More K.I. Stories
Ellen and Stuart Masters
We moved to Pittsfield in 1976, with our preschool daughter, Rachel, and were quickly taken in as active participants on the Board, sisterhood, Hebrew School committee, Kiddush volunteers, etc.
As Rachel progressed through Hebrew School and Junior Congregation, Ellen’s Jewish education was enhanced by Kenny Goldblum and Rabbi Arthur Rulnick, and she became a Bat Mitzvah at K.I. at age 40. Rabbi Rulnik’s inspiration motivated Stu to try one new Jewish observance every year. We have listened to and learned from the creative, insightful divrei torah given by our congregants during the High Holidays. Supporting Jewish education, Jewish camping experience and our wonderful, talented Rabbi Weiner continues to be an important part of our commitment to the K.I. community.
With all this amazing food for the soul, we are thrilled to be part of K.I.
The Yantovsky Family
We immigrated to the USA from Belarus in 1992 as part of a wider Soviet resettlement program and with the sponsorship of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires. We feel very fortunate that we have settled in The Berkshires. From day one, members of the K.I. community played the most crucial role in helping the new Americans like our family to integrate into a society by providing English tutoring, arranging rides to appointments, inviting to their homes for holidays is just to name a few.
The first time we came to K.I. was very special to us. We were mesmerized by the beautiful sanctuary with the soft light coming down through the stained glass, smiling people looking relaxed and welcoming. This was a very first time in our life that we saw so many Jews gathered together in one place praying freely without any fear.
Twenty-three years later we are happy to do our part to ensure that K.I. remains a strong staple of the Jewish Life in the Berkshires and continues to prosper and bring joy to many for years to come.
Murray and Barbara Akresh
After many years of visiting the Berkshires, we purchased a second home in Pittsfield in 2007. We had attended services at K.I. a few times in the past and found the people warm and welcoming. Our friends had met Ellen and Stu Masters on a Hadassah trip and told us to call them. We did, expecting to meet them at K.I. Instead, the Masters' immediately invited us for Shabbat dinner. That initial welcome brought us very quickly into the K.I. community.
We joined as part-time members and attend K.I. services and functions whenever we’re in Pittsfield. Everyone always gives us a warm welcome. We especially like the lay-led services, the wisdom of Rabbi Weiner, Shirei Shabbat, and the learning attitude of everyone at K.I.
We are pleased to be part of K.I.’s Renewal Campaign to improve the sanctuary and make it more comfortable, well-lit and audible. We are also thrilled that the handicap accessibility will be greatly enhanced, with new ramps, seating spaces and a new handicap bathroom.
Elaine Epstein, Jonathan Samel and Barbara Wyton
K.I. has a long, established history as a strong and vibrant sacred community. We are fortunate that our family has deep roots at K.I. going back four generations.
Joseph and Ida Klein, Elaine’s grandparents, and Louis and Esther Samel, the grandparents of Elaine’s late husband, Arthur Samel, were early leaders at the time K.I. was first established. Elaine’s parents, Jacob and Lillian Klein, and Arthur’s parents, Sam and Anna Samel, were life long members. Elaine and Arthur carried on the family tradition, and Elaine is still an active member today. Their children, Jon and Barbara, each celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvah and confirmations and were both active members of USY at K.I.
We have made a commitment to K.I. because we appreciate that K.I. exists today because those who came before us invested in the future of K.I. by making similar commitments, and because we believe that maintaining strong and vital synagogues is the key to the continuation of the Jewish people. It is our hope that the K.I. community will continue to be strong and vibrant for many more future generations.
Alice and Len Schiller
Alice and I have a long commitment to Judaism, first in the Bronx, NY, then Maplewood N.J. and now in the Berkshires. When we arrived in the Berkshires 21 years ago, we sought out a Conservative synagogue and were immediately impressed with the warmth and welcoming at Knesset Israel.
My involvement started immediately. I assumed the role of Vice-President of Facilities and tackled the roof project and chapel renovation. In my tenure as President, I look forward to fulfilling a long term goal of renewing our sanctuary. I am thrilled that at this point I see this as a foreseeable goal, with completion on schedule for next spring. The hard work and dedication of the congregation and the committees involved has paid off.
It gives me great pleasure to lead this project.