Our Clergy

Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen

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Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen has served Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany since 1985. In July 1992, he assumed the position of Senior Rabbi of the Congregation. He is a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey and a product of the Reform Movement having spent many summers at the URJ Camps as well as participating in the EIE (Eisendrath International Exchange) Program spending a semester at the Leo Baeck High School in Haifa, Israel. Concurrent with his High School studies, Rabbi Shpeen was awarded a Certificate in Jewish Education from Gratz College, Philadelphia. Rabbi Shpeen was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1979. After spending his first year at its campus in Jerusalem, Rabbi Shpeen studied at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. He received a Masters Degree in Hebrew Letters in 1983 and was ordained in June 1984. In 1988 Rabbi Shpeen completed the St. Peter's Hospital Program, Albany, NY, in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). In May 2009, in recognition of his 25th anniversary of rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Shpeen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

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Cantor Jodi M. Schechtman, D.M.

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Cantor Schechtman was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1988 and she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Congregation Beth Emeth. She served Temple Beth Am in Framingham, Massachusetts for 28 years. During that time, she brought her passion for Judaism, music and children into everything she did, from creating an 80-voice Junior Choir to transforming worship services into joyful, participatory and meaningful experiences and introducing the monthly Shabbat Unplugged Service, an all-musical worship experience with a 5-piece band. She plays a myriad of instruments, including guitar, piano and flute, and takes pride in staying current with what is happening within the greater Reform movement and incorporating the best of our movement's music and innovations into her services and her teaching. In 2010, after serving as Cantor of Temple Beth Am for 22 years, Cantor Schechtman became the sole Spiritual Leader of the temple and thus, was responsible for all life cycle events, all the pastoral counseling and all the sermons for the congregation, along with teaching the B'nei Mitzvah students, Confirmation students, Post-Confirmation students and lifelong learners, directing the volunteer choirs, leading the Shabbat morning Torah study and providing the music during services. In addition to her responsibilities at the temple, Cantor Schechtman is part of the senior staff of the ACC (American Conference of Cantors) serving as Director of Organizational Partnerships. As such, she is the face of the Reform cantorate when interacting with the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism), the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) and HUC-JIR. She sits on the National Board of the URJ and has played a key role in fostering greater partnerships between the ACC and these important arms of our movement. While in Framingham, she was a member of the NEBC (New England Board of Cantors), and was the first cantor appointed to the board of JCAM (Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts), and was an active member of FICA (Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association). Cantor Schechtman and her husband, Gene Laks, both of whom originally hail from Bergen County, NJ, were married in 1988 and are delighted to be here in Albany with their daughter, Madison (the new Co-Advisor for our youth group, CBEYG), their dog, Remy, and their cat, Oliver.

To contact Cantor Schechtman, CLICK HERE

Rabbinic Intern Jesse Paikin

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Jesse Paikin is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. While studying there, he has served as Rabbinic Fellow at the New Israel Fund, and as an Educator at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. This year, in addition to joining the Congregation Beth Emeth community, he will also serve as a Rabbinic Intern at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. He is a 2016 recipient of the Kevah Teaching Fellowship.

Prior to his rabbinical studies, Jesse worked at the Union for Reform Judaism as Coordinator of Israel Programs for high school and college students, where he oversaw staff training and development as well as an extensive communications portfolio. In that role, Jesse managed the recruitment, marketing, and communications for four of the Reform Movement’s most successful youth engagement programs in Israel, working to increase participation and richness of experiences both in Israel and North America.

A displaced Canadian, Jesse is originally from Toronto, and has lived in Montreal, Jerusalem, and New York City. He has worked as a Jewish Educator in a variety of settings, with particular devotion to European Jewish History and Israel Education amongst adolescents and young adults. He is a graduate of Toronto’s York University, where he received a degree in Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Theatre. A recipient of graduate certification from HUC-JIR in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults, Jesse has also studied at the National Theatre School of Canada, New York University, and Yeshivat Hadar. Among other things, Jesse is a voracious music listener, a vegetarian, and a runner. He blogs regularly at jessepaikin.wordpress.com, and can be found on twitter at @jessepaikin.

To contact Jesse Paikin, CLICK HERE.