Chicago Sinai Preschool

The mission of Sinai's Preschool is to provide high quality early childhood education to our Sinai community and to the wider Chicago area by incorporating reform Jewish values and traditions within a broader, relationship-based curriculum.

Sinai Preschool is staffed by the highest caliber of educators. Director Fern Katz is an experienced educator; all classrooms are staffed by talented, dedicated, nurturing teachers who know and understand each individual child. Most classrooms are staffed by two to three teachers to achieve exceptional student teacher ratios of at least 1:8 and often 1:5 or less.


Sinai Preschool is staffed by the highest caliber of educators. Director Fern Katz is an experienced educator; all classrooms are staffed by talented, dedicated, nurturing teachers who know and understand each individual child. Most classrooms are staffed by two to three teachers to achieve exceptional student teacher ratios of at least 1:8 and often 1:5 or less.

Director of Early Childhood Education

Fern Katz, M.Ed., finds joy in learning, teaching, and in Judaism, and believes we are all on a journey of exploration, discovery, and lifelong learning.

She has been an educator for more than 35 years with an extensive background in early childhood education and special education as a teacher and an administrator. Before becoming Chicago Sinai’s Director of Early Childhood Education in 2012, Fern was the early childhood education coordinator at the Governors State University’s Family Development Center working with Preschool For All and Early Head Start and as an adjunct instructor for the University; and as an early childhood director for JCC Chicago. She has also taught children with special needs as well as religious school in Illinois and New Jersey.

Fern has a B.S.Ed from Northern Illinois University and an M.Ed from University of Illinois-Chicago, as well as an M.A. in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. She currently serves as Vice President of Conference and Biennial for the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ). Fern’s article, “Trust and Separation: God, Abraham, and Early Childhood Educators” was published in the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education journal. Fern and her husband have a son and daughter and live in Flossmoor.

Teaching Staff

Veronica Burns has previously worked at Sinai’s summer camps and this is her first year as an assistant teacher in classroom 1. She has her B.S. in human development and family studies from the University of Illinois. She is currently a master’s degree candidate in child development and child life at the Erikson Institute. Veronica has worked with a diverse range of students, including children and adults with autism and hospitalized children. When she’s not in school, she’s volunteering at a children’s hospital or playing her ukulele. Her favorite children’s book is But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton.

Allison Greenwood a graduate of Columbia College, majored in early childhood education with a minor in theatre. She has a teaching certificate in early childhood education and has participated in the Reggio Emelia training in Italy. Allison works to bring nature into the classroom, helping children explore the natural environment of plants, rocks, pine cones, and more.

Clara Roche is new to Sinai and so excited to be a part of the community! She graduated from DePaul's School of Education with a BS in Elementary Education, and a minor in psychology. She has a teaching certificate in Elementary Education. Clara loves art projects and reading and can't wait to get to know all of the amazing kids! Her favorite childhood book was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Jennifer Singer returned to Sinai in 2012 after a seven-year absence. As a painter for more than 20 years, Jenny loves art and teaching, and teaching art, bringing many art experiences into our preschool classes as well as our enrichment classes. She has taken early childhood education classes at Kendall College and  Northeastern Illinois University, where she earned a B.A. in Anthropology.

Elke Sniderman, a native Ohio-an is excited to return to Sinai for her second year. She has many years of experience educating children as a teacher at the Florence Heller JCC in Chicago and as a nanny. Elke loves theater and acting, and brings much creativity and energy to all areas of Sinai's preschool.  Her favorite book as a child was The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. 

Sarah Weintraub joining us for her second year at Sinai preschool, came to us from Arizona where she worked at Temple Solel’s early childhood center and earned a degree in early childhood education. After working in the Arizona heat, she enjoys playing in the snow with Sinai preschoolers.

Administrative Assistant

Edna Bell joined Sinai Preschool as administrative assistant in 2012. Edna has broad experience in marketing, sales support, travel planning and general administration. She is detail oriented, organized, and helps keep our program running smoothly. Edna has a B.A. from Northern Illinois University. Edna is a Die-Hard Cubs Fan but roots for all the Chicago sports teams.
Favorite childhood book: any of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder


National Leadership Post To Director of Preschool Fern Katz: Common goals, common community unite powerful association

“I’ve found my tribe.”
And with these four words, Fern Katz, early childhood education director of Chicago Sinai pre-school, summarizes her joy at belonging to the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ) – and just being named Vice President of Conferences and Biennial.

Not that the new position doesn’t involve work. And lots of it. After all, in her new role, Fern will not only oversee one biennial ECE-RJ conference, but also coordinate the organization’s presence at the Union of Reform Judaism Biennial in 2017.

Then again, she’s used to it. “I’m not a party planner,” she explains. “On the other hand, I’m used to getting things done. Last year, I helped with the conference transportation, the AV materials, and edited all the print information. Now, I’m in charge of the whole megillah!”

The ECE-RJ is something special, she says, because of the top-quality speakers and workshops, its idea-sharing and intellectual focus, and its community. The kinds of topics every one of the nearly 400 members talk about?

  • How children learn
  • How teachers are trained [No longer are instructors ‘graduated’ mothers; “the increased level of professional development alone means our teachers work … and work hard,” Fern notes.]
  • How teachers are supported – and their capabilities, expanded and
  • Best practices, with spotlights on play, experiential education, discovery, and exploration.

It’s the community, most of all, that matters to Fern. In her own words, it’s “a vibrant and inclusive community all dedicated to providing (and believing) in early Jewish childhood education.”

Sinai Preschool

Chicago’s Near North
15 W. Delaware Place
Chicago, IL 60610
Fern Katz, Director

Our programming
Sinai Preschool 2018 - 2019 Application
Download Application
Sinai Together with Tots 2018 - 2019 Application
Download Application

Sinai Preschool has been reaccredited under the stringent new NAEYC regulations.

Sinai Preschool is licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the Chicago Department of Human Services.

More about naeyc

A House of Prayer for All People

The place to connect, to learn, and to make a difference.

Become a Member