Family Matters

“Hillel is Home,” is a phrase that many students, faculty members, and parents have heard for a long time. However, sometimes, this phrase can apply in a literal sense, as many Scheck Hillel members go to school or work with family members. Many know of students that go to school with their siblings, however, there are also several faculty members who work with their family members. The opportunity sure is unique, and here is what the faculty members have to say about their experiences working alongside their families.


Here are some of the people on campus who are related:


  1. Middle school math teacher, Mrs. Natalie Gurland (NG), and High School Kesher science teacher, Ms. Valerie Azar (VA), are sisters.
  2. Upper School coordinator, Mrs. Erica Farago(EF), and creative manager, Mr. Greg Feldman(GF), are siblings.
  3. Physical education teacher, Coach Humberto Gutierrez(HG), and middle school student counselor, Mr. Andre Gutierrez(AG), are brothers.
  4. High school counselor, Ms. Linda Feigenbaum(LF), and upper school Kesher director, Ms. Kayla Levy (KL), are mother and daughter.
  5. Rav Oded Karavani (OD) is the student life director, while his father, Mr. Dror Karavani(DK) is a Judaic teacher,  and his wife, Morah Tehilla Karavani(TK), is a lower school teacher.



  • What is your favorite part about working at Hillel?


VA:  I get to teach a subject I love and hopefully help students realize they CAN succeed in science. I also love seeing my kids, nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, former teachers, and so many other familiar faces every day.

EF: The free food! I really hated bringing my own lunch in when I taught in other schools, and this food is actually very good.

HG:  My favorite part of working for this school is the community. Since Day One this school has made me feel right at home. During my interview process, I was thinking about finding a place I can call home and faculty I can call family.

LF:  I really love watching students grow throughout HS and knowing that I have helped them in that growth. They make so much progress socially, emotionally, and academically and grow into productive adults who will contribute to society in creative and innovative ways.

  • What brought you to Hillel, to begin with?


OK: My family highly recommended it. There was an opportunity to reach a high number of students in this role.

LF: My 3 children went to Hillel.  In 2002 my children came home from school and said that the school nurse was resigning.  I am a Registered Nurse in addition to being a Mental Health Counselor. So I applied to the position and worked for 1 year as the school nurse before transferring to a School Counselor position and have been there ever since.

HG: I was teaching at a Charter School for 3 years and I knew I deserved to be treated better. I had over 100 students in multiple classes ranging from 6 th – 11 th Grade without any help or support. I wasn’t appreciated by the administrators and traveling to Boca Raton every day started taking a toll on me. I started looking on indeed and saw an opening at Scheck Hillel Community School. Once I started doing my research, I saw only positive reviews about OUR school and faculty only leaving to retire. This is very hard to find especially in the Teaching profession.

AG: My brother told me of an open Middle School Counselor position. 

  • *What about Hillel made you want to bring your family member over? 


HG: My brother was having some of the same issues at his Charter School. I was constantly telling him how Hillel has made me feel right at home and a part of their community. Once I heard about the opening for the middle school counselor position, I felt like it was fate. The same day I gave Mr. Meisels my brother’s resume and let’s say the rest is history.

NG: I did not bring my sister over to Hillel. She is a science teacher and had taught at another Jewish day school for years. Her children were students here and when she decided to come back to teaching, looking for a position at Hillel was a natural fit. She too had been a student here for many years and I believe she feels similarly about the sense of community and familiarity.

  • Was it ever weird working with your family member? How so?


NG: I have a great relationship with my sister and it’s wonderful being able to see her and my nieces and nephew daily. We do not teach in the same department or grade level so there isn’t much overlap on the work front.

VA: No, working with my sister has never felt weird.

OK: It’s never weird for me because I grew up like this. Up until HS, my parent(s)  were either my teachers or taught in my school. My parents used to work in the same school together for years so to me having my wife here doesn’t seem unnatural at all. 

  • Has this experience working with your family member enhanced your working environment?


OK: It’s nice to have lunch with my wife every so often or schmooze with my dad as we pass each other in the hallway. They support me when I need them and I’m there to help when they need me. 

HG: It definitely has enhanced my working environment. Nothing better than working with your brother and getting to see him every day. Especially since we are working with the same students.

VA: I have the chance to see and speak to my sister, my best friend, almost every day. I feel very lucky!

NG: I have a great relationship with my sister and it’s wonderful being able to see her and my nieces and nephew daily. We do not teach in the same department or grade level so there isn’t much overlap on the work front.

  • If so, why is it important to you to have a family member in the same working environment as you?


HG: It’s important because I wanted my brother to experience all the amazing things I’ve experienced at this school. Having the same schedule as well would be beneficial when we have our family vacations.

AG: It just adds an extra layer of comfort and family to an already supportive environment.

OK: Family will always have your back. They can lift you up if you are having a bad day or save you a phone call if you need to talk to them 😉

  • Has the Hillel environment made you and your family member feel “at home”?


NG: Yes. Hillel most certainly has a familiar feeling for me.

VA: On many mornings, we get out of the car and see my sister and her kids parking. The kids all hug each other, and we wish each other a great day.

HG: Since day one this community has made me feel right at home. The most important thing for me when I was looking for another teaching job was finding a place I can call home and retire from.

LF: I have been here so long I do feel like Hillel is another home for me.  And having my daughter here makes it even more so.

  • While at work, do you treat your family member as you would at home, or do you treat them as a co-worker?


AG: Yes. I treat him with the same love and respect as at home.

HG: I treat my brother the same as I would at home. We are both genuinely positive and down to earth type of people so we try to stay the same at all times.

OK: While as a family they have a special place in my heart, my grandparents taught me to have professional integrity. I behave around them as I would with my other colleagues. But of course, I can from time to time get my wife a snack or a drink in the middle of the day – just because I’m the perfect husband. Make sure you put that in!

LF: Both. We may have a conversation about something personal while at work but we work closely together and our positions make us colleagues working with the same students sometimes.  We are both very professional about that.  I don’t have any issue with treating her as a co-worker when performing our regular work-related duties.

  • If you had the choice, would you like any of your other family members(siblings, children, parents, etc.), to also work at Hillel with you?


LF: I wouldn’t mind if my other children wanted to come work here also.

OK: I wouldn’t mind having all my family here! We’d be the Karavani Hillel Mafia! Though it may not be the right fit for some people, for me it’s great!

VA: Sure! I enjoy working here and would love for any of my family to have the same feeling as I do when they wake up for work every day.

NG: I would recommend Hillel as a great place to work at if another family member were interested in a position at Hillel. I would love to have them here on campus with us!

HG: If it was up to me I would have my entire family work here so then I can truly say that I work with my whole family. I have other family members that are in the education field that I am trying to get over here as well.

  • Is there still a healthy “sibling rivalry” with your sibling(s)?


HG: We really don’t have a sibling rivalry. We always wanted the best for one another even if it was against each other.

AG: We are competitive, but I wouldn’t say that we have a rivalry. We grew up playing sports, so we always competed in that way, but thankfully, there has always been respect within that competition. 

NG: Valerie and I get along very well. We each know our strengths and our weaknesses and we also each celebrate each other’s victories and help each other out when things are not going so well. I don’t think there is much in the way of sibling rivalry between us.

VA: No. It’s established–she’s smarter, more athletic, and taller.