Select Page

Welcome | About TBE

Lay Leaders

Meet our lay leaders

Neil Silverston


Neil Silverston is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of SparkShare, a diverse network of youth and organizational partners that helps young people build the skills and connections they need to become powerful agents of change in their communities and in their own lives.
Since Neil, Risa and their kids joined TBE in 2004, Neil has been an active and engaged member; including serving on the TBE Board as Recording Secretary from 2011-2012 and VP/Tikkun Olam from 2012-2016. Neil was also a member of the Asst Rabbi Search Committee for Rachel Saphire, and Co-Chair of the Cantor Search Committee for Shanna Zell. 

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 in the 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).

Robin Kalis

Vice President Caring Community

Robin, her husband Larry and their three children, Sam (17), Julie (15) and Aliza (12) have been members of TBE since 2006.  Back when her children attended Gan Elohim pre-school, Robin served as co-chair for the Caring Community.  Robin then helped organize Passover Pathways, Mitzvah Days as well as serving on several other committees.  More recently, Robin has been active on the Bereavement and Bikur Cholim committees within the Caring Community.  She also served on the Leadership Council.  

Robin has enjoyed teaching cooking classes at TBE as well as Sur La Table, Create-a-Cook and in private homes, sharing her love of cooking with her friends and family.

Robin and her family live in Needham.

Josef Blumenfeld

Vice President Communications

Josef Blumenfeld is a seasoned strategic communications professional, with more than two decades of experience. Joe is the founder of EdTech180 – a boutique communications consultancy providing a new direction of communications for the EdTech industry, and serving clients in the US and abroad – including in Israel, China, the Persian Gulf, and across Europe. Joe has held senior communications roles at Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, as well as at two global agencies where he spearheaded major accounts like Walmart and Philips.

In addition to being active at TBE, Joe is involved in a number of organizations including: AIPAC, Jewish Family Services of Metrowest, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Givat Haviva in Israel, and others. Joe currently serves on the Executive Committee of the New England Board for UNICEF, where he chairs the Media Committee, a pilot program to engage leading journalists in UNICEF’s work to save children.

Joe and his wife, Michelle Paster, live in Natick with their two daughters—Shoshana, a college freshman and graduate of Gann Academy, and Yael, a junior at Natick High School. Both daughters attended the Rashi School K-8.

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 previously served as VP T’filah for two years and as Co-chair of our successful Assistant Cantor Search Committee. Previously, she has also 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.

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).

Marni Allen

Vice President Governance

Marni grew up at TBE and returned to the community nearly a decade ago after living in DC. She is a member with her husband, Jonathan. Their three children, Lucas (9), Olivia (9), and Abigail (7), participate in Limud. Since re-engaging 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 third year on the Board, and first year as the VP, Governance. She previously served two years as VP, 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. As Co-Chair of TBE’s Hazon Initiative, Marni has 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 Associate Vice President for Board and Volunteer Leadership and Engagement at Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). She is also on the Board of Directors of the 21st Century School Fund, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, and a Board member of the Mason-Rice AfterSchool Program. At home, she loves to cook, especially with ingredients from her CSA share.

Vicky Rakov

Vice President Adult Jewish Living

Vicky, her wife, Kathy, and their two daughters, Sophie and Olivia, have been members of TBE for 10 years. During that time, Vicky has helped to design several Shabbat Reflections, worked with TBE leadership to design and deliver the Atid program, and served as co-chair and member of the Hazon team. She is incredibly proud to be a member of such a vibrant and engaged Jewish community, and is honored to have the opportunity to serve on the TBE board.
Vicky currently works as an independent strategy consultant to non-profit organizations, with a focus on education and youth. Prior to working independently, she was a partner at Mercer Management Consulting where she specialized in management of large-scale change. Vicky also works part-time as a professional photographer, and is a board member of SparkShare, a Boston-based non-profit committed to helping youth develop the agency and skills needed to make change.

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.

Jeff Turk

Vice President K’lal Israel

Jeff and his family have been members of TBE for 18 years. He is currently the Chairperson of the Anafim (Connection) L’Haifa Committee and has participated in both the Anafim Parent-Teen exchange and the “Partners in Reform” program.  He has also been co-chair of the TBE Men’s Club, a member and coach of the TBE 1 Men’s Softball team, and an active participant in CASA.

In addition to his TBE Contributions, Jeff is the Vice-Chairman of the Camp Becket “Dads” Committee, and has been active in B’nai B’rith Housing and other housing related organizations. 

In his professional life, he is the managing partner of the law firm of Turk & Quijano, LLP where he focuses on the representation of residential and commercial landlords and community associations. Jeff is currently the local counsel for the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, National Apartment Association, and several Housing Authorities.

Jeff currently residents in Needham with his wife, Barbara, and has two children. Rachel is a recent graduate of Skidmore College and Seth is currently a Sophomore at Skidmore College.

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 T’filah 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.

Dennis Barr

Vice President T’filah

Dennis Barr is the Director of Evaluation for Facing History and Ourselves, a licensed clinical psychologist, and served as an adjunct faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for nearly 20 years. Dennis, his wife Firkins, and their two daughters, Zoe and Mia, became TBE members in 2000 and have been involved in numerous TBE programs. Dennis initiated (with Rabbi Sisenwine) and facilitated a long-lasting fathers’ group at TBE and is currently supporting the development of additional groups.

Jessica Lasser

Vice President Tikkun Olam

Jessica and her family have been members of TBE since 2012, when they first moved to Boston. She, her husband Ethan, and 3 children, Levi (10), Hattie (7) and Goldie (4), have all formed close friendships and found deep meaning at the synagogue through involvement in service and committees, worship, learning opportunities, Limud and Gan Elohim.

Since becoming a member at TBE, Jessica has been active with the Yaldeinu committee, Caring Community, Bereavement Committee, and Family Social Action. She was also part of the core group of volunteers to welcome and acclimate a new Syrian family to the United States, with The Syrian Refugee Resettlement team. She recently co-chaired the Assistant/Associate rabbi search, and is currently on the Leadership Council.

Outside of TBE, Jessica is an attorney with The Second Step, representing victims of domestic violence, with a specialization in immigration law. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, with stops in Chicago, New York and Wisconsin along the way, she now happily resides in Newton.

Michael Carroll

Presidential Appointee

Mike and his wife Jess have been actively involved in TBE since returning to the area in 1999 and rejoining Jess’s childhood community. The Carrolls’ involvement in the TBE community stepped up once the first of their three children (Leah 14, Jonah 12, Jordyn 10) were old enough to attend Gan Elohim…and this has continued to the present day while the kids attend The Rashi School. Jess has been on the Board in several capacities. Mike has been on the Finance Committee for ~10 years. He focused his attention on long range planning and helped drive decisions like restructuring TBE’s balance sheet and targeting break even points to cover mortgage and anticipated building costs.

Mike and the family spend as much as possible in New Hampshire at Loon Mountain with their TBE friends (lovingly called TBE North). Professionally, Mike is VP of Finance at PTC, a publicly traded software company that empowers industrial innovation.

Laura Marx Klopfer

Presidential Appointee

Laura and her husband, Andrew, were the first couple to be married in the new building at TBE in the spring of 2011.  TBE has been central to their family from the beginning.  They have three children – Jacob (5), Daniel (4) and Eva (<1).  Their family is passionately embedded in the TBE community with two children in the Gan Elohim preschool and are active participants in Yaldeinu (families with young children) programming.   Laura is the co-chair of Nominating Committee as part of the Governance board portfolio. 

Professionally, Laura currently is the VP of Global Product and Alliance Marketing at Poly, a technology company that creates communications devices.  

In their “free time” Laura and Andrew can be seen playing with their kids and enjoying friends and community at their second home, Temple Beth Elohim.

Seth Bloom

Presidential Appointee & Leadership Council Co-Chair


Bob Schechter

Past President

Bob and his wife Susan, happily, have been TBE members for 20 years. Before assuming his current position, Bob served on the Board as a Presidential Appointee and co-chaired the Leadership Council. Bob served on the committee that 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.