We are humbly grateful & extremely PROUD to announce our
Founding Teachers & Leadership Team!
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Hadassah Brofman – Curriculum Designer & Teacher
More affectionately known to most as Morah Dassi! Although born and raised in the USA, she is relocating from Sydney, Australia along with her husband and daughter, where she has been the “secular” studies teacher for K-12 at a private Jewish school. As part of her responsibilities, she designed and implemented an entirely integrated system for the school curriculum with great success. With Morah Dassi, learning is fun, hands-on, and full of meaningful experiences. She has been trained in and implemented the Nurtured Heart Approach in her classrooms and believes in celebrating the awesomeness in every child. She is also a trained music educator who teaches every instrument in a band and orchestra, as well as choir. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Washington with a minor in Education, Learning, and Societies with an emphasis in achievement gap schools, plus a teaching certificate. Dassi says she is so excited to be a part of MMA and looks forward to learning and growing with our family!
Joy (Chedva) Burkey – Wellness Coordinator
Having spent the first 4 years of her education in a small two room school where her mother was her teacher, Joy will always remember the shock of entering a fifth-grade classroom with 28 other students and finding that not only were we supposed to sit all day in rows of desks but that we were all supposed to be doing the same thing at the same time! It was the end of excelling in school and the beginning of bringing home notes about “not working up to her potential”. Later in life as a mom herself, she spent years trying to find a religious boys’ school that saw each child as a special individual but was unable to do so even in New York. To Morah Joy, Menachem Mendel Academy is simply the most exciting thing she has ever seen in Jewish education, and she is thrilled to be a part of it. Joy holds a Bachelor of Science Degree as a Physician Assistant from Touro College and an additional three years of graduate study, two in Medicine, and one in Psychology. She also studied for a year at The Art Students League in NYC. Joy practiced over 25 years as a Physician Assistant in a variety of clinical and administrative settings, including evaluation of children with learning and behavioral challenges. Her last position was as Director of Health Services for Landmark College in Putney, VT. At that time, they were the only college in the US specializing in learning disabled and ADD students. She retired to Israel to be near her family but returned to Phoenix in 2015 to help raise her young grandson. Most recently, she was a teacher at Aleph Bet Preschool in Phoenix for the past two years. Joy’s other loves include organic gardening, silversmithing, and painting, and she enjoys the challenge of remodeling old homes. Yes, girls can too use power tools! She has won awards for her organic vegetables, painting, and jewelry. She says, “I love finding different and inventive ways of giving over information so that it not only becomes fun but belongs to each child. I believe kindness and active listening can make amazing things happen. I also believe with complete faith and trust in Hashem’s Divine Providence for each person!”
Brooke (Elisheva) Foster – Art Teacher
Mrs. Foster is a Phoenix based artist and Fine Arts educator. She grew up in Orange County, California and moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University. While she was pursuing her undergraduate degree, Brooke developed a passion for sharing her knowledge of the Art World. She enrolled in Art Education courses and began her career as an educator, working as the Fine Arts teacher in various schools and extracurricular programs. After graduating from ASU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Brooke got married and settled in Phoenix where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Brooke loves to paint and continues to build her personal portfolio, but when she’s not at her drawing board you can find her on the tennis court, enjoying the zoo or the aquarium, or exploring one of the many beautiful spots in nature that Arizona has to offer. Brooke is so excited to join the MMA team and can’t wait to share her love and knowledge of the Art World with her students this coming year!
Shmuel Gruys – Teacher & Marketing Specialist
Reb Shmuel was born and raised in the heart of Arizona but has had the privilege to live in several places around the world. Israel, New York and New Jersey have all been called home for Shmuel. During his travels, he studied in a number of yeshivos including Aish Hatorah, Sh’or Yoshuv and The Rabbinical College of America in Morristown. He also graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Creativity and unity are at the forefront of his teaching beliefs. Every person has something unique and beautiful to offer to Hashem, and Shmuel works to find that inherit spark in each individual person on his path. Shmuel began his teaching career at Torah Day School and recently has worked as a shadow at The Cheder Lubavitch of Arizona. But for Shmuel, teaching isn’t always geared towards a classroom. He has had the privilege of private tutoring numerous kids in Arizona and likes to take teaching to other parts of the community as well. He gives chassidus classes every other Friday at local skate parks as a means of outreach. Shmuel is an avid believer in bringing people together through learning and community service. Throughout his entire life, he has been engrossed in helping his community. He was extensively involved as a member of the Volunteer Fire Department in Crown King, as well as the EAR Foundation. More recently, Shmuel has shifted his focus to Chabad of ASU and The Friendship Circle. In his free time, Shmuel is also enthralled by photography, music, and creative writing, plus staying active through nature hikes, swimming and weight lifting. Cooking has also become a true passion of his, and he loves the challenge of making kosher food exciting and modern.
Rabbi Chaim Milrad
Chaim Milrad, originally from Hollywood, Florida, began sharing his passion for learning with others at the young age of 12. He taught his first student the Hebrew letters and just 6 months later, the 7-year-old was able to sing in shul! Chaim attended numerous schools of advanced education, receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from Talmudic University and his semicha (official Rabbinical ordination) from HaRav Dovid Ostroff. He has taught hundreds of students, including boys and girls, men and married couples, and has been a mentor to numerous individuals. Using the Torah as his life source, Chaim makes learning fun and exciting for all ages. He taught in numerous schools throughout Miami and New York before moving with his family to Arizona, where he has been on staff at Yeshiva High School of Arizona, Torah Day School of Phoenix, Phoenix Hebrew Academy, and Shearim High School for Girls. Chaim has also led numerous after-school programs and ran an entire summer camp. He emphasizes the importance of asking questions and aims to help each of his students truly love Torah and being Jewish. He and his wife, Malka, have been married over 10 years and have three children, Rachel, Chana, and Simcha. When Chaim isn’t learning, he can sometimes be found playing chess or writing.
Ari Parkhurst – Teacher & Technology Specialist
Reb Parkhurst was born and raised in Los Angeles. From a young age, he has dedicated his life to educating the Jewish community. He attended The University of California San Diego, studying both chemistry and economics, achieving a Bachelor of Science in Management Science. In 2009, Mr. Parkhurst moved to Phoenix and studied business management at the University of Phoenix. There he attained a BS in Business Management with a directed focus of Organizational Behavior. Married in 2011, he and his wife moved to Eretz Yisrael where he studied at Yeshivat Darche Noam in their single year international program. Since moving back to Scottsdale, in addition to becoming the blessed father of two amazing children, he has served in a wide range of roles throughout the Jewish community; these range from synagogue administrator at Ahavas Torah, mashgiach at local kosher restaurants, private tutor and counselor for at-risk children, to lead educator of science and applied math at The Yeshiva High school of Arizona. Married for seven years, Ari is a dedicated husband and loving father. He is passionate about communal and personal growth. His hobbies include sailing, traveling, classical music, history, philosophy, and a wide range of artistic and cultural appreciation. He takes pride in bringing out the best in others, nurturing eager young minds, and helping to refine the Jewish community.
Robin Rosenbloom – Administration, Special Events, & Enrollment Coordinator
A native of Chicago, working with children has been Morah Robin’s life journey over the past thirty years. This journey has allowed her to acquire skills to teach creatively, using differential learning experiences for her students. From running a jewelry business, a swim school, and a camp, to doing counseling, and teaching Jewish studies and Hebrew, her experiences are very diversified. For the past 14 years, she has worked at Pardes Jewish Day School and Congregation Beth Israel. She taught everything from kindergarten through 8th grade, including secular classes, Jewish studies, Hebrew, Arts and more. She has also done extensive private tutoring and volunteer work throughout the greater Phoenix community. Robin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with an Art Minor from Arizona State University. Additionally, she has completed extensive continuing education focusing on children with special needs (ADHD, OCD, Asperger’s, dyslexia, autism, & Tourette’s Syndrome) and is a graduate of Genius Coaching. She has invested her heart and soul over the years into fundraising and growing organizations. She enjoys the challenges of building something new and using creativity to inspire others. In her personal time, she loves the Arts, making jewelry, and swimming. Robin says she loves to compliment people, magnify their strengths, find the genius in others, and help them bring out their unique gifts.