Congregation B’nai Israel, a Reform congregation in Boca Raton, has named Steve Allen as its new Executive Director/CEO. CBI, which has many West Boca members, is located on Religion Row on the south side of Yamato Road between St. Andrews and Military Trail:
Allen joins Congregation B’nai Israel from Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland, where he served as the Executive Director since 2013. He is on the National Executive Board of NATA (National Association of Temple Administration), has co-chaired three NATA conferences, and has also received his FTA (Fellowship in Temple Administration) status last year; a prestigious endeavor only three percent of Executive Directors have achieved.
I’m thrilled to accept this key role of Executive Director/CEO at Congregation B’nai Israel. With my 18 years of experience I see a great opportunity to reinforce and expand our Synagogue’s warm and welcoming feeling for its members, and to continue to utilize all our resources to emphasize the key Jewish practices needed to build a true Jewish community both inside and outside our walls.
In addition to appointing Mr. Allen, CBI has updated its entire technology infrastructure. According to Richard Pollack, Executive Board member and VP of Communications & Technology,
This is an exciting time for CBI, as we incorporate innovative tools to better engage our members, preschool and religious school families, along with the community at large. Having just celebrated our thirty year anniversary, launching a new website, logo and tagline is a perfect way to take us into the next chapter of growth.
Congregation B’nai Israel and Ebenezer Baptist church held a joint Martin Luther King Day interfaith service on Sunday, January 18 at the church. The service marked a 30-year partnership between the two religious institutions, both in Boca Raton, which join forces twice each year to further the cause of Black-Jewish relations in Palm Beach County and to help feed families in need. The guest speaker at the service was Reverend Henry Willis, the former Pastor of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. The service was a powerful and uplifting tribute to Dr. King, filled with musical and spiritual offerings from both congregations. Reverend Winston Anderson, Rabbi Robert A. Silvers, the Cantor’s Chantors (CBI’s choir) and B’nai’s Big Beat Band led by Cantor Stephanie Shore all participated in the service. In November, the two religious institutions fed Thanksgiving dinner to nearly 4,000 families in need. And, in 2014, Congregation B’nai Israel hosted the late Dr. Maya Angelou as part of the 2014 Martin Luther King Day partnership, in what turned out to be one of her last public appearances. The relationship between these two congregations was initiated in 1984 when Congregation B’nai Israel approached Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, the largest and oldest African-American church in Boca Raton. The early 1980s was a time of reported conflict between Jewish and Black relations in the U.S. and the two congregations wanted to do something locally to quell the negativity. The first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. interfaith service was held in 1985, the year before this day became a national holiday.
Update: Congregation B’Nai Israel has issued a statement regarding this incident
Statement from Sharon Wagman Executive Director Congregation B’nai Israel Prior to Judy Schelin’s employment in the infant program at Congregation B’nai Israel, she underwent a background check administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This is the standard employee policy for Congregation B’nai Israel for all teachers and teaching assistants in our Pre-School and Religious School. In both cases, she was cleared with: “A check of this agency’s records failed to indicate an arrest history for this person.” (Background check documents attached). This means she was cleared by the State to work on our campus. In addition, Ms. Schelin signed a document in which she attested, under the penalty of perjury, that she has never been fined or the subject of a disciplinary action. Months into her job, she alluded to past legal issues, but did not disclose a felony conviction. The welfare and education of our children is of the upmost concern and our top priority, and Ms. Schelin’s care of the infants in our program was superb. Ms. Schelin did not at any point have access to school funds, nor was her salary impacted by VPK funds, as she worked in CBI’s infant program (children ages six weeks to two years). However, in further review of her background and concealment of her conviction, Ms. Schelin has been terminated from CBI effective immediately.
The release included documents from both the state Department of Children and Families as well as the county sheriff supporting that they did a background check and that it was clear.
West Boca’s Congregation B’Nai Israel is in the center of controversy after our friends at Boca News Now alleged that they are employing a convicted felon as a teacher. Two readers contacted us about it. Back in 2010 a woman named Judy Perlin pled guilty to accepting $40,000 in bribes while running a youth education program. Not long after that the Palm Beach Post reported Ms. Perlin continued to receive a lot of federal and state money while running day cares serving kids in Broward. Now Boca News Now says that Ms. Perlin is working at B’Nai Israel under the name Scherlin (which might be her maiden name). We called the temple to see what they had to say and we got a quick “No Comment.” After that call we heard from an irate reader who self-described as a member of CBI Boca and asserted that the management at CBI knew about Ms. Perlin/Scherlin’s history and hired her anyway. Please note that, mainly because of CBI’s “No Comment” response, we are unable to verify that the woman working at CBI is in fact Judy Perlin. But we do have more than one source saying it is her. Ms. Perlin is listed on the property appraiser’s website as co-owner of a home in Boca Grove. This is the second recent controversial incident involving CBI. A couple months ago one of their former maintenance workers was arrested on child pornography charges. At that time: “The school also said all employees and permanent vendors must pass a full background check before they’re allowed to work on campus.” Considering that statement we wonder how Ms. Perlin/Scherlin managed to pass a background check.