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MEET OUR RABBI

Rabbi Justin David (he/him/his) has served as the Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel for 18 years. Before moving to Northampton, he was the Assistant Rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, after having been ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Rabbi David is proud to lead a community that is spiritually vibrant, intellectually alive, morally engaged, and devoted to raising the next generation of compassionate Jews. He is especially proud of CBI's dedication to support those who are most vulnerable as well as our dedication to the poetry of traditional prayer and our commitment to ongoing study.  

Call the CBI office to set up a time to connect with Rabbi David. He would be honored to learn about your life journey, share his vision for Jewish life and the CBI community, schmooze about the issues of the day, respond to any questions about Judaism or the CBI community or simply get to know you.

Feel free to check out Rabbi David's book, Longing: Jewish Meditations on a Hidden God, available at independent bookstores downtown or through the CBI gift shop.  Learn more about T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights, which gave Rabbi David the Human Rights Hero award in 2018.

MEET OUR STAFF

Emily Kieval, Executive Director

 
 
 
 

Emily Kieval (she/her/hers) has served as the Executive Director of Congregation B'nai Israel since August 2019. Previously, she served as the Director of Inclusion at Temple Shalom in Newton. She also served as a Regional Director of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities. Emily received her Bachelors Degree from UMass Amherst and her Masters Degree from Columbia University. Emily is passionate about building resilient and inclusive communities. 

 
 
 
 

Rabbi Jacob Fine, Director of Jewish Life and Abundance Farm

 
 

Rabbi Jacob (he/him/his) has served as the Director of Jewish Life and Abundance Farm since 2013.  Previously, he served as a rabbi and educator for a number of leading Jewish environmental organizations including the Teva Learning Alliance, Adamah, Hazon and the Jewish Farm School. A Wexner Graduate Fellow and former Rabbi and Assistant Director at Hillel at the University of Washington, Rabbi Jacob was ordained as a rabbi from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies where he also received a M.A. in Rabbinic Studies. He is also a graduate of Vassar College where he received a B.A. in environmental studies and religion.

 
 

Kate Holdsworth-Clarke, Gan Keshet Preschool Director

Kate Holdsworth-Clarke (she/her/hers) is the Director of Gan Keshet Preschool. Kate has been an integral part of the CBI and Gan Keshet community since she first joined the Gan Keshet faculty as a Parpar teacher back in 2007. Kate has a background in Early Intervention, Special Education, Art, Theater, and Puppetry. She has a deep respect for parents and for the work and thoughtfulness that goes into caring for and raising children.

Nili Simhai, Director of Outdoor Education

Nili Simhai serves as the Director of Outdoor Education for Abundance Farm. Nili served as the Director of Teva, a leading Jewish environmental education organization, for fourteen years.  A recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, Nili has been recognized for her leadership in training and counseling hundreds of educators in the tenets of Jewish environmental education.  One of her current passions is outdoor classrooms in Jewish institutions.

Molly Bajgot, Assistant Director of Jewish Life

Molly Bajgot is CBI's Assistant Director of Jewish Life. Originally from Sudbury, Massachusetts, Molly attended Arizona State University, and then the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for her undergrad. Molly graduated in 2014 with a B.S. degree in Sustainable Food and Farming and then moved to Boston where she found strong Jewish community.  Molly was a JOIN (Jewish Organizing Institute and Network) for Justice Fellowship, 2014-15, and also as a Resident Organizer at the Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice house, 2015-16. Most recently Molly was working as the Western Mass Organizer for the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA). She is a singer, songwriter, bodywork enthusiast, and systems thinker.

Cynthia White, Office Manager

 

Cynthia White is CBI's Office Manager. She has worked in nonprofit settings as an administrator since leaving her career as a licensed social worker.  Her experience includes running her own small nonprofit, working as a bookkeeper for Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, and serving as a director for a nonprofit in Arizona that advocated for social justice and environmental stewardship. Her passion is with all things related to nature. She loves drawing plants and wildlife. 

 

Rose Cherneff, Abundance Farm Manager

Rose Cherneff serves as the Farm Manager for Abundance Farm. Rose got her start in the farming world as a teenager working at The Food Project in Boston, MA. Since then she has worked for a variety of educational and production farms throughout New England including Sawyer Farm- a horse powered CSA, Villageside Farm- a diversified vegetable operation, and Rebel Hill Farm- a native and perennial plant nursery.  Rose is interested in the ways in which farming and land-based relationships can help bring people together, and how connecting with each other can help us connect to the land.

Kat V., Marketing and Communications Manager

Kat serves as CBI's Marketing and Communications Manager. A writer, educator and marketing specialist, Kat is a Hampshire College graduate and Bridgeport, Connecticut native who was recaptured by the spirit of the Pioneer Valley. Most recently, she worked at an in-house marketing and web dev agency in Holyoke, and taught ESL in Springfield, MA. Kat loves exploring the stories of the land and how people can reconnect to it in urban environments. She is a proud writer of Puerto Rican, Ojibwe, and Italian descent, cat mom and herbal tea enthusiast.

Lennie McKemmie, Maintenance Supervisor

Lennie McKemmie serves as CBI's Maintenance Supervisor, overseeing our building and grounds with great care. He has a background in HVAC and can build just about anything. When he isn't at work you might find him engrossed in his art, creating intricate wood-burned illustrations of animals. 

Rebecca Leung, Abundance Farm Educator

Rebecca Leung serves as the Farm Educator for Abundance Farm. Rebecca became interested in gardening while doing an AmeriCorps program at an elementary school in California, where rosemary grows as a bush and kale is a perennial. Since then, she's worked at a variety of CSA and wholesale farms in Massachusetts, including Brookfield Farm and most recently Old Friends Farm in Amherst, MA. Rebecca is excited to facilitate her own and young people's Jewish learning through farming and being connected to land.

Emily Bristol, Building Services Associate

Emily Bristol serves as a part-time custodian and integral member of the kiddush team at CBI. Emily graduated from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and Information Systems. She has always loved to clean and organize and enjoys being able to put these skills to use at CBI. Emily loves being a part of the CBI community and cherishes the relationships she has formed over the years with both staff and congregants. 

Jayde Jarry, Scheduling and Zoom Coordinator

 
 

Jayde Jarry joined the CBI team in December 2019 as a part-time Receptionist. When we moved to "remote shul" in March 2020, she stepped into the role of Zoom Master. Jayde schedules meetings, coordinates virtual events, updates CBI's Zoom calendar, and trains community members in using Zoom and our new website. Jayde is originally from Rhode Island and recently moved to the Springfield area. She loves running, playing guitar, and singing.

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