B’nai Israel of Southbury is a warm, welcoming and diverse congregation that is among the most prominent, yet intimate Jewish houses of worship in the region. The congregation has a rich history of tradition dating back more than a century while enthusiastically embracing the future. B’nai Israel takes pride in its inspiring music, educational excellence and sense of community. Setting B’nai Israel apart, too, is its spiritual leadership, commitment to advocacy, and inclusiveness with a welcoming of traditional, single parent, interfaith and other modern families among the greater B’nai Israel family that is a home for all generations. B’nai Israel is located in northwestern New Haven County on a sprawling 17-acre campus — one of the region’s largest community, cultural, spiritual and educational centers of its kind — at 444 Main Street North in Southbury, CT. B’nai Israel shares its gorgeous campus with its partner organization, The Federation: Jewish Communities of Northwestern CT, and is home to families and their loved ones from a wide radius of Connecticut towns, including Bethany, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Litchfield, Middlebury, New Hartford, Newtown, Oxford, Roxbury, Sandy Hook, Southbury, Washington, Waterbury, Watertown, Woodbury, and other surrounding communities. Affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, B'nai Israel is also active in the area Jewish and interfaith communities.
Rabbi Eric is our founding rabbi, serving the congregation since 1997. He gives great attention to his roles here as a teacher, pastor, speaker and community leader. His interests and activities begin locally and extend beyond our community. He is Moderator of the Southbury Clergy Association and has been active in the Connecticut Community Foundation and CT ADL. He is an ADL Associate National Commissioner and a Board Member of “Amplify Israel." He is also known locally as one of The Three Amigos, working with a Monsignor and Imam to extend interfaith understanding.
Rabbi Eric’s educational background:
Johns Hopkins University, BA
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, MAHL, Rabbinic Ordination, DD Yale Divinity School, STM
Linda co-leads services and participates in lifecycle events, directs our choir and oversees a talented group of singers and musicians, teaches students Jewish music, and is a pastoral presence within our congregational family. In her current position for a dozen years, her music and vision is grounded in inclusiveness and celebrates community and spiritual connection. Linda also coordinates our highly successful Mitzvah Garden. Linda’s husband Dan is likewise dedicated to our congregation and promoting Jewish life.
Jacqui Schulefand, Director of the B’nai Israel Religious School, first joined our staff in 2022 as a Hebrew teacher and B’nai Mitzvah Tutor. Previously, Morah Jacqui was the Director of Programs and Engagement at UConn Hillel; a teacher at Ezra Academy in Woobridge, leading 2nd and 3rd Grade Judaics; and a teacher and B'nai Mitzvah tutor at the Hebrew Schools of B’nai Jacob of Woodbridge and Temple Beth Sholom of Hamden, her home congregation. A strong Zionist with great Hebrew knowledge, she was educated at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Baltimore Hebrew University, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and SUNY Brockport. Her training and skills highlight the essential elements for nurturing proud Jewish identity.
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We pride ourselves on being a warm, sensitive and welcoming community with a diverse population. Our membership includes Jews by birth, Jews by choice and their loved ones. We are LGBTQ friendly. We invite you to be an active part of our community as we join together to continue our rich heritage rooted in Torah, God and the People of Israel.
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We encourage other members of the congregation to participate in our efforts to educate themselves and others on our mission to fight antisemitism. Please reach out to Rabbi Polokoff if you would like to join us or simply to learn more or sit in on one of our upcoming meetings.
Patti Berkowitz, President
Sheri Kipperman, 1st V.P.
Alexis Zimmerman, 2nd V.P.
Paul Medina, Treasurer
Eric Linnetz , Secretary
Kathryn Albee, Marci Durnell, Melissa Fleischer, Doug Fuchs, Peggy Klein, Allen Schwartz, Iurie Schwartz, Lisa Segal, Dawn Tendler