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KBI Happenings

Participants in the Shine program with Aliza Asher during their celebratory brunch.

By Chava Maimon

Let’s take a look at what’s been happening during the months of March-April at Keneseth Beth Israel (KBI)!

Mrs. Leah Skaist has continued to lead her class for women entitled Insights and Inspiration in the KBI Center. Taking place each Monday evening, the class focuses on making prayer more meaningful.

In early March, the JLEAP* program held its Purim Carnival at the Weinstein JCC that included balloon art, face painting, prizes, and more for about 100 participants! Many thanks to Judy Lessin, Chaviva David, Miri David, Nancy Winston, and the Shaarei Torah girls.

Later that same evening, Ilana Gimpelevich led a textual study at KBI entitled “Are Bystanders Innocent” after participating in an 8-month Respect and Responsibility Educators’ cohort** that explored how to build safer, more respectful, and more equitable Jewish communities.

On March 13, KBI hosted the brit milah (circumcision) for the son of Ilana and Akiva Lessin. With approximately 150 people in attendance (many members/non-members), the event brought together the larger Jewish Richmond community.

Their new son, Noam Eliezer, was named on the KBI bimah (altar). This was the first time that the Gabbai (a role dedicated to Torah reading-related responsibilities) had the occasion to host this kind of celebration for many, many years.

In mid-March, KBI held its monthly GOLD kiddush after morning services on Shabbat day.

This gala kiddush was sponsored by the Lessin families in honor of Betzalel Mordechai Lessin becoming a Bar Mitzvah!

As always, the entire Richmond Jewish community is invited to attend KBI’s free monthly gourmet Gold Kiddush after Shabbat day services (approximately 10:45 a.m.).

Come eat, talk, and enjoy! A huge shout-out to caterer Amy Beth Lehman. To learn of upcoming Gold Kiddush dates, please contact the KBI office at 804-288-7953.

That same Shabbat, in preparation for the upcoming Purim holiday, Rabbi Dovid Asher gave a class in the afternoon entitled “The Purim Lesson on How to Defeat Antisemitism.” The following week, on Shabbat afternoon, Rabbi Menachem Sherman led a class that also focused on Purim and was entitled “Palace Intrigue; Mysteries in the Megillah.”

Talking about Purim, the holiday was an eventful time at KBI! Megillah readings took place.

Many thanks to the readers – Rabbi Skaist, Rabbi Cantor, and Yaakov Rakofsky. The conclusion of the final megillah reading was the start of the Purim Mask-erade.


This hopping event (attended by approximately 130 people) included a Chinese buffet dinner as well as activities like a costume contest, photo booth, and mask-decorating. There was also a game of Jeopardy!

In addition, a screen depicting images from Purim events held in years past was provided not only for pure enjoyment but also presented a fun opportunity for testing memories; papers were offered for participants to identify those shown in the images.

Many thanks to the committee members (Ben Freedlander, Troy Fuller, Diane Goldberg, Shira Klein, Rebecca Levy, Chava Maimon, Judy Maizels, Luis & Alyssa Margalit, and Nancy Winston) and other volunteers (Aliza & Elana Asher, Sharyl Freedlander, Malky Goldberg, Dana Griffin, Abby & Emunah Kerzhner, Rich Lehman, Judy Lessin, Yael & Moshe Mizrahi, Keith & Yaakov Rakofsky, Heather Schneiderman, Michelle Shor, Todd Stufflebeam, and Reuven Wannemaker) who made this event possible!

On March 26, KBI was one of the many synagogues who partnered with the Orthodox Union to present an online event entitled “Unmatched: An Exclusive Interview with author Sarah Lavane, which focused on author Sarah Lavane’s memoir. More information about her book, Unmatched, can be found on Amazon.

The Shine program, a Bat Mitzvah Club for girls ages 11-13 and led by Aliza Asher, concluded its third consecutive year at the end of March with a celebratory brunch for participants and their families. Congratulations and Mazel Tov to participants Shayna Chandler, Sabrina Galpern, Danielle Holi, Sarah Korshin, Sophia Klestzick, Emunah Kurzhner, Eliana Rakofsky, Eva Rosen, Esther Shoenfeld, and Leora Soloveichik and their families!

In preparation for the holiday of Pesach (Passover) that follows on the heels of Purim, Rabbi Asher led classes during the Shabbat afternoons of March 30 and April 6 entitled “How to Clean Our Homes for Pesach Without Stressing (Too Much)” and “How to Run a Pesach Seder: A Review of the Key Laws and Customs on Pesach Night, respectively. ”

In early April, KBI held an online presentation given by Rabbi Elisha Paul, Robyn Galpern, and Adam Shor that reflected on what they experienced in Israel during the Federation Solidarity Mission.

Differing greatly from what has been depicted in American media, the presentation helped attendees learn how to talk about the conflict accurately and how to help Israel.

The same day, KBI once again partnered with the Orthodox Union in their mission to hand deliver 180,000 letters to the White House to send a strong message to President Biden to support Israel, combat antisemitism, and secure the release of the hostages.

At the time of this writing, KBI was making preparations for holding Shabbat dinner and lunch on April 19-20 to help support community members preparing their homes for Passover.

Looking toward the summer, KBI has opened online registration for Camp Seed. Planned for the month of July, the camp is open to both boys and girls.

KBI is also continuing to encourage community members to contact elected officials to push for the support of Israel, including efforts to help secure the release of Israeli hostages.

This includes Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who grew up in the Richmond community before making aliyah (moving to Israel) with his family. Hersh’s parents have directly requested that the community contact elected officials to push for the release of all hostages.

May peace within Israel be swiftly secured.

*Jewish Learning Enrichment and Play–a partnership with KBI, the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, Weinstein JCC, Rudlin Torah Academy, Jewish Student Union, and PJ Library

** Hosted by Sacred Spaces with the support of The Covenant Foundation.