Interviewing Ms. Kelman: Tanakh and JLT


This year Ramaz welcomed many new teachers. I had the privilege to interview one of them, Ms. Kelman. We covered topics ranging from who her favorite biblical character is to her present-day mentor. We are so happy to welcome her into the Ramaz family!


Q: What subjects and grades do you teach?

A: “I teach 9th and 10th grade tanach and 10th grade JLT.”


Q: What did you do before coming to Ramaz?

A: “Before coming to Ramaz I did a Masters and Yeshiva University in Talmud. I taught at Stern College.” 


Q: What brought you to Ramaz?

A: “The school lunches, obviously. I felt like it would be a really wonderful opportunity to teach. It has a very good reputation as a school and I was excited to join because of that.” 


Q: Was there something that encouraged you to become a teacher? Specifically the subject you teach?

A: “I always loved learning Tanach and Halacha, so that was a big part. My dad is also a teacher in high school, so I grew up with him as a model. When I was younger, I went back and forth on whether I wanted to be a teacher or go to medical school, but ultimately I decided that I liked teaching. I taught at all sorts of camps and informal things, which also encouraged me.” 


Q: If you could teach any other subject besides the ones you teach, what would it be?

A: “I would love to run a class on the environment if there was a class. Or Canadian history; I would love to teach that. I don’t think that’s a class here. I would have to learn it first though :).” 


Q: Who is your favorite female character in tanach? And why?

A: “There are so many! I really like Avigayil. I feel like she has a strong personality and everytime we see her she is trying to make things better which is a really nice quality.” 


Q: What is your favorite male character in tanach? And why?

A: “I can tell you a person I think about a lot as a tragic figure. I think about Shaul hamelech a lot. He stands out to me as a strong and sad character because of the potential and loss of that potential he had, so I enjoy reading the prakiim about him but also find them a bit painful.”  


A: If you were able to meet any commentator in person, which would you choose to meet and why?

Q: “I feel like Rama, Rav Moshe Isserles is a commentator I would love to meet in-person. Partly because his work directly impacts the way we live our lives halachically, also, because of the structure of his book. I find it inspiring that a man with such wisdom felt that he could impact the world just by commenting on others’ writings, specifically the Shulchan Aruch. He did not have the arrogance to think that only writing a book will make us consider him a serious commentary.So I would really want to ask him about his thought process with this.” 


Q: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

A: “I love Pesach. I love the seder. I love all Pesach food; I know that’s an unpopular opinion. My mom makes really good Pesach food, so that’s always a highlight. I also like Matza. Matza and avocado and Matza and cream cheese. My brothers do matza and cream cheese with avocado, which I don’t do, but I respect it.” 


Q: Do you have a special teaching method or just a teaching strategy you are willing to share?

A: “I like to have a lot of discussions in my classes. I am always very curious to hear what my students have to say, especially when we discuss the real-world applications of Jewish texts.” 


Q: Did you know any of the teachers or students before coming to Ramaz? If yes, was it helpful/nice knowing someone?

A: “I knew Rabbi Ritholds before coming here, and that’s about it. It was definitely nice knowing someone. I texted him a lot before I came here. He was very supportive and answered all of my questions..” 


Q: What was it like being a new teacher at Ramaz? Explain your experience?

A: “The first few days were really overwhelming… meeting my students and teachers, and finding my way around the building. I have been very impressed by the other teachers that work here and by my students as well.”  


Q: Who is your mentor and why?

A: “I think I’m going to say to my dad… we just have to make sure he never sees this :). I look up to my dad, specifically in my teaching. This summer, I even went over stuff I was planning for this year with him. I find that he is very good at identifying what is important, what’s relatable, and being approachable, and also is good at keeping in mind what’s really really important and how to convey values beyond technical information..”


Q: What are some of your interests/hobbies?

A: “I really like hiking and being in nature. Growing up, I went to a kayaking camp. I enjoy doing pottery and calligraphy. They are very calming activities. I even wrote my katuva!  But these days I don’t really have so much free time :).”


Q: Fun facts about yourself?

A: “This is my best fact! During a family trip to Botswana, Africa, for my mom’s birthday, I got into a fight with a monkey over a muffin.”