By Deborah Vietor
Naomi Gabai-Fisher is the Director of Education for Temple B’Nai Tikvah in Carlsbad. She has been with the synagogue since 2006 and her contributions are many. In addition to education, she plans holiday events with a committee and provides marketing for the synagogue. She attends most temple board meetings to discuss programming, events, opportunities, calendaring and educational endeavors. She writes and distributes a weekly family newsletter called Naomi’s Notes. She represents the congregation at the MOTIV Teen Service Council meetings and serves on the Jewish Book Fair Selection Committee.
Fisher’s background includes a BA in Anthropology from Penn State University, an MA from Penn in Middle East Studies and Arabic Literature, and an MLS (Masters in Library Science) from Columbia University. She has taught for over 35 years at synagogues and other schools across the U.S. As the head of education at B’nai Tikvah, Fisher oversees religious school for children in grades 1-8. The program is unique in that the curriculum is adjusted to the individual needs of the students. Grade level classes are offered in addition to Hebrew classes based on the student’s reading proficiency.
The theme of the school is chesed, meaning kindness, and students work on projects supporting the theme; for example, creating “Refu’ah Shelaymah” cards for the congregation’s ill or ailing members. Students also pack and deliver items for temple food drives, serving the homeless and those in need. Fisher said the school’s goal is to foster a love of being Jewish and a love for Israel in the students they teach.
This year, the synagogue participated in “Sukkot Across America” through a national grant from the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP), which also supports the Hebrew classes taught at the shul. As part of the program, B’nai Tikvah’s Sukkah was brought to Carlsbad State Beach at Tamarack, attracting community and synagogue members alike. “Shabbat Across America,” also promoted by NJOP, is expected to draw a large crowd for the synagogue’s challah bake this March.
“One of the things I enjoy working on for the congregation is fostering the diverse population who has joined the synagogue,” Fisher said. “I’m very pro-outreach in our community [and try] to bring Jewish educational and cultural opportunities to families and singles. B’nai Tikvah has been described as a ’boutique shul.’ Because we are a small group of dedicated individuals, we work very hard to provide a comfortable environment where both learning and diversity is valued.”
All programs through the synagogue support an educational component. Though subtle, the activities and events promote opportunities for those who have chosen to visit the congregation once or on an ongoing basis.
“I get tremendous satisfaction seeing our families and individuals grow in their practice of Judaism, and not just the observance of Judaism,” Fisher said. “It is important to me to see our students grow and mature into compassionate and knowledgeable young adults, who share what they have learned with their parents and siblings to continue to help our community grow.”
For more information regarding B’nai Tikvah Synagogue and education, contact Naomi Gabbai-Fisher at
Naomi.firstname.lastname@example.org or (760) 650-2262. Congregation B’nai Tikvah is located at 2510 Gateway Road, Carlsbad, CA, 92009.