Kolot's First Eighteen Years!
1993 -- First meeting to establish a community is held around Conroy-Lippmann dining room table with Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Rebbetzin Kathryn Conroy, Judith Kane, Peter Kleinbard, Fred Miller, Pat Miller, Steve-who-moved-to-South-Dakota • Name is chosen: Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives • First teacher, tutor and leader of song, Rachel Lovins • First school has five students and meets in Peter Kleinbard’s basement • First Shabbat dinner with story by Arthur Strimling • First Shabbat morning Torah study • First High Holydays • First Kolot Chayeinu baby born, Nora Ahearn • First Kolot Bat Mitzvah, Hannah Forman • First President of Kolot Chayeinu, Natalie Levy.
1994 -- First issue of Voices, edited by Michael Forman (z”l) • School moves to Knights of Columbus in Windsor Terrace, first of many moves.
1995 -- Phil Saperia becomes second President of Kolot • Kolot Chayeinu moves to the Church of Gethsemane • High Holyday music led by Elliot Pilshaw (member Lisa B. Segal sings Kol Nidre).
1996 -- Rabbi Sue Oren begins directing the Children’s Learning Program • First Adult Bnai Mitzvah: Ruth Finkelstein, David Hansell, David Hodgson and Daniel Wolfe • Rabbi Lippmann joins the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice Rabbinic Advisory Board.
1997 -- First time that Lisa B. Segal sings throughout High Holydays services • First annual Arthur Strimling drash of the Akkeda • First Kolot Bar Mitzvah, Kai Kleinbard.
1998 -- Arthur Strimling becomes third President of Kolot • Trisha Arlin starts editing Voices, following Jim Golden and Adam Fredericks.
1999 -- Kolotniks join thousands to protest the police killing of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo. Many are arrested.
2000 -- Ruth Finkelstein become fourth President of Kolot • Rabbi Lippmann comes on as full-time rabbi • First gala, White Fire, honors Arthur Strimling • Fred Miller becomes the first member to die. Zikhrono livrakha • Pre-Sukkot gathering about the second intifada garners a firestorm of press.
2001 -- Rabbi Lippmann marks her 10th year as a rabbi, featured in the Daily News, Tony Kushner and Linda Emond bring us an early reading of Homebody/Kabul for this anniversary • Lisa B. Segal is hired as cantorial soloist • September 11: Kolot Chayeinu and Park Slope Jewish Center join to mourn together; September 15, we are joined in the garden by a group of Muslims from the Dialogue Project where we first meet Debbie Almontaser; in early October, Rabbi Lippmann speaks at Union Square to protest bombing of Afghanistan, cited in The New York Times.
2002 -- Lisa Zbar becomes fifth President of Kolot • Ora Wise starts teaching at the CLP • Arthur Strimling becomes Maggid HaMakom • First Administrator hired, Viviane Arzoumanian.
2003 -- First student rabbi and Kolot member to be ordained, Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg • First Children of Abraham Peace Walk organized by Rabbi Lippmann, Debbie Almontaser, Naji Almontaser, Charley Horwitz (z”l) and Rev. Tom Martinez • Second gala, Bread & Torah, honors Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Lisa B. Segal, Phil Saperia and Ruth Finkelstein, with a talk by Tony Kushner • Rabbi Lippmann and Hazzan Segal lead a prayer service before a Shabbat march against entering war in Iraq. • Rabbi Lippmann officiates at the wedding of Tony Kushner and Mark Harris, the first same-sex wedding to be featured in The New York Times.
2004 -- First Kolot Mission and Values Statement is finalized; Phil Saperia reads it aloud at the Congregational Meeting • Leah Zimmerman begins as Director of Education • Third gala, Open Tent, honors Rachel Chanoff of "Celebrate Brooklyn," Brad Lander of Fifth Avenue Committee and the Pratt Center, the Halperin family • Rabbi Lippmann and Hazzan Segal lead protest wedding of Kolot members Ruth Finkelstein and BC Craig on City Hall steps, to much publicity • Rabbi Lippmann leads symbolic wedding prior to the NYC LGBT Pride march • Kolot enters a relationship with Community Action Project (CAP), affiliate of the PICO Network, and begins exploring congregation-based community organizing.
2005 -- Andy Stettner becomes sixth President of Kolot • Fourth gala, Praying with Our Feet, honors Lisa Zbar, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, High Holydays chair Lisa Auerbach • Lisa B. Segal enters cantorial school • First couple to meet at a Kolot service are married, Bob Usdin and Ruth Cohen • Collaboration begins with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice on the Shalom Bayit/Justice for Domestic Workers Campaign • Kolot’s Youngishes group begins.
2006 -- Fifth gala, Loud & Clear, brings Senator Russ Feingold to Brooklyn to much media scrutiny, and honors Steve Banks of the Legal Aid Society; Trisha Arlin, Voices editor; Andrea Bernstein, senior political reporter, WNYC.
2007 -- Adrienne Fisher becomes seventh President of Kolot • Ora Wise begins as Director of Education • Molly Kane arrives as a new rabbinic student • On November 28, Kolot Chayeinu votes not to affiliate after a long and careful process • First evening of many dinners, “At Our Tables.”
2008 -- First Kolot Chayeinu trip to Israel and Palestine for Rabbi and eight members • The Men’s Group, The Halfassadim, goes to Brighton Beach for first pre-Rosh Hashanah mikveh • Kolot formally affiliates with CAP (later changed to Brooklyn Congregations United).
2009 -- Cindy Greenberg becomes eighth President of Kolot • Rabbi Lippmann becomes co-chair of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America • First Administrative Director is hired, Diane Kirschner • First Kolot Chayeinu Facebook group.
2010 -- Rabbi Lippmann listed as one of 50 most important women rabbis by The Forward • Congregation Yaahh!! is born • In August, Kolotniks join Rabbi Arthur Waskow and others in a Jewish gathering to honor the Cordoba Initiative’s proposed mosque and community center at 51 Park Place • Rabbi Lippmann honored by Brooklyn Borough President and leaders of the Muslim community at their annual gathering • Five Kolot members go with Rabbi to Israel-Palestine as part of the human rights mission of Rabbis for Human Rights–North America (now known as T'ruah) • Active Facebook group and twitter account • First women’s/transfolks’ pre-Rosh Hashanah mikveh at Riis Beach • Kolot member Brad Lander takes office as City Councilmember of Brooklyn’s 39th District • Governor David Paterson signs the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights—which Kolot Chayeinu has worked on for five years—into law.
2011-- January 20, Tu BeShevat, Kolot Chayeinu turns 18 • May 8, Molly Kane is ordained Rabbi • May 12, Lisa B. Segal is ordained Cantor • May 12, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann is 20 years a rabbi • Members Jennifer Egan and Clifford Levy win Pulitzer Prizes in Literature and Investigative Journalism, respectively • Children’s Learning Program has 122 students • Kolot Chayeinu has 18th birthday gala, CHAI TIME!
Read more from the Rabbi: A Short History of Kolot Chayeinu