Our Staff


Merril has been involved in early childhood education for her entire professional life. Before coming to Brotherhood, Merril was at the All Soul's School and the AJ Heschel School, both in Manhattan. She served as a mentor for students at the Jewish Theological Seminary and as a literacy staff-developer for the NYC Board of Education. Merril was a member of the education department at Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University. When Merril is not functioning as the director at the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School she serves on the board of the Jewish Early Childhood Association. Recently, Merril helped to train UPK staff in mathematics for young children.  On the national level, Merril has been involved in professional advocacy issues for early-childhood professionals as a staff member for the Coalition for Advancement on Jewish Education (CAJE).  Merril holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from the Bank Street College Graduate School of Education.

RIVKI DIAMONT, 2's teacher 

Rivki began teaching preschool in Center City, Philadelphia, after studying in a girls' teaching program in Jerusalem. She moved to New York in 2007 and currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband, Yossi, and their three wonderful children, Mendel, Henna, and Dovid. Rivki went to Touro College where she earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts (concentrating in psychology, early childhood, and special education) and M.A. in special education. No stranger to the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School, Rivki has worked here since 2007. For the first three years, Rivki worked as the director's assistant, after which she began teaching in the Yellow Room.

JONATHAN BERK, 2's teacher

Jonathan grew up and became a bar mitzvah at the Brotherhood Synagogue. He began working in early childhood education at the 14th Street Y in 2000 and taught at the Brotherhood Hebrew School for six years as well as the Brotherhood's Tikvah program for students with learning disabilities. Jonathan began teaching in the Yellow Room in 2009. Outside of the Brotherhood community, Jonathan is writing a dissertation on philosophy at the New School for Social Research, while teaching at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design. Jonathan lives in Astoria with his wife Amy and two children, Oscar and Gus.

SARA COHENAssistant to the Director

Sara grew up in an orthodox home in Brooklyn, NY.  Her parents, one a Holocaust survivor, both immigrants, stressed the importance of Jewish education, strong family unit, and hard work. Their devotion to Judaism and its traditions, unwavering and deep-rooted, has guided Sara throughout her life.  Sara came to Brotherhood Synagogue with her husband, Stephen, to celebrate their aufruf in 2004. Not long after, with two young children, they became members of the community.  Sara studied buying and merchandising at FIT, simultaneously working as a buyer. For the past 25 years, she held various positions both in the retail and wholesale markets.  Sara hopes to bring her management and customer service skills to her present role. She is excited to be further involved in the Brotherhood community.


Abigail received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University while teaching at The Greenwich House in the West Village. She went on to work in early childhood education, furthering her studies at Hunter College and finally getting a Master’s from The New School of Social Research. She was born and raised in Manhattan and is one of six children.

3's teacher 

Mel Corning lives in Brooklyn and has a background in performing arts and education. She came to New York City from Southern Indiana in 2005 for professional training at Alvin Ailey American Dance School. In 2015 Mel began studying under the Scholars Program at Brooklyn College with a dual focus on Gender Studies and Language and Communication Sciences. She was recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and returns to Brotherhood after studying and conducting research in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mel has taught alongside a myriad of artists and educators from diverse disciplines and has taught a broad range of classes for children and adults. From hula hooping to nature programs, she brings her passion for learning into every type of classroom.

JAMIE STRUMEIER, 3's teacher 

Jaime has been working with children for many years. After earning her Bachelors degree from Rutgers University, Jaime taught pre-k at Preschool of the Arts in Manhattan. She earned her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. Most recently, Jaime was the headteacher of a 2-year-old classroom at Explore+Discover Early Learning Center. She is very excited to join the Brotherhood team and is looking forward to an amazing year.

LAURIE PULTMAN, 4's teacher 

Laurie was born and raised in Sharon Massachusetts and received her BS in Psychology from Boston University. She then moved to New York City where she earned her Masters in Early Childhood General Education from Bank Street College of Education. While living in NY, Laurie taught both 3 and 4-year-olds and 4 and 5-year-olds for 2 years at the Riverdale YM-YWHA and then 5 years at the JCC in Manhattan. After living in New York for 7 years, Laurie moved to Tel Aviv and taught in a Pre-K classroom at the American International School in Israel. Once she returned to the states, Laurie taught in a Pre-K classroom in Massachusetts. Laurie is excited to be moving back to New York City and to be joining the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School community

KACIE PARKER, 3's teacher 

Kacie Parker, 3s teacher. Kacie studied design and management at Parsons The New School of Design while first moving to New York City in 2010. She has worked her way through various creative industries while living in New York and eventually found her love for teaching children through full-time nannying positions. Kacie is looking forward to working in a classroom setting with children and has high hopes to go back to school for a degree in speech pathology..

DEBBIE RABINOWITZ, 4's teacher. 

Debbie joined the Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School in 2016.  She came to education after a career in graphic design and time spent raising her daughter. Debbie has taught in a preschool classroom since 2007, and during that time earned an M.A. in Early Childhood Special and General Education. She began at Brotherhood in 2016 after eight years at Corlears School and two at The Cathedral School. Debbie is thrilled to teach in New York City where her love of architecture, city life and neighborhoods are able to be explored.


Naoko was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan. After arriving in the United States in 1988 she established the Japanese parenting and nursery school program for Japanese-American children at the Educational Alliance. At the same time, she started to teach creative movement and Ballet at Peridance. Now she teaches at several schools including the 92nd Street Y, Park Avenue Synagogue, and Peridance. Naoko is also a master trainer and owner of GYROTONIC® on Broadway.

LISA Y. KARLIN L.C.S.W. Early Childhood Consultant

Lisa Karlin, a clinical social worker, comes to the Brotherhood Synagogue as Early Childhood consultant. Lisa has worked with highly respected schools and programs around the city after obtaining her social work degree from NYU. Lisa has done course work at Bank Street and studied family dynamics at the Ackerman Institute. A lifelong New Yorker, Lisa's post-graduate education has focused on child development and special education and Lisa maintains a private practice in Brooklyn Heights. She loves nothing more than spending time with children and teachers in the classroom, and meeting with parents. Lisa looks forward to getting acquainted with you and is delighted to become part of the Brotherhood Community.

212-995-9867    nursery_assistant@brotherhoodsynagogue.org    28 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003