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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.

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Mission Statement​


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.

Vision Statement​


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

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David Kunin

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.

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Interim Administrative Assistant

Jennifer Strickland

Jen has served the CBS-CS congregation since 2015. It is her passion to help and serve others. At CBS-CS she's served at holiday events, celebrations, and many Saturday morning kiddush meals.


Her journey with CBS-CS started in the kitchen where she eventually worked her way up to become kitchen manager. She attended MedVance Institute in Stuart FL for Medical Office Administration. She also has a CDA State Certification with Childcare Solutions in Infant Toddler Education and a Life, Accident and Insurance License with New York State.

Fun Facts About Jen include she raced Yamaha Jet Skis (co-ed sport class). She enjoys water skiing, kneeboarding, and tubing. She loves fishing, family. She can play the guitar, string bass, cello, and likes to sing. She is a mother, wife and dog mom of 2. Her motto is "Do It Yourself!" If there is a will, she will find a way. Jen likes to create art in many forms, painting, planting, building and writing. If you search the web you might stumble into some Harry Potter Fan fiction.


As the CBS-CS administrative assistant, Jen is available to help the Congregation and the community. Feel free to contact her via email with any questions you might have or assistance you might need.

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Kelly Bernhardt Klapper 

Kelly moved to this area in 2018 and has been a CBS-CS member ever since. She graduated from Wake Forest University with honors in English and Religion. 

She brings many years of experience as a teacher of students from the pre-k level all the way to 12th grade. She has a passion for building relationships and learning about each unique student. Kelly also has experience in leadership and supervisory positions in which she was in charge of staff, budgets, and event planning. 

Kelly has taught in our Shul School and served on the Board of Trustees. Her creativity and passion for learning and faith will greatly enhance the CBS-CS students. Kelly loves being a part of this congregation and is looking forward to being able to give back to CBS-CS as she feels it has given so much to her and her family, Louis and Calder.



Donna Constance



Rabbi Emeritus

Daniel Jezer


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.

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Executive Director

Melissa Harkavy

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.

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Youth Director

Meet Maura Koenig

Originally from Syracuse, Maura comes back to the area with an exorbitant amount of education, work experience, innovation and enthusiasm! She started her studies at SUNY Oswego and most recently, graduated with an MS in Organizational Leadership and Innovation from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. 

Her experience includes roles as Director of Youth Engagement, Israel Programs Admissions Director, Community Manager for Birthright Israel Account and Director of Student Engagement at UNC Chapel Hill Hillel. 

Maura brings an infectious passion for Judaism, Israel and building Jewish community and is looking forward to meeting and getting to know our community here at CBS-CS!


Communications Specialist

Joanne Villegas


Brought to You By...

Lay Leadership


President - Jarrod Bagatell

Executive Vice President - Bob Tornberg


Adult Education - Jonathan Levine

Finance - Steven Wladis
House - Bob Glatter
Ritual - Gwen Kay
Youth & Education - Joely Kuss and Michal Juran, Rachel Porter - Chair

Membership - Arel Moodie and Yolanda Febles

Social Action/Tikkun Olam - Toby Liss

Corresponding Secretary - Ora Jezer

Recording Secretary - Karen Morton

Marc Beckman, Ted Dibble, Hanah Ehrenreich, Herb Goldman,

Benjamin Greenblatt, Susan Jacobs, Kelly Berhardt-Klapper, Mickey Lebowitz,

Toby Liss, Eric Rochelson, Martin Schaeffer, Jeffrey Stanton, Nance Wilson


Join US!


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.

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