Joel Goldberg & Barbara Burroughs

Many of you know Joel as a past President of Temple Sinai, guitar player for Dahg and also for our folk services, but I bet fewer of you know Barbara, his highly accomplished and modest partner of 28 years. So we’ll start with Barbara and find out some interesting things about her life. Barb was born in Birmingham, Alabama and spent some of her youth in Canada. Her Dad was from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, situated just off the Trans-Canada Highway in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan, where he grew up, and later returned with his family, as a medical doctor. After her parents separated, her Mom and Barb’s four siblings (one brother and three sisters), moved to Digby, Nova Scotia, where her mother had some close friends. Barb remembers bringing groceries home in a wagon in the summer, because they did not have a car, and on a toboggan in the winter. She liked living on the edge of the Bay of Fundy, where she could watch the scallop boats going in and out of shore. They were there for a couple of years and then moved to Essex Junction VT, where Barb mostly grew up.

Barb says that her Mom was the biggest influence on her life. She raised five amazing and accomplished children as a single mother with limited resources. She was a role model for strong, independent women and raised her children to believe that they could accomplish anything they set their minds to do. Together, they figured out how to do handy home repairs and she pushed her children to pursue advanced degrees and have successful careers. Barb went to Mt. Holyoke for her undergraduate education (as did her three older sisters) and to Cornell University for her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, DVM. Barb thought that she wanted to be a doctor, like her Dad, but she felt she could relate better to animals than people.

Barb has retired after practicing veterinary medicine for more than 30 years, 14 years of which she owned the largest animal hospital in the state and managed a staff of more than fifty employees. She also was on the steering committee of local veterinarians who worked together to establish the first veterinary emergency clinic in Vermont. It was through her veterinary practice that she met Joel, when he was looking for a Vet for his new puppy. One of his colleagues in the Chemistry Department at UVM recommended Barb. Their relationship became more than puppy love! Barb has always been a dog lover and one of her favorite activities when she was little was to sit on the roof of their dog house and talk to the dogs. Her Mom joked that if she wanted to know how Barb’s day at school went, all she had to do was eavesdrop on her ‘conversations’ with the dogs!

Ziggy is the Goldburroughs’ family pet, but only ‘talks’ to Barb!

Barbara likes to swim, bicycle and walk Ziggy….rain, shine, sleet or snow. She used to participate in triathlons and was nationally competitive back in the mid-to-late 1980s. She is now interested in genealogy and tracing her family’s origins. She recently got a ukulele and is looking forward to learning how to play. Barb enjoys singing and joined the Ladies of the Ukulele group through the UVM Women’s Club.

When it comes to reading, Barb prefers historical non-fiction, such as Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm. She is currently reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.

Eli-NickBarb and Joel have two children. Eli is 26 and graduated from Oberlin College (Joel’s Alma Mater). He is now a first-year medical student at UVM’s College of Medicine.

Rubin and Kristen in IcelandRubin is 23 and graduated from UVM in 2015 with a double major in History and Russian. He works at UVM as an administrative assistant in the Department of Romance Languages and Linguistics.

Rubin and his girlfriend Kristen in Iceland.
For those who don’t know already, Joel is a bit of a Beatles fanatic! He is always reading at least one book about them – “currently, I am about ¾ of the way through Philip Norman’s John Lennon: The Life as a followup to Tim Riley’s Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music and am eagerly awaiting the second volume in Mark Lewisohn’s definitive Beatles history trilogy The Beatles: All These Years. I generally read non-fiction, most recently finishing Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Matt Richtel’s A Deadly Wandering and am now working my way through Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.”

When asked about what he learned from being President of Temple Sinai, Joel said, “I served as President from Dec 2014 until Dec 4th this year (2016). I learned a LOT! Probably the most important thing I learned was how devoted our small staff and congregants are to keeping Temple Sinai going. I never felt that everything came down to a single person (although there are a core group of folks who take on a disproportionate amount of the work!) – when there was a need for folks to pitch in and get something done that needed doing, people stepped up to get it done. I also learned that this strength, this momentum, needs direction or it can very quickly end up being less effective, should folks be working at cross-purposes. I have been involved in academic administration for more than a decade and felt pretty comfortable in that environment ,but I learned that leading an almost entirely volunteer organization is really very different and requires much greater attention to personalities and personal relationships. I also learned that I needed much more time than I had if I was to get all of the things done I had hoped to do. And, lastly, I wish I had started my term knowing what I knew when my term ended!” Joel has been a professor in the Chemistry Department at UVM since 1982. He recently resumed his faculty position in Chemistry after twelve years in the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences, where he had served as Associate Dean and Interim Dean.

Joel grew up in Highland Park IL and Brighton, a suburb of Rochester NY. He is one of three brothers. His older brother passed away three years ago. Joel said that he was influenced by many people as he was growing up. “I can’t point to a single person – many people have been big influences in my life, but I think that the most influential would be members of my family – my brothers, parents, grandparents all played critical roles in my life in diverse ways. Let me illustrate with two things that I think are important in my life – humor and music – that are tied closely to my brothers. My older brother was the instigator with a wickedly sharp wit and quick mind which inspired both my younger brother and me to try to keep up. Invariably he beat both of us to the punch(line), but sometimes we got there first and getting his nod of approval, when we did, only egged us on. Similarly, his interest in music – both his selections and his singing and playing guitar – spurred both of us on to love the Beatles, folk music, and to learn how to play the guitar. The three of us grew to have a friendly competition to share new music, new humor and to play with and off of each other (much to my parents’ dismay!)”.

Joel enjoys bicycling and hiking, when the weather is nice, and adds in rowing and elliptical workouts when exercising indoors. In his spare time, Joel said, “I like listening to and playing music – rehearsing and performing with Dahg and the folk service musicians is a lot of fun and gives me an excuse to get out my guitars. There was a time that I used to play guitar every day but I rarely have time for that these days, so it is good to have Dahg and folk services to ensure that my guitar-playing gets onto my schedule. Other than music, I do enjoy computers and tech-related things. I’ve built my own computers from component parts, and enjoy transferring music from my vinyl record collection and cassette tapes as well as video from home VCR tapes to digital files.”

When asked about what activities they would both like to see implemented at Temple Sinai, Joel suggested, “I’d like to see more opportunities for congregants to create and implement services, whether focused on a particular theme that may or may not be tied to the week’s Torah portion or with special music or readings – an opportunity to be creative with spiritual expression.
It would also be wonderful to have Temple Sinai be known for a specific social action/outreach in the community, something that we either partner with another organization or take the lead ourselves.” Barb would like to see classes in Israeli dancing and Jewish cooking.

Travel for the Goldburroughs often involves following their children. “When Eli spent a semester abroad in London, we went out and spent a week with him there. When Rubin spent a semester in Riga, Latvia, we took the opportunity to travel to Riga and spend a week with him there. Before that, we were fortunate to be able to spend a couple of weeks in Israel as a family and, last summer, we all traveled together on a 2+ week trip to Iceland and Scotland. When we travel, we like to mix up some time for us to explore on our own with some structured tours. We have family dispersed across the U.S. and Canada, so we also have opportunities to see North America while visiting family.”

When asked about travel in retirement, Joel said, “We definitely look forward to being able to travel more once we are both retired. We would like to be able to be in one location long enough to get to know the area and people, so we don’t feel too rushed to just “sight see” and have discussed spending a month each year in someplace new that we would like to get to know better (e.g., Israel, Great Britain, Paris, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). As to where we would like to retire, I think that it would be wonderful if we could end up someplace close to where our kids and their families are – Vermont would be great!”

We have all benefitted from Joel’s service as our President and Barb’s support, as well as her willingness to take on the Scrip program and the Hannaford gift card program, which is beneficial to our Temple, as a certain percentage of sales are funneled back to the Temple. Barb also has supported our Board on many occasions by preparing delicious meals and we thank you, Barb, for that!

Thank you both for your willingness to share your lives with us.