Volunteers of the Year List

  • B'Nai Torah Shul: Barbara Martus
  • Congregation Agudas Israel: Ann Gross
  • Congregation Beth Hillel: Pam Carroad, Jane Friedland, Joe Herzog, David Jalazo, Lauren Mandel, Fred Nelson    
  • Congregation Eitz Chaim: Paula Spector, Diane Soss, Judi Berman, Karen Celidonio, Toby Schack, Doris Rubinsky, Jessica Brenner
  • Jewish Family Service: Arlene Strong, Stacey Finklestein, Jason Heller
  • Jewish Federation: Susan Notar
  • Kol Yisrael: Matk LaKritz
  • Monroe Hadassah: Daryl Bailin
  • Monroe Temple: Ellen Levine 
  • Monroe Temple Sisterhood: Beth Glass
  • Newburgh JCC: Carole Weintraub
  • Temple Beth Jacob: James Kostenblatt
  • Temple Beth Jacob Sisterhood: Lorraine Wernow
  • Temple Beth Shalom: Shari Rake
  • Temple Beth Shalom Sisterhood: Robin Bordman
  • Temple Sinai Joe Fox, Nicole and Dave Johnson

2022-2023 Volunteers Of The Year

B’nai Torah Shul – Greenwood Lake
Barbara Martus is a pillar that B'nai Torah Shul could not stand without. Her association with the Congregation began over twenty years ago when her family joined the synagogue. At the time she was active with the Hebrew school and a member of the Education Committee. Her role at the shul expanded a couple of years later when she began running the annual Dinner Dance fundraiser. In the early 2000s, she was also secretary for the Board of Trustees of the Shul. After many years of service, Barbara was elected vice-president, and now serves as our dedicated President of the Board. With more needs to be filled than people to fill them, she has also filled in as secretary and treasurer during her time as president to keep our ShuI up and running! Without her we would surely fall. Thank you Barbara for your decades of service!

Congregation Agudas Israel - Newburgh
Ann Gross has been a board member for a number of years and has done an outstanding job serving as our membership chairperson. She has introduced many new members during her tenure and always makes them feel welcome to our congregation. Ann is also very active in our Social activities, often volunteering to prepare kiddush meals.

Congregation Beth Hillel - Walden Jewish Community Center
Our entire Cemetery Committee, under the dedicated and capable leadership of Pam Carroad, consists of Jane Friedland, Joe Herzog, David Jalazo, Lauren Mandel and Fred Nelson. They are our 2023 Federation Volunteers of the Year. The committee does crucial and sacred work, quickly, quietly and behind the scenes to assure families that their loved ones are buried according to Jewish law and ritual. In addition, there is a great deal of work done year round to maintain the beauty, serenity and sanctity of our cemetery. We are grateful to the Cemetery Committee for the vital service they provide to our congregation.

Congregation Eitz Chaim – Monroe
Paula Spector, Diane Soss, Judi Berman, Karen Celidonio, Toby Schack, Doris Rubinsky and Jessica Brenner all are members of The Dinner Committee. Congregation Eitz Chaim has been hosting part-time Rabbis each weekend over the last 9 months. Along with the benefit of having a Rabbi with us over Shabbat we had the responsibility of hosting them and providing Friday night dinner. To this end, we sponsored Friday night dinners at our shul after religious services for anyone who wanted to join the Rabbi for dinner. At the beginning of this project, our Vice- President, Paula Spector, formed a committee of volunteer chefs to prepare a kosher dairy meal at Eitz Chaim for up to 15 people, each Friday night. This is our Dinner Committee.

Jewish Family Service
Arlene Strong, has been with JFS six years and in that time our office has experienced a complete overhaul of our electronic records maintenance with the introduction of two new database systems. That initiative required extensive amounts of data entry and careful scrutiny to weed out duplicate and obsolete records. Thanks to Arlene’s work the reports required by our funding sources can now be readily produced with greater accuracy. Arlene also sends out birthday cards to the neighbors served by the Friendly Visitor Program, and she maintains records of the service hours provided by our volunteers. Our programs and the community we serve have been greatly enhanced by the efforts and expertise that Arlene shares with our agency.
Stacey Finkelstein does those office jobs that nobody wants to do; cleaning out file cabinets, organizing and maintaining hard copies, routine data. But that’s not all – Stacey also provides one of the most significant services that sets JFS apart from other service providers – wellness checks. Our clients look forward to Stacey’s monthly call, just to see how they are doing and to ensure their needs are being met. Our staff looks forward to Stacey’s time in the office, as her warm presence and quiet efficiency are a wonderful contribution to our JFS culture.
Jason Heller has volunteered with Jewish Family Service of Orange County for the past year. Both Jason and his support staff are in the office every Tuesday and Thursday morning. We are very fortunate that Jason has chosen JFS of Orange County to support with his amazing technological skills. We depend on Jason for ongoing scanning and organizing of our files for our programs. More Importantly, Jason comes ready to work and is willing to offer assistance with other tasks when requested. He warmly and sincerely greets everyone in the office with a big HELLO and is always willing to share his snacks. We thank Jason for his dedication and work.

Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County
Susan Notar joined the Board in 2009 and immediately signed on to join and eventually chair our Community Relations Council and Women’s Philanthropy committees. Over time, Susan moved up the leadership ladder, became our secretary, and has served in that capacity for many years. She was a member of our original Jewish Book Council committee, two executive director search committees and served on many event-planning committees. Her work on our Zachor committee has been a particular passion, and Susan envisioned and chaired our annual Teens and Teacher’s Symposiums, wrote and judged our annual Stop Hate contest, and introduced our partnership with the Rockland Center for Holocaust Studies. She is especially proud of the work Zachor has done, and of bringing Kathy Wurster onboard. Susan has much to be proud of with regard to her work at Federation and she leaves behind big shoes to fill. As I recently told her, there will always be a seat available to her should she decide to continue serving on any of our committees and we hope that we will see her back in this capacity when she is ready. In the meantime we wish Susan all the best in her next projects and look forward to formally honoring her as Federation’s Volunteer of the Year in a few minutes.

Kol Yisrael
Mark Lakritz is being honored for his leadership of the Kol Joint Planning Committee, which implemented programming between the partner organizations at Kol Yisrael including the Jewish Cultural Festival, 10-Year Gala, Virtual Mixer and more! Mark is also a valued member of the Congregation Agudas Israel presidium and a volunteer often seen on site in Newburgh many times each month rolling up his sleeves to help wherever he is needed.

Monroe Hadassah
Daryl Bailin, along with Sandy Sussman, is co-president Monroe Hadasah’s board of directors. She is co-editor of the six yearly publications of Kol Hadassah of Monroe, and its typesetter and designer as well. She also helps by making posters for events, sending out emails to members, creating ads for the bulletin, providing hospitality and catering at events, planning programs, fund-raising and submitting forms for upcoming events and their budgets to Hadassah National. Aside from being passionate about Hadassah, this dynamo finds time to teach Tai Chi at Monroe Temple Beth El, sing with the Warwick Valley Chorale and the Hot Opera Theater, use her nursing skills to take care of hospice patients in her home, and provide a home for her dog Gracie. We are most fortunate to have her as an inspirational member of Monroe Hadassah. Y’Asher Koach Daryl!

Monroe Temple Beth-El
Ellen Levine is an exceptional individual who has been an integral part of our congregation for over 28 years. Ellen's commitment to our community and her unwavering dedication to fostering positive ritual experiences have earned her the well-deserved recognition as our Volunteer of the Year. As chairperson of our ritual committee for the past 8 years, Ellen’s leadership skills and meticulous attention to detail coupled with her love of Judaism have made her - along with the entire Ritual committee - a perfect partner for our Rabbi to help bring our congregation consistent meaningful services throughout the Jewish year. Beyond her role on the Ritual Committee, Ellen along with others saw a need to bring Israel into an ongoing conversation at Monroe Temple. With a lot of hard work and dedication, Ellen and this small group of others created our Scholar In Residence weekend this past year with a theme of Jewish Identities in the 2020s. This event was open to the entire community and well received. Ellen is also an active participant of our Social Action committee where she works along with others towards social justice for all peoples. Ellen has also been a Dvar Torah mentor - helping B’nai Mitzvah students write a Dvar Torah for their Torah portion. Ellen’s contributions to our congregation and her selfless devotion to enhancing the spiritual lives of our members make her an exemplary Volunteer of the Year. We are incredibly grateful for her enduring commitment.

Monroe Temple Beth-El Sisterhood
Beth Glass was chatting with a friend in the parking lot after Mensch Makers drop off in 2000. Asked if she wanted to go to a sisterhood event, Beth said “sure.” She attended more events and started to meet new friends. Eventually Beth was asked if she wanted to be on the board and said, “sure.” She served as a trustee for several years, enjoying the many programs and events, learning how the organization worked and was then asked if she wanted to be a Vice President and said, “sure.” She served as VP of Programming helping to create a variety of educational, spiritual and creative events, and working alongside her fellow sisters, feeling bonds getting stronger. Attending WRJ Biennials was such a motivational and inspirational experience for Beth and she came to understand our place in the bigger world of Women of Reform Judaism.
After a time as VP, she was asked if she would step up and be President and again said, ….. “SURE” with enthusiasm extreme pride. Beth served as President for 3 years from 2006-2009 and enjoyed every minute of it, helping to create their mission statement, raising money to support various temple activities and mentoring future leaders.
As time went on, Beth was asked to be on our temple’s Executive Board which is a ladder to being temple President. With the experience of being Sisterhood President and the knowledge she gained from WRJ biennials, she accepted the nomination and served as temple President from 2013-2015.
Beth never strayed from her roots in sisterhood, however, and eventually returned to the Sisterhood board. She currently serves as secretary of Sisterhood alongside some very special women she calls dear friends, including dedicated VP Suzanne Schindler and exuberant President, Leslye Joseph. Sisterhood means so much to Beth and she is honored to be this year’s Monroe Temple Sisterhood Volunteer of the Year.

Newburgh Jewish Community Center
Carole Weintraub has been a dedicated member of Newburgh JCC for over 40 years - a well-respected realtor, Weintraub Realty. Carole was known for bringing her clients on a tour-de-Newburgh with stops at the Center. She facilitated the moves of many long-term Jewish residents and helped enshrine their commitments to Jewish life over many decades. Carole is still serving on the Newburgh JCC Board of Directors and was instrumental in hiring the initial teaching team that started the school off in 2021.

Temple Beth Jacob – Newburgh
James Kostenblatt, a member of our board of trustees, brings a fresh perspective to temple activities. Chairing the first ever TBJ welcoming committee, James leads a team of like-minded members with the mission of looking at temple processes from a different perspective.
Not being satisfied with the response 'we have always done it this way' James challenges us to think differently. He challenges us to think of the effect our words, actions and timelines have on new and potential partners and to ensure our actions are consistent with our desires to be a welcoming, warm community open to all.
Under James' leadership we had a successful new member event that was engaging, effective and fun. James has an amazing attention to detail. This, coupled with his efforts to promote communication ensured everyone participating felt heard. The icebreakers he constructed were an amazing way to establish rapport seamlessly
Similarly, James led efforts surrounding a recent temple wide survey. With the belief you can't correct what you don't know and need data and facts to know what is working well, James and the team carefully constructed a survey with both open ended and direct questions allowing our partners to provide candid and meaningful responses. James is now working with the team to develop and implement a prioritized list of findings from this survey.
For all this work, his steadfast dedication to TBJ, Kol and the Jewish community and for his ability to see the good in all and to help be part of the solution, for his ability to be both a team player and a leader, we are proud and honored to nominate James Kostenblatt as Temple Beth Jacob volunteer of the year.

Temple Beth Jacob Sisterhood
Lorraine Wernow is a tireless volunteer for Sisterhood. She chaired a wonderful Hamentashen baking event this past year. She is a leader in our book discussion group and all events sponsored by Sisterhood. Of course Lorraine is also well known as a leader at Gift of Life swabbing drives, and as a volunteer for Federation.

Temple Beth Shalom – Florida
Shari Rake and her husband, Richard Schwartz, have had an interesting journey with Temple Beth Shalom. Their daughters, Madison and Lily, were educated and called to Torah at our shul. Afterwards, Shari and Rich took a ‘sabbatical’ from TBS. We were so pleased to welcome them back and Shari has been a benevolent spirit since returning. Shari has volunteered countless hours helping to organize, as well as help out at events and last year she joined the Board of Directors. Her love of gardening has led her to help beautify our cemetery as well as organize and run the Daffodil Project. Daffodils were planted as a perennial remembrance of the children lost in the Holocaust. Our school planted hundreds of bulbs last fall and we were astonished at their beauty this spring. We thank Shari for all her help and her willingness to “just tell me what to do.”

Temple Beth Shalom Sisterhood
Robin Bordman is our Sisterhood’s hero. She has kept us afloat for so many years, especially during COVID. Caring, giving and supportive are perfect words to describe Robin. Tikkun Olam goes hand in hand with Sisterhood, she asks, “what can we do, how can we help?” We are still a Sisterhood because of Robin and we are feeling very blessed.

Temple Sinai – Middletown
Joe Fox, Nicole and Dave Johnson our Volunteers of the Year. Joe and Nicole are both Hebrew School teachers. Joe goes beyond and is a cantorial intern for Shabbat. Dave Johnson does security unpaid on Sundays.

Minutes from 2023 Annual Meeting

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County
Annual Meeting

Rissa called the meeting to order at 10:15 am.
The singing of the National Anthem and Hatikvah were led by Lynne Arnold and Nava Herzog.
Rabbi Kohn gave the invocation speaking about our need to have the courage and vision to look forward and achieve our goals.
Rissa welcomed clergy present, representatives of JFS, the NJCC and community leaders.

The minutes of the 2022 annual meeting were approved.

Rissa thanked the staff. Sharon Ball was presented with a gift. She will be retiring after 22 years. Georgia will be starting her 32nd year. Pam Mason was introduced. She will be taking over Sharon’s responsibilities.
Rissa thanked Kathy Wurster who will be stepping down as Zachor Director. We will mis her professionalism and dedication. Zachor has been extremely successful over the years of her tenure. Over 3000 students have already been reached so far this year.
Ben Nakagowa will volunteer tolled the teen program until he leaves for medical school.

Microgrants: There is $7500 available for the year. Rissa thanked Steve Rubinsky for leading the growth of this important program.

Endowments and Life & Legacy has been chaired by Harvey Kallus.
Campaign: Our total efforts have decreased over time. We need to increase the donor base to have successful fundraising.

Upcoming Events: Federation Fun Day and Major Gifts.

Treasurer’s Report:Jeff Harmer thanked the endowment funders, New funds were established in 2022 and existing ones continue to receive donations. Allocations were given to camp scholarships, Jewish experiences, youth to Israel, microgrants, the JCC and JFS.
Both campaign and endowment funds have decreased and the stock market has declined.
An audit is underway and will be available this summer.

Election and Installation of board officers trustees:
David Ryder is transitioning to honorary trustee. Susan Notar is stepping down from the board and board secretary. Rissa thanked her for her years of service and for chairing zachor and community relations committees.
Nominations: Secretary: Ronit Meyerson
                      Treasurer: Jeff Harmer
                      President: Rissa Cutler
Trustees: Rob Lipkin, Elizabeth Frederick, Bill Cieplinski, Davida Kossar, Stephen Rubinsky,
Jeffrey Rubin, Abbe Distelberger, Leslie Green, Betty Grossman, Joseph Herzog, Irv Kadesh,
Gaye Miller, Rachelle Harmer

Volunteer of the Year Awards: Sharon Ball called up the volunteers from the many synagogue and community agencies who received this year’s honor,

The meeting was adjourned at 11;26
Respectfully submitted:
Susan Notar

Minutes from 2022 Annual Meeting

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County

Annual Meeting   6/14/22   via Zoom

The meeting was called to order at 7:17 pm. A video of the highlights of 2020-21, prepared by Sharon Ball was shown and a moment of silence was called to remember those lost this past year.

The National anthem and Hatikva were led by Nava Herzog.

D’Var Torah: led by Rabbi Lerner who spoke about how the Israelites learned to become a community during their years in the desert. We are continuing to live by their legacy.

The speaker was introduced. Adva Vilchininski, from the Israeli Consulate. She gave an update on current events in Israel.

Rissa Cutler welcomed the public officials present, recipient agencies, clergy and past presidents.
There was a motion to dispense with the reading of the 2021 minutes, and the minutes were approved.

Committee Reports: Rissa reported that the Zachor initiative headed up by Kathy Wurster reached 2200 students last year. The next event will be on August 21 co-sponsored by the Orange County Human Rights Commission at OCCC in Newburgh.

The Jewish Orange Youth program has been able to hire Benjamin Nakagowa as the teen leader thanks to a generous grant from the Littman family.
Other committees include Life & Legacy which met their goal of 18 donors and received a $5000 grant from JFNA, Endowment, Nominating, and CRC. All have had a successful year. Campaign: Rissa reported that we need to increase our donor base. New fundraising efforts  include a My Tree in Israel olive oil fundraiser and a sale of honey for the holidays.

Financial Report: Jeff Harmer reported that we supported JFS, camp, religious school Y2I and micro grant programs, as well as the NJCC, Zachor, the Holocaust Center at RCCC and the Jewish Book Council. Super Sunday was not held this year, as it has not been successful. Our allocations split was changed to 80 percent of funds allocated locally and the remaining 20 percent overseas. As our direct contributions decreased last year, the endowment fund increased the percentage of interest they provide.

Nominating Committee: Steve Rubinsky announced that Michael Melasky and Nancy Gross will not be continuing on the board. The slate of officers includes: President: Rissa Cutler, 2nd VP: Ronit Meyerson, Treasurer: Jeff Harmer, Secretary: Susan Notar.
The slate was approved without opposition and Mona Rieger was called to install the officers.
New trustees include Rachelle Harmer and Susan Wertheim. The board was installed by Rissa Cutler.
The positions of 1st VP and two trustees remain open.

Volunteers of the Year were introduced.

Closing remarks were made by Rabbi Kohn.

A motion to adjourn was made and the meeting ended at 8:37.

Respectfully submitted:
Susan Notar, Secretary