Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen
Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen has served Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany since 1985. In July 1992, he assumed the position of Senior Rabbi of the Congregation. He is a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey and a product of the Reform Movement having spent many summers at the URJ Camps as well as participating in the EIE (Eisendrath International Exchange) Program spending a semester at the Leo Baeck High School in Haifa, Israel. Concurrent with his High School studies, Rabbi Shpeen was awarded a Certificate in Jewish Education from Gratz College, Philadelphia.
Rabbi Shpeen was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1979. After spending his first year at its campus in Jerusalem, Rabbi Shpeen studied at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. He received a Masters Degree in Hebrew Letters and was ordained in June 1984. In 1988 Rabbi Shpeen completed the St. Peter's Hospital Program, Albany, NY, in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). In May 2009, in recognition of his 25th anniversary of rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Shpeen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Shpeen presently serves on the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and on the HUC-JIR President's Rabbinic Council. Locally, he serves on the Board of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and on the Advisory Committee of the Capital District Senior Issues Forum Lifetime Achievement Award. Rabbi Shpeen has been an Adjunct Professor at the College of St. Rose in Albany since 1994, teaching a course on the Holocaust. He is also a regular commentator on WMHT Public Television.
Rabbi Shpeen was appointed in May, 2006 by Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings to serve on the Albany Human Rights Commission on which he served for three years until May 2009. Rabbi Shpeen is a two term Past President of the Capital District Board of Rabbis (2008-2010 & 1990-1992), past President of the Rabbinic Alumni Association of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, past President of B'nai B'rith Gideon Lodge #140, past President of the Buckingham Mews Homeowners Association, and has served on the Boards of the United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center, a previous term on Park Playhouse, The Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King Lecture at Siena College, the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, Jewish Family Services of Northeastern New York, The Interfaith Advisory Committee of the Bethlehem Central School District, the Sidney and Beatrice Albert Lecture Board of the College of St. Rose and the Admissions Committee of the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) and for many years was Jewish Chaplain at the Parsons School in Albany
Rabbi Shpeen was married for 31 years to the late Susan Balan, who was the Executive Director of the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center at the time of her death in November 2009. They have two adult children, Hilary who is a High School English teacher in the Montgomery County, MD school district and Adam who is an attorney in New York City.
To contact Rabbi Shpeen -
Rabbi Dennis S. Ross
Rabbi Dennis S. Ross was ordained by Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and holds a Master of Social Work degree from New York University and a Primary Certificate in Rational-Emotive Therapy from the Albert Ellis Institute. An honorary Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College included recognition of his advocacy work for reproductive rights and stem cell research.
Rabbi Ross directs Concerned Clergy for Choice for the Educational Fund of Family Planning Advocates of New York State. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Clergy Advisory Board and the Eastern Region Council of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Rabbi Ross served synagogues in Westchester, N.Y., Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts. He taught at the School of Education of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Manhattanville College and Williams College, and was an associate of the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School where he taught bio-medical ethics. Rabbi Ross has written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Jewish Daily Forward
and other publications. His most recent book, God in Our Relationships: Spirituality between People from the Teachings of Martin Buber
, and his contribution to the LifeLights series, Abortion and Judaism
, are released by Jewish Lights Publishing. Through Family Planning Advocates of New York State, he is lead author of "When a Woman Makes a Choice: A Curriculum for Chaplains," and "Stem Cell Research: A Study and Advocacy Toolkit for Clergy."
To contact Rabbi Ross -
Cantor Glenn Groper
Cantor Glenn Groper is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music and was invested as cantor in 1973. He served congregations in Houston, TX, Washington, DC and Summit, NJ before beginning his tenure here in Albany in the summer of 1989. Among his many professional accomplishments Cantor Groper is most proud of having seen over a thousand students safely through the sometimes treacherous waters of Bar and Bat Mitzvah. Cantor Groper believes that "when the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process serves to enhance the self esteem of our young people, both the temple and Judaism will hold a special place in their hearts in later years".
The Cantor is grateful to our rabbis and the entire staff for their involvement in and support of the Bar Mitzvah program and especially to our very talented tutor Mrs. Susan Kushner. Beyond Bar and Bat Mitzvah the Cantor is very committed to the education of the young and young at heart here at Beth Emeth. Whether through prayer/study sessions with our students in Sunday school, teaching the pre-confirmation class, Adult Torah study or beginning Hebrew, as well as many other activities, Cantor Groper stays connected to this most vital part of Temple life.
Cantor Groper is a former executive officer and membership chairman of the American Conference of Cantors; a former member of the Board on Cantorial Certification at HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music. He has performed numerous programs and concerts for Beth Emeth as well as other community organizations including Lighthouse for the Blind, Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home, B'nai B'rith, and Z.O.A. among others. He currently serves on the board of the Jewish Family Services of Albany and continues work in that vein within the congregation through the Reyut/Caring Community Committee of Beth Emeth.
At home in both classical and popular styles of music the Cantor insures that Beth Emeth remains in the forefront of "what's happening" in Jewish music throughout the country. The Religious School Choir, the Beth Emeth Chorale, the Professional Choir and the Beth Emeth Band all add to the richness and diversity of the musical experiences available here at temple. In addition to mining for talent from within the congregation the Cantor has brought to Beth Emeth many of the most talented of his colleagues. The Cantors in Consort series as well as other gala concerts and programs have provided the congregation with many examples of the finest Jewish music available past and present.
Cantor Glenn Groper is married to his high school sweetheart Michelle (Micki). They have two daughters Anna and Rebekah as well as two dogs, two cats, a turtle and a snake.
To contact Cantor Groper -
Gail Kendall - Executive Director
Gail joined Congregation Beth Emeth as Executive Director in December 2008. She brought nearly thirty years of management and financial experience with synagogues and non-profit organizations. Most recently, from 2001 to 2008, she was the Executive Director at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady.
Prior to beginning her career as a Jewish professional, she worked at the Albany Institute of History & Art for eleven years, first as the Business Manager and then as the Director of Finance and Administration. She worked in affordable housing and real estate development in Boston. Gail is intimately acquainted with Reform Judaism and the working of synagogues. She has been actively involved in Reform and Conservative synagogues as a committee member, board member and officer. Since moving to Albany in 1990, her activities as a member of Temple Israel have included serving on the board, chairing the Budget Committee and the Religious Affairs Committee, teaching Torah Trope to Junior Congregation, chanting Torah on Shabbat, and initiating and organizing the annual Mitzvah Day. Gail holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Simmons College, Boston and a Master’s of City Planning from MIT. She participated in a program of Advanced Graduate Study in Business Administration at Northeastern University.
To contact Gail -
Deborah Sokoler is the Program Director at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, New York. She received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago; her training focused on work with families, individuals and groups. She has also trained at the Whizin Institute for Jewish Family Education at the University of Judaism.
Deborah's work in Jewish education began in 1995, teaching second grade at Congregation Beth Emeth. Since that time, she has gone on to teaching 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th grade Religious school classes. In 2000, she was given the task of developing early childhood programming at Beth Emeth. This has led to the creation of The Parenting Center, both a space designed specifically for younger families as well as programs with these family's particular needs in mind. In 2003, Deborah became the Program Director for Beth Emeth which entails the development of all family life education, early childhood education as well as programming for congregants of all ages.
Deborah's greatest joy is helping family's explore ways to bring Jewish practice and ritual into their home life and to find new avenues to engage people into congregational life.
Deborah is married to Richard Sokoler. They have three children, Jennifer, Nina and David.
To contact Debbie -
Meredith Ray-LaBatt is the Advisor for CBEYG (Congregation Beth Emeth Youth Group). For more than 15 years, she has worked with/on behalf of children and adolescents in a variety of settings, from after school care to residential programs. Meredith works at the NYS Office of Mental Health in the
Division of Children and Family Services overseeing various initiatives to improve the provision of mental health services for children and their families. In her role, Meredith serves as the Division lead for youth empowerment, youth development and youth involvement efforts. Serving as the Co-Chair of the NYS Youth Development Team, Meredith has worked to promote the integration of youth development principles and practices into state agency policies and community programs. In addition, she helped to grow the State's youth peer support movement, which develops and trains youth advocates to provide peer support services to youth receiving mental health services. Meredith received Masters Degrees in Social Welfare and Criminal Justice from the University of Albany.
As president of her own youth group while in high school, Meredith acknowledges the important role temple NFTY and being a part of a Jewish community played in her life. Also, she believes strongly that the experience of being apart of a youth-run and youth-led youth group, such as CBEYG - in addition to being lots of fun - provides a strong foundation for future leadership and success in life.
Meredith is married to David LaBatt. They have a son Charles.
To contact Meredith -
Shara Siegfeld is the Education Director of the Einhorn Center for Jewish Education as of May 2013. A Jewish educator with many years of experience teaching in various local Jewish institutions, she is both knowledgeable and passionate about Judaism and brings great enthusiasm to this position.
For 15 years prior to starting at Beth Emeth, she taught middle school Judaics, implemented new curriculum and mentored teaching staff at the Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy, where she also oversaw faculty contract negotiations and managed faculty financials. At Congregation Ohav Shalom she taught 4th grade curriculum. At Temple Israel she taught high school Hebrew, local Jewish history and a preparatory course for Hebrew SAT 2 exams. She was also the Director of their Midrasha High School Program. In this job, she was responsible for providing oversight of program operations, hiring, managing and evaluating professional and administrative staff, handling the budgeting process and coordinating program and staffing assignments. During the summer of 2012, at Camp Ramah New England she was the Director of the Hebrew Immersion Cafe and taught all levels of Judaic Studies, worked on curriculum development and was an educator of children with special needs. For the summer of 2013, Shara is Director of Education at Ramah.
Shara has a B.A. in Jewish Philosophy and has begun a Master's program in Administration.
Shara is the daughter of Mel and Jane Waldman and is a native of this area. She and her husband, David reside in Loudonville and are the parents of four children.
To contact Shara -
See All Events for Any Day, Click Day Below...
The next four events...
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Memorial Day Flags - Brotherhood
10:30 AM - Loudonville Cemetery ~ Questions? Contact Rob Dorkin -
Monday, May 27, 2013
Temple Offices Closed - Memorial Day
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Sisterhood Trip to Broadway - “Kinky Boots”
Bus leaves temple at 7:30 AM Questions? Contact
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Ritual Committee Meeting
7:00 PM Questions? Contact