Staff and Leadership

Executive Director, Deborah Finkelstein, FSA

Deb FinkelsteinDeb Finkelstein, FSA, joined Kol Shalom in April 2002 as Executive Director, after serving in that capacity at Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Des Moines, Iowa for three years. Her background and experience in synagogue administration includes all facets of congregational life, including the purchase of land and construction of Kol Shalom’s first permanent home, the only newly constructed synagogue to achieve Gold LEED status.

Deb received her Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute in 2018 and received her certification as a Fellow in Synagogue Administration in 2017 awarded by her professional association, the North American Association of Synagogue Executives.  She is an active member of the Board of Governors of NAASE, served as chair the 2016 NAASE conference, and served as chair of the Week of Study for executive directors at the Jewish Theological Seminary for several years.  She is also an active member of MATSAA (Mid-Atlantic Synagogue and Temple Administrators’ Association) and a graduate of the Jewish Leadership Institute of the Federation of Greater Washington.   She has served in numerous capacities in other greater Jewish community organizations.

Originally from the Midwest, Deb thoroughly enjoys her life in the Washington DC area and all it offers.  Her three adult sons and their families, including her five grandchildren, get her back to the Midwest as often as possible.

Director of Lifelong Learning, Ruth Szykman

Ruth Szykman joined Kol Shalom in July 2014 after teaching in congregational education settings in the DC area since 1996. Her main focus areas included Holocaust Studies and Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. In 2012, she completed her Masters in Jewish Education from Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.  She graduated with a BA in 1992 from SUNY Buffalo, where she studied Biblical Archaeology. She grew up in New York City where she still has lots of family.  Ruth currently lives in Rockville with her husband, Andy Cohen, her 22-year-old daughter, Anna, and her pet tarantula, Harry.


Administrative Assistant, Maria Fanelli

Maria Fanelli joined Kol Shalom in November, 2011 as Administrative Assistant for the synagogue.  Born in Washington DC, she grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland. Maria studied at the University of Maryland, College Park and earned a B.S. in Business Management with a specialization in Marketing.  She and her husband John reside in Laytonsville, Maryland and have three grown children.  In her leisure time, Maria enjoys  cooking, walking, swimming, time spent at the beach with family and Washington Redskins football.  Maria's email address is [email protected].