Director of Lifelong Learning
Knesset Israel, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Knesset Israel (KI) (www.knessetisrael.org) is a welcoming, vibrant, musically oriented Conservative synagogue in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts. This well-established congregation of 295 households includes multigenerational year-round residents of the Berkshires, as well as summer residents. The membership includes a wide variety of people of many different ages and backgrounds, and the synagogue seeks to be a big tent, creating many pathways for congregants and visitors to deepen their Jewish connection. The synagogue is blessed with a culture of strong, thoughtful, and hands-on lay leadership. Its spiritual leader, Rabbi David Weiner, has guided Knesset Israel since 2009.
Knesset Israel’s statement of purpose captures the essence of the congregation’s approach:
We are here to nourish mind, heart and soul.
We are here to inspire through word and deed.
We are here to accompany each other on life’s journey.
We are here to celebrate in community.
We are here to bring to life the wisdom and values of Torah.
We are here to transform our world.
Knesset Israel gathers Jewish people and those who love or are beloved by Jewish people in community. Members seek to participate actively in our people’s sacred work in the Berkshires. All year long, our community gathers for prayer, study, tzedaka projects, and social activities. Knesset Israel enjoys a deep bench, and the community thrives because of the passions, skills, strengths, and commitments of its members. Diversity brings depth to our congregation, and respect for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds is fundamental to the congregation’s culture. The unique culture of the Berkshires - the seasonal rhythm, music, the arts, the outdoors - shapes the ways we meet, celebrate, and serve each other.
As a small-town congregation, Knesset Israel celebrates kindness and mutual concern, guided by Jewish tradition. We take care of each other and our neighbors by listening, by speaking carefully, by supporting those who are vulnerable or hurting. When a need arises - in another member of the community, in the congregation, in society - we rise together to address it. Proud that we are a link in a centuries-long chain of Jewish history, we take our responsibilities for education seriously. We pursue partnerships with other organizations in and outside the Jewish community for the fulfillment of our mission. We inhabit life’s journey, we welcome questions and doubts, and we aim to inspire.
Knesset Israel is a busy place that hums with activity. Services at KI include Kabbalat Shabbat in a variety of styles, some with musical instrumentation; Shabbat mornings with traditional davening and a Torah discussion; Sunday morning minyan; Zoom davening on Tuesday and Thursday evenings; yom tov observance; and High Holiday services led by lay leaders and the Rabbi. Regular programs include a monthly shabbat dinner, celebrations for Simhat Torah and Purim, a community seder, a Rosh Hodesh group, kiddush luncheons throughout the summer, and adult education classes. Children and families enjoy a twice weekly Hebrew School and b’nei mitzvah education program, as well as periodic, informal Families Together programming. The congregation’s social action projects include a partnership in the South Church Food Pantry, support of the Thanksgiving Angels and Berkshire Children & Families Adopt-a-Family programs, involvement in refugee resettlement, participation in Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, and leadership in the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations. Not satisfied to just maintain the status quo, in 2023 the congregation will complete a fresh planning process to clarify its goals and set a course for the future.
Knesset Israel is located a short walk from the center of Pittsfield, the commercial and political hub of the Berkshires, a rural region in far western Massachusetts. The Berkshires lifestyle offers a balance of small-town community, where every voice can make a difference, and a sophisticated art and culture scene. With its backdrop of bucolic hills, farms, and forests, the county offers opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, and skiing. Short commutes, with no traffic, mean more time for what is most important. Berkshire County is blessed with excellent public schools, picture-perfect towns, and world-renowned institutions like the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood, Williams College, and Mass MOCA. Pittsfield is located only 50 minutes from Albany, New York and 2.5-3 hours from central Boston or Manhattan.
Berkshire County, Massachusetts, has supported Jewish institutions since the mid-19th century. Today the community supports five synagogues - Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative - an independent minyan, and a Chabad House. The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires brings together the Berkshire Jewish community to leverage its resources to care for Jews in need at home and abroad, assure the continuity of the Jewish people, support the State of Israel, and mobilize on issues of concern to the local Berkshire community. Although these organizations are active year-round, the intensity of Jewish life in the Berkshires increases dramatically during the summer.
Knesset Israel is seeking a new professional leader for our robust adult summer programming and year-round events, who can contribute to our Hebrew School as an organizer and/or teacher. The preferred candidate will have a solid understanding of Jewish education and program design as well as an ability to work with individuals of all ages. They will be a collaborative, inspiring, and innovative programmer and educator who can help shape the next steps for our synagogue. We anticipate the position being 60-80% of a full-time commitment, depending largely on the candidate’s preference and experience, as discussed below under Time Commitment.
- Ownership of synagogue programming for adults at all stages of life; programming takes place year-round, including during the summer high season;
- Teaching Adult Education classes such as Introduction to Judaism, weekly parasha & Hebrew Reading; there may be opportunities to teach more advanced courses as well;
- Communication and publicity;
- Administering program budgets;
- Recruiting and scheduling adult education teachers;
- Supporting the volunteer-led Berkshire Jewish Film Festival, entering its 37th year;
- Supporting family programming, including providing administrative support to the volunteer Families Together Committee;
- Responsible for all grant processes, including the Harold Grinspoon Foundation grants that partially fund the position and Jewish Federation of the Berkshires programming and co-sponsorship grants;
- Performing additional related administrative duties.
Depending on the candidate’s experience, interest, and time commitment, responsibilities may include some or all of the following:
- Teaching small classes and/or in 1:1 settings;
- Registration, scheduling, billing, attendance, teacher payroll;
- Professional and administrative support of Hebrew School teachers;
- Collaborating with the Rabbi to develop vision and choose curriculum;
The Director works closely with and reports to the Rabbi, with oversight by the VP of Adult Programming and the VP of Youth and Families. The director also has regular engagement with the Families Together Committee.
- At least four years’ experience working in Jewish programming, adult education, or a similar field
- Ability to design creative programming, in partnership with volunteers and organizations
- Interest in working collaboratively with rabbi and synagogue staff and volunteers
- Reliability, responsibility, independence, thoughtfulness, excellent follow-through
- Excellent communication skills (experience designing flyers and program materials is a plus, as is experience with social media publicity)
- Strong organizational and computer skills
- Enthusiasm for innovation and reimagination of programs
- Demonstrated commitment to outreach, equity, inclusion, and our KI mission
60-80% of a full-time position, with the job being full-time during the summer and part-time (20-30 hrs/wk) during the school year. Time commitment to be discussed during the interview process based on the candidate’s preference and experience.
$50,000-$60,000 depending on experience and time commitment
Benefits will be discussed as a part of the interview process.
Knesset Israel employees are eligible for grants each year from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for professional development.