Our Congregational School Staff


Image previewGabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
Gan, Alef, Bet Teacher (Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd Grade)
Food for Thought (Teen Program); Coordinator, Celebrations! 


Gabby has worked in Jewish education -- as an education director, curriculum writer, teacher, author and youth director/advisor -- for over 20 years.

At Mishkan Shalom, she created Celebrations! -- an award-winning Shabbat family educational program for children with special needs and their families -- and directs Mishkan's chapter while expanding the program throughout the region, including the development of a social and social action group for young adults with special needs, Mitzvah Menshes. She teaches our very popular teen cooking program, Food for Thought and is a long-time teacher in our school (now going into her 20th year!) and a cherished staff member, having served most recently as Youth Director.

She serves as Director, Whole Community Inclusion at Jewish Learning Venture, working on disability inclusion with synagogues and schools across the area.

Gabby is the author of two books of plays for young people including Extraordinary Jews: Their Lives on Stage. Her nonfiction books include The Creative Jewish Wedding Book and most recently The Little Gate-Crasher.  She is a popular writer and blogger about Jewish, parenting, arts and special needs topics.

Gabby holds a B.F.A. in theatre and creative writing from Emerson College and an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.


Image previewJulia Weekes
Gimel Teacher (3rd Grade)


Julia has been at Mishkan for years as a teacher and a parent. She is the mom of Judah and Isaiah, who are both in the teen group. Julia has primarily been Mishkan’s Kitah Gimel teacher, but has also taught Kitah Dalet, Bet Hebrew, acted as Teen Program Coordinator, served as a substitute teacher, and occasional tutor.

Julia, Judah, and Isaiah live in West Mt. Airy, along with their two beloved cats. Julia is an artist and certified art teacher and is currently an Early Childhood Education director. Julia also has decades of experience in project-based learning with an emphasis on urban environmental education. Julia loves teaching at Mishkan where she can employ using her skills in experiential education and cooperative learning in the classroom.

Julia structures the class as a Kehillah -- each person being integral in creating the most joyful and productive learning environment. She utilizes cooperative and experiential learning for all aspects of the curriculum.

The Gimel class engages students through exploration of Torah stories and Jewish cultural history, enabling them to 'step into the shoes' of our ancestors in order to make connections with our history, our present and each other. Gimel students also work towards mastery of the Aleph-Bet, and begin Hebrew decoding and integrating vocabulary into classroom conversation, along with learning prayers, songs and blessings.


Image preview

Cantor David Acker
Dalet, Hay Teacher (4th, 5th Grade)


David holds a Masters in Cantorial Studies and Jewish Music from Gratz College as well as music degrees from Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music and Swarthmore College. He is also a candidate for a Masters in Jewish Education at Gratz College. David challenges his students to invest their own creativity, imaginations and intelligence into the development of their Jewish identity. Through experiential learning, he facilitates his students' discovery of the relevance of Jewish customs, literature, prayers and ideas. He also believes that students feel much more comfortable in the synagogue when they know they are competent in Hebrew, so he designs games and engaging exercises to help them learn.

Prior to teaching at Mishkan Shalom, David served as cantor and music specialist at Congregation Ohev Shalom (Wallingford, PA) and Or Shalom (Berwyn, PA). At Mishkan he has led clubs that created and performed plays and raps for Hannukah, Purim and Passover, as well as storytelling and trope clubs. He enjoys singing all kinds of music: opera, musical theater and lieder as well as liturgical music. David is drawn to teaching in the synagogue, because within it he experiences the whole gamut of Jewish life: prayer, education, b’nai-mitzvah preparation, lifecycle and community.


4101 Freeland Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 - ph: (215) 508-0226 / office@mishkan.org Site map