Click here to read Susan's letter.

Dear Congregants,

It is with great pleasure that the Board of Directors and I announce that Susan Mack will join the Woodstock Jewish Congregation as our Executive Director. Susan will begin her journey with us on January 3rd.

The Search Committee, chaired by Myrna Sameth, received and reviewed more than three dozen resumes from as far away as California. Six candidates were interviewed via video conferencing and three were asked to a second, in-person interview. I would like to thank my colleagues, Judy Lewis, George Swain and Kathi Wood who served on the Search Committee as well as Rabbi Jonathan, Danny Rubenstein, Paul Mozian and Matt White who assisted with the selection process. Their efforts are deeply appreciated.

Most recently, Susan comes to us from Lake Placid, NY where she served as the Executive Director of the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance. With more than 30 years of experience, Susan has served in various positions in the not-for-profit world.  Her skills are in sync with our needs and we are excited to have her join our team in this leadership position.

Susan has both a Conservative and Reconstructionist background and, through family and friends, has ties to the Hudson Valley. In her spare time, her hobbies of choice are white-water kayaking and opera.

I am confident that Susan will be an excellent match for this position and a strong asset to our synagogue and our community. She is eager to help us build on our strong foundation as we move into the future. Susan describes her style as collaborative and she is excited to join forces with our staff and Rabbi Jonathan.

A welcome get-together will be announced in the very near future so that you all can meet Susan and welcome her to our congregation family.

Sincerely,

Jerry Lerner
President, Woodstock Jewish Congregation

Dear Congregants,

The WJC Communications Task Force has gone through the input we gathered from our congregants at the Meeting of Sharing we held at WJC on September 11, and compiled a list of the activities that interested people. The activities are listed here. If there is a contact name listed next to the activity, that means the activity is in process. Feel free to contact the person.

The remaining groups which require volunteers to be leaders are:

  • Connecting to Israel
  • Intergenerational Group
  • WJC Archive Group
  • Walking, Hiking, Biking, Swimming
  • Study Group (Book Group)
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Consciousness-raising group to discuss treatment of people with physical disabilities or differences

If anyone would like to lead or participate in the above listed groups, please contact Laurie Mozian (lmozian@hotmail.com).

At this time, The Task Force will focus on the following activities:

  • In home Shabbat Meals
  • A Telephone Team to greet all members at holiday times

Dear WJC Family and Friends,

It has been an extraordinarily busy time at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation as we all know. With our longtime Executive Director, Karen Tashman, gone, Rabbi Jonathan, the staff, the WJC Board of Directors, and shul members have all assumed some of Karen's duties to ensure a smooth transition. Gwen Tapper's remarkable efforts — as well as those of the many volunteers who worked with her — created an atmosphere in which a moving and nourishing High Holy Days unfolded. Under a new tent configuration, Rabbi Jonathan's teachings and guidance during services felt equally new and very fresh. The tent was filled to overflowing with some congregants sitting outside the tent on the grass because all of the seats were filled. It was an enriching and enlightening experience for all who were there.

Our search for an Executive Director is still underway. The search committee has received numerous applications and conducted interviews. As the search continues, the executive committee is reconfiguring some of the staff's duties until a new Executive Director is hired. Several board members are also volunteering extra hours in the office to ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly. This will allow the search committee and the board additional leeway to find the right Executive Director candidate.

Board President Rondavid Gold is stepping down as president after the Thursday, October 20 board meeting to pursue his new role as a snowbird. Vice-President Jerry Lerner will assume the presidency.

Michele Lerner will be chairing this year's Keter Shem Tov fundraiser on Saturday, November 19 at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory. The event will honor Ron Carleton, whose expert leadership as board president during the Great Recession was key to the shul's continued steadiness as congregations around the nation faced difficult times. Keter Shem Tov tickets start at $125 per person and members are encouraged to attend if at all possible. Along with the annual yard sale, this is one of two key fundraisers the WJC depends on. Reservations are required.

Our current art exhibit, Resistance is the Lesson, which details in photographs and text more than 20 acts of resistance against Nazi oppression during World War II, has been a huge success. As a result, a special closing reception and panel discussion has been scheduled for 12-2 p.m. on October 23.

A new member Shabbat will be held on Saturday, November 12 and there are plans for special Sunday brunches at the shul with Rabbi Jonathan offering teachings and providing an opportunity for discussion. The schedule will be announced. An announcement will also be made shortly about plans for the SPARKS effort to initiate a Beit Midrash program, in addition to the one-on-one mentoring already underway. The new program will allow for group study of a particular topic.

 At the Third Congregational Sharing held at the WJC on September 11, coordinators were assigned key activities. They are: Shabbat dinners, Cynthia Werthamer; Walking/hiking/biking group, Avis Toochin; Study Groups (Book Group, Jewish Book Group), Stacey Brooks; Institutional Archive Creation, Joe Toochin; Connecting to Israel, Bruria Falik; Social Activities & Fun, Nathan Brenowitz; Intergenerational Activities, Miryam Sarsheen; Men's Group/ Women's Group, Bette & Ron Sank; Cooking Club, Avis Toochin; Performing Arts Group, Glen Weiss; Other, Laurie Mozian; Volunteer at WJC Table, Sasha Gillman; SPARKS, Pauline Tamari. Other groups and programs suggested were: Arts & crafts workshops, Swimming, Consciousness Raising Groups, Continuous Care Community Building, WJC On-Line Bulletin Board, Ride Sharing Program to NYC, and a Community Garden.

If you were inspired by Rabbi Jonathan's teachings at the High Holy Days, this is the perfect time to continue to maintain the glow into the New Year by participating more fully in the WJC community. Join a committee or connect with one of the volunteers who have agreed to organize the above programs. Come dance with the Torahs at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 24 for Simchat Torah. Bring your little ones to Tot Shabbat at 5 p.m. on the first Friday evening of the month, attend the Yiddish group on Wednesday mornings, or join us at services. There's something for everyone. We need the participation of each one of us for a strong and secure community.

Shanah Tovah.

WJC Board of Directors

Dear Congregation Members and Community,

Let me begin by wishing you a happy, healthy New Year. It is my pleasure to share the following information with you.

In my capacity as upcoming President of the Congregation (as of November 1st), I had the opportunity to meet with Anna (Executive Assistant), Dee (Family School coordinator and many other duties) and Rabbi Jonathan. Also attending the meeting were Judy Lewis (Organizational Consultant and former Day School Executive Director), and Jon Lewis (Board member, upcoming Vice President and former President of the Congregation). It was our intention to get a solid handle on what is going on at the synagogue during the absence of an Executive Director and to offer assistance to the staff in whatever ways we can.

We were delighted. In large measure, thanks to our devoted staff and with immense thanks to our volunteers, both “old” and “new,” the synagogue is functioning very well. There is a general feeling of a team working comfortably together. Although both staff and volunteers have willingly undertaken additional responsibilities, there is little stress in the air and the work is getting done. Thanks to Danny, Sherry (our bookkeeper) and Rose, routine financial issues are being met.

Thanks to Gwen and her cadre, High Holy Day preparations are moving ahead and we will all be able to share that wonderful feeling of spiritual togetherness that we get at this time of year. 

I am gratified to be able to share such good news with you about the Woodstock Jewish Congregation and look forward to regularly doing so again.

Jerry Lerner
Board of Directors

Since being charged by the WJC Board of Directors, the Search Committee has been honored to participate in the important work of attracting and selecting our synagogue’s next executive director.

In this initial phase of our search, we have:

  • Worked with the Board, the staff and members of the Personnel Committee to clarify the staffing demands at the shul and craft a position statement and job posting to announce this unique opportunity to the public.
  • Reached out to both local and national organizations that work with synagogue leaders specifically and non-profit management professionals more generally.
  • Posted the executive director position statement on our website and in myriad online locations designed for both synagogue and general organizational leaders.
  • Reviewed resumes and cover letters from a range of individuals interested in the position on both a permanent and an interim basis.
  • Conducted preliminary interviews with several candidates.

As we enter this season of reflection and introspection, we look forward to the clarity and renewal this process affords to our community in general and to us as individuals. 

Dear Fellow Congregants,

For the sake of our health and well-being, my lovely wife and I have become Snowbirds. That means that we will be strolling faraway beaches during the cold winter months. Since I will therefore be unable to perform the myriad necessary daily duties of the WJC President, I will be stepping down following the October 20, 2016 Board Meeting.

The Congregation is very fortunate to have Board Vice-President Jerry Lerner ready and extremely able to step in as President. The Board will designate Jon Lewis to serve as Vice-President until the Congregation elects a new Vice-President at the next Annual Meeting in the spring. Our staff and our Board and its committees are awesome in quality, spirit and dedication.

It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as President of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation. I have had the opportunity to meet, know and work with so many of you…always with the goal of keeping our congregation vibrant, solvent and a uniquely wonderful spiritual sanctuary and center for study and learning. I am deeply grateful for all of the support and encouragement I have received.

Having grown up under the reign of a distant, cold, imperious Rabbi of a huge Conservative congregation in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, it was almost surreal for me to be able to actually get to personally know and work with Rabbi Jonathan. We are incredibly blessed to have him as our spiritual leader.

During my future springs, summers and falls in Woodstock, I will continue to serve the WJC as a congregant in every way I am able. Carol and I look forward to sharing this wonderful place with all of you for many years to come.

With love and sincere gratitude,

Ron David Gold

Friends,

I am pleased to report that we are making progress in our work to fill the position of Executive Director here at our Synagogue. I am anxious to tell you about our efforts so far.

At the request of the Board, Myrna Sameth has agreed to serve as the chair of the Search Committee. She has gathered a diverse and enthusiastic group to assist her, they are: Jerry Lerner, Judy Lewis, George Swain and Kathi Wood. Working with the Personnel Committee and our outgoing director, Karen Tashman, the Committee has created the attached posting for the position. After discussion with the Board, the decision has been made to entertain the possibility of hiring an Interim Executive Director in order to assure the smooth day to day operation of the Synagogue while a thorough and careful search is mounted for a new ED.

We welcome your help! Please disseminate this job posting to anyone whom you feel would be appropriate for the position. Also, if you have an idea of a good outlet for this posting, please let us know.

Shalom,

Ron David Gold
President

Click here to view the full job description and instructions for applying.

From the Board of Directors

Over the years the WJC has had the pleasure of working with student rabbis from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. This year we are delighted to welcome Kami Knapp, a final-year student at RRC. Kami will join us for numerous Shabbat weekends throughout the year, as well as for High Holy Days. Her first weekend with us will be September 2-4, Labor Day Weekend. Kami will be working under the guidance of Rabbi Jonathan, and as the year goes on, will occasionally lead our services and classes when Rabbi Jonathan is away. Student rabbis add all of their knowledge and enthusiasm to the life of our community, but the WJC also performs a service to the Jewish world by giving these emerging Jewish leaders safe and loving environments in which to grow and learn.

We hope you will make an effort to welcome Kami to our community.

Appreciatively,
The WJC Board of Directors


Kami's Letter of Introduction to the Congregation

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Shalom! My name is Kami Knapp and I am a senior at the Reconstructionist Rabbinic College. I am thrilled to join you (the Woodstock Jewish Congregation) this year as your student rabbi. I hope this brief introduction is merely that…a brief introduction that will be followed by many in-person introductions, meetings and coffees which will deepen my relationships throughout WJC.

I was born and raised outside Seattle, WA. Following college I worked at the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center where I was introduced to and fell in love with Judaism. I immediately started teaching at local synagogues while continuing to work with Holocaust survivors in telling their stories to local groups. In 2007 I decided to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of London in International Studies and Diplomacy and concluded my studies with a Master’s thesis on the political implications of the emigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. While living in London for almost two years I worked and taught at a local synagogue, West London Synagogue, and fell in love with British Jewry! Upon returning to Seattle, after receiving my Masters, I spent two years working hard to break into the field of international politics - yet, it was not to be! I continued to teach at local synagogues in the evenings and weekends while working at a local mental health hospital during the day.

Life was not turning out how I had planned…but while working at the mental health hospital I realized that I had a burning love of Judaism that remained consistent in my life regardless of my different day jobs. I also realized through my work that I had a passion for being with people in deep relationship, supporting them in good times and bad, helping them explore the depths of their soul with Judaism as my guide. Therefore I decided after two years of self-exploration that rabbinical school was the right step for me. I wanted to continue to expand my Jewish knowledge while being in close relationship with Jewish community as a confidant, Rabbi, chaplain and support person.

While in rabbinical school I have had the pleasure of serving in many different capacities: education director, teacher, Hillel rabbinic intern, chaplain, Ritualwell intern, and summer day camp counselor. All of my previous positions have contributed to who I am today. I am thrilled to join WJC as this year’s student rabbi and am looking forward to enhancing my skills in the area of congregational life. I am excited to be serving a community that welcomes everyone regardless of Jewish practice, race, sexuality or disability. I am excited to learn from and receive mentorship from Rabbi Jonathan. And I am excited to learn from and get to know the wonderful people who choose to be a part of WJC.

I am eager to meet the many people who make up the WJC. As a rabbinical student my goal is to know you and work with you so that we can all be our best and fullest selves, thus bringing our much needed and unique holiness to our world!

Shalom,
Kami Knapp

Recap of June 16, 2016 WJC board meeting and June 23 Evening of Sharing

Dear WJC family and friends,

At the June 16 WJC board meeting, one of the main topics was the transition we will set in place as our beloved Executive Director Karen Tashman prepares to leave us in early August for her move to Florida to care for her mother. It will be a multi-pronged effort in the short term with Education Coordinator Dee Graziano and Executive Assistant Anna Langford each picking up more duties in the interim. At the same time, the board is in the midst of hiring a new bookkeeper, who will also support the Treasurer and Finance Committee to fulfill the functions of a business manager for the time being. At the helm, of course, will be your board, who are all resolved to increase their duties as necessary during the changeover.

Meanwhile, the board will begin the search for a new executive director with a reevaluation of the shul's needs at the current time. The WJC's requirements ten years ago when Karen was hired may not be exactly the same as our needs today, and a reconfiguring of the position's duties may be warranted. Once we determine this, we will begin seeking the individual who will help the shul move forward in the long term. The job posting will then be available at the office so you may see what it is we are searching for to fill the position.

In other business, the WJC is moving forward with our day-to-day business. As you all know, our annual yard sale — one of our two major fundraisers — is scheduled this year for Sunday, July 17. Go to, https://wjc.memberclicks.net/assets/events/yard-sale/2016/2016- 05%20-%20yard%20sale%20calendar%20revised.pdf for a list of drop-off dates and items that are needed, or those items which cannot be accepted. Please bring us your goods and find time to volunteer for this important event that is also very much a gateway to the larger community who are our guests that day.

The board is looking for volunteers for a committee of three individuals to comprise a Cemetery Committee, who would regulate the sale of plots in our section of Kingston's Montrepose Cemetery that adjoins other Jewish sections there, meet with families who want to purchase a plot, and carry on communications with the cemetery to ensure the section and records are properly and respectfully maintained. This is an important role and, if you have an especially loving nature, we want you. Please speak with Anna Langford in the office, (845) 679-2218.

The WJC Finance Committee, under the leadership of Danny Rubenstein has launched a Legacy Builders Initiative with the roll-out meeting on June 5 at the shul. A group of about 40 members listened as Rabbi Jonathan discussed tzedakah, sharing the story of a man who wanted to plant a tree that wouldn't bear fruit for 70 years. When asked why he was doing this when he wouldn't be here to eat the fruit, he responded that others before him had planted trees in the past, whose fruit he was enjoying now.

Our guest speaker, Beryl Chernov, Executive Director of Manhattan's Park Avenue Synagogue, made a pro bono presentation, explaining that everyone can and must participate, even in a small way, for the shul to be sustainable. Donors can remember the WJC in their will, or name the shul as a beneficiary or co-beneficiary in an insurance policy or IRA. Another legacy method involves a charitable gift annuity, through which the donor continues to receive the interest during his or her lifetime.

Joe Toochin was the original impetus for this initiative. For more information, please speak to Joe, Danny, or our President, Ron-David Gold. The June 5 legacy building meeting was the first of several the Finance Committee plans to schedule.

The Ritual Committee is seeking individuals to chair specific holiday functions at the shul. Ellen Triebwasser stepped up recently to oversee Shavuot and a volunteer has been found for Simchat Torah. Please contact Gail Albert to take on a holiday in this special way of giving.

At our Second Evening of Sharing on June 23, the group of over 60 participants broke into smaller groups of eight people, who discussed the day-to-day things they would like to see happen at the shul. The overriding message was clear: members want better communication and more events — not all of which need be religious — where they can interact as a community. And a great way to be part of the community is to join a committee or take on a specific task if that suits your schedule better. As always, contact Anna or Ron-David Gold to see what is needed.

Remember, you always have access to the full board minutes and are welcome to attend the regular meetings in person on the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 P.M. (If you would like to address the Board at a meeting, however, please contact Board President Ron-David Gold at rdgold@webjogger.net in advance so he can put you on the agenda.)

Some upcoming dates to remember:

  • Annual Yard Sale: July 17 and 18
  • Shabbat Service and Luncheon honoring Karen Tashman: August 6
  • Annual Keter Shem Tov: November 19.

Shalom,

Your WJC Board of Directors

My Fellow Congregants,

I want to thank all who participated in last week’s Evening of Sharing. It was a beautiful, well-attended gathering of the WJC family from which was mined a wealth of deep feelings, openness and great ideas for the enrichment of the congregation. The positive energy was absolutely invigorating.

One of the most important messages that emerged from our discussions was that an easy and meaningful way to contribute to our community is to just “be here.” Come to services. Attend classes. Join in our many spiritual and just-plain- fun events.

I look forward to the next time we get together in this way. I also want to reiterate that I’m always available to you for any questions and/or suggestions you might have.

Thanks again for helping to make WJC such a vital and welcoming home for all of us.

With gratitude,

Ron David Gold

Dear Friends,

This morning I submitted my notice of resignation to the Woodstock Jewish Congregation's Board of Directors.

Below is the letter that I presented to the Board. It is important that you hear this from me directly.

I am so grateful to have served this congregation for these past nine years and for the opportunities I have been blessed with in working with you.

Wishing you all the best,

Karen


June 14, 2016

RonDavid Gold, President
Woodstock Jewish Congregation
1682 Glasco Turnpike
Woodstock, NY 12498

Dear RonDavid and the WJC Board of Directors,

After great soul searching and reflection, I am submitting my notice of resignation as Executive Director of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation. My last day of work will be August 8, 2016.

I have truly loved serving this holy community for the past nine years and am incredibly grateful for the opportunities we have had to vision, nurture, mature and flourish together. I am very proud of what we have achieved together over these past many years.

I will cherish the friends and relationships I have made and hold onto the many accomplishments that are part of my history with the Woodstock Jewish Congregation.

My plans include relocation to Florida in August. I will do my best to complete projects and transfer over all details of our systems & procedures to encourage a smooth transition before I leave.

It has been my great privilege to work with this exceptionally dedicated and skilled team of staff and lay leadership. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Executive Director these last nine years.

Best wishes,

Karen Tashman
Executive Director

OUR LAG B'OMER PICNIC IS TONIGHT (May 25) FROM 6–7:30 P.M.

Bring your own dairy-vegetarian picnic dinner, blankets and/or chairs, and join us for this fun-for-everyone event including games, activities, music around the bonfire and community-building. The WJC will provide dessert and cold drinks and the WJC community band will provide the music.

Some upcoming dates to remember:

Annual Yard Sale: July 17–18
Download the calendar & donation guide

Annual Keter Shem Tov: November 19

Dear WJC Family & Friends,

At the first Evening of Sharing you spoke and your board listened.

One of the things you asked for was better communication, so we thought you might like a quick recap of the regular, monthly Board meeting. Of course, you always have access to the full minutes by request and are welcome to attend the regular meetings in person on the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm. If you would like to address the Board, however, contact Board President Rondavid Gold at rdgold@mindspring.com in advance so he can put you on the agenda.

This meeting recap, which we will continue to provide shortly after each Board meeting as long as you find it useful, is intended to keep you up to date on some of the things your Board and its committees are doing.

Avis and Joe Toochin attended our May 19 meeting to report on some of the issues discussed at the ad hoc member communication task force meeting; Paul Mozian, who is also a member of that group, as well as its liaison to the board, was present in his new capacity as a board member.

A second Evening of Sharing has been scheduled for June 23rd at 7 pm at the WJC. These meetings will be scheduled as long as they are felt to be necessary. Remember, there is no “you” and “us” There is only “we” and we all very much want our shul to thrive. Key to every board discussion before a vote is taken is always the question: “What is best for the WJC? ”

Our new board members—Paul Mozian, Desiree O'Clair and George Swain—were introduced and they spoke briefly about themselves. George is a lifelong educator who now works for the non-profit New York State Association of Independent Schools. He told us that after he was in a serious bicycling accident five years ago, his wife, Jessie Levey, reached out to the board. The response she received made them feel like they very much belonged at the WJC. Desirée does free-lance video and advertising work with her husband. Paul has worked in the music business since the mid-1960s and, yes, he even knew the Beatles when he served as director of artist relations for Apple in the early 1970s.

The Family School concluded with a-year end dance and the teachers will be working over the summer to develop a program that will be enticing to families seeking to raise their children in a Jewish lifestyle.

Watch for the Fundraising Committee's upcoming effort to sell garden walking stones in memory or honor of loved ones. Let's try to support this new program.

Your Finance Committee is working on a strategic plan to stabilize the WJC's future. These are difficult financial times. Expenses have been cut to the bone, which means postponing needed repairs and updates to our building and premises, as well as the addition or expansion of programs we would like to offer. We are solvent at present mainly because of a bequest that proved larger than anticipated but our building needs work. Donations at all levels and memberships are down. The board needs the support and volunteer energy of every one of us to help the WJC continue to provide a warm and welcoming Jewish home for all who seek it.

Shalom,

WJC Board of Directors

Dear Fellow Congregants:

I would like to offer a quick, but heartfelt expression of appreciation to all WJC members who attended last Sunday’s Annual Membership Meeting on a sunny May day when they could have been doing so many other things. It is an indication of the shul’s rebirth and new energy. It was the largest turnout in years for an annual meeting — probably upwards of 60 people.

Your questions, suggestions, ideas and comments combined with the warmth and positive energy in the room were a perfect example of what we all treasure about our congregation. If you haven’t read or heard the wonderful presentation that Rabbi Jonathan delivered at the meeting about all the reasons why he loves the WJC, please read it here.

I urge those who couldn’t attend to look into our glorious array of spiritual, educational and just plain fun programs for all ages and all interests. It really is true that the more we give of ourselves, the more we benefit and the richer our community becomes. Stay informed. Get involved. Come to the rabbi’s energetic Shabbat services. Experience the great joy of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Participate with committees. Take full advantage of your membership while you help assure the good health and bright future of WJC. There are so many wonderful ways to be involved. If you’re not sure where you fit and can best serve, please email me at rdgold@mindspring.com.

Thanks again to each and every one of you for all you do.

RonDavid Gold