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||Harriet Markell, Else Sokol|
|Capital Campaign||David Goldman|
|Cemetery||Debbie Adelstein, Janis Ban|
|Facilities Maintenance/Management||Warren Rosenthal|
|Human Resources||Joan Sager|
|Kesher Center for Jewish Learning||To be filled|
|Library||Joan Wayne and Sarah Witte|
|Membership||Ann Suloway, Rita Spitzer|
|Nominating Committee||Dan Ohms|
|Oneg||Joan Wayne, Sarah Witte, Miriam Davids|
|Programming||To be filled|
|Ritual Committee||Rabbi Joshua Samuels|
|Scrip Program||Joan Wayne|
|Social Action||Linda Blackwell|
|Strategic Planning||Katie Edelstein|
|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
Capital Campaign Committee: Raises money to build our new Synagogue. David Goldman, Chair
Care Committee: Coordinates assistance and support for members experiencing illness, loss, natural disaster or major life change. Harriet Markell and Else Sokol, 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 Kaddisha and notifying the Care Committee when needed. Contact Janis for questions on cemetery or funeral matters. Co-Chairs: Janis Ban (360) 734-5021 and Debbie Adelstein, (360) 676-9591
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.
Connectivity Committee: Enhances members connections with one another, including establishing friendship groups (chavurot), expanding social and business connections, and supporting Membership and Care Committees so members experience the level of community that best suits their needs. Vermeda Fred, 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. Chair, Warren Rosenthal.
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. Terri Weiner, chair.
Human Resources Committee: Works to ensure that our employees are treated professionally, fairly and consistently at all phases of employment. Joan Sager, 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. Chair, to be filled.
Library Committee: Seeks acquisitions and maintains the synagogue library. Collects donations for the library. Joan Wayne and Sarah Witte, 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 Rita Spitzer, Co-Chairs.
Nominating Committee: Identifies current and potential Synagogue leaders to serve as Board members and Board Officers. Dan Ohms, 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: Organizes cultural, educational and human interest events for the Congregation Beth Israel. These events can be ongoing or one-time events dependent upon the interests of the congregants (e.g. Israeli folk dancing, musical artists, films and lectures). Chair, to be filled.
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 Gardner 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.
Security Committee:…………Jeff Jaffe, 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.
Strategic Planning Committee Recomends long term goals and objectives for the Synagogue given the input of our committees, Rabbi, and Board. This plan forms the basis for the Board’s annual plan. Katie Edelstein, 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 Groups:
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.
Governance Task Force: 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. Mitch Press, Chair.
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). Advisers: Amanda Robins and Daniel Zagnoli.
Sisterhood: Beth Israel’s Sisterhood is a woman’s group interested in female camaraderie and activities that support the synagogue. Among its many projects and activities, Sisterhood provides a Jewish calendar for all congregants, helps maintain the social hall and kitchen, and arranges for refreshments at Oneg Shabbats and other special occasions. Joan Wayne and Miriam Davids, Co-Presidents.
Brotherhood: The Brotherhood of Congregation Beth Israel is a men’s group dedicated to having fun and participating in casual activities together and simply getting to know one another on a deeper level. Some past activities have included father-children bowling, meeting at restaurants, sponsoring the Sunday School picnic, and going to Seattle Mariners games. Isaac Konikoff, President.
Committee chair contact numbers are listed in our monthly newsletter, The Shul Shofar