Beginning 5:00 pm today (2-22-17) through 9:00 am on Thursday (2-23-17), our phone system will be offline for servicing. All calls will forward to a cell phone monitored by a staff member. Please limit your calls to emergencies.
Deedee Jacobsohn, President
Marla Schulman, VP Administration
Aaron Brickman, VP Development
Kimberly Cohen, VP Membership
Mitchell Gross, VP Religious Affairs
Tobi Bassin, VP Youth and Education
Dale Singer, Secretary
Joanne Zuckerman, Assistant Secretary
Scott Hodes, Treasurer
Kristen Mirsky, Assistant Treasurer
Dr. Philip Rogers, Parliamentarian
Andrew Schechter, Immediate Past President
Bernard Rod, Men’s Club President
Dina Cohen Gruber, Sisterhood Co-President
Cheryl Rod, Sisterhood Co-President
The Adult Education Committee aims to provide Jewish educational programming to satisfy the desire for knowledge within our adult population. Our award-winning programs include one-time workshops, short courses, guest lecture series, and special programs, all designed to attract adults at every educational level.
The Annual Giving committee oversees and directs the annual Hineini campaign. Membership dues cover only 50% of B’nai’s annual budget. Throughout our history, Jews have answered the call for help: “Hineini – Here I am”. A successful annual giving campaign enables B’nai Israel to sustain its long tradition of excellence for all of our programs and services throughout the year.
The Bereavement Committee supports our clergy and professional staff in assisting members who have suffered a loss. We participate in the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington, which provides additional resources online at www.jewish-funerals.org
The budget committee is entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing the Operating, Cemetery and Capital Budgets, which are developed by the various department heads, director of finance and the executive director. After thorough analysis and inquiry of those budgets, we may suggest changes that will assist in reaching the financial goals of each department as well as the entire Congregation, while being fiscally responsible. Throughout the year, it is also our responsibility to review the fiscal affairs and operations of the Congregation and analyze any variances from the budgets that have been established.
The Caring Committee reaches out to congregational families who are going through an illness or the loss of a loved one. Our goal is to create the experience of community, strengthening the relationships that bind us together. Activities include sending get-well and sympathy cards and having trained volunteers visit shiva homes to bring caring and warmth to congregants. We will also coordinate delivery of meals or other special requests for congregational members dealing with illness or other special needs.
The Communications Committee oversees the manner in which B’nai Israel presents itself to the public. This committee oversees the B’nai Israel website, the Scroll and other publications, and our visual branding. Our goal is to manage the flow of information such that our members are easily informed about synagogue events and the congregation is profiled well in the larger community.
The Day School Family Committee creates programs to give day school families a chance to meet one another and to maintain their connection to the synagogue community. The committee also looks out for the special needs of day school families that should be considered in broad-based synagogue programs.
This year, the Day School Family Committee will continue to balance its programming between programs for the entire youth population and those designed exclusively for day school students. Events scheduled for the upcoming program year are listed on the following. More information will follow in the Scroll, special day school family mailings, and on the day school family listserv. Contact Sharon Safra to be added to this listserv.
The Day School Family Committee meets several times throughout the year. Any B’nai Israel parent with a child(ren) at one of the local Jewish day schools is welcome to attend these meetings. If you are interested in learning when the next meeting will take place, please contact the committee chairs.
The diverse and exciting Development Committee is dedicated to examining and updating B’nai Israel’s long-term development strategy. In addition, the committee also touches on other functions of development including congregational fundraising events, The Hineini Society/Annual Giving campaign, the Create a Jewish Legacy campaign, planned giving and endowments as well as administration of tribute letters, acknowledgments and donor appreciation events.
Currently B’nai Israel has over 90 Endowments that help B’nai Israel to meet its financial obligations. While the principle of these endowment remains intact, each year the Endowment Investment Committee releases a percentage of the interest and profits from our investment of these funds which are used to fill gaps in our Operating and Capital Budgets.
The Endowment Appropriations Committee is responsible for insuring that all dollars released for building and program needs are spent in accordance with the intent and desire of the donor.
The Endowment Investment Committee is responsible for the management of B’nai Israel’s $7.5 million (and growing) endowment. They make recommendations to the Board of Governors regarding institutional investment policy and the hiring of our investment manager. The committee meets quarterly to review our portfolio and other related issues.
The Family Education Committee assists in the planning and coordination of programs that take an innovative approach to Jewish learning and bring family members together. Programs include holiday celebrations, life-cycle preparatory events, moral and values-based discussions, grade-level activities, and more. Family education affords parents and grandparents the chance to become both learners and transmitters of Jewish education and lifestyle.
Our family education programs target a wide range of families in our diverse community. We want all members of our congregational community to have the opportunity to learn and grow with their loved ones and peers. The congregation also offers several life-cycle programs and parenting workshops, some of which are listed in the Adult Education section of this Guide. We encourage parents to take advantage of these and other adult programs—to model Jewish learning for their children.
The mission of the Fine Arts committee is to develop and oversee projects of artistic merit for the year; to review and recommend acceptance or rejection of gifts of art or purchases to the Congregation; and to coordinate in-house changes with the House and Grounds Committee.
HAZAK is an organization for mature adults sponsored by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The name HAZAK (strong) is an acronym – which stands for Hokhmah (wisdom), Ziknah (maturity), and Kadima (looking ahead).
B’nai Israel’s HAZAK chapter meets monthly—usually on the second Thursday of each month. We begin with a dairy brown bag lunch at 12:00 noon with the program beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m. There are no membership fees for HAZAK and our programs are free. All are invited.
The High Holy Day Committee’s mission is to provide meaningful services and a pleasant ambiance for our congregants during the High Holy Days. Its functions include seating more than 3,000 individuals and assigning honors and aliyot in four different services. The committee also sets up a roster of the many ushers who assist during services.
The House and Grounds Committee, in conjunction with the Executive Director and other leaders, oversees all capital improvements, new construction, renovations, and substantial repairs, while managing facility operating expenses. Our goal is to maintain an attractive, fully-operational facility for our congregants and our guests, while ensuring that the cost of the work we authorize is in compliance with our capital reserves and operating budget.
The mission of the B’nai Israel Inclusion Committee is to welcome and provide for the access and inclusion of all populations within our synagogue community who have physical, developmental, mental, and/or emotional needs. The committee is proactive in creating awareness with the synagogue and the Jewish community of the availability of resources and programs.
The Israel Affairs Committee develops projects and programs that allow synagogue members to engage with Israel and Israelis. It also provides guidance on ways to help our fellow Jews in Israel. Whenever possible, this committee works with other divisions of the synagogue to promote its mission. The committee also works closely with the Jewish Community Relations Council on Israel advocacy at critical moments and acts as a liaison to the congregation for community-wide events relating to Israel engagement.
Legal related matters often arise in the daily operation of a synagogue, especially a large and active synagogue as B’nai Israel. Our Legal Committee, composed of several members of our congregation who specialize in different areas of the law, is available to assist our synagogue leaders when these matters arise.
Accredited by the Association of Jewish Libraries and recognized with a Solomon Schechter Gold Award from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Blumberg-Zalis Family Library supports the curricula of the Schilit Nursery School, the Talmud Torah, and teen and adult education programs. Our well-stocked library is available for reference, study, and enjoyment.
The L.I.F.E. Lecture Series (Learning Is for Everyone) offers speakers of interest on a broad range of topics and issues that are relevant to our Jewish world. All L.I.F.E. Lectures are free of charge and open to the public.
B’nai Israel is committed to creating and sustaining a welcoming and vibrant synagogue community that fosters the spiritual growth of its individual members and encourages members’ involvement at all levels and at all life stages. Our Membership Committee focuses on:
Engaging members of the congregation and encouraging them to become more active in Jewish life and learning
Fostering communication between members, lay leadership, and synagogue staff about how we can best serve the needs of our community
Welcoming new members and those who might become members of our B’nai Israel family.
Attracting more than 400 people committed to improving our community, the annual Mitzvah Day is one of B’nai Israel’s signature programs. The Mitzvah Day committee works with project chairs to create projects, make logistical arrangements with charities, and recruit participants. The committee also organizes the annual Mitzvah Fair, which showcases opportunities to “make every day a Mitzvah Day” throughout the year.
B’nai Israel Schilit Nursery School provides a stimulating, nurturing and supportive environment for young children ages 15 months – 5 years of age and their families. Through a multi-faceted approach to learning, our program focuses on all aspects of a child’s development – social, emotional, cognitive and physical – while respecting the individuality of each child. Inspired by a variety of teaching approaches and keeping current with changes in the early childhood world, our curriculum is influenced by the theories of Reggio Emilia, Constructivism, Piaget, Erikson, Gardner and Vygotsky.
At B’nai Israel Schilit Nursery School, meaningful play is an essential part of our developmentally appropriate, high quality early childhood program. Engaging in activities centered on the child’s own interests brings a natural motivation to learn. Fostering independence, curiosity, creativity, discovery, critical thinking and problem solving, children are guided by our skilled teachers to explore classroom materials, building knowledge through cooperation and the expression of their thoughts and ideas. Nurturing these skills, our children become confident, inquisitive and self-guided learners who are prepared for the next step of academic and social development.
Our school provides a warm and welcoming community for all families. We build lasting relationships with the greater B’nai Israel community, as well as introducing the traditions of Jewish identity and life-long learning.
The Operations Committee purpose is to assess, recommend and assist with administrative, technology, and facility needs. This committee ensures that staff, departments, and members all have services, equipment, and functions that enable the mission of the synagogue to operate smoothly. Working with the House and Grounds committee, the Operations Committee recommends improvements and adjustments to the building, property, and rental practices.
The Professional Evaluation Committee is a synagogue administrative committee that is responsible for the regular evaluation of the professional staff of B’nai Israel. Membership in this committee is restricted by the By-Laws of the synagogue’s Constitution to the President, the Executive Committee Vice-Presidents, three Past Presidents, and three presidential appointees.
The Ritual Committee, in cooperation with our clergy, oversees all matters of worship and ritual in the synagogue. Our mission is to balance our desire to make services meaningful, fulfilling, and enjoyable for every individual worshipper, with our synagogue’s unwavering commitment to the values of Conservative Judaism.
The B’nai Israel Social Action Committee promotes tikkun olam (repairing the world) and gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) by encouraging and facilitating congregant participation in a variety of activities. There is much to do, and the needs of those around us are great. The projects of our community not only impact the world and the lives of the people we serve, but they also give us inner fulfillment and a stronger connection to B’nai Israel. Please contact our committee chairs to learn how you can become involved.
Jewish education is described throughout our cultural history as a mitzvah—a sacred obligation, and a lifelong pursuit. Formal Jewish education may begin in kindergarten, but the middle and teen years are as important for Jewish identity, development, and continuity as are the early years. We provide a quality educational program for students in preK through grade 10 which takes advantage of resources unique to the greater Washington, DC area.
In support of the B’nai Israel Talmud Torah, the Talmud Torah Committee reviews and updates school policies and procedures, makes recommendations to the Board of Governors, partners with other synagogue committees on joint programs, and runs fundraisers.
The Tzedakah and Welfare committee disburses monies raised in our Tzedakah Fund to needy individuals and organizations within our community. This committee works closely with our rabbis to ensure that our congregation remains a source of support and nourishment for those in need.
B’nai Israel’s Youth Department is the place to be! The mission of our Youth Department is to connect all school-age children to the synagogue through a variety of social, Judaic, and community-service programs. We build friendships, leadership skills, and a positive Jewish identity. Our experienced youth advisors and dedicated youth committee aim to provide a unique experience for each child in order to create a lifelong connection to B’nai Israel.
B’nai Israel wants to reach out to young singles and couples and develop a sense of a community for our 20s and 30s population. Our group is currently in transition, seeking new leaders to help develop and plan programs. Our 20s and 30s Group email list provides information about programs in the synagogue and throughout the area. Please contact Rabbi Safra’s office to join the group.