Religious School Staff

Rabbi Lia Bass has been teaching in a variety of Jewish Day Schools and afternoon Religious Schools for over 36 years, which is a good Jewish number — twice the numerical value of the Hebrew word “chai”, which means life. In other words, Rabbi Bass has been teaching for two lifetimes! Rabbi Bass is excited to work with Kitah Vav (6th Grade) and guide them through the life-long pursuit of learning Torah through the chanting of Torah and Haftarah.

Shayna Beyer is a sophomore at The George Washington University majoring in Biological Anthropology. She spent her junior and senior years of high school as a madricha at her home congregation in Nashville, TN, and loves being an active part of Jewish life. She’s spent 7 summers at Camp Livingston and 3 years of high school in NFTY, both of which have shaped her Jewish identity. In her free time, Shayna loves to hike, sing, and lifeguard. 

CJ Burka spent all of high school working as a madricha at Etz Hayim before leaving the area to go to New York. She studied Geography, Political Science and Global Studies. Four years, a BA and an ever-growing distaste for New York traffic brought her back home, where she will bring creative ideas and fun activities to our 1st Grade students on Sundays.

Sharon Kaps has been teaching at Congregation Etz Hayim for over 6 years. She currently teaches Judaics for Kitah Vav (6th Grade). She moved to the Northern Virginia area after getting her degree from Wellesley College, where she majored in International Relations and Jewish Studies. She also spent a year in Israel on a study abroad program. Sharon keeps us on trend with her sassy hair colors!

Julie Margolies is originally from the Boston area and graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in Child Development. She has experience working with youth of all ages and is excited to use her passion for youth-centered education to make an engaging experience for Etz Hayim’s 8th/9th class. Julie moved to Washington D.C. to be a Service Corps member with Avodah and is looking forward to bringing this experiences and her knowledge of Jewish social justice work to her classroom this fall. In her personal time, Julie loves to cook, dance and practice yoga. She also enjoys volunteering at her local farmer’s market.

Laura Naide is the Director of Religious Education at Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington, Virginia, where she is responsible for the Religious School, the B’nei Mitzvah and Adult Education programs. Laura has taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies for over 30 years to students ranging in age from pre-K to adult. She also has written curriculum for and taught online Jewish Studies courses. Laura especially enjoys family programming and celebrating the Jewish holidays.

Robyn Norrbom has taught in our Religious School for 4 years. She teaches Kitah Gan (Kindergarten) on Sundays and Kitot Gimmel (3rd Grade) and Dalet (4th Grade) on Wednesdays. Robyn also teaches in our congregation’s preschool. Her favorite Jewish holiday is Tu B’Shevat because “trees are awesome!” Her favorite Hebrew letter is “yud.”

Will Rivlin is returning for his fifth year of teaching at Etz Hayim. He is originally from the Chicago area and recently graduated from American University with a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in Russian and Area Studies. He recently enjoyed a summer as a counselor in a Hebrew immersion program at a Jewish camp in Wisconsin. Will doesn’t enjoy long walks on the beach because he doesn’t like the feeling of sand between his toes.

Amanda Sky is originally from Herndon, VA and moved to New Bedford, MA in 2013. She is a Junior at American University and has been involved in either teaching or being a madricha (classroom aide) in a Hebrew School for 5 years. Amanda co-teaches our Kitah Zayin (7th Grade) class on Sundays with Stuart Portman and teaches Kitah Zayin’s Hebrew class on Wednesdays.