A native of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, Tirzah immigrated to Canada in 2004 in search of a “better quality of life.” Despite having a B.Ed. and a Master’s degree in sociology, and with a background in the banking sector (in human resources), Tirzah’s first foray into paid work in Canada was in collections. Luckily, within five months an ad in the Jewish Independent led her to a four-year career as an Executive Assistant at Jewish Federation where she worked with VTT’s very own Natalie Chark and Lihe Katz.
Raised in an Orthodox home, Tirzah “loves working in the Jewish community.” Her passion reflects her own experiences watching her father, z”l, devote all his free time to Jewish causes and organizations. (Even though India’s Jewish community numbers roughly 5000 out of a population of 1 billion, Mumbai boasts seven synagogues and a very dedicated community.) His work with the “World Zionist Organization” took him to Israel several times, and she herself has visited the Holy Land twice. Though English is her first language, Tirzah does speak fluent Hindi and can cook a mean curry. Despite the stereotypes, she is not a fan of Bollywood movies.
Debbie Broadley is one of BC Ferries’ best customers as she has spent much of her life ferrying between Victoria and Vancouver—and still does so to this day! When her two sons were young, she was very active in Southlands Elementary’s PAC, advocating for more funding for education and supporting the school in its many initiatives. Her commitment and passion for education is what led her to Vancouver Talmud Torah in 2008. As one of the front line members of the VTT team, Debbie manages all of the school’s Ministry of Education affairs as well as a variety of other tasks and responsibilities.
Debbie’s infectious laugh and pearly white smile have won her many student and parent admirers. When off work, Debbie pursues her passion for gardening and even has a Master Gardener certification through Van Dusen Gardens. She is the proud mother of two sons, one who recently earned a Master of International Business and the other who is pursuing a BComm at UBC’s Sauder School.
Despite being born and raised in Queens, New York, Natalie bears no trace of a Yankee accent. Perhaps this is because her father hails from Israel and her mother is Canadian. Nevertheless, New York remains near and dear to her heart even though Natalie has lived in Vancouver since 1991 when she wed Vancouver-born Neal Chark who she met at a USY on Wheels Conference.
Natalie’s Jewish roots run deep. She attended Yeshiva University High School and studied for six months at a yeshiva in Israel. She also earned a BA from Queen’s College and an Associate’s Degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in fashion buying and merchandising.
Prior to joining the VTT office team a decade ago, Natalie was a very active parent volunteer at our school, chairing our PAC and running many holiday programming activities.
Natalie is the proud mother of three boys, all VTT alumni, and a daughter, Lucy, who is a dog! If you ever attended one of her Shabbat dinners, you would also realize what a tremendous cook she is. Finally, Natalie is a descendant of the Bukharian Jews, a sect from Central Asia.
Chris James, a member of VTT’s trusted security team, is much beloved by many of our students. Perhaps it’s because he shares a last name with the leading scorer of his favourite basketball team, Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Or perhaps it’s because he connects so well with so many of our students, knowing each one by name and reviewing the previous night’s sports highlights with them.
A graduate of North Delta Secondary, Chris was born in northern India and spent the first seven years of his life attending a private Catholic school near Punjab. Because he was educated in English, moving to Canada did not come with the usual culture shock.
When not caring for our community, Chris can be found pumping iron at the gym, playing soccer, basketball and football, and sampling an array of ethnic food, including his Mom’s homemade Indian cooking.
Chris’ future aspiration is studying power engineering at BCIT. Until then, he is content to be a member of the VTT family.
For the last 19.5 years, Tammy Kalvari has been gracing the VTT community with her rolling r’s, frequent yah’s, regular shames’s and many South African phrases that we have all gotten used to and, after all these years, finally understand. A native of South Africa, this only child married a man (Jason) with five siblings and achieved her dream of a full family life with the birth of her son Marc (in 1996, now a VTT & King David alum) and twin boys Saul and Justin (in 1999, also VTT alumni). Tammy has a diploma in Marketing and Sales Management and in South Africa worked as a legal secretary and an advertising research executive.
At VTT, Tammy is responsible for all Board-related work, helps to coordinate our after-school programs, supports every aspect of admissions, and handles current and new enrollments. She proudly LOVES HER JOB! (And hopes to see her grandchildren walk through the doors of VTT one day!) Tammy loves organizing (anything!) hence her past involvement in serving as Co-President of the Richmond/Delta Parents of Multiples Club, Board Member of Young Israel of Richmond Synagogue, Co-Secretary of the Camp Miriam Committee and Secretary of her townhouse strata. She also helped organize a high school reunion in the summer of 2011 — which took place outside of South Africa! For the past three years, she has been a coordinator of The Shabbat Project Vancouver, of which she was a co-founder in our city.
As much as she loves her job, family is Tammy’s first love. Schlepping her kids to and from soccer, basketball, taekwondo, mixed martial arts and their jobs over the years as well as keeping up with their busy social lives is something she actually enjoys! She’s thankful that her husband does the cooking because she’s much rather be doing the driving than the cooking. Quoting her husband, “I’m the cooker; Tammy’s the Facebooker!” A dedicated mother and strict disciplinarian, Tammy can get even the most obstinate children to eat their fruits and veggies, use their manner, and share their treats. A few VTT parents have asked if they can send their kids to Tammy for behaviour modification . . .
Forming the second half of the VTT South African office team contingent, Lihe Katz ensures students and staff stay on task and on target every day—in addition to a multitude of other responsibilities. Born in Johannesburg, Lihe studied public relations and then made aliyah to Israel at age 21 where she worked for Bank Hapoalim. There, she met her future husband, Colin, from Cape Town, and a chance trip to Vancouver to visit his sister in 2000 had them immigrating to our beautiful city in 2002, soon after their marriage.
Lihe is a proud mother to Keren, a VTT alum, and Oren, a current Talmud Torah student. Although Lihe is always the first to arrive to work, when she does have free time she enjoys walking, Bikram yoga and volunteering for different organizations.
Despite her penchant for crunching numbers, Michelle Mah cares deeply about working for organizations that make a difference. She spent the last 10 years working for a biotech firm that supported medical researchers in fast-tracking cures for cancer. Interested in a change of environment, Talmud Torah seemed like the ideal venue to apply her skills yet be surrounded by caring, compassionate people dedicated to an important cause.
Born in Niagara Falls, ON, Michelle moved to Vancouver at age 11. A graduate of Churchill Secondary’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program, Ms. Mah earned a diploma in microfinancial systems from BCIT and then pursued a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU. In 2009, she attained her CGA.
Catherine was raised in North Vancouver, and has just returned back to BC after spending the past 15 years living and working in Toronto. She has her BFA in Dance from Ryerson University, and her MFA in Dance from York University. Catherine is an independent dance artist and teacher, and she is the co-founder of Project: Humanity, a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization that uses the arts to raise social awareness, with a strong emphasis on community service. Catherine has extensive experience as an arts outreach facilitator – particularly working with marginalized youth – and as an arts administrator and producer.
Catherine is pleased to join the VTT team as she makes her transition back to living in Vancouver.