Committees of Vassar Temple

The best way to feel a part of our Vassar Temple community is through involvement with one or more of its various committees. It is also one of the best ways to contribute to the work of the Temple, to support its activities and programs, and thereby to help it flourish. We hope you will be interested in volunteering to serve on one of these committees. There are tasks—small and large—to be shared, and your participation will be enthusiastically welcomed. If interested, please contact the Temple Office at (845) 454-2570 or, to be put in touch with the chair of any of the committees listed below. Click on the name of any committee to see a description of it.

  • The Adult Education Committee plans and administers courses, workshops, lectures, film showings, author talks and other educational and cultural programs to promote Life-long Jewish Learning for adult congregants and interested community members. Subjects range from Introduction to Judaism to Jewish Mysticism to Relieving the Pressures on the “Sandwich Generation.” Regular offerings include the study of the weekly Torah portion and a weekly study of the Talmud with our rabbi, as well as Hebrew for beginners. See the calendar and the Announcements link on this website for specific course schedules.

  • Reyut means “friendship” in Hebrew and this committee actually includes all congregants as members. Its work makes Vassar Temple unique in the area as a caring congregation. Those most active in the Reyut Committee’s work support our members who are ill, homebound, bereaved or in need of special support by sending personal notes, making phone calls and visits, delivering homemade food when appropriate, and providing rides to medical appointments and Temple services. The committee also plans the annual L’dor V’dor (Generations) Shabbat during which long-time members are honored and our ongoing special relationships with both younger and older congregants are highlighted.

  • This committee oversees all matters pertaining to the Vassar Temple cemetery, located on LaGrange Avenue in the Town of Poughkeepsie, including maintainance and arrangements for burial.

  • This committee manages the acquisition of technology items for the Temple and trains staff in their use. It also performs regular backups on our four networked computers and keeps their anti-virus software up to date. It assists staff and other Temple groups with technology issues and upgrades components of our computer systems when necessary.

  • The role of the Finance Committee is to oversee the financial affairs of Vassar Temple and to review and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding the finances and financial policies of the Temple. The Finance Committee plays a key role as the Temple tries to fulfill its mission while maintaining financial viability and stability. 

    Specific examples of the role and duties of the Committee include:

    • Proposing and presenting the annual budget recommendations to the Board and the Congregation.
    • Monitoring the annual budget and presenting periodic updates and recommendations to the Board.
    • Conducting salary and contract negotiations with Vassar Temple’s professional employees in consultation with the other committees involved.
  • This committee raises funds to supplement the dues paid by our members and to support specific Vassar Temple projects. Although sometimes it is appropriate to approach certain people to fill a particular need, most of our fund raising is also “fun” for the whole congregation. We have held goods and services auctions as well as celebrations like the one for our Rabbi’s special birthday. We hold a “Moveable Feast” every other year and a gala dinner dance honoring a Temple and/or a community member during alternate years.

  • The time from Selichot through the end of the Yom Kippur fast is a period of many special services and programs. The fact that they run smoothly and provide our members and guests with meaningful experiences is due to the preparations and work of the High Holy Day Committee.

  • This committee is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building and grounds of the Temple. The committee assesses needs and hires and supervises appropriate contractors after consultation with the Finance Committee.

  • The members of this committee are responsible for cataloging the holdings of the Nathan Reifler Memorial Library at Vassar Temple, keeping them properly stored and displayed, ordering appropriate new items, and ensuring that the library is staffed by volunteers during Religious School hours. They make it easy for Temple members as well as the public to borrow from the library’s extensive collections and use its varied resources. For general information about our library, please go to Library under the Learning menu item on this website.

  • The mission of the Membership & Engagement Committee is to encourage people to join Vassar Temple, to make all new members feel comfortable and make connections within the congregation through a mentorship program, and to continue to keep in touch with all our members. In this sense, every member of the Temple is a membership committee member.

  • Music is an integral part of the worship service at Vassar Temple and the goal of the Music Committee is to enhance the music experience for the congregation. The committee oversees our music program and personnel, including our cantorial soloist and organist, and arranges special music programs such as informal congregational singing during Oneg Shabbats.

  • The committee’s aim is to give support and comfort to you or a loved one during a terminal illness, when you are considering the removal of life support, while you are planning a funeral, and during the time immediately following a death in your family. In addition, it provides information about Jewish mourning practices, especially as they are observed at Vassar Temple. The Nachamu Committee has written a Bereavement Guide.

    The word nachamu (נַכֲמוּ) means “comfort,” as in the biblical book of Isaiah where the prophet is exhorted by God: “Comfort My people, comfort them!” (Nachamu, nachamu ami).

    This committee is a subcommittee of and works closely with the Reyut Committee.

  • The Personnel Committee supervises the work of the Temple’s office manager, custodial staff, kitchen and special needs staff. The committee meets with the staff at least once yearly to discuss their job descriptions and related performance. The chair is involved in discussions with the finance committee as to pay rate and raises for staff members.

  • The work of the Public Relations Caucus includes publishing the monthly Temple bulletin, designing and maintaining the Temple’s website, creating flyers, compiling and sending out weekly and special emails to the congregation, writing articles and taking photos for our bulletin as well as Jewish and general community media, and creating and placing appropriate advertisements.

  • This committee supervises the work of the Religious School Director and, in consultation with her and our rabbi, sets policy for our Religious School. Among other things, it works to increase the involvement of Religious School parents, reviews the school’s curriculum and, in consultation with the URJ, explores new curriculum options.

  • The Ritual Committee makes decisions, in consultation with the rabbi, about matters related to worship services and religious practices. The Ritual Committee also nominates and chooses the recipient of the Arnold Award each year (for contributions to the religious life of the congregation) and is in charge of arranging for the setup and leadership of lay-led summer services.

  • The Social Action Committee organizes and/or participates in social justice programs in the local community, as well as undertaking projects and activities related to issues of national and international humanitarian significance. For a fuller description of the work of this committee, see the separate entry on Social Action.

  • This Sisterhood program introduces pre-school children to the Temple in a social setting. They participate in crafts, games, stories and a snack with others their age in preparation for going into our Religious School program, while learning that Vassar Temple is a fun place to be. At the same time, the parents of the pre-schoolers meet, giving them the opportunity to create friendships that will go beyond the walls of the Temple. 

    Tiny Temple programs take place once a month during the school year for about 1½ hours on a Saturday or Sunday.

  • The Use of Facilities Committee insures that people who use the building do so in a manner that is consistent with our building’s rules and regulations. These include supervision of the premises at all times, insuring that all caterers meet our standards and that required fees are paid and insurance forms submitted. We also work with Temple staff to make sure that we are meeting the users’ needs.