BEKI’s Outstanding Volunteer Inspires Many
by Rachel Bashevkin
Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel
“Oh, we can do this,” Darryl Rotman Kuperstock explained to a local reporter as volunteers served Christmas dinner to 150 people on the New Haven Green. In truth, the volunteers from area synagogues could do this only because of Darryl’s organizational skills. Her spreadsheets and instruction sheets are legendary at BEKI (Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel).
As a longtime leader of BEKI’s Tiqun HaOlam–Social Action Committee, Darryl has also directed the congregation’s participation in Abraham’s Tent. Years before, she organized Habitat for Humanity build days and served on the Board of Directors of Danny Siegel’s Ziv Tzedakah Fund. Darryl now is arranging for BEKI volunteers to provide monthly dinners at Columbus House. A longtime member of the BEKI Board and its Ritual Committee, Darryl for many years has overseen all High Holy Days details, including helping the congregation acquire new High Holy Day machzorim (prayer books).
As Past President Andy Hirshfield notes, “I gave the President’s speech at Kol Nidre services, but it was clear to everyone that Darryl, not me, organized the High Holy Days.” On Saturday mornings, Darryl usually is standing beside the Torah readers, ready to assist if they stumble. The head of one of the kiddush lunch prep teams, she also compiled and designed a collection of recipes from their collective repertoire, entitled, “Is It Kiddush Yet?” Darryl also helped design the BEKI website and has directed fundraising events for Abraham’s Tent each year.
During her years leading the Youth Commission, Darryl organized many programs and fundraisers, including the annual sale of Thanksgiving pies and Super Bowl Sunday deli boxes. Her projects for the wider Jewish community included directing three weeks of December gift wrapping at Wave Gallery in a partnership between the shop owner and Wepawaug Hadassah.
“The value of Darryl’s volunteer effort in our congregation probably exceeds that of many full-time professionals,” Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen noted, “and if you didn’t know first-hand, you would assume this list is an exaggeration.”
“Our members know that Darryl has been the single outstanding volunteer in many of our successful ventures,” he continued, “but not everyone knows that Darryl has an exceptional mind for Talmud study, organizes Torah readers, hosts converts and widows and visitors on Shabbat and festivals, creates artwork, gives generously and quietly, and cares about the community and the people she encounters in ways that are shockingly profound. I feel deeply honored to work with her, and enjoy the community that she creates.”
As Darryl now considers moving closer to her children, she is scaling back on her leadership roles and focusing on training new people to take over. In this process too, she is a mensch. She is providing electronic files and guidance, but she is repeating phrases like, “This is how I did it; this was my vision for the project, but now you should do it in the way that makes sense for you. I’ll sit with you to help you get started, and you should call me any time you have a question.”