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Cantor Sharon Kohn, Rabbi Scott Shpeen, and Rabbi Greg Weitzman in their white High Holy Day robes in front of the ark in the Sanctuary.

Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen

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 Master's 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

Rabbi Shpeen presently serves on the HUC-JIR President's Rabbinic Council. Locally, he serves on the Board of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Cap Rep Theater. He had served for many years on the Advisory Committee of the Capital District Senior Issues Forum Lifetime Achievement Award. Rabbi Shpeen has been an Adjunct Professor at the College of St. Rose in Albany teaching a course on the Holocaust. He is also a regular commentator on WMHT Public Television.

Rabbi Shpeen was appointed in May 2006 by Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings to serve on the Albany Human Rights Commission on which he served for three years until May 2009. Rabbi Shpeen is a two term Past President of the Capital District Board of Rabbis and Cantors  (2008-2010 & 1990-1992), past President of the Rabbinic Alumni Association of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, past President of B'nai B'rith Gideon Lodge #140, past President of the Buckingham Mews Homeowners Association and has served on the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as well as on the boards of the United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center, Park Playhouse, The Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King Lecture at Siena College, the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, Jewish Family Services of Northeastern New York, The Interfaith Advisory Committee of the Bethlehem Central School District, the Sidney and Beatrice Albert Lecture Board of the College of St. Rose and the Admissions Committee of the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) and for many years was Jewish Chaplain at the Parsons School in Albany.

Rabbi Shpeen was the 2016 recipient of the Capital Area Council of Churches’ (CACC) Rev. Dr. Carlyle Adams Ecumenical/Interfaith Award for his longstanding involvement in ecumenical and interfaith work in the Capital District. He was the first and only rabbi to be invited to be the keynote speaker at the Annual Albany Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service.

Rabbi Shpeen was married for 31 years to the late Susan Balan, who was the Executive Director of the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center at the time of her death in November 2009. He has two adult married children, Hilary (Josh) Brownstein and Adam (Emily Farber) and five grandchildren.

Rabbi Greg Weitzman

Rabbi Greg D. Weitzman (he/him) is thrilled to serve as Co-Senior Rabbi with Rabbi Shpeen! He was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in May 2015. Rabbi Weitzman tends to the needs of his congregants who are in major transitional moments of their lives. 

His enduring passion for Jewish education began at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, followed by three years at Central Synagogue as a full-time teacher and Youth Director. Besides meeting his future wife Ashley there, he spent many years at Eisner Camp as a camper, counselor, song leader, and Education Director. Dedicated to building community amongst young Jewish professionals, he was instrumental in the success of NextDOR NYC, a pilot initiative sponsored by Synagogue 3000 in which he was co-director, and Shabbat Unplugged where he used his musical skills as bandleader. Greg grew up in Stony Brook, NY and graduated with a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2005. Ashley and Greg have recently moved to the Capital Region with their daughter Eden and son Jonathan. 

Cantor Sharon Kohn

Cantor Sharon Kohn strives to share her joy in being Jewish through music, prayer, learning, and listening. She is looking forward to creative ways she will be able to meet and get to know the folks who call Beth Emeth home. She is excited to work with Rabbi Scott Shpeen, and the entire staff and leadership of CBE. Kohn looks forward to creating sacred space for Beth Emeth’s next settled cantor, whom ever that might be.

Sharon Kohn spent her childhood in central Illinois, dividing her time between Moses Montefiore Temple and any theatre or music production that she could find. She studied Music Theatre at Illinois Wesleyan University and received a Bachelors of Music from Illinois State University while also tutoring B’nei Mitzvah students and singing in, and ultimately leading, High Holiday choirs.

Cantor Kohn earned her ordination and Master’s degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. She is an active member of the American Conference of Cantors [ACC]. She has served full-time in congregations in Texas, Ohio, and Kansas. She has served as an Interim Cantor in Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, and New Jersey.

Cantor Kohn has training with the Interim Ministry Network [IMN] and is a member. She has studied at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and is a certified leader for Wise Aging. She has finished 4 units of C.P.E. and Level 1 of Kodaly training. Voice training and a mindfulness practice are parts of her weekly routine. Kohn enjoys the fiber arts and is rarely without a knitting or crocheting project. Weeding someone else’s garden is a source of joy and comfort, as is baking, preferably something chocolate.

Kohn is married to Rick Simon and calls Kansas City her permanent home.

Yonatan Arnon, Rabbinic Intern

Yonatan is a rising 5th year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR NYC. He holds a joint B.A. in Jewish philosophy and Theater from the Hebrew University and served as a representative to the art faculty in the student governing board. Yonatan also holds a MBA in social entrepreneurship and NPO management from the Morton Mandel Social Leadership Program from Ben Gurion University.

As a certified group facilitator (trained specifically in Jewish and Israeli identity) Yonatan worked for over 10 years in several NGOS in Israel (among which are Gesher, Merkaz Herzog, Jerusalem Municipality Young Leadership program) dealing with Jewish and Israeli challenges, character of the state and multiculturalism. Yonatan served as the Jewish Agency Israel fellow to Columbia/Barnard Hillel, New York between 2013-2016.

For the past eight years Yonatan has served Jewish communities such as Romemu, Lab/Shul, Navah Tehila, JDC Entwine and Kehilat Zion in different capacities. Yonatan has also been working in the peacebuilding world for the last 6 years as a dialogue facilitator between Palestinians and Jews, and an entrepreneur of interfaith communities and events both in Israel and NYC. For the past five years, Yonatan has integrated his spiritual and movement experiences, founding his signature "MoveMeant - Embodying Sacred Texts" workshops.

Awarded (3rd year in a row) the Be Wise Jewish Entrepreneurialism Fellowship for his signature MoveMeant- Embodying Sacred Texts workshops. He has co-created over 120 in-person and online MoveMeant workshops in diverse Jewish settings across the world including: US, Canada, Europe, Israel, and India alongside world-class musicians. Yonatan founded and is currently the director of Global Educational Tourism at Rashut Harabim, an umbrella organization for the renewal of Jewish life in Jerusalem.

Yonatan originates from Jerusalem, Israel and today resides in the Upper West Side of New York. He is an avid biker, mindfulness practitioner, dancer and lover of nature.

Sun, October 2 2022 7 Tishrei 5783