CJLL Classes Faculty

Rabbi Annie Belford

Rabbi BelfordRabbi Belford, a native of El Paso, Texas, received a BA degree in Creative Writing from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles in 1998, an MA degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 2003 and rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR in 2004. Rabbi Belford is honored to serve Temple Sinai since July, 2009, as one of the first women serving as a solo rabbi in a Houston congregation. Between student pulpits, High Holy Day pulpits, and full-time pulpits, she has previously served congregations in Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Connecticut, and Bombay, India. She also worked for the Union for Reform Judaism Press and is the author of A Teacher’s Guide to a Taste of Text.

She enjoys working with numerous interfaith and community organizations, and is passionate about k’lal yisrael, the entire community of Israel. She loves teaching people of all ages and falls in love with Torah—again—every time she studies it. She is an avid reader, enjoys travelling, and loves nothing more than spending time with her husband, Rabbi Ari Vernon, and her amazing children Lev, Eiden, and Ahava. 

Nada Chandler

Nada ChandlerNada Chandler was born in Providence, Rhode Island; she received a B.A. degree from the University of Rhode Island with majors in English and Political Science, a M.A. degree from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature, and a M.A. Degree in Jewish Studies from the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Jewish Studies in Cleveland, Ohio.  Since arriving in Houston thirty years ago, via New York, Berkeley, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, she has been an active participant and advocate for Jewish education, having served on or as chair of Education at United Orthodox Synagogues, and Congregations Brith Shalom, and Emanu El. 

She is currently the Vice-President for Education at United Orthodox Synagogues. In the community, she has been a part of Jewish Federation Women’s Division, Yom Limmud and the Jewish Book & Arts Fair, serving on the Book Fair Program Committee and the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.  

Ms. Carol Emery

Bio Coming Soon!

Dr. Joshua Furman

Dr. Joshua FurmanDr. Furman is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Jewish Studies at Rice University.  He received his Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2015. He is a scholar of American Jewish history, with a particular interest in studying family life and education after World War II. Dr. Furman has received research fellowships from the Center for Jewish History in New York and the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. A native Texan from San Antonio, he now lives in Houston with his wife and daughter.

Rabbi Barry Gelman

Rabbi Barry Gelman is Rabbi of United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston. Previously Rabbi Gelman served as Rabbi of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, Canada as well as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, both in New York. He is the founding Director of MeORoT - Modern Orthodox Rabbinic Training, and Torat Miriam, both fellowships for those interested in Jewish communal service. Rabbi Gelman has taught at the Drisha Institute as well as at RAMAZ, a modern orthodox High School in New York

Rabbi Gelman received his bachelors and masters from Yeshiva University and Rabbinic Ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University. His passions include Modern Orthodox thought, reading, Zionism and the New York Yankees. Rabbi Gelman is married to Gabrielle and they have five children.

Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin

Dr. Bernice Heilbrunn PotvinBernice Heilbrunn Potvin, a Harvard Law School graduate with a BA. and Masters in History from the same school,  earned a PhD at UH and started a second life teaching Jewish studies at the University of Houston. She is a popular Melton teacher and Yom Limmud instructor.

Ms. Hadas Levy

Bio Coming Soon!

Rabbi Erin Mason

Bio Coming Soon!

Dr. Daniel Musher

Bio Coming Soon!


Mrs. Mindeleah Pollak

Mindeleah PollakMindeleah Pollak was born & raised in Montreal, Canada. After her High School graduation & winning first place in Montreal's Chidon HaTanach, she went to study at the Michlala, Jerusalem College for Woman in Israel for several years, receiving her first Teaching Certificate. She, then, continued on at Stern College for Women in New York City. There she attained her BA in Jewish Studies, & B. Ed. & her 2nd Teaching Certificate, while graduating Magna Cum Laude. Her last year in New York, she became Assistant Director of Admissions at Yeshiva University. She then moved to Houston, Texas where she taught at the Hebrew Academy & then at Torah Day School.

After the birth of her twin boys, she became Educational Director at the United Orthodox Synagogues, heading the school & lecturing. She also became Program Director, while taking Master courses & giving weekly Bible classes to the congregants. She is presently teaching Hebrew to Middle & High School students at the Robert M. Beren Academy. Mindeleah is married to Sam Pollak & is the proud parent of Tani & Yoni Pollak.   

Nancy Pryzant PicusNancy Pryzant Picus

Nancy Pryzant Picus graduated from Hebrew Union College in 1978 with a Masters Degree in Hebrew Education.  Since that time, she has served in many capacities as a Jewish educator in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Houston. She recently retired after twenty-nine years as the Director of Jewish Learning at The Shlenker School of Congregation Beth Israel. Nancy is a proud native Houstonian!

Rabbi David Rosen

Bio Coming Soon!


Rabbi Samantha Safran 

Rabbi Samantha SafranRabbi Samantha holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters as well as her rabbinical title from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia. Originally from Great Neck, New York, she studied classics and philosophy at Colgate University and worked in film preservation before migrating to the Jewish professional world and, eventually, to rabbinical school. During her time at RRC she served as a Jewish advisor on several college campuses, as well as a hospital chaplain, a community organizer and a congregational rabbinic intern.

In her spare time she enjoys listening to live music, reading the New Yorker magazine, watching classic movies, spending time outdoors, and discussing the merits of healthy eating with anyone who will listen. Rabbi Samantha moved to Houston in August 2012 with her husband, Sacha and their daughter, Naya.  

Mr. David Scott

Bio Coming Soon!

Rabbi David Segal 

Rabbi David Segal

Rabbi David Segal was born and raised in Houston and grew up at Congregation Emanu El. He studied Classics and Jewish Studies at Princeton, worked at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

After seven years as rabbi of the Reform synagogue in Aspen, CO, Rabbi Segal and his family moved back home to Houston in 2017, where he is involved in teaching, writing, and interfaith social justice work.