Synagogue Council Board Welcomes New Directors and Interim Executive Director

The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts Board of Directors is pleased to announce the addition of new Directors and the selection of an Interim Executive Director as we focus on serving our members and promoting K’lal Yisrael in Massachusetts and neighboring communities.

We welcome Steve Greenberg, Shirah Hecht, and Aaron Kischel to the Board.  CLICK HERE to see their brief biographical sketches, along with those of our continuing Officers and Directors.

The Board is delighted to announce that Gretchen Marks Brandt has been appointed as Interim Executive Director. Gretchen was hired as Associate Director in January and has been doing a remarkable job as Acting Executive Director. With this appointment, the Board is recognizing her outstanding contributions. We plan to select a permanent Executive Director around the beginning of 2021.

The growth of the Board and selection of an Interim ED are positive developments that will help us support synagogues during this challenging time. There are opportunities for you to get involved and contribute to achieving our mission. We welcome volunteers to participate in our standing and ad hoc committees.

Standing Committees:
• Congregation Engagement and Community Outreach
• Development
• Finance
• Programming

Ad Hoc Committees: 
• Strategic Planning
• Public Relations and Marketing

If you are interested in volunteering for a committee, please contact the office at 617-244-6506 or send an e-mail to

You can also contribute to the Synagogue Council by making a donation. Every contribution matters as we try to get through the COVID crisis and become financially sustainable.

Thank you for your engagement and support, and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming activities.
Shalom Chevre—Friends,

We hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and thriving.

On Tuesday, July 21st, our outstanding interdenominational panel, Rabbis Daniel Berman, Valerie Cohen, and Yaakov Jaffee, shared some of their goals and plans for High Holiday services this year. We are abundantly grateful to these extraordinary people for their time and for sharing their experiences, stories, and the foundations upon which they are building High Holiday experiences for their congregations. They were articulate, insightful, compassionate, and honest. Each of our panelists inspired me! Many of our participants shared my reaction, while others left frustrated because they were looking for concrete solutions. In planning for the High Holidays, each of us is balancing real and competing needs, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Synagogue Council seeks to bring people together across the denominations, to acknowledge and celebrate the variety of voices, theologies, and approaches to Jewish observance, and to learn from each other about our varied approaches to celebrating the holidays during this unprecedented time.
Our workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 28th (7:30 pm) and 29th (1:00 pm), Successful Fundraising During a Pandemic with Lee Rosenfield ( have reached capacity. The Zoom links were emailed to registrants today. If you registered and cannot locate your Zoom link, please email Emma, During this workshop, open to all congregations, participants will share their fundraising concerns. Together, we will also introduce fundraising best practices, strategies, and techniques, with an emphasis on those most effective during the pandemic. Following the workshops, leadership teams from Synagogue Council member congregations are invited to make individual consultation appointments with Lee. During your consultations, your fundraising team and Lee will discuss an individualized fundraising plan for your congregation. This opportunity is funded by Synagogue Council and will be provided free of charge to 20 member congregations on a first come, first served basis.
For those who seek a focus on virtual High Holiday services, our program, What Makes This Year Different From All Other Years? Planning for the High Holidays, On-Line Edition, will take place on Tuesday, August 4th, at 10 in the morning. Once again, this one-hour program will offer a moderated panel that will address questions about how they hope to realize their goals for the High Holiday experience through worship services and activities accessed on-line. Panelists will address challenges, innovations, and unexpected benefits. We will wonder together about the needs of congregants this year, and also the impact of the many forms and layers of loss that we have faced and how this may influence the High Holiday experience. And we will attempt to answer questions about messaging regarding changes and adaptations to this year’s High Holiday experience.
On Wednesday, August 19th (3:30-5:00), Rabbi Beth Naditch will help us to address our very real shared experiences of life during the pandemic: Coping with Uncertainty: Avarnu et Paraoh, na’avor gam et zeh (We overcame Pharaoh and we will overcome this too): Managing Expectations, Coping with Uncertainty, and Caring Remotely. During this program, facilitated by Rabbi Naditch, we will connect in the wilderness, take stock of our journey and have safe opportunities to acknowledge ambiguous losses, share concerns and challenges, be heard, listen to each other, and vent. Participants will learn a bit about what we know regarding how the pandemic is affecting us, and then we will avail ourselves of break-out rooms in which clergy and lay leaders will meet separately and engage in conversation facilitated by chaplains and social workers. At the end of this program, we will come back together.

At Synagogue Council, our goal is to support synagoue leadership in their important and sometimes difficult work. Please be in touch with suggestions for future programs and initiatives.

Gretchen Marks Brandt
Interim Director
Synagogue Council of Massachusetts
617-244-6506 ext. 12
New COVID-19 Legislation

This week, Congress has been debating a new relief bill which, if passed, could have wide-ranging impact on our Jewish communities. Though the legislative process is not complete, any new COVID-19 funding package will contain programs that can provide important assistance to different segments of our community. As we did with the enactment of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), it is important for us to understand these programs, to ensure that they are passed and implemented in the most helpful way possible, and then to educate our communal organizations on how to utilize them to support the growing needs we all face. To begin this process, join us for a webinar on the new COVID-19 legislation.
WEBINAR: Back to Business: From Bay to Bay

A deep dive into the Secure Community Network’s Jewish Community Guide for Reopening Facilities and Resuming Operations in the Age of COVID-19

for Synagogue and Jewish Organization Leaders from the San Francisco and Massachusetts Bay Areas

Wednesday, July 29th

11:00 am – 12:15 pm Pacific/2 pm – 3:15 pm Eastern

This webinar is designed to help Jewish community leaders plan for resumption of operations and reopening organizations. The expert panelists contributed to the development of SCN's Back to Business Guide, and will share best practices and considerations to support decision making in a rapidly changing environment. Webinar participants are encouraged to review the guide in advance of the presentation and may include questions for the panelists with your registration.

Join us for a family reading of  Nobody Ever Told Them They Are Different
August 2nd 10:00-10:30am

These are challenging times for all of us. So much of what is happening in our world is unpredictable, ugly and difficult to discuss productively with our children.

Rabbi Ma’ayan Sands, a TBZ member and the Rabbi at Temple B’nai Shalom in Braintree, is the author of Nobody Ever Told Them They Are Different; a story for children and their adults, of all ages. It is based on a true story. Bear, Lion and Tiger were friends. They loved each other. Each one looked different from the others, but inside they all needed the same things: healthy food to eat, clean water to drink, fresh, clean air to breathe, friends who loved them, toys to play with and trees to climb and sit under when it was hot.

Rabbi Ma’ayan will share her book and facilitate a family/community discussion with a Zoom family reading Sunday, August 2, 2020 from 10:00-10:30. Together we will wonder about the messages of the story and consider how we can address the issues so present in our lives, today. This thought-provoking story will help us appreciate our similarities, celebrate our differences and support our neighbors of color in our mutual efforts to create a world of equality and justice, for all. Our discussion will support and enhance our goals for social and economic justice to be a shared pursuit.

You may purchase, at a reduced price, a copy of the book and have it sent to your home before the program, here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the session.
Save the Date

HONORING AJC CEO David Harris for 30 Years of Reimagining Global Jewish Advocacy
Wednesday, October 7th
7:30 - 8:30 p.m. ET

On October 7, we will come together virtually to honor David. We will be joined by distinguished guests, as we reflect on some of the most important moments in Jewish history over the past three decades, milestones that were only achieved because AJC—and David—were leading the charge.

To all who share David’s values—a steadfast commitment to protecting the Jewish people, standing up for Israel, and defending democracy—we invite you to join us.

Arts Matter Shabbat
October 23rd-24th
More Information Coming Soon
Hold the Date for LimmudFest 2020!

LimmudBoston’s annual festival of Jewish learning will be held on November 15th online as an eFestival.

Continue to check LimmudBoston's website for updates: CLICK HERE
Read the Jewish Advocate June 26th, 2020 article by Joni Shockett, " Limmud makes lemonade, moves conference online ."
Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston provides complimentary programs such as Introduction to Jewish Genealogy and Introduction to DNA Research to synagogues and other community organizations. All speakers will appear on Zoom until further notice. Programs are currently being booked for the fall, 2020.
*If you have an event or initiative that you would like us to include in a future newsletter, please email us at