Becky Marvin Retires After 22 Years as BSRC Office Manager
After Yom Kippur this year, long-time B’nai Sholom office manager Becky Marvin announced her resignation, effective the end of November. She has served the congregation since she first took over the job in 1992. Although Rabbi Cashman has been a constant presence during her tenure, she has seen twelve presidents, eight treasurers, four religious school administrators, and six different copy machines come and go. Through the years, Becky says, the best part of the job has been “the people – so many great, innovative, interesting and wonderful congregants! Working here, I’ve made a lot of friends I wouldn’t have otherwise made. I got the opportunity to know people well, to get to be friends with them rather than just being friendly.”
Rabbi Cashman says, “I have always been grateful that Becky has been willing to stay underemployed to be our office manager.” Becky was indeed underemployed, with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from Bowling Green and a master’s in urban affairs from Hunter College. She had previously worked as the education and recreation director for the Heights and Hill Community Council in Brooklyn, and as the director of planning and development for Visiting Nurse and Health Services in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The BSRC job was a good fit for her, because her children were young and it was a convenient, part-time job that allowed her to meet her family responsibilities and community commitments.
As a congregant, she was able to work in an environment where she knew most everyone in the congregation. Through her children, Elizabeth and Johanna, who were active in the religious school, and her husband, Ben, who served on the board and as president, she was able to relate to the experiences of many other congregants. Ben gave her a special “I Sleep With the President” coffee mug when he took over the B’nai Sholom presidency, and it was a constant fixture on her desk during his two year term. When Leslie Adler succeeded Ben as president, however, Leslie insisted that Becky take the mug home.
Over the years, her job has changed dramatically. One of the biggest changes has been technology. Becky points out, “When I started, there was a computer, but it was only for billing purposes.” She continues, “There was no e-mail. Instead, I typed letters on a typewriter and mailed them.” Also, the congregation has changed. Programming has increased over the years, so there were more events for which she took RSVPs, collected money, arranged for room set up and clean up, and kept the information on the calendar, in the bulletin, and in announcements. As the congregation grew, more people meant more of every part of her job. Her advice extended not only to congregants but to Rabbi Cashman, too. He says, “I have been able to consult with her on many different types of things over the years. I am thankful for her dependability, and for her unshakeable integrity.”
As the Marvin family became more and more involved in the congregation, Becky herself developed a commitment to Judaism. Baptized and raised Episcopalian, she had already begun to feel disenchanted with the religion of her upbringing by the time she went to college. After falling in love and saying, “Yes!” to Ben’s proposal, she was comfortable agreeing to raise the children Jewish, since that didn’t really involve any basic contradiction with the tenets in which she had been raised. As time went by, she says, “One day I found myself on the phone, responding to a question about Judaism, and telling the caller about what ‘we’ believe.” She realized she had made the transition to thinking of herself as a member of the tribe. Thereafter, she began the two-year program of study for the adult b’nai mitzvah program, converting to Judaism before reading from the Torah in 2008. She has continued to chant Torah beautifully on the High Holidays each year since then.
One of the things Becky is most proud of has been the way she has connected people. She says, “I like to think I helped to draw people in by connecting new members with existing congregants who shared something in common with them or ones I thought they’d hit it off with.” And, she notes, her vantage point has enabled her “to watch people join, become involved, find a home, embrace Judaism, develop new skills, have new experiences, and make new friendships.” Most fun of all has been “watching all the kids grow.”
Becky will continue to be an active congregant and volunteer, including the co-chair of the social action committee. She says she is “so looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the High Holidays for the first time in 22 years.”