Toby L. Berkow, Executive Director
Toby has had a life-long career in the Jewish sector while dabbling in other areas. Starting as an active NFTY kid from Brooklyn, New York, she has worked in over a dozen Synagogues throughout her career. After her work at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, she was the administrator at both Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach and Temple Israel of Hollywood. For the past four years, Toby has served as the Executive Director for the healthcare nonprofit, Lupus LA, in Beverly Hills.
Toby holds a MS from Pratt Institute in New York City in Facilities Management, a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA in Jewish Studies and Theater and an AA in Culinary Arts from Kendall College in Chicago, IL.
Along with her son Kayden, she is thrilled to join the University Synagogue team and looks forward to being part of the community.
Jessica Shamout, Director of Jewish Education
As an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, she taught religious school and worked as a youth advisor before she went on to complete a master’s degree in educational administration at the University of Southern California. After attending graduate school, she worked at the University of California, Los Angeles, helping college students with learning disabilities, but couldn’t shake her love of Jewish education and continued to teach various religious school classes and tutor in the community.
Shortly before joining the University Synagogue team, she developed a project-based-learning initiative for seventh and eighth graders at Temple Isaiah in West Los Angeles. Jessica is a member of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE), and is actively involved with NewCAJE and the Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN). She has made it her goal to help each child find his or her place in the Jewish community with hopes they will develop the tools to make the world better.
April Schafer, Director of Early Childhood Learning Center
A Michigan native, she attended Michigan State University graduating with a bachelor of science degree in human ecology with an emphasis on youth development. She began teaching pre-kindergarten while she attended DePaul University in Chicago where she received her master of arts degree in elementary education with an endorsement in middle school. She is passionate about leading our youngest members through their Jewish educational journey for many years in a nurturing, loving, creative and soulful environment.