Souks Soukhaseum, the director of community affairs at the Free Synagogue of Flushing, was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch (formerly 36 Under 36).
This distinction honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community. During the pandemic, Souks’ outreach to local immigrant communities included a wide range of COVID-related services. Originally from Laos, Soukhaseum lives in Flushing, Queens.
April 25, 2022 Event at FSF: “A discussion between Jews and Asian Americans on combating hate”
An event hosted by the Queens Jewish Community Council, Stand With Us and the Jewish Community Relations Council focused on recent hate crimes directed at Jewish and Asian Americans.
Julia Gris, Rabbi of Progressive Jewish Congregation of Odessa, shares her amazing story.
Rabbi Julia Gris, Reform Rabbi of Shirat ha-yam in Odessa, Ukraine has escaped to Poland with over 40 of her congregants. Please consider donating here: All donations to the Free Synagogue of Flushing will be sent directly to Rabbi Julia Griss currently in Poland to help her continue her work in resettling refugees from the Ukraine.
Rabbi Nathan Alfred has two decades of experience in building and developing Jewish communities around the world. British-born and Israeli-by-choice, this entrepreneurial rabbi has lived and worked around Europe and Asia, and now spends his time between the twin centres of the Jewish world, New York and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Alfred grew up in London and read Classics at King’s College, Cambridge. After graduating he moved to Budapest, where he studied chess and gained the title of Fide Master. He assisted the fledgling Szim Salom Progressive Community, acting as their Chazzan and Youth Leader, and was responsible for the creation of the Hungarian Liberal Youth Group, Szimchaz.
He studied for the rabbinate in London and Jerusalem, and in this period created EuroJews as a virtual community for young, European, progressive Jews. From 2003-2009 he organised trips to established and emerging communities in fifteen countries around the continent. He also served several communities in the UK and Europe including Beit Warszawa in Poland and Nottingham Liberal Synagogue.
In 2008 he was ordained as a rabbi by Leo Baeck College in London. He began working as the first rabbi for the International Jewish Center of Brussels, Belgium, and for the Communaute Israelite d’Esch-sur-Alzette, where he transformed a moribund traditional community into a flourishing liberal Jewish alternative for Luxembourg.
Both communities grew thanks to Rabbi Alfred’s ingenuity and expert nurture, and by the end of 2014 it was becoming difficult for him to support both congregations at once. So he answered the call in Singapore, where the United Hebrew Congregation were looking to appoint their first resident rabbi.
He spent six happy years in Asia, and whilst growing his congregation in Singapore, supported and fostered new and small communities around South-East Asia. These included assisting progressive groups in Shanghai, China and Bangkok, Thailand, helping with the formation of Kehilat Bnei Hof (the Beach Boys Congregation!) in Bali, Indonesia, and he organised Shabbats and Seders in venues as diverse as Vientiane, Laos, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Yangon, Myanmar and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He also founded the Asian Beit Din and organised the largest summit of Asia Progressive Judaism, which took place in Singapore in January 2019.
Rabbi Alfred has been a member of the Management Committee of the European Union for Progressive Judaism and the Executive Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, where he also worked as head of International Development and Community Building. He was a founding member and Vice-President of Kerem, the Association of Francophone Rabbis, and was also Vice-President of the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
Rabbi Alfred is an experienced writer and teacher, with an active blog on the Times of Israel website. In 2021 he created and led the Baalei Tefilah Europe programme for lay leadership. In 2022 he has been visiting Vilnius, Lithuania to create the first Liberal Litvak Community, and he is the founder of Start Up Judaism, a non-profit organisation that helps build Jewish communities around the world.
Married with one child, Rabbi Alfred speaks English, French, and Hebrew, and he is absolutely delighted to be working as the new rabbi and spiritual leader of the Free Synagogue of Flushing, Queens.
I joined the Free Synagogue of Flushing’s professional staff in May of 2014. I have served Jewish communities in the Boston and New York area for the past 40 years as an Educator, Youth Director, Camp Director, Hazzan, Educational Director, and University Administrator and once again now as the Free Synagogue’s Executive Director and Hazzan. I received my Ordination as a Hazzan from the Hebrew Union College-School of Sacred Music-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 1982.
As Executive Director I bear direct responsibility for all operational aspects of our synagogue. The Executive Director must serve as a collaborative resource to assure a consistent and intense focus on the needs of our members.
At a tactical level, the Executive Director hires and supervises all administrative staff, administers all financial activities of the Congregation, coordinates all programming except those programs overseen by other members of the Senior Staff, reviews and approves all member-directed communications and non-member marketing, plays an integral role in fundraising and development, and oversees all aspects of our physical facilities (including maintenance, repair and new construction) and technology.
It is at the strategic level, however, that the Executive Director must truly excel. Membership recruitment and retention are the lifeblood of our congregation, and the Executive Director is often the first public face, in collaboration with the rabbi, to potential members, financially distressed or disgruntled members, and the external community. The Executive Director attends the monthly meetings of our Board and is expected to be an active participant in their policy discussions and strategic planning; the same is true with respect to the weekly Staff meetings and the weekly meeting with the Rabbi and the Board President.
With the cooperation and teamwork of the other staff and the Executive Committee and Board, many of these duties and responsibilities can and should be shared.
The goal is to create members who feel like “stock holders” of FSF. My successes are yours and similarly, your successes are mine. Together we share in all that transpires at our synagogue.
Personally, for me it is an honor to serve this congregation. To be part of a long rich history that has reached over 104 years of serving the Jewish community is both exciting and awe-inspiring.
I have an open-door policy. My office is a place to come visit, have a meeting, share a discussion and a cup of coffee and get to know each other and each other’s needs and desires.
The future is bright. I believe in miracles. Each and every day that we awake and get out of bed we thank God for our lives and for that basic fact that our bodies function to allow us to do His work.
I invite ALL of you to join with me, our clergy, and the lay leadership to rebuild our synagogue financially, spiritually and most importantly, the rebuilding of relationships so that we all can go from strength to strength.
Souksavat “Souks” Soukhaseum, originally from Laos, began his service to the Free Synagogue of Flushing in 2014. Coming from a background in finance and hospitality, Souks serves as our historian, archivist and as the Director of Community Affairs keeping our synagogue relevant within our community and beyond.
As we celebrate 100 years of serving the Jewish community of Queens, Souks is archiving our rich and storied history for future generations to learn of the contributions and significance of this landmark institution.
Always welcoming to members and guests, Souks will take you on a historical journey through our beautiful stained glass sanctuary and bring our 100 years to life.
Souks was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch (formerly 36 Under 36). Click here to read his interview
Virtual Service Times
FSF was Official Covid-19 Vaccination Site
The site closed on March 31, 2022. After 9 months and giving out 50,000 vaccinations to the neighborhood.
Our tradition teaches us that to save one life is as if to save a world. The health and safety of our greater NYC community is of the utmost importance. We were honoured to welcome our neighbors to our official COVID-19 vaccination site, located in the social hall of our historic sanctuary building, as well as mobile modules in our parking lot.