Shabbat Greeters and Kitchen Crew

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Our shul runs smoothly because of the deep involvement of our lay leadership and the commitment of our members.  Beth Jacob was founded on three principles: No financial barriers to membership, no tickets on the High Holy Days, and everyone participates in the kitchen.  Over the course of the last two years, we have asked for less volunteer support and adjusted the way in which Kitchen Crews were assigned.  But today, it is imperative that we bring the Kitchen Crew back in a consistent manner that applies to all members except in cases of extenuating circumstances. To make this easier, we will no longer be randomly assigning Kitchen Crews for specific days—instead we want to let you sign up for the date & shift that works best for you.  We have even split the kitchen crew into two shorter shifts!

We need 10 volunteers (four greeters & six people for kitchen duty) every Saturday. We no longer have a professional kitchen manager which means we have more need for lay involvement.  The first Kitchen Crew starts at 10 am to help with food prep and set up for the Kiddush.  The second Kitchen Crew will begin at noon to manage the meal and clean up.

Additionally, as we work to ensure a safe building, the role of a welcoming face is even more important.  Therefore, we need a set of volunteers for the two Greeter shifts, starting at 9 am & 10:30 am.

Beth Jacob Volunteers of the Month: BJC’s Youth Education Committee:
Davina Alperin, Lisa Walker and Rebecca Goffman

Get to know our Beth Jacob Volunteers! Do you know someone who should be a featured volunteer? Contact Orit at

(Lisa Walker – Davida Alperin – Rebbeca Goffman)

Davida Alperin

  • In what ways do you volunteer for Beth Jacob?
    • I serve on the Youth Committee along with Rebecca Goffman and Lisa Walker. We act as liaisons between the parents/families and the youth groups (BJUSY, Kadima, and BJuniors). We work to keep parents informed of the youth activities; help with the Purim carnival, pancake breakfast, final banquet and other youth activities; and recruit volunteers when needed for those activities. I also am one of the volunteer greeters on Shabbat and help with youth programming during the high holidays.
  • What do you do outside of Beth Jacob (work, hobbies, etc)?
    • I teach Political Science at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. I love spending time with family and friends, reading novels, attending the women’s book club on my block, and taking walks when the weather is beautiful, and sometimes even when it is not beautiful.
  • What’s something you love about Beth Jacob?
    • I love seeing old friends and also getting to know new people at Shul. My goal for the coming year is to have a conversation on shabbat, even it brief, with a person I don’t know or hardly know.

Lisa Walker

I have volunteered for Beth Jacob through various roles since we moved to the Twin Cities 12 years ago. Currently, I serve on the Youth Committee with the main charge of supporting our synagogue’s youth groups. I love that the Beth Jacob community is like a family, and our children grow up almost like cousins in that family. Even though the children may have different personalities and interests, they develop real respect and affection for each other. For those of us congregants who don’t have extended family, Beth Jacob provides something profoundly essential to the quality of our lives.

Rebecca Goffman

  • In what ways do you volunteer for Beth Jacob?
    • Co-chair of the youth and family committee
    • Help at almost all the youth events where parents are needed
    • Served on the board for three years
    • Represented Beth Jacob on a St. Paul wide committee looking into opening a community Hebrew/Jewish Studies high school program
  • What do you do outside of Beth Jacob (work, hobbies, etc)?
    • Work: I’m a psychologist who specializes in assessment across the lifespan. My passion right now is Therapeutic Assessment, which combines a therapeutic approach with testing. My population-specific skills are working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, adolescents in residential treatment, and general outpatient work.
    • Hobbies: I love family time! Creating and cooking family meals each night is therapeutic for me because I so enjoy the conversations that occur at the table. For self-care, I take piano lessons, read romance novels, hike/walk in warm weather, watch Netflix, and travel.
  • What’s something you love about Beth Jacob?
    • I love seeing old friends and also getting to know new people at Shul. My goal for the coming year is to have a conversation on shabbat, even it brief, with a person I don’t know or hardly know.

December 2019: Bernie Miller

In what ways do you volunteer for Beth Jacob?

  • I help lead prayer services when called upon.
  • I am one of the ‘walking Gabbaim’.
  • I change out the Yahrzeit plaques every week and get the siddurim and Chumashim organized before every Shabbat service. I also help get out the Kol Ya’akov newsletters and other mailings when available, and just generally assist Sean and the rest of the staff if something should come up and they need an extra pair of hands.
  • I have been a Sanctuary Greeter on numerous Shabbatot.
  • I have served on the Fundraising Committee.
  • I worked on the new synagogue website by updating content for the ‘Learn to Lead Services’ page.
  • In the coming year, I will be working on overhauling the cemetery database.

What do you do outside of Beth Jacob (work, hobbies, etc)?

  • I have spent over 40 years in the Information Technology field – almost 20 of them with the University of Minnesota. In fact, one of my hobbies is building PCs from scratch.
  • I have taken classes in acting, singing, ballroom dancing, and am going to be studying meteorology during this coming fall. I’m a serious costumer every Purim and Halloween (note the Thurston Howell III theme in the submitted picture). I enjoy science fiction and helping my wife in our garden, and we both love traveling thru the Upper Midwest visiting family and friends.

What’s something you love about Beth Jacob?

  • Beth Jacob is a true community. Everyone genuinely cares about everyone else, and that means so much to me. I’m also being constantly stimulated intellectually thru the weekly Divrei Torah, the post-Kiddush learning sessions, and the ongoing adult education classes. Beth Jacob not only makes you think about what Judaism means to you, it **encourages** you to think about what Judaism means to you.

November 2019: Elizabeth Barnard (EB)

In what ways do you volunteer for Beth Jacob?
I am flattered and honored and a bit embarrassed by this recognition. At Beth Jacob I volunteer by being responsive: I show up, come to services, join study sessions, help sponsor an occasional Kiddush, compost the kitchen scraps, give occasional teachings, attend occasional trainings; I sit shmira and lift the Torah when asked. This is hardly noteworthy volunteering. I simply appear, show up, along with so many others.

I serve as chairperson of the Chesed Committee and have given serious thought to what “chesed” means. We offer meals to people with illnesses, injuries, or a new baby. At the instigation of Barb Neren, Beth Jacob is launching a program of Friendly Visiting of people who have a need for compassionate company. My intention is to expand the vision of how we can live in the world with chesed at the core, and how the Chesed Committee can enlarge the umbrella under which we take action as a community.

What do you do outside of Beth Jacob (work, hobbies, etc)?

My work life is a patchwork quilt of teaching opportunities: piano in the St. Paul Schools (and with Lorraine Hertz); woodworking at two locations; and building boats with underserved youth. When I’m not in class, creating lesson plans, or assembling materials, I might be found cooking, gardening, painting houses, building things, dehydrating food for camping trips, dancing in the kitchen with Lynn, or writing love letters to my granddaughters.

What’s something you love about Beth Jacob?

One thing I love about Beth Jacob is the support that is offered during a Torah service: people are not judged by their performance but appreciated for their efforts. Things need to happen, and we’re all part of helping them take place.

October 2019: Chag Sameach Everyone! Stay tuned for next month’s Volunteer of the month!

September 2019: Maxine Rosenthal

In what ways do you volunteer for Beth Jacob?

I pay all the cemetery bills, and years ago, helped update the map of the cemetery. I consider myself the shul nag because I call to remind people of their jobs on the coming Shabbat, such as reading Torah, kitchen duty, and lobby greeting.  Rabbi Liberman had the idea that the bar/bat mitzvah kids could write something about their Parshah on a piece of fabric and I would put them together into a Bein Gavra. I only continued doing that because the kids got so much pleasure seeing their work hanging in the social hall. I also made a more serious Bein Gavra that is used every week, which give me so much pleasure. I helped with the fund raiser a few years ago by making a Torah cover and then repeated the design in white for Rosh Hashanah. I am also a Gabbai, which is a great honor.

What do you do outside of Beth Jacob (work, hobbies, etc)?

Is there really an outside of Beth Jacob? I keep myself busy by making quilts, and lecturing and teaching about them. I also make beaded jewelry.

What’s something you love about Beth Jacob?

Beth Jacob is a community, my community. More like a family. Seeing the people at Beth Jacob makes my world complete.

August 2019: Ricka Kohnstamm

In what ways do you volunteer for Beth Jacob?

I am co-chairing the current Search Committee for Sr. Rabbi, I chaired the (now defunct) Tefillah Team, I serve on the Board and Executive Committee, and I am a mash. I love doing kitchen duty.  In the past, I served as a shomer, “specializing” in the very early mornings shifts at Hodroff.  One of my very favorite volunteer efforts was driving my daughter Sage back and forth to BJ when she was actively involved in

What do you do outside of Beth Jacob (work, hobbies, etc)?

I am an integrative health coach – I work with individuals to unwind complex issues that keep them stuck and overwhelmed.  I also consult with organizations on larger health-related initiatives.  I am working with HCMC Innovations, for instance, on a start-up concept to normalize emotional health support.  My husband and I have a 68 acre farm in Goodhue County and we spend a lot of time there, gardening, caring for our 20 wild mustangs who reside in sanctuary on the property, enjoying nature and reading.  I travel everywhere and as often as I can.  I have three grown children who attended Talmud Torah (thank you Sara Lynn, Susan, Yosi and so many others) and who are very interesting adults and who live in Boston, Denver and Washington, DC.  I spend as much time with them as they will allow.  I have several other adopted heart children, including a daughter in Kampala, Uganda, who I speak with almost daily. Finally,  I enjoy mentoring college students in Africa through Kapadia Education Foundation.

What’s something you love about Beth Jacob?

I love the diversity of the community at Beth Jacob.  I love getting hugs from my friends, listening to (and admiring) the davening of people I respect, hearing the learned words of my rabbis, and having the comfort of community in times of joy and sorrow.

July 2019: Eric Pasternack

It is my great privilege to be the first person profiled as “volunteer of the month.” I know that many of you will be similarly profiled in Kol Yaakov issues to come, and I look forward to finding out more about your work and your motivation for doing it.

I joined Beth Jacob in 1999, and immediately volunteered to be on the Ritual Committee and to help coordinate the nascent Chevra Kadisha. One thing led to another, and I ended up chairing the Ritual Committee and co-chairing the Chevra Kadisha with my wife Jo. I also became one of the “walking gabbaim” after Sid Goldfarb z”l became unable to continue in that role. After some time, Louis Newman drafted me to be co-President with Jeff Skochil, and I have been actively volunteering in a number of capacities ever since: committee work, Board work, helping out in the office, rolling Sifrei Torah, leyning at morning minyan and on Shabbat, scheduling the walking gabbaim, and taking on a second term as co-President, to name some of them. My motivation is simple: I love this community and Congregation and want to do everything I can to ensure its continuing vibrancy.