On July 1, Ethel Liebeskind began her tenure as executive director for the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre. She took over for Helaine Ronen, who retired from the position last month.
Liebeskind spoke with the Herald in a question and answer session to offer insight on her background and experience, while also delving into her expectations and goals for the position.
Herald: Welcome to the community! Can you tell us a little bit about your background such as where you grew up and the different experiences you’ve had in this line of work?
Liebeskind: I grew up in Rockville Centre, where my family was active members of Temple B'nai Sholom-Beth David. In the summers, I was a camper and then counselor at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. Camp Ramah was a major influence on my career path as a Jewish communal professional. I attended the State University at Albany where I received a bachelor's degree in social work. After graduation, I spent two years working as a family caseworker in Tel Aviv, Israel, and then returned to complete my master’s in social work at Adelphi University.
For the past 16 years, I served as the executive director of Temple Sinai of Roslyn. Before that, I had the unique opportunity to work my way up the ranks from youth worker to executive director at the Central Queens YM & YWHA, a vibrant Jewish community center in Forest Hills. A highlight of my professional development was participating in the UJA-Federation Columbia University Not For Profit Management Institute.
Herald: Now that you are the executive director, what are some of your goals going forward?
Liebeskind: Initially, I hope to meet many of the congregants and get a feel for the customs and culture of the congregation. Going forward, as part of the HERJC leadership team, I look forward to helping increase the membership and supporting and promoting the many wonderful programs and services that the congregation offers.
Herald: As executive director, what are some of the duties for the position?
Liebeskind: The executive director is responsible for managing the smooth and efficient daily operation of the congregation, supporting the clergy, staff and leaders and creating a warm and welcoming environment for the congregants.
Herald: Why do you believe you are a good fit for executive director at the HERJC?
Liebeskind: My years of experience both at Central Queens and Temple Sinai, as well as my personal commitment to Jewish life, tradition and community, make this a very good fit.
Herald: Are there any upcoming events you are excited about?
Liebeskind: I look forward to preparing for and sharing the High Holy Days with the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre family.
Herald: Did the former executive director offer you any advice upon taking on the role?
Liebeskind: Helaine Ronen was extremely helpful. We spent several days working together and she reviewed the policies and procedures with me and assured me that I'm going to love the job.
Herald: What are the biggest challenges you expect to face now that you’re the new executive director?
Liebeskind: With the changing demographics, I anticipate that retaining members and attracting new members may be a challenge.
Herald: What are you most looking forward to about the position?
Liebeskind: Getting to know the congregants and becoming a member of the HERJC family.