One Big FamilY
An inclusive egalitarian congregation, Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas (CBS-CS) strives to promote Jewish values - encouraging the religious, educational, and social growth of our members by offering a variety of interactive religious services, educational opportunities, and social events with the aim of strengthening the entire community and enriching the life of each member. CBS-CS works to engage and support people from all walks of Jewish life, regardless of knowledge or background. Members of the larger community are welcome to attend services and participate in the many educational, holiday and social events offered.
CBS-CS is an egalitarian Conservative congregation affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. CBS-CS is dedicated to the active participation of its members in all areas of synagogue life. As an inclusive congregational family, we strive to promote Jewish values – encouraging the religious, educational, and social growth of our members.
We meet people where they are - Ba’asher hu sham.
We value collaboration - Shutafut.
We see Jewish life as a blend of tradition and innovation - Masoret/Hidush.
We see a Sacred Covenant at the heart of the congregation’s life - Brit.
We cultivate a multiplicity of paths in Jewish life - Kol Netivoteha Shalom.
Clergy & Staff
Rabbi David Kunin moved to Syracuse in July 2020. He graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in Medieval History and then attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained as a Rabbi and received an MA in Judaic Studies.
David has served communities as rabbi in Glasgow, Elmira, San Diego, Edmonton, and Tokyo.
Rabbi Kunin has a strong commitment to Jewish learning, and to a strong laity that play a central role in the religious leadership of the congregation. He believes that Jewish learning and growth is a life-long process. He also believes that spiritual growth, as we build our relationship with the community and God should be a continuous part of Jewish life.
David is a strong believer in the importance of good and harmonious relations between people from diverse religious communities. Interfaith relations have therefore been a continuous mark of his rabbinate. He served as the Chair of the Southern Tier Interfaith Coalition (Elmira, NY), where he created the Walking Together program, and was long time board member and president of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action. He received the Alberta Centennial Medal in recognition of his community work.
Rabbi Kunin speaks widely on Jewish History, Mysticism and Israel. He also focuses on issues of understanding between different religions and traditions. In his spare time he enjoys photography, hiking and skiing, and enjoys learning about Japan, and connecting with Jewish Communities across Asia.
David's wife Shelley is a talented Craniosacral therapist with an interest in weaving, knitting and many other crafts.
Rabbi Daniel Jezer spent the majority of his career as a rabbi in Syracuse. “I had a strong concern that each individual congregant, no matter where they were on the religious spectrum, be made to feel included and that I was there to help them find their own growth.
Rabbi Jezer is one of the founding members of the local Labor-Religion Coalition whose major issues are a living wage, worker rights and healthcare. He was president of Interfaith Works, is an emeritus member of the Roundtable of Faith Leaders and past president of Onondaga Pastoral Counseling.
For 27 years he has been on the faculty of LeMoyne College. Rabbi Jezer received the Bebe Merenti Award from LeMoyne College and was adjunct union president for eight years.
His spouse, Dr. Rhea Jezer is a noted environmental educator, policy advisor, and consultant. They both very adventurous travelers and chroniclers of the world around us, their most recent trip being to Uganda.
Melissa Harkavy joined Congregation Beth Sholom - Chevra Shas as the Program Director in 2017 and was promoted to Executive Director in 2019.
During her time at CBS-CS, Melissa won the 2018 Tzafon USY Eleanor Bloom Memorial Award for Youth Director of the Year. In 2019, she was selected to be a NewCAJE LEEP Fellow (Leadership for Emerging Education Professionals) and was awarded a USCJ Rising Leaders Summit Scholarship.
Melissa also serves on the Federation of CNY's Board of Trustees, the faculty of the Epstein School for Jewish Studies, and is a proud member the Gender Equity Advocates and Training Network.
Before starting her career in Jewish education, Melissa took a winding road through the field of geography, where she discovered her passion for education and social justice. One of her prized accomplishments was serving as the Research Coordinator for the non-profit Black Women’s Blueprint. Their work resulted in the inclusion of gender-based violence against Black women in the US Department of State’s report to UNCERD (United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination). She studied Geography and Africana Studies at Penn State and earned a Master of Arts degree in Geography from the University of Colorado.
When she's not working, Melissa loves going on adventures with her partner Zach and Angel, the geriatric Maltipoo.
Andrea Speer is a talented educator with expertise in special education. Before joining the CBS-CS staff in 2018 as principal, Andrea served in many capacities, including as a pre-k teacher at CBS-CS and as the special education specialist at the Syracuse Community Hebrew School. She also has decades of experience as a special education teacher in the public school systems.
Andrea is a life-long member of CBS-CS. In fact, her parents were one of the thirteen founding families!
Brought to You By...
President - Jeff Stanton
Executive Vice President - Jarrod Bagatell
Adult Education - Bob Tornberg
Finance - Jonathan Adler
House - Kevin Porter
Ritual - Joan Bordett
Youth & Education - Dina Pettiford & Amy Pierce
Membership - Sarah & David Reckess
Corresponding Secretary - Joely Kuss
Recording Secretary - Barbara Davis
Euni Balanoff, Allan Birnbaum, Jennifer Cohen, Emory Creel,
Joseph Dhara, Hanah Ehrenreich, Ora Jezer, Robin Young
Marcia Cohen & Nance Wilson
The value of membership in CBS-CS is the value of belonging to a Jewish community that provides its members with the level of engagement and support that each individual wants and needs. For many members, it is about friendship and activities with friends. For others, it is about access to religious services and a rabbi. Still, others value the Religious School programs and a place for their children to have enriched Jewish experiences with children their own age. Whatever your need, we strive to find a place for you.