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BJE-ECC Leadership

BJE-ECC is committed to life-long learning. Our educators and leadership team work seamlessly with our families to help integrate a love for learning as a foundation to each child’s journey. Each of our educators and leaders have their own journeys that led them to our BJE-ECC family.


Pedagogical Coordinator

Maya received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater from Columbia College Chicago, a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Seneca College Toronto and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tel-Aviv University. Maya’s hobbies include painting, writing, and stand up comedy. 

Maya enjoys working with children because she loves being a part of their sense of wonder and creating special moments filled with learning and laughter.

Rebecca Kushnir-Anisfeld

Director BJE-ECC

Rebecca has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Bradley University. Education and helping children has been an integral part of who she is. Rebecca taught at BJBE, Keshet Day School, and at Moriah-ECC.

Having gone to Solomon Schechter, Camp Ramah, and Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Judaism is at her core. Teaching children from a young age to love being Jewish is a concept she is very passionate about.


Liz Sherman

Site Director

Liz has a B.S in Elementary Education and an M.S. in Reading Education. She started her career in Early Childhood Education in 1988 at BJE. In 1999 Liz left BJE to work at a full day Jewish ECC program. In 2018 she was thrilled to return to BJE to  oversee our infant program. Liz enjoys traveling to Europe, Africa, and Israel with her daughters and loves New York.

“It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.” -Dr. Suess

Judy Jacobson

Administrative Assistant

Judy has a Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy from the University of Illinois, with a minor in Psychology. She began BJE as a parent in 1983 and started her career at BJE in 1987. Judy taught Pre-K for 14 years and the New Steps(Parent/Toddler) class for two years. She served as BJE’s Camp Director for 5 years. 

Judy’s pride and joy are her two grandsons. In Judy’s words, “I have been fortunate to be able to spend time with the amazing children in our schools and work with our awesome teachers and parents.”

Janet Sear

Director of Professional Growth and Development

Janet received a Bachelor of Science from Drake University and a Master of Science from Northeastern University. She began working for BJE-ECC in 1991.

Janet is passionate about the importance of Early Childhood Education and the importance of building strong and nurturing relationships among our children, families and educators.

Alana Lebovitz

New Teacher Coordinator

Alana has been a BJE educator since 2009. She has her MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work and has earned her Director’s Credential from National Lewis Aim4Excellence. She has experience working in the 2’s, 3’s and PreK, and has worked in four BJE-ECC sites.

 Alana is passionate about Jewish Early Childhood Education and is grateful for all of the opportunities to learn and grow as an educator at BJE. She loves using her creativity to encourage children to wonder about their world and facilitate their joy in learning. She enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, Pilates and reality TV.

Michelle Mantel

Director of Social Media and Marketing

Michelle graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Journalism. She was a Chicago Teachers Project fellow, undertaking coursework and intensive training on early childhood Reggio-inspired Jewish learning from 2017-2019. Michelle is part of the JCC Chicago’s Women in Power 2022 Fellowship cohort. She teaches Pre-K here at BJE and teaches Religious School at the Ezra-Habonim Niles Township Jewish Congregation. 

During her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with her friends, family, and cats Finley and Fezco.