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Committees

Committees make our congregation work

B’nai Sholom’s programs and activities are planned and facilitated by many committees of congregants.  Most of our committees are eager to welcome new members.  We encourage all our congregants to participate in the efforts and activities of our committees. If you would like to, feel free to contact the committee chair about joining, sitting in on a meeting, or about participating in its activities (consult the directory for the phone number or email address or call the office). Most committees also have email distribution lists that allow committee members to share information outside of committee meetings. Through the email lists, you can be an active participant in a committee even if you cannot attend meetings. What follows is a brief description of all of our current committees and their contact information.

   

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Ann Lowenfels, President

Our Board meets the first Tuesday of the month, unless deferred by a holiday. Management and administration of the affairs, revenues, and property of the congregation are vested in the Board. The Board consists of 15 members of the congregation. Most are actively engaged in committee work at B’nai Sholom. Board terms last 3 years, and one-third of them expire each year.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE

This committee involves, informs, and supports all facets of the B’nai Sholom community. It welcomes and engages new and prospective members, increases engagement of existing members, and provides support to congregants in their times of joy or need. Volunteers use an array of tools to keep members and the greater community informed of B’nai Sholom’s worship services, education and speaker programs, and special events.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

CARING COMMUNITY

B’nai Sholom’s Caring Community helps our congregants in times of stress due to events, whether joyous or sorrowful, that inevitably make their way into our lives. Congregants may need support when someone is sick or homebound, someone is bereaved, or when there is an accident or other trauma. Congregants may also want support at happy times, such as when a new baby arrives, someone marries, moves to a new home or retires. The Caring Community has volunteers who are willing and able to mobilize quickly when such events occur. Meals can be made available when needed.

To request assistance, congregants simply call the synagogue office manager or the rabbi.  Allowing the Caring Community to assist gives its volunteers the opportunity to perform a mitzvah.

Contact: Nancy Maurer  

COMMUNICATIONS

The Communications Team keeps congregants and the wider Jewish community aware and informed about events and activities taking place at B’nai Sholom through our website, monthly Bulletin, news releases, flyers, Facebook, photographs and advertisements.  The Team supports all congregational teams with their communications and publicity needs. We meet bimonthly and new members are always welcome. 

Contact Ben Marvin.

MEMBERSHIP

B’nai Sholom welcomes newcomers to our congregation, including people in mixed marriages and of all races, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. The Membership Team seeks out and forges connections with unaffiliated Jews in the Capital Region who are looking for an active Reform temple that provides opportunities for spiritual growth, continuous learning, social action and a warm, welcoming community. We work to introduce and orient new members to our vibrant community, and we create programs to deepen and broaden the engagement of both current and prospective members in Jewish life and service.

As a small congregation, there are myriad opportunities for both new and long-time members to explore and share their skills, talents and aspirations and to give a moment of their time to strengthen our B’nai Sholom community. Through a membership-wide survey, conducted every three years, our goal is to find ways to keep our congregants connected to the wide span of events and activities.

B’nai Sholom has a history of bringing people together, and through that collective effort, of creating change. We’re always looking for new ideas and chances to engage our members.

Contact: Libby Liebschutz.

 

LIFELONG LEARNING COMMITTEE

This committee helps facilitate lifelong learning at B’nai Sholom, supports students in our joint religious school with Ohav Shalom and manages our vibrant library of Jewish resources. Volunteers learn and use skills to arrange for guest speakers, courses, and movies on Jewish topics; ensure a Jewish foundation for the next generation and organize books for all ages.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

ADULT EDUCATION

At B’nai Sholom, mindful that “the advancement of learning is the highest commandment,” we are a congregation of lifelong learners, where Adult Education allows us to explore Judaism and the whole world with a Jewish perspective. Throughout the year there will be a range of programming including classes, lectures, and movies. We also offer weekly Torah study on Shabbat morning.  Check out our program listings on the website and in the bulletin. Committee volunteers are always welcome.

Contact: Barney Horowitz

LIBRARY

B’nai Sholom’s library is available to congregants when the building is open and includes a vibrant collection of Judaic resources to support interests of all ages.  This team sets policy for, oversees, and manages the library. Most, but not all, of the materials circulate. Please be sure to sign out all that you borrow and return it promptly.  For information, please get in touch with any member.

Contact: Josh Brody, Ian Duckor, Gail Golderman, Lois Gordon, or Rondi Brower

B’YACHAD RELIGIOUS SCHOOL

The B’Yachad Religious School Board sets policy for and supports the students in our Religious School program, B’Yachad (Grades K-7). B’Yachad is a partnership between B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation and Ohav Shalom.  It is the Board’s role to support the B’Yachad Director in ensuring an educational program that provides students with knowledge and understanding of Jewish history, tradition, values, and practices, along with Hebrew language skills, to promote Jewish identity, participation in the Jewish community, and a life-long love of learning.

B’nai Sholom delegates: Joel Bloom (President), Josh Brody, and Hana Sullenger  

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

This committee ensures B’nai Sholom is a safe, comfortable, sustainable place to gather by: helping beautify our grounds; keeping our building systems running efficiently; and addressing technology issues. Volunteers learn and use skills in gardening, building maintenance, safety and IT.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

 LANDSCAPING

As part of Facilities Management, our goal is to make certain the grounds of B’nai Sholom look neat and attractive. Our decisions and plans are generally made by email. We meet at the Temple several times a season to work on weeding, edging, mulching, pruning, and adding seasonal plantings. We hope to gradually convert the landscape to native and beneficial plantings.

We invite anyone to join us on our workdays, usually a Sunday morning. See the Weekly Announcements for dates and times. If you would like to join the team,

Contact: Martie Teumim

SAFETY AND SECURITY

The Safety and Security Team works to ensure that the B’nai Sholom community can continue to practice Judaism openly, safely, and securely by:

  • promoting that security is every congregant’s responsibility, since knowing our congregation better than anyone puts us in the best position to protect it.
  • providing training which enables the temple community to effectively fulfill this responsibility.
  • promoting the use of proven tools and techniques to mitigate the potential risks that the congregation and the Jewish community faces.
  • participating in the Jewish community’s network of security organizations and working with community members and first responders to improve safety.
  • pursuing grants to obtain funding to protect our facility, provide training, and obtain safety equipment and supplies.
  • using the “Power of Hello” to ensure that temple visitors feel welcome as well as safe.  Hospitality and security go hand-in-hand.

Contact: Howard Stoller

HOUSE

House volunteers work to maintain and improve the synagogue’s physical facilities, inside and outside. They do not conduct formal meetings, but rather, schedule work sessions as needed, involving individual or group tasks, and occasionally are called upon to handle emergency repairs.

Tasks may involve electrical, plumbing, carpentry, sheetrock, painting, or other activities as determined by the needs of individual maintenance, repair, and upgrade projects. Additional members are always welcome.

Contact: Phil Teumim

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)

The IT Team is comprised of congregants who work on technology systems and tools for use by the BSRC community to use our resources more effectively and efficiently.  Included in the Technology Team’s efforts are management of our internal computing resources (both the hardware and software environments), support of our web pages and email lists, coordinating with outside vendors and consultants, and general consulting for BSRC staff on technical issues.

SOCIAL ACTION/SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE

This committee continues to engage and inform the congregation and community about social justice issues and provides opportunities to participate in activities to make our immediate communities and our world a better place.  We choose projects that reflect the Reform Jewish perspective and represent our congregation in the community.  In these ongoing extraordinary times, we will continue to plan meaningful programs to actively engage all of us, while helping to nourish minds and souls. 

June’s Pride Parade in Albany brought out a large representation of both congregants and friends of B’nai Sholom.  It is an uplifting event for congregants to consider participating in next June. 

This year, the Committee will continue to foster the congregation’s work in the areas of racial justice, climate awareness, voting rights, and the many other goals for helping to achieve equality for all. 

Additionally, we are also exploring the issues surrounding the lack of affordable housing including fair housing policies and tenants’ rights and will seek to identify ways that our congregation can make an impact.

Contact: Becky Marvin & Valerie Tabak

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY AND VOTING RIGHTS

Through our affiliation with both the national and state Religious Action Center of the Reform movement (RAC and RAC-NY), we support legislation that fulfills the idea of tikkun olam, healing the world, including campaigns to secure voting rights. 

LITERACY

  • Books for Babies- partnering with The Baby Institute and the Koinonia Primary Care Center in Albany to provide new books and accompanying literature to encourage a life-long love of reading in families where reading is not a strong tradition. 
  • Provision of funds or books in memory of Vera Propp, to purchase books for the Whitney Young Well Child program, the Schuyler Inn Family Shelter in Menands and Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York’s Jewish Coalition for Literacy in the Albany City elementary schools and
  • Book collections for The RED (Read Each Day) Bookshelf, which distributes free books to children and adults to encourage reading.

COMBATTING HOMELESSNESS AND HUNGER

  • Family Promise of the Capital Region – B’nai Sholom is a support congregation for this interfaith, grassroots program supporting shelter and services to homeless children and their families.  We are always looking for congregants to support us in this rewarding work. Please contact our congregant, Anita Stein, for more information and to learn of volunteer opportunities.
  • Free Food Fridge Albany – Shopping for and stocking with fresh food, refrigerators in Albany neighborhoods where there is chronic food insecurity.
  • Volunteer day at Regional Food Bank.
  • Provision of volunteers to the Sister Maureen Joyce Soup Kitchen in Albany.  Please contact Hayden Schwartz or Janet Strominger to learn of upcoming dates to volunteer.
  • Ongoing collection of shelf-stable foods and personal care items.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism continues to make climate change their top issue for the coming year. RAC-New York asks all congregants to be on the lookout for requests for action on their Climate Covenant. This could take the form of writing letters, postcards, emails, or other direct actions that RAC-NY initiates. Won’t you join us and help reverse climate change?

  • We participate in the Capital Region Interfaith Creation Care Coalition (CRICCC) an organization that works to inform and educate the community on ways to mitigate and reverse global warming by focusing on renewable energy and Zero Waste, as well as advocates for local, national and global initiatives.  
  • We produce a monthly summary of current environmental news, actions and upcoming events. If you would like to subscribe, contact Barry Pendergrass.

UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

Our congregation is the founder of Capital District Alliance for Universal Healthcare (CDAUH) and continues to support its efforts to achieve “Medicare for All” single payer health care.  CDAUH participates in the regional consortium, Capital District Hub for the Campaign for NY Health. David Ray is our leader in this important work.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

  • Twice yearly clothing drives (spring and fall) 
  • Red Cross Blood Drives

We welcome creative ideas and new members.  Join us on Zoom for good work, lively conversation and camaraderie the fourth Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m.

Our sages said a little light expels a lot of darkness

WORSHIP AND RELATED SERVICES COMMITTEE

This committee helps enhance the spiritual life of the congregation, supports joyful Onegs and makes services accessible via Zoom for those unable to join in person.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

RITUAL PLANNING

The Ritual Planning Team works directly with the Rabbi to maintain and enhance the spiritual life of the Congregation. In fulfillment of this goal, the team’s work includes:

Understanding the evolving spiritual needs of the Congregation and creating service content and other events accordingly;

  • Proposing policy involving life cycle events;
  • Preparing for festival events such as Tu BiShvat and Purim;
  • Composing and/or formatting services for special occasions;
  • Recruiting and preparing lay honorees for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur;
  • Training and scheduling lay leaders to fill in when the Rabbi is away;
  • Working with other committees to ensure that the logistics of services maintain safety for those physically present and a sense of connection/inclusion for those participating remotely.

Contact: Melissa Putterman Hoffmann

VIDEOCONFERENCING

The Videoconferencing Team was formed to facilitate the participation of off-site members in religious services and other events.  It assists the rabbi, lay leaders and committees with Zoom meeting hosting, camera operation, and sound system management. Its services include the writing of instructions for and the training and scheduling of volunteers.

Contact: Eric Goldberg

ONEG COORDINATION

Oneg Coordinators schedule weekly Oneg hosts for our Shabbat services, assist the office manager in maintaining basic kitchen supplies and cleanliness, and assist other committees with coordinating special events’ food as needed.

Our Oneg Shabbats are typically provided and hosted by a B’nai Sholom member or family. If you would like to host an Oneg Shabbat in honor of a special occasion such as wedding anniversary, birthday, or yahrzeit, please let us know.

Contact: Laura Kaplan or Susan Radosh

SPECIAL EVENTS COMMITTEE

This committee offers a wide range of events for congregants and visitors.  These range from festive meals to evenings of music, from welcoming new members to raising money for BSRC, from occasions that educate to those that entertain.  We look to celebrate holidays and the accomplishments of our congregants, while providing opportunities to help plan and produce these events.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

Beit Kafeh

B’nai Sholom sponsors a Beit Kafeh (coffeehouse) in the fall (11/4), and again in spring (5/11). These are musical events which may take different forms. The fall event this year will be an open mic followed by a featured artists concert. Format of the spring event has not yet been decided. 

Contact: Phil Teumim

Chilipalooza

This is a fun evening – usually in late January – where, for a small admission fee, congregants sample chili recipes prepared and donated by other congregants, in a blind competition. Votes for the best chili in several categories are tabulated, and the winners announced. 

Contact: Shari Whiting

Disability Awareness

To help us observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion month, the congregation will be hosting a guest speaker.  The presentation will be part of Friday night services on February 2, 2024.

Contact: Roy Fruiterman

Fair Trade Event

This fall event (11/12) is an opportunity to shop for family, friends, and yourself in time for Chanukah.  Patronize our fair trade vendors to help support the missions of these purposeful organizations. 

Contact: Ellie Davis and Carol Smith

Founder’s Day

BSRC will host this event on Friday, March 29th, with a dinner for visiting clergy and presidents, prior to services.  This project involves a finite amount of time and labor for the volunteers who plan and set up for our honored guests. 

Contact: Maggie Tabak 

Longevity Dinner/Shabbat, Progressive Dinner/Shabbat, Progressive Dinner

These events foster BSRC congregants getting to know each other via celebrations to increase their sense of connection.  All are held every other year; the Longevity Dinner/Shabbat (5/17) honors our members of eighteen years and over.

Contact: Bettina Stoller

Rosh Hashanah Luncheons

The Rosh Hashanah luncheons (9/16) are a longstanding B’nai Sholom tradition.  Small groups are hosted in congregants’ homes after Rosh Hashanah morning services and are a great way to get to know your fellow worshippers.  Annually, this team prepares bulletin announcements, recruits hosts, and assigns the luncheon guests to hosts’ homes. 

Contact Linda Strohl.

Summer Barbecue, New Member Shabbat Dinner/Shabbat

We sponsor programs to foster connections among new and longstanding members.  This year’s barbecue was held on 8/20; the New Member Dinner/Shabbat will be on 11/3. 

Contact: Libby Liebschutz

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE

This committee monitors finances; raises funds for B’nai Sholom’s day-to-day expenses, capital projects and endowment; and oversees administration of cemetery plots. Volunteers learn and use skills in financial management, budget preparation and effective fundraising. 

ONGOING ACTIVITIES:

FINANCE

The Finance Team monitors congregational income and expenses throughout the year and prepares the annual budget for consideration by the Board. 

Contact: Shari Whiting

FUNdraising

The fundraising team develops and implements creative and interesting ways to raise funds for the synagogue. Some of the ongoing activities include offering Mishloach Manot bags at Purim, Honey from the Heart, Be a Kibbutznik, grocery store gift cards, CLYNK, sneaker recycling, Friends Helping Friends and a flower sale.  We welcome new members and their ideas. 

Contact: Shari Whiting

CEMETERY

B’nai Sholom’s cemetery is a picturesque and peaceful dedicated section of the Elmwood Hill Cemetery in Troy, New York.  For information and to see pictures of the cemetery or to purchase a cemetery privilege, please contact the office.

Contact: Arthur Alowitz

LEGACY CAMPAIGN

The Legacy Campaign is committed to educating fellow congregants on the value of and means to developing an endowment for BSRC, as well as acknowledging those who have provided a gift now or in their estate. A reception is usually planned annually to honor those who have earned a place in The Legacy Society. 

Contact: Mimi Bruce

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420 Whitehall Road, Albany, NY 12208
518-482-5283|Email Us

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Closed Mondays

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