Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees was elected during the Annual Meeting on Sunday May 13, 2018.
Jeff Berkowitz, Board Member. I grew up in suburban upstate NY near Utica where my family belonged to Temple Beth El, a conservative synagogue. I attended Hobart College where I studied sociology. After college, I spent a year volunteering in Israel in the now defunct Sherut La’am program. I returned from Israel to attend dental school at the University of Buffalo and subsequently completed my residency at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo. In BuffaIo, I met my partner Kristin Wright who was attending law school. Kristin and I moved to Burlington in 1995 where I joined Timberlane Dental Group as a general dentist. We were married the next year in Buffalo (Kristin’s hometown). In 1996 we moved to Charlotte, VT where we are currently raising three teenagers, Emma, Jerry and William. Our family joined Ohavi Zedek in 1998 around the time of my daughter’s birth and my father’s passing. Our family discovered wonderful support in the greater Burlington Jewish community while we attended services daily for 11 months. Our three kids celebrated their B’nai-Mitzvot at Ohavi Zedek where my two oldest studied with Rabbi Jan. It was during this time that I made my connection to Rabbi Jan. My past leadership experience includes three years of service on the board of Ohavi Zedek. In addition, I served as president of the Vermont State Dental Society as well as 8 years as a board member and as a delegate to the American Dental Association. I am excited by the vision Rabbi Jan has for Ruach haMaqom and look forward to assisting in any way possible with this mission under Rabbi Jan’s guidance.
Alan Matson, Treasurer, has been a member of Ruach haMaquom since November 2016. He and his wife, Dale Azaria, joined RhM because of the spirituality and community provided by a renewal synagogue. Alan also has a strong interest in the history of the Jewish community in Burlington and finds the AG building a most special location worth preserving for future generations.
Away from RhM, Alan's career has been entirely within the financial sector. He has worked as a stock trader, a fixed-income portfolio manager and more recently has worked on two start-up companies that have had a financial data focus. These two start-up companies, Lionshares & eSecLending, have both succeeded in disrupting their business niches and continue to be successful. For the past 23 years Alan (and family) have lived in Burlington, Vermont, while his career has often had him 'commuting' to New York City. For the past several years, Alan has also been a leading member of the Keep BT Local Cooperative that attempted to purchase (unsuccessfully) Burlington Telecom from the City of Burlington.
Shanna Ratner, President, is the semi-retired Principal of Yellow Wood Associates, Inc, a consulting firm specializing in rural community and economic development in the United States since 1985. She brings skills in strategic planning, feasibility assessment, facilitation, and creation of multiple forms of wealth to share with the board and the congregation. Shanna began studying with Rabbi Jan shortly before the establishment of Ruach HaMaquom and has been a member of the women's Torah study group for several years. Raised as a conservative Jew, Shanna ignored her Jewish identity for 25 years and was drawn back after the birth of her son which led to her engagement with Ohavi Zedek. She continues to support OZ as well as RuH and is delighted to see the ways in which RuH is drawing new energy into the greater Jewish community as well as becoming a community in its own right.
Erica Quallen, Secretary. After graduating from UVM in 2016, Erica began her journey back to her Jewish roots and found her way into the loving arms of Ruach haMaqom. She has been attending RhM and studying with Rabbi Jan for over a year and has joined the board with the intention of giving back to the community that has given her so much. Erica is passionate about engaging young Jewish people with the local community and finding ways to get millennials to come to synagogue and keep coming back! Outside of her life at temple, Erica is a civil engineer with a focus on city planning. In her professional life, she designs cities and towns which are welcoming and accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and stages of life. She aims to bring these same ideals to RhM in hopes of growing this beautiful community which has been blossoming over the past 4 years.
Bob Fishel, Vice President, Bob is incredibly excited to be a part of the Ruach haMaqom community and is honored to serve as secretary of the board. Spirituality has always been a central in his life and he maintains that everyone should have a 'take what you need' approach when it comes to religion. You can frequently find him at Friday night services (except when Phish is playing in the northeast)
During the day Bob is a Managing Consultant at Aurora North Software where he works with law firms and corporate legal departments to implement technology projects. Believing creativity is one of our highest callings, Bob is typically drawn to performance art, having performed as a comedian, actor, director and stage manager for a variety of local theatre organizations, but lately he has been inspired to produce photography. Bob is an advocate for those in recovery, having placed his last bet on 5/12/08 and those who have dealt with or are dealing with mental health issues.