Leadership

Temple Beth Elohim welcomes and appreciates the support of congregants who take on leadership roles. The Board of Trustees includes our President, 12 Vice Presidents with diverse portfolios, two Presidential appointees, 2 co-chairs of the Leadership Council and senior Clergy and Staff. The Board provides strategic direction and operational guidance in support of TBE's vision and values. Temple Beth Elohim's Leadership Council works in collaboration with the Board of Trustees to guide the synagogue in all facets of its journey to fulfill its mission.

If you would like to contribute your skills to a VP-led committee or learn more about leadership roles, please contact TBE President, Bob Schechter, [email protected]

 
Lay Leadership
President, Bob Schechter VP K’lal Israel, Seth Stier
VP Administration, Craig Berkson VP Member Engagement, Risa Shames
VP Caring Community, Carolyn Kohlman VP T'Filah, Marni Allen
VP Communications, Liz Suneby VP Tikkun Olam, Julie Kreiss
VP Development, Pam Norden Presidential Appointee, Neil Goldberg
VP Finance, Rob Cohen Presidential Appointee, Bob Stearns
VP Governance, Jessica Wolfe Presidential Appointee & Leadership Council Co-Chair, Tony Starr
VP Adult Jewish Living, Danny Navisky Leadership Council Co-Chair, Seth Bloom
VP Youth Jewish Living, Cathy Bueker  
   
Clergy/Senior Managment
Stephen Ashkinos, Executive Director, Administration and Operations Rachel Saphire, Associate Rabbi
Alison Kur, Executive Director of Jewish Living Joel Sisenwine, Rabbi
Jodi Sufrin, Cantor Jillian Kohl, Director of Development

 

 

Bob Schechter

Bob Schechter, President

Bob and Susan, happily, have been TBE members for 20 years. Bob was elected President in June, 2017. In the past, Bob served on the Board as a Presidential Appointee and co-chaired the Leadership Council. Bob served on the committee which worked on modernizing TBE's governance structure and has been a member of the Finance and Endowment Committees.

Outside of TBE, Bob is a mostly retired technology industry executive who continues to dabble in the industry serving on several boards and advising entrepreneurs. He worked in the software industry at the dawn of the personal computing era and later in the telecom industry as it became part of the internet and transitioned to the mobile era. Over the years, Susan and Bob have been involved in a number of non-profit endeavors and Bob is a past board chair of the Boston Children's Museum. Susan and Bob, with their pack of poodles, live in Weston and in Barnstable on Cape Cod. They have two grown children Michael and Brian, both in NYC, and enjoy traveling, hanging out with friends, and counting their blessings.

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Craig Berkson, Vice President Administration

Craig has participated in a number of activities and committees at TBE since he and his family became members in early 2016.  Craig is a member of the Leadership Council and participates New and Nearly Empty Nesters group, the Men's Club and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization as well as the Atid program. 

Professionally, Craig is the Global Head of Professional Services for the Investment Management and Operations group at FIS Global, a global leader in financial technology, having previously served as a financial industry CIO and in various management consulting roles focused on Customer and Digital Experience.  Before joining TBE, Craig served in many leadership positions at another Reform congregation.  Craig is an avid cyclist and is participating in his 10th Pan Mass Challenge to raise funds for cancer research.

Craig and his wife Staci reside in Framingham with their two children, Michael (23) and Alyssa (21).

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Carolyn Kohlman Carolyn Kohlman, Vice President Caring Community

Carolyn Kohlman, her husband Alan Gold and daughter Meryl have been TBE members for 20 years.  Carolyn has made a strong connection and commitment to TBE through her involvement with the Caring Community.  After many years as a member of the Bereavement Team, Carolyn became co-chair of the team in 2012.  For the past seven years she has also been member of the Caring  Connections (Lev Echad) programs.  Professionally, Carolyn has been a clinical social worker for nearly forty years.

Her other volunteer activities include, volunteering with the Hebrew Senior Life Hospice program, the HSL pastoral visiting program, and providing ESL tutoring at the Newton Library.  Carolyn is also the Co-President of the Jewish Genealogical Society.

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Liz Suneby, Vice President Communications

Liz and her husband Per, son Josh (25), and daughter Emma (22) joined the TBE community back when Emma enrolled in the TBE nursery school. Liz’s first involvement at TBE was on the Parent Committee of the nursery school and for the past couple of years she has been a member of the Leadership Council and co-chaired College Connection.

Professionally, Liz has held marketing leadership positions at GE, Lotus and Work/Family Directions. Currently, Liz consults to established companies, start-ups, and non-profit organizations--helping them with branding, messaging, web sites and communications programs.

She also writes articles for magazines and books for teens and children, including a few Jewish-themed books (It’s a…It’s a… It’s a Mitzvah, That’s a Mitzvah, The Mitzvah Project Book and The JGuy’s Guide.)

The Sunebys live in Wellesley.

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Pam Norden, Vice President Development

Pam Norden, her husband Andrew and boys Eli (10), Sam (8) and Max (5) have been members of TBE since 2009. Pam has served as VP T'filah for the past two years and this past year also served as Co-chair of our successful Assistant Cantor Search Committee. Previously, she served in a variety of roles on the synagogue's Gan Elohim and Yaldeinu Committees, including a two-year term as the co-chair of each. She also served a three-year term as an Elected Trustee of the TBE Board.

Pam is a dermatologist and partner at Krauss Dermatology. She is on staff at Newton Wellesley Hospital and is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she also serves as the Director of Medical Student Education for the Dermatology Department.

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Rob Cohen, Vice President Finance 

After joining TBE in 2014, Rob and his wife, Lisa, participated in TBE’s    Atid program.  Shortly after that, Rob became of the co-chairs of the         Community Conversations Committee, a member of the Leadership      Council and has been involved in a few special projects at TBE, as well.  During this past year, Robert served in the role of VP Administration      and deeply involved in several major initiatives including the Solar Panel Project, the Security Task Force and the purchase and management of Cedar Bethel Properties.

Professionally, Rob is a principal in Display Supply & Lighting, Inc., a      manufacturer and distributor of lighting and supply products for the       trade show, display and event industries, and is a licensed attorney.     

Rob served in many leadership positions at another Metrowest               congregation before joining TBE.  He also has served on the boards of a variety of not for profit organizations in the Metrowest community and with the trade show industry.

Rob resides in Framingham with Lisa and their two daughters, Leah (25) and Mallory (23).

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Jessica Wolfe, Vice President Governance

Jessica is entering her fourth year as VP of Governance. She served as Co-Chair of TBE’s An Evening to Remember (ETR) Gala in 2014 and on the ETR Committee for two years before that. Previously, Jessica served on two Building subcommittees – Interiors and Green, where she contributed to the design and development of the new TBE building.  Jessica has a particular interest in Governance in Reform congregations, specifically the development of leaders in the context of sacred partnerships.

Jessica has an extensive background in research clinical psychology, public health and neuropsychology and served as a Founder and Director of VA’s National Center for PTSD for many years. Jessica chaired the Governance & Nominating Committee at Partners Healthcare Continuing Care Division and currently chairs Governance and Nominating at Neurofibromatosis, NorthEast. 

Jessica recently moved to Boston from Wellesley with her husband,  Tom Bloch. They are long-time members of TBE and have two grown daughters.

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Danny Navisky, Vice President Adult Jewish Living

Danny Navisky is entering his fourth year as Vice President of Adult Jewish Living where he helps to inspire in congregants a love of Jewish learning and a passion for living Jewishly. He previously served as TBE's Vice President of T'filah, working to continually enrich the TBE prayer experience, led ritual programming for the Families with Young Children Committee, participated in L'Kareiv, helping to deepen personal connections across the TBE community, and served on the most recent Rabbi Search Committee.

In addition to his TBE contributions, he also sits on the Board of Directors and as Clerk and Co-Chair of the Development Committee of the Jewish Arts Collaborative and on the Board of Directors of the Linda Schulman Innovation Fund. In his professional life, Danny is an employment lawyer in private practice. He lives in Newton with his wife Elizabeth (who grew up at TBE) and their sons Asher (11) and Lev (8).

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Cathy Bueker, Vice President Youth Jewish Living

Cathy lives in Wellesley and has been a member of TBE since 2003. She and her husband have three children, Sam (age 15), Michael (age 12), and Rachel (age 8). Rachel is currently enrolled in Limud and Michael is preparing to become a Bar Mitzvah in B’Yachad. Cathy was the lay leader of Tot Shabbat when her boys were in pre-school and has served as a room parent in Limud. She joined the Syrian refugee resettlement committee in fall 2016 and continues to participate actively with the Syrian families supported by TBE.

Professionally, Cathy is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Emmanuel College, teaching courses on issues of race, immigration, and inequality.

Cathy looks forward to serving TBE as VP of Youth Jewish Living. 

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Seth Stier, Vice President K’lal Israel

Seth is beginning his third year as VP of K’lal Israel.  At TBE, Seth is currently on the TBE task force, Development Committee and the Israel Current Events Committee and co-chaired the 2016 An Evening to Remember. Seth and his family have been members of TBE for 10 years.

Seth serves on several committees at the Belmont Hill School and the Winsor School. He is a Board Member for Newton Girls Soccer and currently holds the position of Uniform Chair. Seth chaired the Fundraising Committee for Newton Central Little League and served on the Leadership Committee for the Fessenden School’s recent capital campaign. Seth is also a member of the Heads Advisory Council at the Hopkins School in New Haven, CT. 

Seth currently resides in Newton with his wife Jennifer and their two children. Their son Jared graduated from The Belmont Hill School and their daughter Sarah is in 12th grade at The Winsor School. back to top

Risa Shames, Vice President Member Engagement

Risa joined the temple in 2004 and she has been an active congregant ever since. She co-chaired the Limud Committee for several years and then was an active member of the Havayah Parent committee. Most recently, Risa led an effort to strengthen the Youth Engagement Fund.  As a member of the Tefillah Committee, Risa was instrumental in developing TGIHH, an alternative High Holy Day service where parents and older children can both have a meaningful experience. In 2011, Risa and 5 other women founded CASA, Community of Adult Social Action, that offers monthly community service and volunteer opportunities to congregants – building connections and relationships along the way. 

Risa has had a career in public health and health care project management, and now consults with non-profits, helping organizations advance their work, through grant writing and fundraising. Over the years, Risa has held leadership roles at JCRC and Jewish Family & Children’s Service.  In Newton, she was active in the public schools and recently joined the board of the Centre Street Food Pantry.

Risa lives in Newton with her husband, Neil Silverston. Their children, Isabel (21) and Danny (18) have been active in temple youth activities, including Havayah, NFTY,Crane Lake and Eisner Camps.

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Marni Allen, Vice President T’filah

Marni grew up at TBE, and returned to the community five years ago after nearly a decade living in DC.  She is a member with her husband, Jonathan. Their three young children, Lucas (7), Olivia (7), and Abigail (5), participate in Limud. Since reengaging with TBE, Marni has served in several leadership roles, as a member of the Yaldeinu, No’ar, and T’filah Committees, as well as on the temple’s Leadership Council. This is her first year as VP of T'filah.

She feels deeply at home every time she walks through the temple’s front doors, whether starting the day meeting with other TBE leaders or ending the week at Shabbat services. While serving on the Assistant Cantor Search Committee this past year, Marni embraced the opportunity to form connections with a wide variety of temple members, outside her original home base of families with young children.

Outside TBE, Marni is the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of Babson College, where she heads the college’s Governance Office. She is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the 21st Century School Fund, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC. At home, she loves to cook, especially with ingredients from her CSA share.

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Julie Kreiss

Julie Kreiss, Vice President Tikkun Olam

This is Julie’s third year as Vice President of Tikkun Olam.  She has been involved in activities and committees continuously at Temple Beth Elohim since she and her family moved to Wellesley in 2004.  Initially Julie served on the nursery school board and the new member committee.  Subsequently she began her active involvement in Tikkun Olam including planning and co-leading programs such as Mishpacha Mitzvah Missions (now known as Family Social Action), Mitzvah Day, and the Tamchui High Holy Day Hunger Drive.

Outside of TBE, Julie has 25+ years of combined experiences both in the non-profit and corporate sectors. Her skills include fundraising, cause and multichannel marketing, product and brand development, and grassroots organizing.  She is currently director of sales strategy at Heinemann Publishing, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Julie was also an active parent and committee member of the Hunnewell Elementary School, and was an active board member and volunteer grant-writer for Wellesley A Better Chance for six years.

Julie and her husband David live in Wellesley with their two children, Andrew (18) and Hannah (14), who both attended Gan Elohim Pre-School, and now participate in Havayah.

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Neil Goldberg, Presidential Appointee

Neil, his wife Andrea, and their sons Joshua & Gabriel joined TBE in 2001.  Both boys became Bar Mitzvah at TBE, and Andrea has served on the Caring Community Committee. Neil has participated in an array of TBE activities, including ATID, the Capital Campaign, and various community outreach programs. Neil has spoken at the Hour of Response, and also performed with Jodi, Roy & fellow congregants in “Jews Who Rock,” “Jewish Folksingers,” and “The Music Man.” Neil values TBE for the many ways it enables our community to engage with Jewish life and to explore spiritual growth.

Professionally, Neil spent 35 years in financial services, most recently as a Partner with GW & Wade, a financial advisory firm, from which Neil retired in 2017.

Outside of temple and family life, Neil is an avid cyclist, cross-country skier and a 20-year participant in the Pan Mass Challenge. Neil and Andrea have lived in Westwood since 1994, and travel widely—often wherever their sons happen to reside.

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Bob Stearns, Presidential Appointee

Bob and his wife Noni live in Needham joined TBE a few years ago, having been members at Temple Israel for over 35 years. At TI Bob was involved in leadership positions including the finance committee. 

 

Bob is currently co-founder and a managing director of Sternhill Associates, a Boston-based management consulting and venture capital group. Bob has been involved with high technology for over 40 years, with a background in technology, marketing, planning, and venture capital. He has been involved in over sixty-five start-up companies, as an employee, investor, and/or board member. He is also an active member of the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, a Greentown Labs mentor, a member of MassChallenge, and serves on the Advisory Boards of SparkCognition and Hyliion.

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Tony Starr, Presidential Appointee & Leadership Council Co-Chair

Shortly after joining TBE in 2010, Tony became a member of the House (Building) Committee.  After serving as a member of that committee for about 6 months, Tony assumed the role of Chair.  In July, 2012 Tony took on the role of TBE‘s VP of Administration and continued to serve as Chair of the House Committee.  In June 2016, Tony completed his four year term as VP of Administration and now serves as a Presidential Appointee to the Board of Trustees, Co-Chair of the Leadership Council and Chair of the Security Task Force.  In addition, he is President of Cedar Bethel Properties, LLC, overseeing its financial and management.

Tony is a litigation partner at the Boston law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo where he serves as co-chair of the Construction Law practice group.  He represents owners and general contractors on both public and private construction projects.

Tony and his wife Kathy live in Newton and have four grown sons:  Jason (31), Bradley (29), Tyler (26), and Clayton (22).  Jason and his wife Leslie are the proud parents of Tony’s 3 year old granddaughter, Grace and newborn grandson,  James!

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Clergy/Senior Managment
picture coming soon

Stephen Ashkinos, Executive Director, Administration and Operations

 

 

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Alison Kur, Executive Director of Jewish Living

 

 

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Rachel Saphire, Associate Rabbi

 

 

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Joel Sisenwine, Rabbi

 

 

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Jodi Sufrin, Cantor

 

 

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Jillian Kohl, Director of Development

Jillian recently joined the TBE leadership as Director of Development. Before TBE, Jillian traveled the country as a leadership gift officer for Brandeis University. Prior to Brandeis, Jillian worked in development at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Ma. Jillian’s career pre-fundraising/engagement focused on residential life, student experience, curriculum and operations at a number of artistic educational institutions in New York City including The Actors Connection, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), Alan Filderman Casting, etc.

 

A completely unexpected but gratifying career twist for Jillian was her eight-year stint as a dorm parent at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a role she and her family held while Jillian simultaneously worked at the school in development and program oversight. There are no words to describe living in an apartment in a dormitory with 40 teenage girls as you raise a family of your own, but suffice to say, it provided Jillian and her husband with training and memories to last a lifetime.

 

Jillian is a former member of Temple Beth Elohim and fully acknowledges the incredible impact the temple made on her family’s relationship to Judaism, Tikkun Olam and spirituality. To re-enter the community as a member of the senior leadership in this meaningful manner is a gift. Jillian lives in Wayland with her husband, Bryan, and two children, Ori and Talia.  

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