  Camp Alonim amongst others. While currently working on a spiritual musical project inspired by Kabbalah, he continues to teach Hebrew, Judaica and Jewish music as intrinsic parts of his values.


Saba Zahir, 2nd/3rd & 4th Judaica

Saba recently graduated from the DeLeT (Day School Leadership through Teaching) program at Hebrew Union College, with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a Certificate in Jewish Education. She thoroughly enjoys teaching and learning about Judaism in order to utilize her newly acquired skills in the classroom. In addition to teaching at KM, Saba will be teaching first grade general studies at a local Jewish day school. 

Saba also has an undergraduate degree from UCLA in psychology and a minor in applied developmental psychology. As children have always held a special place in her heart, Saba dedicated most of her undergraduate studies to researching the way children think, grow, learn, and thrive.  She also worked with children in various internship settings, which ultimately led her to discover her passion for being a classroom teacher. She believes in getting to know each child’s individual needs and interests, and catering her teaching to those needs.


Maayan Lev, 4th & 6/7th Hebrew

Maayan Lev is a rabbinical student at the Academy of Jewish Religion California, and has taught Hebrew school at many institutions. He also works as the Jewish educator and service leader at Surprise Lake Camp in New York. He is an Israeli citizen, and often works with b’nei mitzvah students. Maayan loves to sing, and sometimes works as a cantorial soloist. He loves setting prayers to new or secular melodies, and loves to use music as part of Jewish education. Maayan is thrilled to join the wonderful team of staff at KM.


Laura Flanagan, 6/7th & 8th  Judaica

Laura is originally from Philadelphia and went to school in Boston where she minored in history focusing on the Middle East before moving to LA in the fall of 2012. She has been very active in the Jewish community and social justice for her entire life. Laura went to D.C to rally for an end to the genocide in Darfur and went to NYC to discuss a future of peace in Israel with hundreds of young adults from both Israel and across the US.  She toured Israel and visited some of our most important and historic sites, and marched with Jewish Center for Justice in Los Angeles. Laura has been teaching Hebrew school for over 5 years and is excited to bring her energy and passion to our religious school students.


Songleader Par Par, Music

Educator Jen otherwise called Songleader Par Par is a new addition to the KM family. Par Par, the Hebrew word for butterfly, represents growth and transformation which is what she hopes students will gain through music and Jewish education. She was raised in the Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA in Ethnomusicology, and has been a local songleader and educator ever since. Her first memories of being inspired deeply by Judaism were as a bright-eyed camper at Gindling Hilltop Jewish Sleep Away Summer Camp in Malibu. It was also where she had the opportunity to return as a staff member to develop songleading and educational skills on Jewish culture, ethics, values, morals, spirituality, and a way of life through music, theatre, art, creative writing, and in the form of crafty limud lessons. It is a passion of hers to connect with youth of all ages, offering a platform of possibilities with Torah as a tool for self-discovering, developing, and defining what having a Jewish Identity means to them. This year at KM, she is excited to add ruach and chutzpah to learning about Jewish customs, culture, commandments, holidays, melody and more.


Debbie Ovadia, Assistant to Director of Education

Debbie Ovadia grew up attending supplementary Jewish religious school.  Then as a teenager she participated in BBYO youth group.  Following high school she attended University of California, Irvine and graduated with a degree in Social Ecology which is described as human interaction with their environment.  After college she worked for the Goldring Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life as an Education Fellow. Following this, she held other positions in education, mental health, and activities. She has also volunteered in the community and enjoys dancing.  Debbie is the Kehillat Ma’arav Religious School Assistant to the Director of Education and helps with administrative tasks, programs, along with assisting the teachers in the religious school. 


Talia Daghighian, Madricha

Talia is an incoming junior at Santa Monica High School, and has been at KM since 4th grade. As a madricha, she has worked with 2nd and 3rd graders in Neomi and Hila’s classes for three years. She has greatly enjoyed working at KM, as it gives her the ability to strengthen her own Hebrew skills while also assisting younger children in improving theirs. In Judaica classes, she loves working with children in small group projects, games, crafts, and more. Talia has a passion for working in a classroom. Since middle school, she has wanted to have a career in the education field, and over the years, has found that her interests center greatly around math and chemistry. She hopes to one day become a professor. Talia loves working with children at KM because of the warm environment of the religious school, and is excited to return back next year.