Staff Photos by Jake Rubman
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, five granddaughters, and two grandsons.
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 grown kids, 1 granddaughter and 1 grandson. Tari lives in Jericho with her husband Mike, as well as her Pomeranian, kitty and chickens.
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.
Karen Robair – Shalom Shuk Manager
Karen was born and raised in Burlington. She has worked in Nursing, Insurance Specialist, Forensic Banking and Retail. She enjoys volunteering at local shelters and Coaching Little League. She has 3 beautiful children and enjoys cooking and baking with her husband Gary. They live in the new northend of Burlington and to them family is everything. A simple life is an easy life.