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Community Leader Debbie Rausch to Lead “Synagogue Scholars” Talk Marking Kristallnacht and Veteran’s Day


B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation continues its popular “Synagogue Scholars” series with a talk by Deborah Sturm Rausch in remembrance of Kristallnacht and in honor of Veterans Day.

Rausch will present her talk, “From Broken Glass and Shattered Dreams to Freedom Fighter and Family Legacy: The Sturm Family of Augsburg,” immediately following the congregation’s Friday, Nov. 9, Shabbat service.  The service and program, open to all who wish to worship and learn, begin at 8 p.m.

Rausch will discuss her father Walter Sturm’s experience growing up in Germany, his arrest during Kristallnacht, his service to the U.S. as an American soldier and her 2017 trip to Augsburg, Germany, with her children, Becca and Rachel, and Jo, Rachel’s spouse.  At the invitation of the Jewish Cultural Museum and the city of Augsburg, they joined together with nearly 100 members of 11 families from all parts of the world to trace the memories of their ancestors and participate in the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great Synagogue of Augsburg.  This personal and poignant story is especially compelling today as Jews face an increase in anti-Semitism and displays of hate and prejudice in the U.S. and beyond.  Rausch’s presentation also will commemorate Veterans Day.

B’nai Sholom is located at 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.

Rausch is an award-winning public relations professional with significant experience in both the private and public sectors.  She has served as director of communications for various New York state agencies including the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Consumer Protection Board, Facilities Development Corporation and the Department of Transportation.  She also has held the position of director of communications for the city of Albany and has extensive experience in the nonprofit community, having held positions as executive director and public relations, marketing and development director at various nonprofit organizations in the Capital Region.

Rausch is passionate about community and has dedicated herself to service.  She is on the board of trustees of Congregation Ohav Shalom, vice president and past president of the Women’s Press Club of NYS, a founding member of Women in Development NENY and the Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition, advising member of the Descendants of the Jewish Community of Augsburg and editor of its newsletter, and co-founder and past co-chair of Holocaust Survivors and Friends in Pursuit of Justice (now Holocaust Survivors and Friends Education Center).

Begun in 2004, the “Synagogue Scholars” series spotlights individuals in the Capital Region Jewish community who are recognized scholars in their fields.

For more information about the “Synagogue Scholars” series, visit or contact the B’nai Sholom office: or 518-482-5283.

Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region.  Nearly 130 diverse households from eight counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.  For information about B’nai Sholom and the benefits of belonging, visit  or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or


Photo caption: Debbie Rausch with her cousin Steven Felgran at the placement ceremony of the permanent memorial (Stolpersteine) outside their parents’ childhood home on the Bahnhofstrasse in Augsburg, Germany, June 2017.

Photo courtesy of Debbie Rausch.

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