Rodef Sholom: A Reform Jewish Congregation in Marin County, California

Kol Yisrael arevim ba’zeh/All Jews are responsible for one another.
Congregation Rodef Sholom stands as one with Israel
Tags >> Board of Directors

I treasure Congregation Rodef Sholom’s commitment to the local and world community. As an atheist Jew, I gain tremendous spiritual fulfillment participating in the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam. I have had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans with Rodef Sholom teens, becoming an integral part of reconstructing homes and making a difference in the lives of complete strangers. I’ve raised funds for the women’s clinic in Darfur, participated in multiple Mitzvah Days, am an active member of the Marin Organizing Committee (MOC), and the newly organized Tzedek Circles. Rodef Sholom provides myriad opportunities at any given time. Each time I “give”, the rewards never cease to amaze me. Aside from the great feeling of helping those in need, I have made friends, paved the way for others, and learned so much.

Our membership commitment contributes to all of these areas and so much more: our subsidized summer camp program (SEEDS) for our young people, comfort for the sick and disabled, and of course, religious and spiritual learning for thousands of our community members. These programs are only possible if sustaining membership levels are received each year.

The economy has had a tremendous impact on many of our congregational families, yet the synagogue continues to support every family, no matter their ability to pay. My wife, Amy & I, have had the firsthand experience of being welcomed into this community even when we could barely pay dues.

After a 12-year career, my employer was acquired by an out-of-state corporation. Not wanting to leave our community, I found myself unemployed on the eve of September 11, 2001.   What would have been a relatively short disruption in our earnings turned into a prolonged and painful experience.   Our family found great comfort in Rodef Sholom and has never felt the least bit frowned upon for not being able to pay the full sustaining membership.   We have since been very fortunate and rebuilt our economic security.   We are now thrilled to be able to “pay it forward” by increasing our commitment to help cover those who are not currently able to pay sustaining level.

Our congregation is approaching a crossroads.  We are seeing a shift in membership giving and that has challenged us to remain the community we want to be.  We all make tough decisions of where to donate our money; I ask each family that is financially able to think of their fellow congregant and consider sponsoring a second membership to cover those less fortunate, to join the Keter Circle (a total combination of $10,000 or more in annual gifts) or to provide a financial endowment to support one of these programs in perpetuity.  You can even do this through the Annual Tradition of Giving campaign that began last month.

In the meantime, as Treasurer, I will work closely with our Board, Executive Team and clergy to ensure we appropriate funds in a wise and purposeful manner, while continuing to keep a focus on the spirit of Tikkun Olam.

To find out how you can contribute, please contact Jane Friedman, development director, at 479.3441.

Thank you.

As my family and I prepare for the High Holy Days, it is a time for reflection, a time to consider the past year, and a time to consider the year that lies ahead.  Every year, Rabbi Lezak asks the men who assemble for the annual Men's Mikvah (September 5th at 6 am in the sanctuary this year) "what do you want to leave behind, and what do you want to bring with you?"   The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a unique time where our tradition gives us the opportunity to atone for our wrongdoings, right the wrongs we may have cast upon one another, and to tell our loved ones just how much we love them.

It is in this same context that our Board of Directors takes time to examine what we can do better as a Board in the governance and leadership of Congregation Rodef Sholom.  We look at how the previous year ended, what we want to leave behind, and what we want to carry forward. We look at what we can do to improve the long term health, prosperity, and sacred capital of our holy community.  The board is committed to finding more ways to make Congregation Rodef Sholom a kehillah kedosha, a sacred community, rooted in tefillah, Torah, and tikkun olam for our congregants and community.

Our monthly board meetings are always open to all congregants. We welcome your input and participation. Come see what's new at Rodef Sholom and what you can do to get more involved in our temple community--we would like to hear your input and feedback.

As the High Holy Days approach, on behalf of the entire Board of Directors and from my family to yours, we wish you a year of peace, a year of health, a year of happiness, and a year of prosperity.

L’shana tova,

Marc Press

As my family and I traveled for two weeks through Israel with Rabbi Lezak, Rabbi Kushner and 24 other congregants on the congregational trip this summer, I was struck by how dedicated the Israeli people were to preserving their homeland in the face of such adversity.  While we didn't really see anything new, the simple act of planting a new kiwi tree in an orchard 50 yards from the Lebanon border on Kibbutz Malkiyah (in plain sight of the Hezbollah) was an indication of their hope and determination for a peaceful future.  We saw these acts of hope and determination repeatedly as we traveled through the Golan, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, whether it was on a Kibbutz in the Golan or a group of reform Jews on the boardwalk celebrating Shabbat in Tel Aviv.

What really struck me during our trip was the lesson Israelis can teach us all. It takes hard work, dedication, determination, and commitment to make things happen.  We are fortunate at Rodef Sholom to have many dedicated staff and volunteers, from the Board, to the Mitzvah Kitchen, to Nichum, to Moreh Derech, to our amazing staff, and on and on.   They all work to make our synagogue and our community a much better place.   But, we're always looking for more help and more involvement from our congregational family.  There's nothing to wait for, if you haven't been involved, now's the time to help strengthen our congregation.   Call the office to see how you can help.

It is hard to believe that summer is winding down and the High Holy Days are quickly approaching.   It is an honor to be the new President of Congregation Rodef Sholom and I look forward to working with our dedicated and talented Board of Directors.  It is with great respect and appreciation that I take the gavel from Past President Jan Luxenberg, who led us for two years.   Please join me in welcoming our newest member to the Board, Jay Bellin.   Many of you know Jay and his wife Amy who have been members and volunteers at Rodef Sholom since 2003.  Jay brings a wealth of experience to our Board as a successful businessman and volunteer.

I look forward to seeing you around the synagogue.   Feel free to write to me at the synagogue if you have any questions or want to get more involved with our synagogue family.


Marc Press
President, Board of Directors

Annual Membership Commitment
By now you have received your Annual Membership Commitment letter in the mail. We thank you for looking at the material and sending in your response right away. This is your congregational home, and your AMC helps to make it a warm and welcoming sanctuary for you and your fellow congregants, and a vibrant community with so much to offer to everyone.  Let’s keep it this way!  Let’s continue to make it an even better place for finding spiritual and community connections for all.   Your annual membership commitment is important, greatly appreciated, and vital.

Board Members:  Shalom (hello) and L’hitraot (until we meet again):
Every June the Board of Directors elects a new slate of officers for the coming year, says goodbye and thank you to board members whose terms of service are over, and welcomes new board members.   We also acknowledge board members who are beginning their 2nd three year term of service.  Every board member, no matter what the status of his or her “comings or goings”, is appreciated.

We are excited to welcome Jay Bellin as a new member of the Board of Directors beginning in July. Bruce Gribens will continue on after having finished his appointment to fill a vacancy.   We’re so lucky to have Jay and Bruce “on Board”!

At the end of this month we say goodbye and thank you to Jon Welner, who has served 2 terms as a Director.   We are so appreciative of the time and energy Jon has devoted to his work on the Board.

Their dedication to our congregation and commitment to the Board of Directors continues for Jon Kimball, Elizabeth Share and Loren Kertz, all of whom will begin their 2nd term of service this July.  Thank you for all that you do.

A Special Goodbye
June 30th marks the end of my term as President, and the end of my 2 terms of service as a member of the Board of Directors.   I would like to thank everyone for allowing me to serve our congregation in this special way.  It has been a privilege to be a part of a dynamic, caring, dedicated group of directors.  As of this writing the new slate of officers has not been announced, but I know the dedication and high energy of all of our directors will keep us in good hands, and we will continue to thrive and celebrate our innovative, vibrant and loving community.

B’shalom and L’hitraot,

Jan Luxenberg
President, Board of Directors

Please join us in recapping both the highlights and the challenges of this past year, and in welcoming the new slate of officers and board members for the coming one. This meeting will take place in our Social Hall. Refreshments will be provided. RSVP to Pete at 479.3441 or

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