Volunteer brings life to synagogue’s High Holiday celebrations
By Erika Steele, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Regardless of religious belief, the holidays are a time when personal lives are overcome with responsibilities as agendas are filled with traditions and visits with friends and families. Shelly Dubin is no different, except she is also responsible for making sure 200 people enjoy the Jewish High Holidays.
As the coordinator for the congregation of the Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Westborough, Dubin understands that the season-round 45 members will quadruple as Jewish holidays approach. With Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah at the helm of the most popular celebrations, the Northborough resident uses her 15 years of experience to ensure all activities go without a hitch.
“We’re a very small congregation but, like any other religion, when the high holidays come we expand,” Dubin said. “We hold these events open to everyone to let them check us out and find we are a varied congregation and we are close.”
While Dubin does all of the behind the scenes work herself, something she joked is easier than delegating, her favorite part of all the coordinating is greeting people as they come to the events.
“I like seeing everyone come together,” she noted. “A lot of children come home from college or wherever they live and I get to see these kids that I watched grow up visit their families for the holidays. That’s really amazing.”
A mom of two boys, it is no wonder she enjoys seeing kids come back year after year. Having grown up in the small town of Scranton, Penn., Dubin appreciates the camaraderie of a tight knit community.
“Every Sunday we would go to the Jewish Community Center,” she recalled. “That was our special network, it was our life. It was a positive experience because it was nothing that was ever thrown at us or necessarily expected. I blame my parents for getting me so involved because now I’m constantly volunteering. It is a labor of love and I can’t stop.”
Dubin moved to Massachusetts in 1983, bringing her dedication with her. She joined the Beth Tikvah Synagogue and promptly served on the Board of Directors for 15 years, acting as president for three. Just this year, she has attempted to entrust her responsibilities to others with intention to step down as coordinator; however, her resistance to do so is not a concern in the abilities of her peers, but her willingness to let go.
“My intention for religion is to make it fun-loving. It shouldn’t be dry and boring; it should be enjoyable and humorous and I try to do that and I think everyone has benefited from it.”
Until she hands over the reins, she will continue to promote the high holidays so guests can enjoy a range of activities while looking forward to her favorite Jewish holiday, Passover. She encourages everyone to attend all the events, saying that the politically unaffiliated congregation has changed many traditional policies and protocol to adjust to the times.
Dubin lives in Northborough with her husband Dennis Lindenberg. She works full time as a veterinarian at a practice in Thompson, Conn.
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