Grace Oedel – Executive Director
Grace Oedel joined OZ as Executive Director in September 2016, excited to be part of a community where religious life, diverse community, and social and environmental justice unite. Grace moved to Burlington from western Massachusetts, where she directed an array of educational programs at Congregation B’nai Israel. As Young Adult and Teen Program Director, Grace developed new programs with an emphasis on creating meaningful Jewish connection rooted in spirituality, commitment to tikkun olam (healing the world), and serving as shomrei adamah (stewards of the earth). Grace also founded and served as Director for an experiential education center called Dig In Farm, a permaculture-based organization that offers programs for children, teens, and adults focused on the intersection of social and environmental justice. Grace has an academic background in Religious Studies from Yale University, and has worked for a number of non-profits (both religious and secular) that work to create positive change and build community. She lives in the Old North End with her husband, Jacob Holzberg-Pill, who spends his time teaching people how to propagate nut and fruit trees, and son Amos, who spends his time giggling and learning how to walk.
Raul Guevara – Facilities Manager
Raul has been with the synagogue over 25 years. Prior to his work at OZ he owned his own bus touring business in Guatemala. As the Facilities Manager for the synagogue, Raul’s responsibilities range from daily maintenance of the facility and grounds, serving on the House Committee, managing the kitchen, and serving on the Capital Campaign Construction oversight committee to managing the coordination of life cycle events and holiday events. He also delights in the children of Ohavi Zedek and makes time during Hebrew School hours to help with snacks, play or the invariable need for bandaids or a caring listener. The b’nai mitzvot often mentions him during their speeches with great appreciation for his care and wisdom. He lives with his wife Kathy Guevara in Hinesburg. They have three daughters, two son in laws, four granddaughters, and one grandson.
Tari Cote – Office Manager
Tari started at OZ as Administrative Assistant and is currently the Office Manager. Tari’s responsibilities range from maintaining the online calendar and website, creating the weekly e-newsletter, event publicity, contacting B’nai Mitzvah families for information, payroll, coordination of holiday events and much more. In addition to her office duties, she has assisted in the catering for our B’nai Mitzvahs as well as lending a hand in the Shalom Shuk. Tari has worked 19 years in the printing business, as well as in the healthcare field, and has earned certificates in HR Management and Paralegal Studies, as well as a degree in liberal studies. She has 3 kids and 1 granddaughter and 1 grandson. Tari lives in Jericho with her fiance Mike, as well as her Pomeranian and kitty.
Marguerite Bogle – Administrative Assistant
Marguerite joined OZ part-time in October, 2014, promptly broke her arm at a friend’s camp, and has been back on a regular basis since the beginning of 2015. Her duties are to help Tari in any way she can. She is in the office Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 9 until 3, except for High Holy Days which reminded her of the good old days of long hours in her former life. She worked in Information Technology for 30 years, 20 of them at GE, then did a few different things: teach Algebra in an inner-city high school for 3 years, work as a church administrator in DC, get her Masters in Public Policy at GW in DC. She grew up in Nashville, and spent most of her life there, but has also lived in Chicago as well as DC. She retired to VT two years ago after visiting the aforementioned camp for a week or two many summers for 45 years. She loves to play tennis if she can keep her knees functioning, loves to visit her children in San Francisco and Manhattan, and lives in Northshore in Burlington with her cocker spaniel, Ruffian.
Naomi Barell – Hebrew School Principal
Naomi has traveled a long and windy road to her position as Hebrew School principal here at OZ. After getting her degree in Jewish history at Barnard, she moved to Israel where she worked in a myriad of jobs – graphic designer, photographer, breakfast cook, barrista and government licensed tour guide. She returned to the states and made her way to Burlington where she had a couple of kids and started teaching. She has taught in many different grades and was on the Hebrew School Committee for a couple of years. As principal, she wants to promote a sense of community amongst the kids and their families in the school. She believes in making our ancient history and traditions more relevant and accessible to kids. Naomi lives with her partner Jade and their four children. In her spare time, she tends to her farmstead of chickens, sheep, turkeys and a llama.
Amy May – Youth Director
Amy May is excited to be back in Vermont and working with Young Judaea as the Youth Director. Amy learned about Young Judaea from a friend when she was in 8th grade and quickly became an active member. Amy went to Camp Tel Yehudah for four summers including one summer on Hadracha a leadership program in Israel. She attended Young Judaea Year before gap years were all the rage and worked as a counselor at Sprout Lake one of Young Judaea’s Jr Camps. Amy has worked for many years as a environmental educator, including seven summers as a day camp director where she worked hard to make inclusive programs and to build leadership skills in her campers and staff. Amy also serves as the Bogrim Advisor and is a teacher in the OZ Hebrew School.
Melanie Needle – Ofarim Youth Group Advisor (2nd-4th Grades)
Melanie Needle is a New Jersey native and has called VT home since 2003. She is super enthusiastic to be part of the Young Judaea community. Melanie makes 10 lbs of latkes every Chanukah and loves sharing Jewish holiday traditions with Vermont friends when traveling back home to NJ is just not possible. She hopes to become a Bat Mitzvah as an adult and wants to learn how to play Mah Jong. Her favorite Jewish children’s book is “Five Little Gefilte’s and she still has the Passover Seder plate she made in Jewish preschool. She loves using Yiddish words daily and enjoys exploring what it means to be Jewish with her kids..