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Day School Administrative Staff

Cara Axelrad

Cara is very excited to be entering into her second year as the Day School Director. Cara comes with a variety of teaching experiences in both secular and Judaic studies.  She received her Bachelors Degree from The University of Hartford in Elementary Education and Judaic Studies and completed her Master of Arts in Literacy from Columbia University, Teachers College. After starting out teaching in New York City charter schools, she transitioned to Mazel Day School in Brooklyn where she taught third grade for ten years. Simultaneously, she spent eight of those ten years as a Shabbat Teacher at Park Avenue Synagogue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. During summers, she worked various positions as a camp counselor including leadership capacities in the Art Department at Ramapo Country Day Camp.
In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband Andrew, their daughter Emma who also attends B'nai, and of course their Goldendoodle Winston. Other activities I enjoy include traveling, baking, crafts, and going to the beach. She is looking forward to another wonderful year of bringing innovative ideas to BICDS! She is thrilled for the opportunity and looks forward to meeting all of our new B’nai Israel families.

Teresa Dorman 
My name is Teresa Dorman, and I started working at B’nai Israel C.D.S. in 2016. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and love being able to create a space where children feel safe and cared for while being challenged to explore new skills. My passion is child development and early childhood education. I am here to be a help to the teachers in providing an age appropriate curriculum and making sure our classrooms are equiped with the tools needed to help magnify our students learning experience.  When I am not at school, I love spending time with family, swimming, reading books, and watching movies. I have five grown children and two grandchildren who keep me very busy. I am looking forward to a great school year! 

Hannah Rynning

Originally from Ocala, Hannah and her husband moved to the Gainesville area back in 2018 and has been a part of our community every since. One of her favorite things about her position is meeting new families and building relationships with the students.  Apart from B'nai, she also runs the Wednesday night Children's ministry at her local church. She loves the outdoors and traveling. A goal of hers is to one day see all of America's national parks. In her spare time, she is usually outside riding her bike, reading, gardening, or spending time with her husband and friends.  "I am looking forward to another year of watching our students grow and getting to know the families in the B'nai community." 

Lynn Salter

With more than 20 years of experience in office administration, Lynn began working with the Day School in 2015. Originally from Winder, GA, she and her husband moved to Gainesville in 2015. They have two grown sons, Brandon and Nick, and three fur babies, Prim, Apollo, and Fox. Outside of work, Lynn enjoys spending time with family, as well as exercise, tennis, hiking, kayaking, pretty much anything that gets her outdoors. She really enjoys the family-type closeness of the staff at B'nai Israel, along with watching the children learn and grow, year after year.

Melanie Gonzalez

Melanie is our Financial Administrator for the Synagogue and Day School. Previously, Melanie was the Student Services Coordinator for the Day School for four and a half years. She absolutely loved working with the incredible teachers, an unbelievable staff, and the wonderful families in this community and is so very grateful for the friendships and skills that she gained there.  
Originally from Miami, she moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida, and has since been here for almost 15 years, where she lives with her 2 cats. She spends as much time outside, hiking or camping, as possible.  Melanie loves animals and enjoys working with Gainesville’s rescue community. She is an avid Harry Potter nerd and has memorized every Gilmore Girls episode.
B’nai Israel truly has become a second home to her, and she appreciates how warm this community has been in welcoming and teaching her. She cannot wait to get to know more of you during her time here. Please feel free to stop by and say, “Hello!”


Jenifer Petrescu

Jenifer is our Executive Director and has served in that role since 2013. However, her time at B'nai Israel began in 2003, when she worked as a teacher in our Day School. Jenifer has also served on the day school committee and been an active participant at B'nai Israel since she started here, nearly 20 years ago.
Jenifer has her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Florida, both in Political Science with a focus on Public Administration. With specialization in grants management, Jenifer has helped organizations seek out funding to advance their mission in serving their communities.
Having grown up in California, Jenifer moved to Florida to pursue her academic studies at UF and is now an avid Gator fan but still roots on her hometown San Francisco Giants whenever she gets the chance.  Jenifer and her husband Vlad have three children: Cristian (10), Stella (7) and Eloise (3). All of her children have gone through the day school, including her youngest who is currently in the 3-year-old class.
Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784