ALBANY– Congregation Ohav Shalom will honor Laurie Abelson, Walter Greenberg, and Jeremy Kassel at its annual Shomrei HaBayit Volunteer Recognition event on Sunday morning, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to organizers, Shomrei HaBayit means “Guardians of the House”  and  added that, “each of us brings our own “voice”— our diverse insights, experiences, and Jewish commitments —to the precious task of weaving together one sacred community.”

“We are fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers at Ohav Shalom,” said Gregg Fox, president of the Ohav Shalom Board of Trustees. “All the honorees, past and present, are people we count on whether the task be large or small. Each of them has served our synagogue family for many years.”

Laurie Abelson grew up in Pittsfield, Mass. In her youth she was a member of the junior congregation at Knesset Israel Synagogue where she often played the role of rabbi and frequently read Torah. In her high school years she became involved in Akiba Chapter U.S.Y. and was elected president in 1970. She also became involved in Tzafon Region U.S.Y. and was elected to the Tzafon board as corresponding secretary. In 1975 she moved to Albany. She was advisor to the Ohav chapter of U.S.Y. in the early 1980s.

She graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders and later, graduated from the College of St. Rose with a master’s degree in school counseling. She is a nationally certified interpreter for the deaf. She was honored three times with interpreting the State of the State for two governors of New York State. She developed, administered, and taught sign language and interpreter training in the deaf studies program through the University at Albany and also taught sign language at the College of St. Rose. From 1988 until retiring in 2017 she was a school counselor in the Ravena Coeymans Selkirk School District.

Abelson became a member of Ohav Shalom in 1980. Her involvement in Ohav has been extensive. She has been chairwoman of Youth Commission, Board of Education, Co-Chairperson of the B’Yachad Board, membership on the board of trustees, and member of the Lifelong Learning/Program Committee. She started the Kiddishe Mamas and Papas and is a member of the yahrzeit board committee. Together with Rabbi Dan Ornstein, she was director of the Talmud Torah for three years, and then taught second grade for three years. Presently, Abelson is the chairwoman of the High Holy Day Committee. She also schedules floor parnasim (leaders) and Haftarot chanters for all Shabbatot and holiday services and teaches Mah Jongg for the shul.

Abelson daughters are Jennifer and Robin.


Walter Greenberg was born and raised in Queens. While attending Queens College he met Roberta Goldstein and the couple celebrated their 51st anniversary this past March. Greenberg, while working two jobs, earned an MPA from NYU. Eventually the couple’s children, Andrea and Benjamin were born and they relocated to this area in 1991. Greenberg retired as director of labor relations for the State Office of Children and Family Services.

One of the things Greenberg learned from observing his parents, he reports, was that you may not have money but you have time. Greenberg has served on the board of directors of at least 10 professional, religious and community organizations and served as president of six of them. The organizations enriched by his participation included Congregation Ohav Shalom and The Ohav Sholem Housing Development Fund. At Ohav, his involvements have been in the areas of finance, long-range planning, religious life, building maintenance and security as well as daily minyan.


Jeremy Kassel was born and raised in Syracuse, and moved to the Capital District in 2010 to be with his now wife, Ruth. Jeremy and Ruth joined Congregation Ohav Shalom in 2011 and were married by Rabbi Rena Kieval in February of 2012. They welcomed their daughters into the Ohav family in 2012 (Elisheva) and 2015 (Esther). He has served on the board of trustees for five years and on multiple committees, including house and grounds, membership, Project Atid, and the Board of Trustees Search Committee. Other volunteer efforts include helping to organize young families’ Shabbat dinners, the annual building and taking down of the sukkah, the havdalah bonfire, as well as general member outreach. Kassel’s largest single project was his leadership role in the replacement of the large playground.

Outside of his commitments to Ohav Shalom, he is also a long-term board of trustees member of the Beth Joseph Synagogue in Tupper Lake.  He is also a member of the Camp Givah Commission in Albany.  In addition to his 19-year career as a self-employed contractor, Jeremy has written articles for various trade publications such as Fine Homebuilding Magazine, the Journal of Light Construction, Toolbox Buzz, and others. He is also in the construction trade show world as a classroom presenter and sometimes as a live demonstration specialist.

Tickets are General Admission: $72 per individual; Honorary Committee: $136 per individual or $250 per couple and may be purchased at Reservations may also be made by calling Ohav Shalom at 518-489-4706 or by e-mailing Cecelia Soloviev at [email protected].