We Welcome Rabbi Jason Fenster

To Our Kol Ami Community,

It is with immense joy, pride, and anticipation that we share that Rabbi Jason Fenster will become the next Senior Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, effective July 1, 2023, pending congregational approval. Rabbi Fenster’s soulful way of being, genuine spirit, and infectious enthusiasm, combined with his intelligence, open-mindedness, and forward thinking, made a deep and overwhelming impression on the Senior Rabbi Search Committee. In short, and as you will soon learn, Rabbi Fenster is a scholar and a mensch, an inspiring spiritual leader and an engaging educator, a passionate speaker and a compassionate listener. Our community undoubtedly will thrive under his leadership and care.

Rabbi Fenster is a native of Rochester, New York, where his commitment to Judaism was fostered at Temple Sinai and through summers spent at Camp Eisner. After graduating from Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and a minor in Law & Legal Studies, Rabbi Fenster moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at the Religious Action Center (the Reform Movement’s social justice center) and the Justice Policy Institute. During his rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he interned at Woodlands Community Temple and was selected to participate in the prestigious Tisch Fellows Program. Rabbi Fenster was ordained in 2017 and became Assistant Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE), a congregation of 1000 families in Deerfield, Illinois. Since 2019 Rabbi Fenster has served as Associate Rabbi of BJBE, where he leads all aspects of worship and congregational life, including Shabbat and High Holy Day services, with substantial responsibility for relationship building, pastoral care, lifecycle events, lifelong learning, and tikkun olam.

Rabbi Fenster is married to Gavi Young, a dedicated educator and kindergarten teacher who grew up in New Rochelle. She and Rabbi Fenster are the parents of two adorable children, 5-year-old Benjamin and 2 1/2-year-old Henry, and we are delighted to welcome them all into our Kol Ami community.

After an extensive search process involving several candidates, the Senior Rabbi Search Committee unanimously selected, and the Board of Trustees recommended, Rabbi Fenster as Congregation Kol Ami’s Senior Rabbi. The Committee conducted several interviews with Rabbi Fenster and hosted him and Gavi at Kol Ami for two days. During their time on-site, Rabbi Fenster participated in meetings and interviews with committee members, senior staff, and lay leaders; joined school activities in both the ECP and Religious School; and taught Torah and led a mock Shabbat service with Cantor Mendelson for the Senior Rabbi Search Committee, Executive Committee, Past Presidents, Assistant/Associate Rabbi Search Committee, Executive Director Jess Lorden, Religious School Director Pam Pass, Director of Youth Engagement Zoë Shannon, and our Va’ad (teen) Leadership.

As Rabbi Fenster said to us, “Kol Ami is exactly the kind of congregation we would join. Being with you and meeting the community made it clear that we were home.” And as our Va’ad (teen) leaders said after meeting with Rabbi Fenster, “He makes me proud to be Jewish” and “I want to be wherever he is.”

We will be sharing more information about Rabbi Fenster and Gavi over the coming months, including when you will have opportunities to meet with them. Until then, here is a link to Rabbi Fenster’s website where you can learn more about him and see some of his sermons and writings: https://www.rabbijasonfenster.com.

We have deep gratitude for our colleagues on the Senior Rabbi Search Committee under the leadership of our Immediate Past Presidents, Susan Kohn Arovas and Scott Musoff, and including Jill Selbst Abraham, Lori Abrams, Sarah Akst, Elana Araj, Carrie Barotz, Ellen Bittner, Lisa Borowitz, Jason Eisenberg, Helene Ginsburg, and Bob Ziff, as well as Co-President Hank Rouda. We are also grateful to Cantor Danny Mendelson for his invaluable assistance and guidance and to Rabbi Shira Milgrom and Rabbi Tom Weiner for their support and insight throughout the process. All our clergy – Shira, Tom and Danny – join us with excitement as we welcome Rabbi Fenster and the next chapter in the growth of our sacred community.

Please join us in thanking the members of the Senior Rabbi Search Committee when you see them, as their tireless devotion to our beloved community and this process has led us to this most joyous moment and a future filled with possibility. We look forward to introducing you to Rabbi Fenster, Gavi, and their family and to celebrating this auspicious occasion together as a community.

L’shalom,

Hank Rouda                      Judy Sarch
Co-President                   Co-President

To Our Kol Ami Community,

It is with immense joy, pride, and anticipation that we share that Rabbi Jason Fenster
will become the next Senior Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, effective July 1, 2023, pending congregational approval. Rabbi Fenster’s soulful way of being, genuine spirit, and infectious enthusiasm, combined with his intelligence, open-mindedness, and forward thinking, made a deep and overwhelming impression on the Senior Rabbi Search Committee. In short, and as you will soon learn, Rabbi Fenster is a scholar and a mensch, an inspiring spiritual leader and an engaging educator, a passionate speaker and a compassionate listener. Our community undoubtedly will thrive under his leadership and care.

Rabbi Fenster is a native of Rochester, New York, where his commitment to Judaism was fostered at Temple Sinai and through summers spent at Camp Eisner. After graduating from Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and a minor in Law & Legal Studies, Rabbi Fenster moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at the Religious Action Center (the Reform Movement’s social justice center) and the Justice Policy Institute. During his rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he interned at Woodlands Community Temple and was selected to participate in the prestigious Tisch Fellows Program. Rabbi Fenster was ordained in 2017 and became Assistant Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE), a congregation of 1000 families in Deerfield, Illinois. Since 2019 Rabbi Fenster has served as Associate Rabbi of BJBE, where he leads all aspects of worship and congregational life, including Shabbat and High Holy Day services, with substantial responsibility for relationship building, pastoral care, lifecycle events, lifelong learning, and tikkun olam.

Rabbi Fenster is married to Gavi Young, a dedicated educator and kindergarten teacher who grew up in New Rochelle. She and Rabbi Fenster are the parents of two adorable children, 5-year-old Benjamin and 2 1/2-year-old Henry, and we are delighted to welcome them all into our Kol Ami community.

After an extensive search process involving several candidates, the Senior Rabbi Search Committee unanimously selected, and the Board of Trustees recommended, Rabbi Fenster as Congregation Kol Ami’s Senior Rabbi. The Committee conducted several interviews with Rabbi Fenster and hosted him and Gavi at Kol Ami for two days. During their time on-site, Rabbi Fenster participated in meetings and interviews with committee members, senior staff, and lay leaders; joined school activities in both the ECP and Religious School; and taught Torah and led a mock Shabbat service with Cantor Mendelson for the Senior Rabbi Search Committee, Executive Committee, Past Presidents, Assistant/Associate Rabbi Search Committee, Executive Director Jess Lorden, Religious School Director Pam Pass, Director of Youth Engagement Zoë Shannon, and our Va’ad (teen) Leadership.

As Rabbi Fenster said to us, “Kol Ami is exactly the kind of congregation we would join. Being with you and meeting the community made it clear that we were home.” And as our Va’ad (teen) leaders said after meeting with Rabbi Fenster, “He makes me proud to be Jewish” and “I want to be wherever he is.”

We will be sharing more information about Rabbi Fenster and Gavi over the coming months, including when you will have opportunities to meet with them. Until then, here is a link to Rabbi Fenster’s website where you can learn more about him and see some of his sermons and writings: https://www.rabbijasonfenster.com.

We have deep gratitude for our colleagues on the Senior Rabbi Search Committee under the leadership of our Immediate Past Presidents, Susan Kohn Arovas and Scott Musoff, and including Jill Selbst Abraham, Lori Abrams, Sarah Akst, Elana Araj, Carrie Barotz, Ellen Bittner, Lisa Borowitz, Jason Eisenberg, Helene Ginsburg, and Bob Ziff, as well as Co-President Hank Rouda. We are also grateful to Cantor Danny Mendelson for his invaluable assistance and guidance and to Rabbi Shira Milgrom and Rabbi Tom Weiner for their support and insight throughout the process. All our clergy – Shira, Tom and Danny – join us with excitement as we welcome Rabbi Fenster and the next chapter in the growth of our sacred community.

Please join us in thanking the members of the Senior Rabbi Search Committee when you see them, as their tireless devotion to our beloved community and this process has led us to this most joyous moment and a future filled with possibility. We look forward to introducing you to Rabbi Fenster, Gavi, and their family and to celebrating this auspicious occasion together as a community.

L’shalom,

Hank Rouda                      Judy Sarch
Co-President                   Co-President

A Note From Rabbi Fenster

Dear Congregation Kol Ami,

I am truly humbled and honored to have been selected to serve as your next senior rabbi. What a joy to have the opportunity to join this sacred community! I look forward to building on the inspiring legacy of Rabbi Shira and Rabbi Tom and am eager to be in relationship with them and to become more familiar with the history and culture of your congregation. I began this process learning about Kol Ami’s reputation of warmth, creativity, and building engaging, meaningful Jewish life. I was inspired to see that ethic lived out in the fabric of the congregation during each conversation with the search committee, synagogue leadership, professional team, and with congregants.

The synagogue is fundamentally a “we” institution. It is built from a co-created vision of congregants and the clergy and staff they entrust to lead alongside them. I believe in synagogues because they are the institution where we model covenantal community, communities that center a sacred commitment to each other, our tradition, and to God. I am a rabbi because I want to dream with the Jewish people about what these teachings call us to do. It is a call that echoes through the voices of our prophets and the heroes of our history who dreamed of a world of wholeness, justice, and peace. When we know each other and join in sacred purpose, we can and will change each other’s lives and change the world. Our task is nothing short of that.

My family and I are eager to join you in White Plains. We are excited to come to know you and your families, to learn about your passions and your hopes, and to dream about what we might accomplish together.

For now, we wish you and the people you love a Happy Chanukah. May each of us be a shamash, the ones whose light brings more warmth and illuminates those around us.

In gratitude and blessing,
Rabbi Jason Fenster

Dear Congregation Kol Ami,

I am truly humbled and honored to have been selected to serve as your next senior rabbi. What a joy to have the
opportunity to join this sacred community! I look forward to building on the inspiring legacy of Rabbi Shira and Rabbi Tom and am eager to be in relationship with them and to become more familiar with the history and culture of your congregation. I began this process learning about Kol Ami’s reputation of warmth, creativity, and building engaging, meaningful Jewish life. I was inspired to see that ethic lived out in the fabric of the congregation during each conversation with the search committee, synagogue leadership, professional team, and with congregants.

The synagogue is fundamentally a “we” institution. It is built from a co-created vision of congregants and the clergy and staff they entrust to lead alongside them. I believe in synagogues because they are the institution where we model covenantal community, communities that center a sacred commitment to each other, our tradition, and to God. I am a rabbi because I want to dream with the Jewish people about what these teachings call us to do. It is a call that echoes through the voices of our prophets and the heroes of our history who dreamed of a world of wholeness, justice, and peace. When we know each other and join in sacred purpose, we can and will change each other’s lives and change the world. Our task is nothing short of that.

My family and I are eager to join you in White Plains. We are excited to come to know you and your families, to learn about your passions and your hopes, and to dream about what we might accomplish together.

For now, we wish you and the people you love a Happy Chanukah. May each of us be a shamash, the ones whose light brings more warmth and illuminates those around us.

In gratitude and blessing,
Rabbi Jason Fenster

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