Mitzvah and Volunteer Opportunites

Volunteers are the lifeblood and the nefesh – the soul of our community

Provide a meal to a home-bound member, serve on a committee, chant Torah, organize a fundraiser, make latkes for the Hanukkah party and blintzes for Shavuot, help with youth and family education, offer a workshop, lead Torah study, help in the garden… the possibilities are endless, as is the joy from being an active part of the JCA community!

Todah rabah, thank you so much to our members who already volunteer. There are too many to list here but you are all appreciated! If you are interested in joining a committee, volunteering for a group or event, or would like more information, get in touch with the contact listed or with the JCA office at

Adult Education

The Adult Education Committee plans and organizes educational offerings for adults in the community in coordination with the rabbi. It is responsible for assessing the interests and educational needs of the community and finding appropriate instructors to teach courses; devising a schedule for each semester and arranging for available space; and publicizing the adult education opportunities to members of the JCA and the broader Jewish community. Contact: Barbara Burkart at 413-256-8139 or

Board of Directors

The JCA’s Board of Directors consists of fifteen elected members including six officers (president or co-presidents, two or three vice presidents, clerk and treasurer), and nine members-at-large. All members of the board must be members in good standing of the community and will be elected at the Annual Meeting. Board members are elected to serve for an initial term of two years. The board holds regular monthly meetings. Contact: Eric Weiss at 413-687-3356 or

Book Group

The JCA adult reading group (ARG) has been meeting for over two decades. We read four books a year by Jewish authors, September through June, drawing primarily upon American and Israeli writers. The books are usually fiction but may be non-fiction, and of current interest or classics in Jewish/Yiddish literature. We choose the next book to read at each meeting, and publicize it in the JCA newsletter. Everyone in the community is welcome to attend any meeting that interests them without a commitment for the year. Contact: Ken Talan at 413-253-2248 or

Building and Grounds

The Building and Grounds Committee supervises the care, maintenance and repair of the building, capital equipment, furnishings and grounds belonging to the JCA. It reviews their condition and makes recommendations to the board regarding priorities for long-term maintenance and capital improvements. Contact: Bob Solosko at 413-527-0725 or


The JCA has a cemetery that includes a green burial section in a beautiful site in Shutesbury. The Cemetery Committee is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance, sells plots to members and non-members, maintains cemetery records, and serves as the liaison between the bereaved family, the funeral director and excavator. The committee manages the cemetery with the guidance of the rabbi and in collaboration with the Administrative Director. It maintains cemetery rules that have been approved by the board. Contact: Linda Sinapi at 413-218-3107 or or Devorah Jacobson at 413-253-9804 or


The Chesed Committee offers support during times of need. Chesed, loving-kindness, is extended to community members facing challenges such as illness, hospitalization, loss of a loved one, or isolation. When the JCA office or rabbi is informed of a need, the Chesed Committee will be notified and can help coordinate services including meals, transportation, visits, and assistance with shiva. Chesed keeps an ongoing list of volunteers from our community who can provide the services needed. Leadership of the committee is rotated monthly and new members and volunteers are always welcome. Contact: Robin Diamond at 413-348-3484 or

Chevra Kadisha

The Chevra Kadisha, when requested, performs the mitzvot of ritually washing, dressing and preparing the body for burial according to Jewish custom. The members of the Society make a significant long-term commitment, appreciate the awesome nature of their holy tasks, engage in educating themselves about the Jewish approach to death, and provide information to the larger community on the topic. Contact: Joan Saperstan at 413-213-0186 or or Ken Talan at 413-253-2248 or

Finance and Development

The Finance and Development Committee has responsibility for providing oversight of the financial status of the JCA, including analysis of short and long-term assets and liabilities, and making recommendations to address potential financial challenges for the community. The committee works collaboratively with the treasurer and administrative director on the analysis and vetting of a proposed annual budget for consideration by the full board. The committee is also responsible for stimulating the inflow of funds to support the operation of the JCA, including coordinating and supporting all fundraising efforts, such as annual giving and special appeals. This is done in the context of community building and Jewish spiritual values which nurtures and sustains a “culture of giving” at the JCA. Contact: Jeff Roth-Howe at 413-256-1096 or

High Holidays

The task of the High Holiday Committee is to organize the services to accommodate the hundreds of adults and children who attend. The members of the committee are in charge of planning, preparation, lay service participation, greeters, ushers, honors, parking, security, the oneg and break-fast, and recruiting volunteers to help make the High Holidays a harmonious and deeply meaningful community and religious experience. Contact: Connie Songer at 413-437-7438 or or Yossi Charette at 860-559-4926 or


The Membership Committee is charged with creating a welcoming atmosphere for new members and for developing programs for the orientation, integration, engagement and retention of all members. It sponsors gatherings at which new and current members can meet informally, produces informational material about the JCA, answers inquiries from new and potential members, and identifies volunteer opportunities for all members based on their identified interest and skills. Contact: Michael Burkart at 413-221-3230 or


The volunteer governance of the JCA community depends on a large cadre of skilled and dedicated leaders. The Nominating Committee makes nominations for vacant positions on the board of directors and presents a slate of officers and directors to the JCA membership for election each year. For information on submitting your name for consideration, contact: Judi Fonsh at 413-548-9053 or

Not Bread Alone

This sub-committee of JCA’s Tikkun Olam/Social Justice Committee provides volunteers to prepare, serve, and clean up the noontime meal at Not Bread Alone, Amherst’s soup kitchen, one Sunday each month and on Christmas Day. A group of regular monthly volunteers is identified each fall, and a list of substitute volunteers is maintained. All JCA members are invited to join us on Christmas Day. Contact: Hollie Kalkstein at 413-374-1090 or

Ritual Life

The Ritual Life Committee provides support to the rabbi in planning and conducting religious services. It considers and proposes policies related to Shabbat, holidays, kashrut and other religious matters, subject to the review and approval of the board, and performs other such duties as from time to time may be assigned to it by the president, co-presidents, or by the board of directors. Contact: Aaron Bousel at 413-253-3544 or or Yossi Charette at 860-559-4926 or


Shomerim are watchers or guardians of the soul. Jewish tradition requires that the deceased (met) not be left alone prior to burial. Shomerim sit at the funeral home in close proximity to the deceased, reading psalms which comfort the soul (neshamah) of the departed. This mitzvah is considered an act of pure kindness because it is carried out without expecting anything in return. Contact: Hadar Grabel at 413-253-0597 or or Libby Arny at 413-695-5916.

Tikkun Olam/ Social Justice

The Tikkum Olam Committee always welcomes new and returning members. Our main goal of contributing to social justice locally and beyond is accomplished by creation of or participation in initiatives that help create a more just world. Contact: Judith Souweine at 413-256-0493 or or Amy Rothenberg at

Visual Arts

This committee selects, hangs, and publicizes the art in the JCA Hall Gallery and presents four exhibits a year. Contact: Carol Kaminsky at 413-256-8721 or, Janet Winston at 413-253-9483 or, or Shirah Neumann at 413-256-0160 x202 or

World Jewish Concerns and Project Rehovot

The committee provides a link between the JCA and the broader world Jewish community, with a focus on Israel. It brings to the attention of our members current issues of political, social and cultural significance to Jews by marking significant dates commemorating the Holocaust and Israel Independence Day. In addition, a sub-committee raises funds to support a part-time teacher for Project Rehovot in the Ma’alot Meshulam Elementary School in Rehovot, Israel to help immigrants and the children of immigrants adjust to life in Israel. Funds are raised through fundraising campaigns; grants; and preparing food for bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, kiddush luncheons, and special events. Contact: Karen Loeb (WJC) at 413-575-0774 or or Marilyn Kushick (PR) at 203-305-5424 or

Youth and Family Education

The Youth and Family Education Committee, under the guidance of our senior educators and with the approval of the board, establishes policy and reviews the programs for young children, families, teens, and camp. It develops, supports and monitors progress toward the JCA’s long-term education goals. It works closely with, and coordinates communication among, the leaders and staff of our integrated educational program. Contact: Rachel Vigderman at (413) 658-5806 or

Additional Information

In 2016/2017, three former committees were reconfigured as workgroups under the direction of the board of directors and coordinated by a current board member: Communications, Governance, and Personnel. Participation in these workgroups is open to any member of the JCA, not only members of the board. If you are interested, please contact Eric Weiss (president) at 413-687-3356 or