Throughout history, Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we learned much from our encounters with other cultures. Nevertheless, since its earliest days, Reform Judaism has asserted that a Judaism frozen in time is an heirloom, not a living fountain.
The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.
Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices. We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God, and that we are God’s partners in improving the world. Tikkun olam — repairing the world — is a hallmark of Reform Judaism as we strive to bring peace, freedom, and justice to all people.
Reform Jews accept the Torah as the foundation of Jewish life containing God’s ongoing revelation to our people and the record of our people’s ongoing relationship with God. We see the Torah as God inspired, a living document that enables us to confront the timeless and timely challenges of our everyday lives.
In addition to our belief that Judaism must change and adapt to the needs of the day to survive and our firm commitment to Tikkun Olam , the following principles distinguish Reform Jews from other streams of Judaism in North America.
- Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been reaching out to Jews-by-choice and interfaith families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism. Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they are the child of a Jewish father or mother, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.
- Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors, and elect women presidents of our synagogues.
- Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.
|Care||Else Sokol, Sarah Witte|
|Facilities Maintenance/Management||Kevin Donner, Isaac Blum|
|Financial Sustainability Director||Jodi Litt|
|Human Resources||Paul Blum|
|Governance||Rena Ziegler, Mitch Press|
|Kesher Center for Jewish Learning||Katie Edelstein and Rita Spitzer|
|Library||Joan Wayne and Rob Lopresti|
|Membership||Ann Suloway and Sue Mahar|
|Nominating Committee||Miriam Schwartz|
|Oneg||Joan Wayne, Sarah Witte|
|Programming||Emily Weiner and Melissa Schapiro|
|Ritual Committee||Rabbi Joshua Samuels|
|Scrip Program||Joan Wayne|
|Safety and Security||Brooke Kassen|
|Social Action||Linda Blackwell|
|University Liaison||Steven Garfinkle|
Check the membership directory in the members only section for contact information, or Contact a committee chair via the main office.
About Our Committees
Care Committee: Coordinates assistance and support for members experiencing illness, loss, natural disaster or major life change. Else Sokol and Sarah Witte, Co-Chairs.
Cemetery Committee: Oversees maintenance and improvement of the Jewish cemetery and sale of cemetery plots. Assists families in the selection of a plot, funeral arrangements, scheduling the graveside funeral, co-ordinating the Chevra Kadisha and notifying the Care Committee when needed. Contact Janis for questions on cemetery or funeral matters. Chair: Janis Ban (360) 734-5021.
Communications Team: Assists and supports in maintaining current communications and marketing tools and looks at other innovative ways to enhance communications both within the Synagogue community and with the outside community. Oversees content, development and administration of the Synagogue’s website. Melissa Schapiro, Chair.
Events & Rental Review (Subcommittee of Facilities Maintenance/Management): Works with members & non-members who are interested in using the space in the CBI building: provide a comprehensive a set of guidelines & expectations to anyone interested in renting space; be sure that all events are approved and have been adequately planned, and ensure the decorum & sanctity of the synagogue are maintained. Katie Edelstein, chair.
Executive Committee: Board officers meet at least once each month to provide vision and leadership for the board by looking at pertinent current and upcoming issues and determining how and when these issues are addressed.
Facilities Maintenance/Management: Focuses on the maintenance, functional improvement and aesthetic enhancement of the synagogue building and grounds. Kevin Donner and Isaac Blum, co-chairs.
Finance Committee: Collects synagogue dues and monitors the annual budget on a monthly basis. Prepares the Congregation’s annual budget, audits it as needed and determines appropriate investments for the Synagogue’s reserves. Karen Sloss, chair.
Fundraising Committee: Charged with exploring and implementing strategies and events to raise funds for the ongoing functions and projects of Congregation Beth Israel, which would include but not be limited to property improvement projects, supplementing the General Fund, special events or projects as designated by the Board of Directors, and developing an Endowment Fund for future capital expenditures and repairs/maintenance for the building. Karen Sloss, chair.
Governance Committee: Examines the organization structure of the Congregation and works with the Committees, Board, and the Rabbi to help create Job Descriptions, Policy, Mission statements and Procedure to help the Congregation operate in an objective, visible and inclusive manner. Rena Ziegler and Mitch Press, C0-Chairs.
Human Resources Committee: Works to ensure that our employees are treated professionally, fairly and consistently at all phases of employment. Paul Blum, chair.
Kesher Center for Jewish Learning Committee: Works with our Rabbi and the Kesher School Administrator to support the religious school program and coordinate holiday celebrations for the children. Chairs, Katie Edelstein and Rita Spitzer.
Library Committee: Seeks acquisitions and maintains the synagogue library. Collects donations for the library. Joan Wayne and Rob Lopresti, Co-Chairs.
Membership Committee: Welcomes new members and works with prospective members. Expands community awareness of Beth Israel and the benefits of Synagogue membership. Encourages interested families and singles to become members through hospitality and Jewish programming efforts. Ann Suloway and Sue Mahar, Co-Chairs.
Nominating Committee: Identifies current and potential Synagogue leaders to serve as Board members and Board Officers. Miriam Schwartz, Chair.
Oneg Committee: Organizes and oversees Oneg celebrations that follow Shabbat services and other observances during the synagogue calendar year. We maintain a schedule of onegs and assign responsibilities for theses among our members. Tours of the kitchen are available for new members by arrangement. Joan Wayne, Sarah Witte & Miriam Davids, Co-chairs.
Programming Team: Programming committee seeks to develop activities, presentations, and experiences that enhance and enrich the lives of our community – CBI members, other Jews in the area, and the wider community. These activities, which are in addition to CBI’s regular holiday events, may include speakers, musical events, scholar in residence, etc., and will be in keeping with the values of CBI. Emily Weiner and Melissa Schapiro, Co-Chairs.
Religious Practices Leadership Team: Works with the Rabbi to establish Religious policy, practices and procedures used in our Congregation’s practice of Judaism. Rabbi Joshua Samuels, Leader.
Ritual Committee: Rabbi Joshua Samuels, Leader.
Scholarship Committee: Provides financial assistance via the Rabbi Fred Gartner Scholarship fund to qualifying Congregants. Applicants who attend post secondary schooling and would benefit from financial assistance are potential recipients. Applicants should participate in synagogue activities, be Jewish, and strive for academic excellence. Emil Hecht, Chair.
Safety and Security Committee:…………Brooke Kassen, chair.
Social Action Committee: Takes a leadership role in involving our Jewish community and Congregation in community projects that focus on key social needs such as hunger and housing). By working through existing organizations, we maximize our resources and build important alliances with the greater, non-Jewish community. Linda Blackwell, chair.
Technology Committee Oversees and manages the effective and efficient use of Technology at Congregation Beth Israel. Isaac Konikoff, chair.
University Liaison Committee: Maintains a channel of communication between the congregation and WWU students. Works informally with the University Hillel Group as well. Steven Garfinkle, Chair.
Task Forces and Other Positions:
Chevra Kadisha: Provides ritual purification for the dead (tahara), when desired by the family of the deceased. Three volunteers, either all-male or all-female, are in attendance. Debbie Adelstein, Leader
Congregation Archivist: ……..Tim Baker.
Financial Sustainability Director: Serves as a key communicator with new and existing CBI members regarding the financial needs of the congregation and the financial responsibilities of membership. Jodi Litt.
Scrip Program: Supplements Synagogue operating income through using a successful scrip program. Joan Wayne, Coordinator.
Youth Group: BAY (Bellingham Area Youth), for Jewish teens, is a social group that engages in a variety of social and Jewish community activities. Affiliated with NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth). Adviser: Leah Bordmam.
Sisterhood: The Sisterhood of Beth Israel will not be an active auxiliary of CBI as of Fall 2019. Small groups, such as the Lunch Bunch, Book Group and Knitting/Handwork Group will continue. These have been Sisterhood-sanctioned versus official Sisterhood events. Contact Joan Wayne for information.
Committee chair contact numbers are listed in our monthly newsletter, The Shul Shofar