The Membership Department: Keeping the Ball Rolling

By Belinda Lasky and Guy Felixbrodt and Sarah Verity and Yaffa Garber | Issue Date: August 2009

From left: Guy Felixbrodt, Belinda Lasky, Yaffa Garber, and Sarah Verity.

If you haven’t yet met them, take time to get to know the staff of the Membership Department! Over the past year, the department has grown from two full-time staff people to four, and they are a diverse and energetic group who work as a team to support many programs and committees at BJ. Whether it is organizing Friday night dinners, helping members of the community who are ill, coordinating High Holy Day logistics, or welcoming new members to the community, the Membership Department is working hard to keep the ball rolling!

A veteran of the Membership Department, Belinda Lasky has enthusiastically served the BJ community for over five years as Director of Membership. During that time, she has undoubtedly made her mark on the BJ community through her work with Ledor Vador, the Interfaith and Membership committees, and coordinating the logistics of High Holy Days and membership. A native New Yorker, Belinda has had a diverse career in the Jewish community that took her all the way to Tucson, Arizona, where she worked for Hillel before returning to New York to pursue an MSW and a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service from Yeshiva University, and work as a fundraiser at UJA-Federation. Belinda is a proud member of the New York Lawn Bowling Club, which meets in Central Park during the summer. She also loves to travel and is involved with the Hazon New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. Belinda enjoys managing the daily details of synagogue administration and feels blessed to work with great leadership and members.

Sarah Verity has worked at BJ in several capacities for three years, and in June 2008 she officially became the full-time Senior Membership Associate. Sarah supports the work of the Membership Steering Committee by serving as staff liaison to the Potential Members Team, New Members Team, and Former Members Team. She has welcomed hundreds of new members through an orientation program designed to introduce people to the community and has reached out to people who are not yet members. A native Californian, Sarah always felt that New York was calling her, and she loves to take advantage of all the city has to offer. She’s walked the perimeter of Manhattan three times (that’s a 32 mile trip!), visits museums regularly, and has seen over 50 Broadway shows during her time in New York. Before working at BJ, Sarah graduated with an MPA in Non-Profit Management from the NYU Wagner School. Sarah is inspired by the dedication, talent, and passion of BJ volunteers.

As the Life Cycle Coordinator, Yaffa Garber (who is also Assistant to Rabbi Felicia Sol) supports members as they experience births, weddings, illness (through Bikkur Holim), and death (through Hevra Kadisha). Yaffa has been at BJ for over a year and feels that the community and this job are a great fit for her; in fact, her work here has inspired her to pursue a Masters in Social Work. She enjoys the friendly work environment of the BJ office and being surrounded by innovative and creative rabbis and educators. Before working at BJ, Yaffa graduated with a double degree from Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary and worked at the 92nd Street Y as a Jewish Educator and Program Assistant. In her spare time Yaffa loves to dance (she once auditioned to be a Radio City Music Hall Rockette!), needlepoint, exercise, have adventures in the city, go to the spa, and golf.

You may have seen Guy Felixbrodt dancing at an oneg or teaching second graders at the BJ Hebrew School, but you may not know that he is also a poet, landscaper, and an expert juggler—a skill he uses frequently in juggling the many programs he manages as the Community Initiatives Coordinator. Guy is passionate about building community at BJ. He organizes onegs and kiddushim, supports Bekef and Havurot, and leads the Employment Help Task Force, all of which he does with great spirit and creativity. A former officer in the Israeli Navy, Guy is the co-founder of a non-profit private school in Northern Westchester, where he lives with his wife and five-year-old daughter. Guy loves BJ because it allows him to engage with interesting people, and he hopes that through his work he will be able to bring people together to do tikkun olam and enhance their connections to Israel.

Now that you’ve met the people behind the scenes, feel free to say hello—the Membership Department looks forward to meeting you!