Two Bam! Six Crack! Mah Jongg at CRS is back!
Rabbi Levine caps his time as Senior Rabbi by leading Erev Shabbat services one last time
Tim Dolan will explore the iconic Jewish figures who helped shape the Broadway industry
Check here each day for an ongoing schedule of virtual worship, events, & offerings. Click on each event to access the Zoom link/info.
Scott Hertz joined Congregation Rodeph Sholom of New York City as the Director of Engagement and Program in July 2019. Prior to this role, he spent three years as Director of Marketing and Communications for the Jewish Community Project in Lower Manhattan. Scott began his career at the Union for Reform Judaism where he spent 14 years as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Camp, NFTY and Israel programs. Scott graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A lifelong product of the Reform Movement, Scott grew up at Congregation Emanu El in Houston and he has been a camper, staff, faculty and camp committee member at the URJ Greene Family Camp and URJ Kutz Camp.
Lyndsie joins the team at Congregation Rodeph Sholom bringing with her years of experience in the world of fundraising. Most recently, she worked at CCS, an international fundraising consulting firm that helps non-profit organizations in all sectors maximize their impact through philanthropy. At CCS, Lyndsie worked on an array of development projects with a number of organizations including Riverside Park Conservancy, The Nightingale-Bamford School, Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, and Sarasota Opera.
She has conducted development assessments, feasibility and campaign planning studies, served as campaign counsel for multi-million dollar fundraising efforts, and most recently, assumed the role of Interim Director of Development at The Gateway Schools. Prior to her time at CCS, Lyndsie was a member of the Planned Giving and Endowments team at UJA-Federation of NY. She attended the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU where she concentrated in Judaic Studies and Non-Profit Management.
Rabbi Greg D. Weitzman grew up living in Stony Brook, Long Island. In 2005, Rabbi Weitzman graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in Archaeology. Rabbi Weitzman was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in May 2015. Following his graduation from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Greg worked at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and for three years at Central Synagogue as a full-time teacher and Youth Director.
Rabbi Weitzman has a lot of experience working in both formal and informal Jewish education. He spent fifteen summers at Eisner Camp as a camper, counselor, songleader, and Education Director. It was there that Rabbi Weitzman met his wife Ashley. Ashley and Rabbi Weitzman were married at Congregation Rodeph Sholom.
Rabbi Weitzman was co-director of NextDOR NYC, a 20s and 30s movement sponsored by Synagogue 3000 and congregations throughout the New York Area region. He has also been the band leader for Shabbat Unplugged, a young-professionals Shabbat on the Upper East Side.
Rabbi Weitzman lives in Manhattan with his wife Ashley, their daughter Eden, their son Jonathan, and their Golden Doodle, Chewbacca. In his spare time, he, Ashley and Eden love cheering on their beloved New York Rangers, traveling the world, eating good food, and taking advantage of whatever New York City has to offer.
Rabbi Juliana Schnur Karol grew up in Scarsdale, NY. She attended New York University, earning her B.A. summa cum laude in Spanish Literature and Jewish History in 2008, and her M.A. in Jewish History in 2011. Prior to enrolling at Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Rabbi Karol worked in international relations at the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris, France. She then moved to Washington, D.C. where she served as legislative assistant and then projects coordinator at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She returned to New York City to serve as assistant to the president-elect of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and subsequently as coordinator of strategic initiatives. During her tenure at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Karol served for three years as rabbinical intern for Congregation Rodeph Sholom and as co-coordinator of the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen where she led a successful capital campaign to renovate the kitchen facilities. She earned prizes for Hebrew language and literature, community service, and academic achievement. Rabbi Karol is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, the Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship, and the American Jewish World Service Global Justice Fellowship. She is also a senior fellow of Humanity in Action, an educational organization that promotes active citizenship worldwide. Juli lives with her husband, Adam, their son, Joshua, and daughter Eva on the Upper East Side.
Stefano Iacono has served as the Student Cantor of Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, NY for the past four years. As a composer, Stefano has set Hebrew texts to music in hopes of celebrating the diversity of Jewish expression in worship and ritual by drawing upon various genres and traditions. At Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Stefano explored how lived experiences influence our understanding of scripture in his thesis, “Finding Favor In the Eyes of Pharaoh: A Gay Reading of Joseph,” an exegetical work drawing from mystical teachings of the Zohar. He will be ordained in May.
A native of San Antonio, Stefano earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies from The University of Texas at San Antonio, graduating summa cum laude with a love of literature and theory. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, Alex.
Deborah Goldberg joins us from Congregation Beth Tikvah in Columbus, Ohio, where she serves as rabbinic intern. Her year-long capstone project was a curriculum entitled, “Exploring Emotions in the Bible: A Curriculum for Jewish Teenagers” and she was honored with the Rabbi Morris H. Youngerman Memorial Prize for best sermon delivered during the academic year. She will be ordained in May.
Prior to enrolling at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, Deborah worked as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC, and as the teen programs coordinator at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs in Chicago. Raised in Chicagoland, she graduated with college honors from Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied history and political science. Deborah is looking forward to moving to NYC with her recently adopted beagle, Kelly.
Cantor Shayna De Lowe grew up in Springfield, MO, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in Music Education. She was invested from the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music in May of 2007 and began working at Rodeph Sholom in July 2007, where she is now the Associate Cantor.
During her time at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, Shayna took a strong interest in world Jewry and the music and culture of Jews around the world. Shayna spent two of her years of study at the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR, during which time she traveled to the Former Soviet Union to serve as student cantor to Jewish communities there. She first went to Russia where she lead Passover sedarim and then to Belarus where she sang during Yom Kippur and again during Purim.
As a result of her interest in world Jewry and her time spent in Israel, Shayna wrote her masters thesis about the music of the Ethiopian Jews. She spent time researching the Ethiopian Jewish community while living in Jerusalem and completed her thesis, “I am Black and Beautiful, O Daughters of Jerusalem: The Development of the Music of the Ethiopian Jews”, here in New York.
Shayna recently completed the Clergy Leadership Program with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, diving into the study of Hassidic text, song, meditation and yoga. This program has reinvigorated her search for different avenues to spiritual connection and has inspired her to offer these different paths to members of the CRS community.
Cantor De Lowe lives in Brooklyn with her wife, son and daughter.
Rabbi Benjamin Spratt was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May 2008, concentrating in Jewish Philosophy. In his years at seminary, he was the recipient of many awards and prizes in Talmud, philosophy, homiletics, and Bible. Born in Salt Lake City, UT, Rabbi Spratt spent his early years exploring his Jewish identity. His Jewish journey took him through the Conservative, Renewal, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist worlds of Judaism before finding a home within the Reform movement.
Rabbi Spratt graduated magna cum laude in 2001 from the Honors College of the University of Oregon as a member of Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies. He earned distinguished honors for his thesis on early Jewish mysticism. Rabbi Spratt has served as a religious school teacher for 15 years, a religious school director, a chaplain at Lenox Hill Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, and as the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Rodeph Sholom for four years.
Rabbi Spratt now serves as Senior Associate Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom and as the Rabbi-in-Residence of Rodeph Sholom School. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, Cantor Micah Morgovsky, and their two children Ayalah and Jonah.
Our initiative for young children and their grown-ups provides a slate of offerings including Shabbat and holiday celebrations, music, classroom readiness programs, and new parent experiences. During the pandemic, we have leaned on $1m of seed funding for Sholom Sprouts established through this campaign as we offer age-appropriate virtual programs for our families with young children, who are the future of our community. We look forward to welcoming our littlest members and their grown-ups back to our new fifth floor, as well as hiring a Program Assistant to increase the capacity of Sholom Sprouts to grow. This program provides a crucial entry-point to the congregation and membership for young families.
Providing dues assistance to any family in need is a core value of our synagogue. Especially during times of crisis such as the last 18 months, no one should have to worry about being able to afford their CRS support system. The $2m Accessibility Fund created by this campaign ensures that no family will be turned away if not in a position to pay full membership dues. We incrementally draw funds out of the Accessibility Fund each year to support our operating budget and cover increases in dues assistance.
Despite the instability of the world, CRS is here to stay. Much of the reason for this is the existence of our endowment, which we will ultimately grow by roughly $8m through this campaign. To provide for our long-term financial stability, perpetuate our meaningful traditions, and allow for continual innovation to serve our ever-evolving Jewish community, a strong endowment is essential.
We completely reconfigured our fifth floor and developed a space that is modem, developmentally appropriate, competitive with other local programs, and specifically designed for our Religious School and Sholom Sprouts programs. Upon our return to the building, we look forward to the floor becoming a place where children can grow and where parents can build friendships and connections that deepen their ties to each other, our clergy, and the Rodeph Sholom community.
We transformed a portion of our third floor into a home for three of our rabbis in order to unify their work environment, provide quiet waiting and meeting spaces for congregants seeking pastoral services, and better reflect the high regard in which we hold our clergy.
Our new lobby is an open and welcoming entry point to our congregation. We also enhanced security by relocating the security desk into the vestibule between the main entrance and the lobby, and created a Community Room for informal gathering and space for onegs that includes a CRS history exhibit. If you join us in person these High Holy Days, we hope you will be delighted with the new space.
Why a light for a yahrzeit
The yahrzeit light shines with the light of their souls
The yahrzeit light glows with the love they shared with us during their lives
The yahrzeit light dances with the laughter they brought out in us
The yahrzeit light allows us to look back and remember the best of times we shared with them
The yahrzeit light reminds us that although the dawn comes up without them, they want us to go on and carry out our shared goals
They brought light into our lives and the yarzeit light reminds us that they are counting on us to leave a shared legacy to make this a better world
We must take this external light and rekindle the light in our souls
In doing so they live with us as long as we live
Through us may their light glow on
Love song to the woman who sits
alone in her house mourning her mother.
Her voice echoes off hardwood floors.
She pours a cup of tea
and lifts it, steaming, to her lips.
Love song to the steam that tingles
against her weathered cheeks.
Alone in her house mourning her mother –
she yearns to chide old dear friends
for bending over to sweep up crumbs.
Love song to the old dear friends
who filled her home when her husband died –
the buzz of their voices mingled with her laughter and sobs.
Alone in her house mourning her mother
she aches for the smell of their coffee.
Love song to the coffee percolating in the dining room
to the cakes and bagels piled on trays
to the leftovers she apportioned into Tupperware
to the pile of coats on the bed, which now is bare and she –
alone in the house mourning her mother.
Alone in the house mourning her mother
she cooks her own dinner and eats it,
washes the dishes, and puts them away.
She cradles the cup of tea in her hands –
Love song to the hands longing to be held.
When the time has come,
When we leave this physical plane,
We do not depart into blackness,
We do not disappear into nothingness.
We transition from here to there,
From life among the breathing
To a place of profound security,
Safe at the right hand of Our Creator
No longer do we dance the dance of frailty.
No longer are we confined by the limits of body.
At last we are free to allow our souls to take wing,
At last we can know the splendors of the Shechinah.
We grieve at this time, we feel heartache and loss,
Yet the departure of our loved ones is freedom for them.
The ones we love, now know the blessings of Adonai,
And they are bathed in the brilliance of G-d’s mercy.
With heart and mind, memories are sustained,
As they are forever bound to those who remember them.
The wings of Sukkat Shalom embrace them in love,
And they are granted peace and joy for all eternity.
May the One who heals, heal us all.
May those who suffered find sanctuary.
May The Giver of Life comfort us in mourning,
And may we find we are better for having known them.
The journey through grief
So vast, dark, and uncertain
Where is my compass
God, are you with me
I search, eyes closed, heart open
Oh Source of comfort
I cry out in tears
A primal ache in my soul
Help me to find you
Prayer is hard for me
How do I speak to you God
Tears flow down my cheeks
They carry in them
All the words I cannot say
Hear them God, hear them…
I ask, Ayekah?
In the still quiet moments
The wind whispers back
I listen closely
Hineni, the wind calls out
Here I am, with you
The journey is long
The gentle breeze carries me
Forward with God’s grace
Accessibility efforts of the early aughts started a larger dialogue about inclusion. How could we better serve those for whom attending a religious service was difficult? In 2010, we inaugurated first Shireinu special needs worship service at Rosh Hashanah. CRS now leads four holiday Shireinu services each year.
The way we live now175 years after our founding, Congregation Rodeph Sholom remains a steadfast beacon for Judaism and celebrating Jewish traditions. We are also a nimble and adaptable institution that strives to serve our people and community now and for generations to come.
We’re not just getting better—we’re getting older! CRS took on some major capital projects in this era. Accessibility and space upgrades ensure optimal access and worship experience for our congregants.
In 125 years, Congregation Rodeph Sholom has had four senior rabbis. Our number four , Rabbi Robert N. Levine, is celebrating 25 years along with the shul’s 175th. The 1990s also saw CRS making a bold move with new clergy.
Tikkun olam, in the form of sewing, helping the poor, and making contributions to worthy causes were part of CRS from the first day. In this era, we upped our game considerably.
Education was a top priority for Rodeph Sholom, which made some first-ever moves by a Reform congregation.
With early waves of immigration now mostly a faint memory, younger generations were interested in reclaiming their identity, through learning Hebrew and travel to Israel. The Seven Day War of 1967 proved to be a strong rallying point for support of Israel and Jewish pride.
1940s and 50s – Rodeph Sholom worked hard to support the war effort, and to be essential part serving earlier pioneering generations as they grew into their retirement years in the 1950s. The 1950s was also an era of new view of early childhood education as a foundation for a good life, and CRS stepped up.
CRS roared through the 1920s in robust health, purchasing land for what is our current building and having an architect draw up plans. The early 30’s continued a trend at CRS that is still with us to this day—welcoming clergy and staff who choose to spend their entire careers at CRS.
As Jews began to assume leadership positions in political life and in industry, Jewish identity shifted to a strong emphasis on “being American.” Those of an older generation were disinclined to pass along fluency in Yiddish to their children and grandchildren. This was also an era where Jews served in large numbers fighting for their country.
An era of prosperity paved the way to assuring the future of Judaism in America, through founding new institutions and keeping up with the congregants.
In this era CRS functioned as a shul working steadily to ensure that Jews had wide and equal access to American health care and social welfare.
As Rodeph Sholom became an established shul, leadership and congregants pursued tikkun olam and its central role in the serving the Jewish Community.
In the 1840s, the Lower East Side, new Americans flooded into the city. Many used their new freedom to practice religion to set up houses of worship that would also serve as centers of social and cultural life
1980s – Tikkun olam, in the form of sewing, helping the poor, and making contributions to worthy causes were part of CRS from the first day. In this era, we upped our game considerably.