Chavurah Beth Shalom is a progressive reform congregation dedic￼ated to the values of education, inclusive worship and social justice. We invite you to join our contemporary Jewish community.
At Chavurah Beth Shalom, we embrace the values of a contemporary Reform Judaism that integrates reason, experience, intellectual curiosity and spirituality into our modern religious practice. Firmly rooted within the prophetic tradition, we believe that:
- Jews in every generation have a responsibility to preserve Judaism for the future.
- Jews in every generation must respond creatively to the challenges of contemporary society.
- Jewish tradition and ritual are a vital part of our religious practice and must comport with the highest standards of ethics. Old and new rituals alike must stand the test of reason and experience, and our rituals must enable us to lead an ethical life and to better understand the divine.
- Jews must embrace openness to truth from all sources including philosophy, science, art and literature.
- Jews must be willing to respect and acknowledge the value of other religious traditions and work with other religions to find common ground and strive for the betterment of all.
- Meaning in our lives comes from the pursuit of justice, a sense of humility, the idea of mercy and an obligation to make peace with ourselves as Jews and with other people of the world.
These values stand at the core of the teaching of the prophets and are the essence of Reform Judaism. Our Chavurah is dedicated to offering this vision of Reform Judaism to families who seek an inclusive, rational, ethical and religiously compelling form of Jewish practice and Jewish life.
Our History: (written by one of our founding members Bjorg Ollendorff)
In 1991, we established Chavurah Beth Shalom to be a special place – a Reform Chavurah dedicated to excellence in education of contemporary Judaism and a place of friendliness and inclusiveness.
Our Chavurah would not have been possible were it not for a great humanitarian, philanthropist and good friend – the late Russ Berrie. Russ’ vision and steadfast support was the cornerstone of the creation of our Chavurah, and with Angelica Berrie by his side, he was our generous benefactor and greatest champion.
Today, our Chavurah has grown to a membership of 235 families. We are a full-service congregation, whose spiritual leaders take great care in providing individualized and personal support to guide our congregants through all of life’s cycles.
We are very proud of our spiritual leaders. Rabbi Jack Bemporad is an internationally recognized scholar of theology and philosophy. He travels and speaks widely on Jewish-Christian relations as director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, an organization dedicated to building bridges of cooperation and tolerance among people of all faiths.
Rabbi Bemporad has led several Jewish delegations to the Vatican. He was instrumental in presenting Pope John Paul II with a Holocaust Menorah that now stands permanently on the grounds of the Vatican’s Pontifical North American College, where he also serves as a visiting professor of religion each fall. Rabbi Bemporad’s popular Saturday morning Bible classes at the Chavurah have been filled for years with eager adult students who are encouraged to debate and question.
Rabbi Nat Benjamin is another cornerstone of our Chavurah. He has a deep love of Jewish music and, with his sweet, elegant voice, he participates in the very popular Cantorial Series. Along with Nadine Posnansky, he also leads our choir whose magnificent voices create an atmosphere of joy and spirituality for our Holiday Services. Rabbi Benjamin is also a dedicated teacher for our Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, offering guidance, patience and friendship so that each child shines on her or her special day.
Our religious school, led by Barbara Schneider, meets once a week at the Alpine Community House. We have an experienced teaching staff that is very committed to Jewish studies. Rabbi Benjamin and Cantor Janine Schwartz will train 25 Bar and Bat Mitzvah students this year.
We are also introducing several innovative and exciting documentary films and study guides into our religious school curriculum in order to give our students a better knowledge of the State of Israel and our recent Jewish history. Through the films and study guides, it is our hope that they will gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust, Israel’s War of Independence, the Six Day War and other events and transform this learning into lessons that guide their contemporary lives.
Chavurah Beth Shalom has so much to offer and we invite you to join our friendly community of education, worship and Jewish living.
The members of Chavurah Beth Shalom look forward to welcoming you to our congregation. Your membership opens the door to a community founded on the values of enlightening education, inspiring worship and inclusive Jewish living.
For more information about membership at Chavurah Beth Shalom, please call:
(201)294-8028 or email : ChavurahBethShalom@gmail.com for a membership application.