Meet our US Board of Directors

    Michael Burnham, Co-Chair

    Michael Burnham has practiced mindful meditation for forty years, and earned a credential to teach Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 2015 from the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness. He was co-founder and CEO of My Next Phase a non-financial retirement planning company,  Partner in PlumTree Ventures, a private equity group, and CEO of Lewis Supply Company.  A C.P.A., Michael earned his Masters of Science in Accounting at the Northeastern University Graduate School of Professional Accounting, after earning a BA from Sarah Lawrence. He loves his two adult sons and wife of thirty five years.

    Joe Green, Co-Chair

    Joe Green is a social entrepreneur who has spent his career addressing significant challenges by marrying technology with community organizing. He is co-founder and chairman of Treehouse, an organization that builds communal housing apartment buildings in Los Angeles. He is also a co-founder and President of the Psychedelic Science Funders Collaborative, a donor network that supports research and clinical trials of physician-prescribed psychedelic medicines. Joe co-founded Causes, which empowered more than 100 million people to make an impact; NationBuilder, a leading software provider for organizers; and FWD.us, which has mobilized the tech community around immigration and criminal justice reform.

    Stephanie Pell, Esq., Secretary

    Stephanie Pell is a long-time student of Or HaLev, legal consultant, a mom and dual citizen of the US and Israel. She holds degrees in law and public health, where she focused on sociomedical sciences, forced migration and human rights. Stephanie worked as a foreign law clerk at the Supreme Court in Israel and in the course of her studies worked with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the West Bank, and other human rights organizations. She has published work on the intersection of gender and demography in the West Bank. 

    Jonathan Tassoff, Treasurer

    With a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan is founding director of Digital Solutions. A perennial seeker, he is a devotee of yoga and meditation and a student at Yeshivat Hadar and the Pardes Institute.

    Or Mars

    Or Mars is a Vice President of The Wexner Foundation where he focuses on the development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America, and public leaders in Israel. Or has worked in many different Jewish organizations (JCCs of Los Angeles, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Family Services and the JCC of Manhattan) and has studied at various Jewish organizations (Hebrew University, the Pardes Institute, the Hartman Institute, The Jewish Theological Seminary).  He currently sits on the JPRO Network. Or is the founder and facilitator of the Jewish Meditation Project of Columbus.

    Meet our Israel Board of Directors

    Alexandra Berger-Polsky

    Alex was first exposed to mindfulness through Or Halev retreats in Israel, and she has since come t`o see meditation as an integral part of her religious, spiritual and professional life on a daily level. Alex is a certified doula, she holds a Master's in Public Health from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, and a BA in Biology from Columbia University. She currently offers birth preparation and labor support to women and couples as a doula. She has worked in organizational and resource development in a range of non-profits throughout Israel, and from 2015-2018 served as the Executive Director of "Lada'at" - the Jerusalem organization for the promotion of healthy sexuality. She made aliyah from New York in 2008 and currently lives with her husband and young son in Jerusalem.

    Ian Chesir-Teran, Executive Committee

    Ian is T’ruah’s Rabbinic Educator in Israel, and the Manager of Diaspora Communications and Engagement at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the Reform Movement’s religious and civil rights organization in Israel. Ian earned a Bachelor’s degree in French Civilization in 1992 from Georgetown University, a juris doctor degree in 1995 from the Georgetown University Law Center, and was ordained as a rabbi in 2014 at the Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Ian made aliyah from South Orange, New Jersey in 2010. He is a member of Kibbutz Hannaton in the Jezreel Valley, where he lives with his husband Daniel and their three children, Eliezer, Yonah and Tamar.


    Elana Dascal

    Elana has been a licensed Israel tour guide in Israel, specializing in planning unique trip itineraries since 2000.  She immigrated to Israel from Canada after completing her BA and MA at McGill University in Jewish and Art History, specializing in Bible studies. Elana’s passion for learning about Israel in combination with her love for the richness of Israel’s history led her to become a licensed Israel tour guide. Elana has also taken specialized courses through the Israel Ministry of Tourism and at many local sites such as, the Tower of David Museum, The City of David, the Western Wall Tunnels and Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Remembrance Authority and Museum).   

    Jill Shames, Chair

    Jill Baker Shames is a Torah-oriented wife, mother and grandmother who revels in defying stereotypes.In addition to work as a marketing writer and a medical social worker (her BS in Communications and Master's in Social Work are both from Boston University), Jill has been teaching Okinawan Karate and Empowerment Self-Defense for more than 25 years and training ESD Instructors for well over a decade. She is currently the Head Instructor for Maagal Giborim (Heroes Circle) / Kids Kicking Cancer-Israel, an organization that teaches very sick children and their families how to use mind-body techniques from the Martial Arts to master their own pain, anger and fear and share their courage and skills with others. Jill attended the very first week-long Silent Jewish Meditation Retreat in Israel and has had a regular meditation practice ever since.