Volunteers Matter at Bet Shalom

By Stephen Barberio

Upon joining the leadership team at Bet Shalom, Rabbi Locketz and Julie Sprau helped me become aware of the importance of volunteerism at Bet Shalom. They impressed upon me how important volunteers are to the future of our synagogue and wanted to explore how we could strengthen our approach to volunteerism. During my first year in this position, I spent a lot of time learning about how volunteers help carry out the mission of the synagogue. There are three critical ways in which Bet Shalom depends on volunteers to sustain itself as a thriving congregation.


The role of the Board of Trustees has been strengthened tremendously over the past year. As I said during our town hall meetings last month, I have never seen a more engaged and involved Board of Directors in my 30+ years working in the nonprofit sector. Our Board has evolved from a hands-on, managing group of leaders, to an oversight body that delegates to its professional staff the day-to-day management of the synagogue.

Advisory Role

We have committees and membership engagement groups, made up of volunteers, that mostly serve in advisory capacity to the Board and senior staff. While the charter of each of these groups is distinct, the common purpose is to help the synagogue be successful. Some examples include the Ritual Forum, which provides Rabbi Locketz with a sounding board for ideas he may wish to pursue and the Marketing Committee which serves as a resource for staff, as it designs and implements marketing strategies to improve internal and external communications. A last example is the Youth Engagement Committee, which offers insights and feedback to Rabbi Crimmings, Ali King, and Amber Brumbaugh about youth programming.

Member Engagement

It is through our member engagement groups that our members can become actively and directly involved in some of the tasks that serve Bet Shalom’s mission.  Our group of ushers (we need more!), led by Peggy Garberick and Vera Levit, provides invaluable support to the congregation by ushering during services on Shabbat and holidays. A group of volunteers (we need more!) helps keep our landscape looking beautiful. And, of course, our Kitchen Committee is dedicated to building community at Bet Shalom through cooking. The proceeds of their work support the upkeep of the kitchen equipment. Did you know that the Kitchen Committee and other volunteers baked more than 4,500 hamentaschen this spring?!!

Two areas where we need to improve volunteerism at Bet Shalom are recruitment and recognition. This commentary is one step in building awareness about volunteerism, and you can continue to look for other communication about how to become more involved. The second area is in volunteer recognition. While I don’t think Bet Shalom volunteers donate their time to be recognized for doing so, it is important that we acknowledge those who contribute in this way. Over the next few months, I hope you’ll notice ways in which we call out the tremendous work of our volunteers.

Please feel free to contact me at steve.barberio@betshalom.org or 952-933-8525 if you’d like to become involved as a volunteer at Bet Shalom.  Thank you!

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