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2020 Annual Congregation Meeting



Or Ami’s Annual Meeting 

June 7, 2020

1:00 – 3:00 pm 

via Zoom – please register in advance!
Only those registered will be admitted to the meeting.

All members and friends are invited to attend the meeting. Only members in good standing can vote.

Key Agenda Items:

The first is that we are voting on a one-time exception to the by-laws to allow Alex Wolman and Lisa Wilburn to extend their service on the board by one two-year term. This one-time exception is needed to find the time to find new people to take on the important roles of Treasurer and Financial Secretary and allow for training and a smooth transition.

Secondly, we will introduce the proposed slate of board members. They include:

President – Laurie Weinberg
Past President – Linda Heuser
Vice President – Alan Arkava
Treasurer – Alex Wolman
Financial Secretary – Lisa Wilburn
Recording Secretary – Lisa Halberstadt

K.C. Crews
Jeff Haykin
Laura Horwitz
Beth Jones
Ed Kaufman
Rachel Levy
Margaret Sequeira

If you have questions about your membership status please contact Maria in the office, 804-272-0017.

It is critical for both the by-law vote and the Board candidates that we have a quorum! Please plan to attend so we have the needed members in good standing for a valid vote!

Logistics for the Meeting:

  • The Zoom room will be opened at 12:30 and will remain open for half an hour into the meeting.
  • We are asking each household to logon with only one device so we have enough room for everyone who wishes to attend (we have a limit of 100 attendees per meeting).
  • Everyone will be muted upon entry and during the meeting. This is to make sure the meeting is not disturbed by background noise.
  • We will use the Zoom chat feature for discussion of all the items on the agenda. Rachel Levy, Board member, will be monitoring the chat and reporting all questions and comments at the appropriate time in the meeting.
  • We will be using the poll feature for voting. The entire Or Ami community is welcome to attend, but only members in good standing can vote.
  • When you register you will be asked if you are a member in good standing and how many members will be participating per household. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
  • The Meeting will be recorded and available here following the meeting.

Board Member Bios

Joining the Board

KC Crews (Director)

Jeff Haykin (Director)

Jeff Haykin worked as a police officer with Henrico County in the mid-seventies and retired in March 2017 after 37 years in Corporate Bank Security. As a physical security professional, he served in a variety of capacities (Security Project Manager, Investigator, and Security Manager and Director) at Central Fidelity, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo Banks through many mergers.

Jeff graduated from VCU in 1991 and obtained his MBA from Averett University in 1994. He is a “Certified Security Professional” through the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS), the security professional standard. He taught an “Introduction to Security” course as an adjunct faculty member at VCU for five years. He also served as past Security Committee president at the Virginia Banker’s Association and was a frequent guest speaker on “Banking Security Best Practices”, “Workplace Violence”, and “Security Assessments”.

Jeff and his wife Isabel Paul have been members of Or Ami for 11 years. Several years ago, he served as an Or Ami board member. During this time, he actively pursued the upgrading of Or Ami’s fire and burglar alarm systems and developed the sign-in/sign-out log to help assist and managing access to the building. He has periodically reviewed Or Ami’s Security Procedures and assisted in the development of the Emergency Operating Plan. Jeff has attended the “Richmond Police Places of Worship Safety & Awareness Forum” over the past several years.

Ed Kaufman (Director)

Ed Kaufman grew up in Rochester, NY, but he relocated to Indiana to attend college at Purdue University.  He then settled in Indianapolis, where he became a member of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation (IHC) in 1991.  Ed moved to Richmond from Indiana in May 2019.  He has a brother, sister and mother who live in Raleigh and being closer to them was the key factor in why he moved to Richmond.

Ed was hired by the Virginia State Corporation Commission, an agency which is tasked with regulating utilities in Virginia to ensure reasonable rates.  He was hired as an auditor; his new title is Principal Utility Specialist.

He was attracted to Or Ami because it was a very friendly congregation and he believes the people genuinely care about each other.  He enjoys the Friday evening Shabbat Services and the Sunday evening monthly movies.  He has been to one Beer Ami, which he described as “fantastic.”  He also enjoyed the New Year’s Eve fund raiser.  He got a big laugh when the band played “Back Home Again in Indiana.”

Ed was an active member of IHC for 28 years and an integral part of IHC’s Social Justice Committee for 10 years. Over the years at IHC, Ed was very active with the temple Brotherhood (Treasurer and Corresponding Secretary), the Adult Education Committee (Chair), the Worship Committee, Board Representative for IHC’s 20s/30s group, Board Member, Budget Committee member, and a participant in a year-long IHC leadership initiative. On the Social Justice Committee, Ed served as the Treasurer for many years. Ed clearly has many skill sets which will be put to use on the Or Ami Board!  He plans to join the Finance and Personnel subcommittees.

Ed is still trying to learn Richmond and figure out how to spend his free time.  He is (was Pre COVID) involved in the James River Hiking Club.  His sister, Leah Kaufman is a fantastic singer who sings mostly folk music.  Who knows?  Perhaps we’ll get her to come to Or Ami to participate in our Folk Series some day!

Returning to the Board

Alan Arkava (Vice President)
After a career in education, where he served as a biology teacher, school counselor school administrator, and college professor, Alan turned to a career in nursing.  He is the author of Colleges Offering Programs for Students with a learning Disability (1986, 1988).  His wife, Amy, is a social worker.  Son Darren is an RN in San Francisco, son Todd is an MD in Nashville, and daughter Leah is an MSW and MPH here in Richmond.  Together with Amy, Alan co-chairs the Avodah committee at Or Ami.

Lisa Halberstadt (Recording Secretary)
My husband Jeff Lacker and I have been members of Or Ami for 30 years and raised our sons here.  I love how openhearted and openminded our Or Ami community is – for example, my offer to facilitate Jewish Meditation sessions was welcomed.  I serve on the Board to give back to our Or Ami family, which has given my own family much joy, kindness, and sacred connection over the years.

Linda Heuser (Past President)
Linda has been a member of Or Ami since 1998.  She has served as Membership chair, board member and congregation President, and she taught 5th and 6th grade in the Religious School for a number of years.  After teaching Earth Science for 30 years in Chesterfield County, she retired and now works part-time at Talbot’s.  Linda likes the eclectic nature of Or Ami and feels as a small congregation, it is easy to get involved and to get to know one another.

Laura Horwitz (Director)
Laura Horwitz and husband Henry have been Or Ami members for 28 years. Both of their kids went through Or Ami’s Sunday School, which prepared them for their bat/bar mitzvahs and confirmation.  Laura likes Or Ami for many reasons, but especially for its warm, accepting, supportive community, and the real family feel of the congregants and staff.  She loves the beautiful Friday night services.  Now a retired elementary teacher, Laura’s past times include hiking and yoga.

Beth Jones (Director)

Beth Jones has been a member of Congregation Or Ami since 2009, and her son, Andy, went to religious school and had his Bar Mitzvah here in 2011. Since joining the congregation, Beth has been active in the Education Committee, Yad b’ Yad, Hineini (Caring Committee), and the Book Club. She has been Chair of Membership since 2018 after working on the committee for many years. One of her favorite accomplishments at Or Ami has been winning the “Golden Spatula Award” during the annual Chanukah party.

Beth currently works for the federal government at the Centers for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS). Prior to joining CMCS, she worked in Virginia state government for 14 years as a healthcare financial manager and data analyst. A Tidewater native, she enjoys foreign and independent films, reading, baking, and road cycling.

Rachel Levy (Director)

Margaret Sequeira (Director)

Margaret is completing her first two-year term on the Board and she leads the Communication Team. She has been part of Or Ami since she moved to Richmond in 2015. She has taught in the Religious School for the past 4 years working with the Middle School grades. She has a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and teaches as an adjunct faculty member in the Philosophy Department at VCU. She is pursuing a second Master’s degree at VCU, an M.Ed. in Adult Education, Instructional Design, and Technology. Her goal is to become an Instructional Designer with an expertise in Ethics. She wants to design ethics education and training that transforms individuals and organizations to behave ethically.

She loves the community at Or Ami that welcomed her warmly both to Richmond and through her journey into Judaism. Margaret brings to the board years of experience in a wide range of religious communities as both a volunteer and as a staff member along with a knowledge of a variety of communications tools to get the message out about the vibrant and welcoming community of Or Ami.

Laurie Weinberg (President)

Laurie and husband John have been members of Or Ami for about 15 years.  Laurie enjoys the diversity of the congregation and the strong feeling of community.  Before becoming President of the congregation, she served as Recording Secretary. In September, Laurie will retire from her 25+ year career as ESL instructor and ESL program coordinator at Reynolds Community College.  She enjoys all kinds of music and dancing.

Lisa Wilburn (Financial Secretary)

Lisa has been a member of Or Ami for about 25 years.  She taught in the Religious School for 18 years.  She has served on the Membership committee, Education committee, and the Finance committee.

Alex Wolman (Treasurer)

Alex Wolman has been a member of Or Ami since approximately 2004. He loves online Shabbat services but misses onegs and the view from the sanctuary. Alex is an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. His wife Terri Halperin is a former chair of Or Ami’s education committee, and their two children have both been presidents of OATY.


  • Welcoming Remarks
  • Vote for Exception to Bylaws
  • Presentation of the Board
  • Finance Report and Budget
  • Team Reports
  • Looking Forward

Committee Reports

Avodah (Alan and Amy Arkava, Co-Chairs)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Served as advisory committee for Rabbi for High Holy Day and worship services
  • Coordinated High Holy Day Services
  • Assisted Rabbi with virtual Seder due to COVID-19

Goals for Fiscal Year 2021

  • Work with Rabbi to plan and implement virtual High Holy Day services due to COVID-19

Communications (Margaret Sequeira, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Cindy Hendren stepped down from submitting our monthly contribution to the Reflector and we were so fortunate that Lenette Howard was willing to step right up and take it on. We thank Cindy for her years of service and commend Lenette on the job she has been doing.
  • Victor Escobar was hired to share responsibilities with Margaret for the Weekly Update, which has resulted in a more timely delivery of the Weekly Update. Victor also continues to work on the Or Ami website.
  • With the COVID-19 outbreak, ever changing information required getting out updates as quickly and accurately as possible. The Communications team continued to learn as they went, and this led to creating a version of the newsletter without Zoom links and passwords for services and Religious School classes for posting on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.  In planning for the Annual Meeting, the team worked on creating a web page for the meeting where Board member bios, committee reports, agenda, and ultimately the recording of the meeting can be posted.

Goals for Fiscal Year 2021

  • Use technology even more to provide multiple ways for people engaging with Or Ami, as COVID-19 will continue to limit our in-person gatherings.
  • Continue to improve the Weekly Update to make it easier for people to find the information they are interested in and need.
  • Better utilize the website for longer text pieces that do not work well in our weekly format.
  • Make more use of under utilized tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to reach younger generations who look to these sources for information.


  • It’s hard to juggle jobs and other responsibilities with the demands of this work.  The Communication team’s work touches every aspect of Or Ami life, and its breadth is what makes it exciting, yet challenging.
  • Bridging the technology divides and helping everyone in our community to be able to connect in a variety of ways.

Margaret looks forward to continuing to serve as the Communications chair and the community of Or Ami.

Education (David Kane, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Started Religious School year off strong with 30 students
  • Hosted a successful Game Night fundraiser in January
  • Successfully moved to virtual classes on Zoom in March.

Goals for Fiscal Year 2021

  • Explore more ways to enhance the learning experience as we start off the new school year virtually

Facilities (Bruce Gould, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

Repairs & Cleaning

  • Completed decking and concrete walkway to sheds.
  • Repairs to old water damage in electrical closet completed.
  • Repairs to rotted and woodpecker damage on building exteriors completed.
  • Replaced sign at the road.
  • Disposed of old computers which had been stored in electrical closet for some time.
  • Completed fix on one of the sliding glass doors.
  • Repaired broken window in the Rabbi’s office.
  • Began to clean and organize the 1/2 classroom where services, etc. are stored.
  • Carpets cleaned.
  • Negotiated new cleaning contract.


  • Talked to firm that brokers solar panels for non-profits. It was determined that our situation does not meet their criteria.
  • Worked with Verizon to bump up our internet speed and reduce our monthly bill.
  • Arranged for new hard drive for our security video recorder.


  • Met with new director of security for the Federation.
  • Participated in weekly security conference calls.
  • Worked with Marcy Horowitz to complete Safety and Security grant application.


  • Met with master naturalist and tree steward about possible development of a landscape plan using native plants.
  • Worked on grant for native plant garden. (We did not get the grant.)
  • Monitored grass mowing and other landscaping related tasks.


  • Scheduled High Holy Day move to and from the JCC.

Goals for Fiscal Year 2021

  • Organize and clean the 1/2 classroom and chair storage area in back of sanctuary.
  • Replace attic work around trash can area.
  • Would like to dispose of 2 low kindergarten type tables and small blue chairs. Seeking suggestions on selling or donating these items.

Finance (Alex Wolman, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Pat Doniger kept the books carefully and accurately once again this year. This takes a lot of her time, so the Finance Committee thanks her for volunteering her time to Or Ami.
  • Reconsidered Or Ami’s investment strategy for our longer term funds and decided to put a larger portion of those funds into equities instead of cash. We still have a significant cushion in cash (i.e. very safe assets), so we can withstand even large ups and downs in the stock market, but we should benefit in the longer run from higher returns on these funds.
  • Up until the last 3 months, the year was looking fairly good financially. Now we need a big June!

Goals for Fiscal Year 2021

  • We will be adding new committee members and, at some point this year, grooming new candidates for Treasurer and Financial Secretary.


  • Our main concern right now on the finance side is to determine, in the coming months, whether Or Ami’s financial situation seems to have been materially affected by COVID-19.

Membership (Beth Jones, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Developed new membership packets for distribution during High Holidays and throughout the year.
  • 10 new membership units and 2 returning units
  • Sent handwritten letters to welcome new members
  • Mailed invitations to New Member Shabbat service
  • Honored new members and returning members with separate Shabbat services and special Onegs.
  • Worked with Rabbi Ahuva and other to develop Sarah’s Tent program to provide additional opportunities for young families and new member engagement.
  • Sent out two needs surveys to members to check on them during COVID quarantine period.
  • Ongoing responsibilities
    • Worked as Shabbat greeter approximately 6 times during the year.
    • Answer email and phone questions for new members
    • Work with Finance Committee to follow up on membership status in winter

OATY (Nancy Nelson, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Kick-off picnic at Maymont
  • Apple picking at Carter Mountain (apples for OATY members and for Rosh Hashanah)
  • Escape Room
  • Annual Ski trip to Massanutten
  • Trivia Nigh fundraiser (raised money for Loving Acres Farm Sanctuary, Hawthorne Cancer Foundation, and OATY scholarship fund)
  • NFTY-MAR regional events (4 teens participated in one or more events)
  • Evergreen Cleanup – 4 times!

Goals for Fiscal Year 2021

  • Have elected new board
    • Co-Presidents Ilana Farnsworth and Anna Kane
    • Social Action VP Caleb Riener
    • Membership Liam Riener
    • Communications VP Rachel Menacker
  • Virtual Escape Room (this summer)
  • Kick-Off Picnic
  • Fall themed event (Haunted House?)
  • Ski Trip
  • Holocaust Museum trip
  • More participation in NFTY-MAR and Convention


  • Will continue to work on improving communication.
  • Attracting and retaining teens in grades 8-12.
  • Attendance at NFTY-MAR events. Would like to see this grow.

Personnel (John Weinberg, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

  • Met with Maria Rice
    • Discussed a combination of working remotely and coming into the office twice/week to attend to business that must be conducted from the office.
    • Agreed to keep her salary the same for the 2021 fiscal year.

Social Action (Marilyn Breslow, Chair)

Accomplishments and Highlights

Focused attention on Racism

  • 3 Shabbat services with speakers addressing:
    • Confronting white supremacy
    • Being a person of color in a Jewish congregation
    • The struggles of being Black here in Richmond
  • Some congregants signed the Pledge to End Racism & Participated in Trainings
    • Living the Pledge workshops at First Unitarian Universalist Church
    • United Against Racism at Bon Air Presbyterian Church
  • Viewed and discussed the film, “Crash,” with Reel Theology

Helped Feed Vulnerable Populations

  • High Holy Day food drive
  • Prepared monthly meal at Home Again men’s shelter
  • Assembled bag lunches at Feedmore

Advocated for Social Justice

As RISC Congregation

  • Urged funding for affordable housing and eviction diversion
  • Encouraged new approach tow work with perpetrators of gun violence

With Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

  • Encouraged legislation addressing needs of vulnerable populations


  • Respected Richmond’s Black history with regular work days, organized by OATY, at historic Evergreen Cemetery
  • Built affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity
  • Collected and donated hats, gloves, scarves and socks in winter
  • Raised environmental awareness through the Greening of the congregation
    • Used fewer disposables
    • Replaced disposable kiddish cups with colorful reusable ones
    • Planted more natural landscaping
  • Launched Mitzvot in the time of COVID-19 to replace Mitzvah Day
    • Provided range of suggestions for individuals and families to address community needs and posted pictures on Or Ami Facebook page
  • Immigrant Justice proposal submitted to Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism was funded
    • Refugee service planned for June 26