About Woodstock Jewish Congregation

The Woodstock Jewish Congregation was started in 1986 by a few families in the Woodstock, New York area who wanted to create a Jewish community in which to raise their children. These families created a community where they could learn more about what it was to be a Jewish presence in the world. Services at that time were led by Cantor Jack Schectman Gabriel, who was on his way to becoming a rabbi.

In 1988, the community engaged Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Jonathan helped to develop our adult and children's learning program. For years, Rabbi Jonathan led lively High Holy Day services under a large tent, attracting over 1,100 attendees from a wide radius, including New York City and nearby states. These services included a choir and a cohort of congregation musicians who filled our tent with music and voice.

After 18 years in a small rented building, in 2006 we purchased land and built our present building. While developing the plans for our new home, we knew that we wanted to continue to host large and spirit-filled High Holy Day services in a tent and created an area that would easily accommodate our needs.

Family School

We value learning for all people and over time have reimagined traditional religious education and created a Family School. Our B-Mitzvah program has ushered over 200 students through experiences that matched their needs and interests.

Sustainability

Environmental responsibility is a core value of our community. In 2019, WJC’s actions towards sustainability were recognized by Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in the United States, which awarded us the Hazon Seal of Sustainability.

Pandemic Response

When in person activities ceased in March 2020, we were able to agilely move all services and classes online. The unexpected result was a widening of the geographic circle (to Florida, the west coast, and as far away as New Zealand). Now that we can gather again in our building, the WJC remains dedicated to serving our online community through multi-access services and programs. In addition, the weekly lay-led programs that began with the pandemic, via Zoom, continue to date. These include a “Shtickle Toyrah'' where members present brief teachings about the parasha of the week; a Listening Circle, which is a safe place for people to share what is going on in their lives; and a Jewish themed Book Group, featuring fiction and non-fiction work.

Transition

In 2022, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler retired after 33 years of service to the WJC. The board hired an interim rabbi, Rabbi Sarah Noyovitz, who will serve our congregation until June 2023. As an important component of the interim year, the community has gathered in small groups to clarify values, wishes, and concerns. The priorities of our community are established and we look forward to finding our next congregational rabbi.

Idyllic Location

Our building is located on 35 acres with walking trails, a pond, and beautiful plantings. As mentioned above, the site includes a designated area for a tent, which is erected for High Holy Day services and other special events. We have a playground, fields, and two paved parking areas with lots of outdoor programming potential. The building contains a social hall and sanctuary, a kitchen, a library, six classrooms, and five offices. Connected to our value of sustainability, we have solar panels to increase energy efficiency.

About our Community Today:

Today we are a community with over 330 households and over 1,000 people on our weekly mailing list. We typically have 50 attendees at a weekly Shabbat service and had over 600 households at our High Holy Day services in 2022. We have over a half million dollar operating budget and have no mortgage or other debt associated with our organization. We have three full time and three part time staff members, not including our rabbi.

Community Profile

Woodstock, NY has a population of approximately 6,000. We draw our membership and attendees from a wide geographic area. Most people come from Ulster (population 182,000) and Dutchess (population 292,000) counties. Our community is both local and distant, coming from Kingston, Saugerties, and New Paltz, and from New York City, Albany, Florida, and beyond. No matter the distance, members connect with us and one another via Zoom.

  • Congregational Rabbi

    Woodstock Jewish Congregation
    New York
    • Full Time
    • 1 month ago