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Congregation Shomrei Torah

Lara Brown - Director of Education & Youth Engagement

Lara Brown began her work with children in 2006 as an in-home daycare assistant. After receiving her AA in Music from Cuesta College and B.S. in Child Development with a minor in Psychology in 2013, she worked in various roles such as Lead Preschool Teacher at Acorn Learning Center, Music Educator at Art and Soul, and Therapeutic Behavioral Services Coach with Seneca Family of Agencies.

In 2016, Lara began her work in Jewish Education as Assistant Director and later Co-Director at Beth Ami Community Nursery School. In May of 2021, she accepted the role of Area Director at North Bay Children's Center supervising six preschools and one elementary aftercare program across two counties. Now, she is thrilled to be back in the world of Jewish Education as the Director of Education and Youth Engagement with Congregation Shomrei Torah.

In her spare time, Lara is a member of the local Reggae/Rock group Sonomacana, and can be found performing original compositions and covers on most weekends. She enjoys playing the flute, ukulele, and singing with her bandmates. She also enjoys spending time with her dog Sampson, roaming around in nature with her partner Kyle, watching Star Trek, and playing video games on her VR headset.

Erica Wisner - Cantorial Soloist & B'Mitzvah Coordinator 

Erica Wisner serves as Cantorial Soloist, B'nei Mitzvah coordinator, tutor, and choir director at Congregation Shomrei Torah. She loves to create musically themed Shabbatot. 

As a young child, Erica grew up going to services and fell in love with Jewish musical liturgy when her parents started a synagogue in Sacramento County. Erica has recently begun cantorial school at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. 

Erica holds a master’s degree from The Boston Conservatory and a bachelor’s degree from UCLA. 

Erica and her husband, Chris, moved to Santa Rosa in 2008, after marrying here in 2007.  They are the proud parents of Noah and Lael.


Marcia Gladstone - 5th, 6th & Hebrew Teacher

My name is Marcia Gladstone and I will be your child’s teacher this year.  I have been teaching since I was 20 years old. I began teaching 2nd grade but realized that my passion was adolescents.

I have a Bachelor's Degrees in Comparative Religion and Education and Master’s Degrees in Child Psychology and Special Education. I have been teaching religious school education for 43 years. I guess you can say that it is my passion. I have won the Helen Diller Education Award for outstanding educator in the North Bay and was nominated for the Covenant Award. 

My goal for this year is simple.  I want your child to learn, have fun and make Jewish friends.  I believe in experiential learning and lots of hands on activities.  

Sofia Fichera - 3rd & 4th Grade Teacher

Hi! I am Sofia Fichera. I am a freshman at Sonoma State University. I am majoring in music education and am so excited to gain some teaching experience through STaRS.

I have worked in STaRS for five years now and am so happy to be returning. I cannot wait to start this journey in the teaching world. 

Alex Saslow - Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd Grade Teacher

Alex Saslow is pumped to be on the STaRS team this year.  He grew up in Marin County, and attended the religious school at Congregation Rodef Shalom. He earned his Bachelor's of Science in Oceanography, with an emphasis in Geology, from Humboldt State University, and then started teaching high school Chemistry and Physics in 2009. He later earned his Masters of Education from Touro University California. Alex also has a background in music, an interest in social justice, and is an avid reader. His Jewishness has been an important cornerstone to his identity all of his life, and he is honored to be able to help introduce children (his own two among them!) to the lessons our heritage has to offer. Alex is married to Adriann, and they have two children: Miriam and Derek.

Danielle Justin - KIDdish Teacher

Danielle Justin (a.k.a. Morah Danielle) is excited to be back for her 2nd year as a KIDdish teacher.  She grew up in Michigan, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Special Education from Michigan State University. 

After graduation, Danielle moved to Los Angeles. She taught middle school special education in Beverly Hills for 10 years, and now teaches in Santa Rosa since moving to the area in 2018.  Danielle is very involved in the Jewish community and is the co-organizer of the Sonoma Jewish Women’s Circle.

Danielle met her husband, Jason, on a trip to Israel when they were both in college.  Since then, she has continued to learn and explore her Jewish observance by regularly attending synagogue and religious classes.  Danielle and Jason are blessed with two beautiful children, Esther and Eliyahu. 

Danielle is very grateful to have the opportunity to pass on her knowledge and passion for Judaism to the Shomrei Torah families through stories, songs, and crafts.

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyar 5784