B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation joyously welcomes Rabbi Danielle Weisbrot of Long Island to lead the community as its new spiritual leader, teacher and guide.
Rabbi Weisbrot joined the congregation July 1, 2021.
A graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, Rabbi Weisbrot was ordained in May 2021. She hails from New Hyde Park, Nassau County, where she was an active participant in her synagogue and often led services when their settled rabbi or cantor was away. Rabbi Weisbrot worked for 10 years primarily in the non-profit educational sector before beginning rabbinic training.
Rabbi Weisbrot is particularly focused on social justice issues. Throughout her time at HUC-JIR, she volunteered in the student-run soup kitchen on the campus, rising to the position of head chef, a labor of love for her.
Rabbi Weisbrot holds a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew literature from HUC-JIR, where she received multiple awards, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduating summa cum laude with a major in English and a minor in Judaic studies. As a student rabbi, Rabbi Weisbrot held the pulpit for two years at North Fork Reform Synagogue in Southold, Suffolk County, where she led services, taught and proved instrumental in transitioning the congregation to virtual services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rabbi Don Cashman is a native of the West Bank…of the Hudson River. Born in Newburgh, New York, he is a fourth generation member of the Reform synagogue there, which was a focal point in his life growing up.
Rabbi Cashman was the spiritual leader of B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation for 35 years before retiring June 2020. During his tenure, the congregation and its programs enjoyed enormous growth in numbers and in depth. He taught the chanting of Torah and Haftarah to all bar and bat mitzvah students and often provided the music for congregational worship, usually accompanying himself on the guitar.
Rabbi Cashman received his undergraduate education at Boston University, where he was privileged to study with a wide array of the leading lights of Jewish scholarship: Bible with Everett Fox, Jewish history and thought with Nahum Glatzer, Mysticism and Messianism with Gershom Scholem and Daniel Matt, and the literature of Jewish persecution and Hasidic tales with Elie Wiesel. He began rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem in 1977, returned to the HUC-JIR campus in New York and was ordained in 1983. In 2008, he received from HUC-JIR the degree of Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) in recognition of his commitment, dedication and service to the Reform Movement, Judaism and the Jewish People.
Rabbi Cashman served student pulpits in the Bronx; Charlotte, North Carolina; Battle Creek, Michigan; and Winchester, Virginia. From 1983-85 he served as Assistant Rabbi at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, Florida, a congregation with two buildings, two religious schools and three youth groups.
In addition to his many duties for B’nai Sholom, Rabbi Cashman twice served as President of the Capital District Board of Rabbis and twice as its Treasurer. As President, he delivered a welcome – in Hebrew – to Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert at the New York State Assembly’s Jerusalem 3000 Celebration. He also is founder and past President of the Capital District Jewish Genealogical Society, serves on the Board of the Jewish Historical Society of Northeastern New York and is a former member of the Board of the United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York. In addition to his work in the Jewish community, Rabbi Cashman also has been involved with human rights, abortion rights and anti-death penalty efforts in the Capital District and was instrumental in the establishment of an interfaith Meditation Room at Albany International Airport. He was Chair of the Board of Directors of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood and served on the Board and Executive Committee of Family Planning Advocates of New York State. Rabbi Cashman also was a visiting lecturer at the University at Albany, teaching a course in Jewish traditions and practices, from 2006 until his retirement.
A fervent lover of the State of Israel, Rabbi Cashman made 18 trips, including leading 8 bi-annual congregational pilgrimages since 1995.
Rabbi Cashman remains involved in the world of Jewish choral and contemporary synagogue music.
Known as a connoisseur of capsaicin, Rabbi Cashman delights in attending to his vegetable garden, chiefly tomatoes and chili peppers.
Since 1984 Rabbi Cashman has been married to Sharona Wachs, recently retired as associate librarian at the University at Albany and affiliated faculty with the Department of Judaic Studies. The couple made Aliyah to Israel in 2022; their three children – Avraham, Eliana and Ayelet – live in the Boston area.