Cheder Religious School Staff

Batya Podos, Lead Teacher

Batya Podos

Batya Podos

Batya Podos is an ordained Maggid, and has been a professional storyteller, dramatist and educator for over 35 years. Believing that the strands of story connect us all, she is committed to interfaith work, and was the co-founder of Abraham’s Tent, a summer camp for Jewish, Christian and Moslem children. She has been teacher and director of Simcha School, P’nai Or of Portland’s education program, and was the director of education for Beit Haverim Reform congregation before she returned to her roots in the southwest last summer. She has been on the faculty and has been Dean of the Maggid-Educator Program offered by the Institute for Jewish Spiritual Education (JSE) for the last 5 years. She is delighted to be working with the Cheder Religious School at Nahalat Shalom. Her novel, Rebecca and the Talisman of Time, was nominated for the Oregon Spirit Book Award. She has just completed her second novel for young people, and will be hosting a series of community storytellings thanks to a grant from NMFederation this year.

Cantor Beth Cohen


Tefillah (prayers), folk songs and dance with Cantor Beth Cohen during Cheder Religious School (11:30am-noon).

Message from Cantor Beth:

Dear parents, students and members of our community, I am so excited about teaching in Nahalat Shalom’s Cheder this year! We are going to have a great time learning songs and prayers for Shabbat services in Hebrew, Ladino and Yiddish as well as special songs, nigunim (wordless melodies) and prayers for our Jewish holidays and festivals. We will be dancing Jewish and Israeli folkdances and we will do some drumming. I will also be available during Cheder time for private tutoring with our pre-B’nai Mitzvah students in trope (chanting from the Torah) as well as help in leading the prayers for their 'big day.' Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Click here to read Cantor Beth Cohen’s Bio

Noach Bloom

"I'm Noach, and I love Jew stuff.  I want to help other people understand it better and love it too.  We come from a tradition that values individual differences while seeking to maintain community, that operates in the real world and connects the past to the present and future.  It's so much fun to help students become more Jewishly knowledgeable and engage with the tradition in their own unique ways."

Erwin Mellis

Pre-Kindergarten Cheder (ages 3 to about 6) meets once a month and we learn songs, we learn about the Jewish holidays and our calendar, and learn about some of the foods we celebrate those holidays with.  We play games, and we make art appropriate for our holidays.
I have been teaching this Cheder class for five years and my goals for this Cheder class is for families to meet, kids to learn about our calendar throughout the year, and our kids to get enjoyment from celebrating their Jewish heritage.  I am a convert to Judaism, I married my wife, Hydie over a decade ago, and we enjoy two delightful children, a son and a daughter. Both help me on occasion in class – and have been to this class since they were little.  I am a licensed consulting geologist in Albuquerque.

Dena Palley

Dena Palley is an artist, educator and administrator who has been working in the Jewish and non-profit world for 30 years. Please visit to see her traditional Jewish papercutting artwork. She loves teaching and learning from her students about Jewish art, culture, Hebrew, and sign language. In addition to her work as administrator of Nahalat Shalom, teaching in the Cheder, and her own artwork, she spends time with her triplet grandchildren.