Changes at Congregation Beth Torah


Date: Monday, December 23, 2013
Subject: Changes at Congregation Beth Torah
From: Michelle Cole, President

Change brings opportunity. This is a time of significant change at Congregation Beth Torah. As we look to the future, we anticipate two phases – transition, and in time, a new normal.

We are pleased to announce that Rabbi Rick Shapiro has accepted our offer and has agreed to serve as our interim rabbi, effective July 1, 2014.

It is bittersweet that we announce that Jack Feldman has accepted the position of Executive Director at Temple Sinai in Atlanta. Jack joined Beth Torah with the background of Camp Director and 7 years later leaves as an accomplished Executive Director. His last day will be Friday, March 21, 2014.

Equally bittersweet, we announce that Linda Sweenie has accepted the position of Music Director at Temple B'nai Israel in Oklahoma City where she will launch a new music program. Linda has been with Beth Torah for 10 years and has grown the music program to where it is today. Her last day will also be Friday, March 21, 2014.

As previously announced, Marcia Rittmaster will retire at the end of the school year, capping her 17 year career at Beth Torah with the accreditation of the Weiner Religious School by the National Association of Temple Educators. This is an honor held by only 20 schools in the Reform Movement. Marcia's last day will be Saturday, May 31, 2014.

We are happy to announce that Aaron Nielsenshultz will take over management of the religious school. Beth Torah is fortunate that he has the academic and professional credentials to take on this important work, as well as a passion for Jewish education. Please join us in congratulating him on his new role.

We wish Jack, Linda and Marcia the best and will let you know how we will celebrate with them at a later date. We are sad that they are leaving but we are happy for each of them as they move on to a new position or stage in life.

Here's what will happen next.

We will convene a search committee to determine our needs and begin the process of filling the gaps in our staffing. We will work closely with Jack, Linda and Marcia in the months we have before their departures to put together a transition plan for each of their roles. We will provide more details as quickly as we can.

Our celebration and farewell to Rabbi Levin will take place on June 1, 2014. We are counting on all of you to join us at this very special event.

We know change will generate comments, questions and thoughts. We welcome them and we need to hear from you. All of us are smarter together than any of us individually. At the other end of change, we see opportunity for an even better, even stronger Congregation Beth Torah. We remain optimistic and confident in our future.

We see this as an extraordinary opportunity for all of us to help shape the Beth Torah of the future.

We have scheduled two Congregational Forums for us to discuss together how we will continue to move forward. Come join us and share your thoughts at one of the following sessions:

  • Wednesday, January 8th, 7:15 – 8:45 p.m. 
  • Sunday, January 12th, 10:15 – 11:45 a.m.

Join us at the community forums, or call or email any member of the Executive Committee (see below) with your thoughts, comments, suggestions or questions.

We appreciate your continued confidence and support. May 2014 be filled with abundant blessings for us all.

We are the congregation we need.

Michelle Cole, President
(913) 940-0939

Linda Zappulla, First Vice President
(913) 220-3521

Edis Parkans, Vice President
(913) 322-1308

Samantha Hammontree, Vice President
(913) 484-3021

Dan Davidson, Treasurer
(913) 220-9945

Bonnie Swade, Secretary
(913) 221-4759

Back to News Listing