Avital Ostfield

Avital Ostfield comes to St. Louis from Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she was first a teacher and then for the past two years served as director of Congregational Services.

In her position at B’nai Amoona, she collaborates with Shelby Cohen, Director of Youth and Camp, and Anita Kraus, Director of Early Childhood Education, “to enhance the quality and depth of learning for all of the synagogue’s students."

Ostfield was born in Israel and raised in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon in 2010 and a master of social work degree with certification in Jewish Communal Leadership from the University of Michigan. Prior to her graduate studies, Ostfield participated in Teach for America, working for two years as a teacher in Detroit public schools.

Shelby Cohen

Shelby Cohen is from St. Peter's, MO.  She went to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early childhood and Elementary Education.  Shelby holds a Master of Art in General Education from Central Methodist University.  

She has 15 years of experience working with children of all ages including working for the B'nai Amoona Early Childhood Center as the Assistant Camp Director and the Aleph room teacher. Shelby has also worked as a youth advisor for the last 5 years for Atid Amoona, Kadima, and USY under the expert guidance of Andrew Schwebel.

Shelby began her new role as the Youth and Camp director in August 2017.


Anita Kraus

I am a 20 year veteran of early childhood education in the St. Louis Jewish community and I am thrilled to be the Director of Early Childhood Education at B’nai Amoona. I have taught at Epstein Hebrew Academy as well as Temple Israel's Deutsch Early Childhood Center and Hebrew school. I also served as co-director of the Rabbi Mark and Carol Shook Camps of Temple Israel during the summers. In my most recent position, I was the Director of Education at Kol Rinah.

I graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Kansas and have been married to Kenny for the same number of years.  I have two sons, Danny at Wash U law school and Ben at Drake University, We love spending time together and traveling.

As Director of Early Childhood, I create programming, education opportunities, family services, and I get to hang out at camp as the Camp Director of B’nai Ami. My goal is for families with young children to connect with each other and to mentor happy and self-confident children that grow and discover something new every day.  I am truly very lucky to be a part of the B’nai Amoona educational family.

Pam Appelman

Pam Appelman was born and raised in St. Louis and graduated from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. She has been a member of B'nai Amoona from the time she and her husband, Howard, were married. Pam and Howard have three daughters, all of whom went through the Early Childhood Center, B'nai Amoona Religious School, and BAUSY. They are also alumni of Solomon Schechter Day School.

She fell in love with the ECC when her own children attended, and has been working as the Administrative Assistant since the fall of 2005. She assists the Director, Anita Kraus, in the operation and administration of the ECC. Her position includes a variety of duties for the ECC families and teachers, as well as special Early Childhood programs.

Pam enjoys working with ECC parents, the children, and the wonderful teachers and staff.

Rachel Bray

Rachel Bray was born and raised across the river in Belleville, IL.  She received her Bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville while serving as treasurer of Hillel and participating in several other community service and special interest groups on campus.

After graduation, Rachel spent a summer interning at a nonprofit art studio where she introduced the love of art to less fortunate children in the St. Louis area.  Periodically, Rachel also teaches art classes at Laumeier Sculpture Park and The Foundry Art Center.  She was drawn to work for B'nai Amoona's Youth and Camp department because it combines her love of children with her love of Judaism.

When Rachel isn't at her desk, she may be found with her husband James and their dog, Rex, and two cats, Archie and Romeo.