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Inclusion at Keneseth Israel

An Inclusion Committee, chaired by Ellen Green Sklaroff, has been formed at Keneseth Israel to ensure that all congregants have access to enriching cultural and religious experiences.  These congregants may have physical and developmental differences, social and emotional issues. The inter-faith, multi-racial and LGBTQ+ communities are also an important part of this huge umbrella called Inclusion at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel located in Elkins Park, PA. The committee is helping KI stay spiritually connected while physically apart during these extraordinarily troubled times.

In addition, new programs, workshops and panels were developed for KI members on current events.  Each Friday, Cantor Levy leads “Conversations with the Cantor,” an opportunity for congregants to share feelings and thoughts on a variety of topics.  She connects the discussions to prayers and portions of Torah to create “virtually” private experiences.  Please join us on Zoom select Fridays at 3:00 pm.  Our Winter 2021 theme is Seasonal Depression and Pandemic Anxiety: Finding Light through Conversation and Creativity- Cantor Levy and Ellen Sklaroff will be joined by three amazing KI congregants who will enlighten us and help us find endurance during this Pandemic. Some people are feeling the dark days. Even though there is hope in sight, the cold weather, virtual school, loneliness and increased restrictions have brought us a lot of sadness. Karen Sirota, Jane Hirschberg, and Janet Snellenburg-Kline will help find ways to cope through connecting with us through socialization, creativity or compassion. The format is ZOOM and open conversation. There is no pressure to speak – facilitators will guide the conversation. Jan. 1 – Keeping Connected with Karen Sirota, Jan. 15 – Outlets in Art with Jane Hirschberg, & Jan. 29 – Compassion for your Core with Janet Snellenburg Kline

KI member Bonnie Klein has established a very successful Bereavement Workshop facilitated by Bonnie Neubauer.  Speakers have addressed the group on topics such as Covid-19 and Loss, as well as providing support for recent bereavement.  All meetings being at 6: 45 on the first Tuesday of each month. Upcoming 2021 dates are Jan. 5, Feb. 2, March 9, April 6, May 4 and June 8.  This is an on-going, open group and new participants are always welcomed.  Attendees are asked to RSVP to for each monthly session.  Donations to the “Sharing is Caring” Fund are appreciated.

Looking back at past programs, In February 2020, National Disabilities Month, a special dinner and Shabbat service for Adults with Developmental Challenges were held and run by Cantor Amy E. Levy and congregant, Heather Michaelson. Additionally, each June, KI celebrates Gay Pride Month with our LGBTQ+ community holding a service, welcoming special speakers, most significantly listening to Galia Godel. This June our LGBTQ+ service was held on Zoom. Last May, Keneseth Israel held a fascinating virtual Panel discussion on Covid-19 led by physicians and scientists. Click here to watch the presentation and for more information about our special guests.  A virtual workshop on the topic of Mental Illness and Faith Community was held at the Jewish Learning Venture last Thursday under the auspices of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer.  The speaker, a Lutheran Minister, informed listeners of the stigma of Mental Illness often found in the Faith Community. As a result of this stimulating workshop, Keneseth Israel held a panel discussion on Mental Health and the Covid-19 pandemic in August. Click here to watch the presentation and for more information on our special guests.

Ellen Green Sklaroff says that the Inclusion Committee is comprised of a diverse group of people: professors, physicians, and educators from the community and the congregation. Each have a professional or personal connection to our areas of outreach. Cantor Amy Levy is the facilitator of this group.  The goal of this significant committee is to ensure visibility and support for the varied community that is Keneseth Israel. For comments or additional information email

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