Our Congregational School Staff

Image previewRabbi Joysa Winter, Education & Life Long Learning Director

Rabbi Joysa Winter is excited to become the new director of education at Mishkan Shalom. For R. Joysa, Jewish learning has always been at the heart and soul of her Jewish identity; she attended rabbinical school with the hope of one day becoming an ed director for a congregation, to help create lifelong learning opportunities for singles and families. R. Joysa taught 3rd grade at Mishkan Shalom in 2007 and loved the congregation's commitment to pluralism and belief in "praying with one's feet.

She then worked as an ed director at Am Haskalah in Allentown for two years. A widely published writer and editor, R. Joysa wrote a textbook, Living Jewish Values, for Behrman House in 2011. She now lives in Havertown with her partner Aaron Rosenbloom, and their two children, Adiel, 9, and Zephan, 7. She and her family look forward to becoming part of the extended Mishkan family!

A native of Denver, she earned a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and worked as a journalist for 20 years, most recently as an editor at the Rocky Mountain News. She moved to Philly in 2006 to attend the Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College, where she completed four years of study. She was ordained by the International Institute of Secular Humanistic Judaism.

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 previewCantor 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