Rabbi Josh Ratner
Rabbi Josh Ratner is a community leader, educator, spiritual adviser, and social justice advocate. He most recently served as the Director of Advocacy at JLens, a Jewish non-profit organization engaging corporate America on social, environmental, and Israel-oriented issues on behalf of Jewish foundations and philanthropies. Rabbi Ratner previously served as the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New Haven, Associate Rabbi and Jewish Educator at Yale Hillel, and as a pulpit rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami in Cheshire, Connecticut.
Rabbi Ratner is a board member of the Jewish sustainability organization Hazon, a Global Justice Fellow with American Jewish World Service, and a Rabbinic Fellow of CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders program. His writings about the interplay between Judaism and contemporary topics have been featured on myjewishlearning.com. Rabbi Ratner was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, and is a graduate of both Columbia University and Columbia Law School. He was a corporate attorney before entering rabbinical school. He and his wife, Dr. Elena Ratner, are the proud parents of Dimitri, Elijah, Gabriella, and Sasha.
Dr. Samantha Stinson
Director of Education, Ritual & Music
Samantha Stinson brings a decade of experience in academia, vocal performance, and cantorial leadership to her role as our Director of Education, Ritual & Music. She earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, compiling an anthology of Yiddish Art Song as her dissertation. During her time in Cincinnati, she served as cantorial soloist with Isaac M. Wise Temple and Temple Shalom. From 2014-2018, she served as lay rabbinate leader, b’nai mitzvah tutor, and cantorial soloist for Temple Beth El in Potsdam N.Y., and taught at the Crane School of Music and St. Lawrence University. Samantha also holds degrees in music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music.
With her background in arts outreach and education, Samantha has designed programs in theatre arts and Hebrew School for children ages 2-18. She believes in fostering creativity and curiosity in each student by providing a nurturing, kind religious-school environment. Most importantly, she continues to be inspired as an educator by her three children, Amalia, Abigail, and Ariana, and as a cantorial artist by her husband, baritone Jonathan Stinson.
Kate Luedtke, K’tanim Preschool Director
Kate Luedtke brings over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood to her role as leader of our wonderful K’tanim family. At the Westport Community Nursery School, she developed and managed the Kindergarten program, after having served as the school’s Curriculum Coordinator, and the Head Teacher of a 3s classroom, a 4s class, and a mixed-age group of 3s/4s. She has also made a positive impact on the Stratford Public Schools, working with their School Readiness program, and put her extensive experience to further use in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).
In addition to having earned a Master’s in Elementary Education and a BA in Psychology, her credentials also include a Child Development Associate (CDA) Degree in Early Childhood, a Connecticut Head Teacher’s Certificate and the Connecticut Director’s Credential at a Master’s Level. She is also a trained Music Together teacher.
Born and raised in Trumbull, Kate still lives there with her husband, Brad, and two sons, Logan and Braeden.
Susan Mittag, Executive Director
Having spent 27 successful years in New York’s fashion industry in sales, merchandising and administration, Susan Mittag joined Beth El in June 2002, bringing together her professional strengths as an administrator with her love of Judaism. She is immersed in all areas of synagogue life, from assisting the clergy, lay leadership, and committee chairs with events to preparing the weekly kiddush when needed.
An integral part of Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning at Beth El, Susan was inspired to embark on her own spiritual journey, learning to read Hebrew with five other women and becoming a Bat Mitzvah herself in June 2012. The service was attended by family, friends, and fellow congregants who all knew Susan to be an exemplary administrator, but were equally impressed with her enthusiasm and performance on the bimah.
Susan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Brooklyn College. She and her husband, Barry, have two grown children, Nathan and Rachel, as well as three beautiful grandchildren.
Beth El’s Board of Directors ensures that all voices of our congregation’s membership are heard in the governance and fiduciary oversight of every aspect of the synagogue, including worship, religious education, and programming. General board meetings are held monthly at the synagogue and are open to all congregants.
Additionally, all committees welcome congregant input, and most are currently accepting new members. Please feel free to contact Board members or committee chairs directly at any time by clicking on their names below.
Board Members At Large