Schneider to step down from Shir Tikvah post

PHOTO: Congregation Shir Tikvah Executive Director Katie Schneider, left, with Rabbi Ariel Stone

After a decade of increasingly prominent leadership roles, Congregation Shir Tikvah Executive Director Katie Schneider is taking a well-deserved break as she steps down from her post effective at the end of July. 
“I’ve been with the shul for about 10 years, and we’ve gone through a lot of different changes,” Schneider says. “I just feel like it’s a good time to hand it over to somebody else with some new energy.”
Schneider and her family will still be members of Shir Tikvah, as they have been since 2004. They were initially drawn to the then-2-year-old congregation by its location on the east side of the Willamette River, its emphasis on socially progressive values and ethics, and an education program that works a little differently and integrates students and the broader congregational community. 
“The idea is that families celebrate all the holidays in the community, not just in the school,” Schneider says. “So, everybody comes to the congregational seder, everybody comes to the Chanukah open house. And I really liked that because that worked well for my family, too.”
Schneider quickly became a volunteer with the congregation’s education program. She started directing the program as a member of Shir Tikvah’s staff a decade ago, managing communications as well, before her appointment as executive director. 
The congregation has grown and strengthened in many ways over those years. When asked for her biggest achievement as Shir Tikvah’s executive director, Schneider’s first answer was the congregation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The circumstances were challenging – Rabbi Ariel Stone was out of the country and trying to get home – but the response of Schneider and the congregation’s staff was thoughtful and decisive.
“We closed down on a Monday, and we had Zoom services that next Saturday, and we have had them ever since,” she says of the early days of the pandemic. 
That might make it sound straightforward, but it was anything but, and the process helped springboard the congregation into a more modern and inclusive way of conducting their services. In a post-Covid world, Schneider explains, each congregation has to find its own way of adopting and adapting to technology to meet the needs of its members. She is proud of the way that Shir Tikvah has done so. 
“We see people logging in from all over, especially around special events,” Schneider says. “We have members who live on the East Coast, we have a member in Mexico – people who want to keep in touch with their community are able to do that. And people who are not necessarily able to drive can do that. Or people who are immunocompromised. So there’s this point of connection that we didn’t have before.”
Amid the pandemic, the congregation also took the huge step of relocating to 2420 NE Sandy Blvd., the space it shares with the Eastside Jewish Commons. It was a big move and took a huge effort by congregants and volunteers, Schneider explains. But it has paid major benefits as the congregation and EJC have grown together in what Schneider would rather call an organizational friendship than a partnership.  
“We had been renting from about four different buildings for the different kinds of events that we had,” Schneider says. “Our school was in one place, our services were in another place, High Holy Days were in another place.”
While much has changed in her time on the congregation’s staff, Shir Tikvah’s essence, the values that drive Schneider’s work, remain.
“People do really step up in amazing ways,” she says. “And when community works, well, it’s a great antidote to how hard the world is sometimes.”
The search for Shir Tikvah’s next executive director is under way, and Schneider’s departure is timed to make sure the handoff is an easy one. (The job is posted on
“I wanted to pad in enough time to make a smooth transition,” she says, “because the work is really important to me. I want to make sure that everybody has what they need to be successful.”


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