REFORM MOVEMENT CONTINUES RAPID GROWTH AS SEVEN CONGREGATIONS JOIN UAHC
Seven congregations were admitted into the Union of American Hebrew Congregations at the June meeting of its Board of Trustees, increasing the number of synagogues affiliated with the Reform Movement to an all-time high of 919. The UAHC, the umbrella organization for Reform synagogues in North America, is in the midst of a period of unprecedented growth. Since June of 2001, 26 congregations have joined the UAHC, cementing its position as the largest, fastest-growing Jewish movement on the continent.
"Membership in the UAHC allows growing synagogues and their members to expand their horizons and become part of the wide spectrum of Reform Jewish life," said Rabbi Peter Schaktman, Director of the UAHC's Department of Small and New Congregations. "Congregants in these synagogues can now send their children to UAHC summer camps. They can receive help and guidance in areas where they need it. They can exchange ideas with Jewish leaders from across the continent. The opportunities are almost boundless."
The new congregations range in size from under 30 households to more than 160. Five of the seven are located in the western United States, with two in Washington state, and one each in California, Arizona, and Nevada. As part of the Reform Movement, these congregations will have access to innovative UAHC worship programming, youth camps and trips to Israel, adult education programs and retreats, and support from UAHC staff members in their local regions and at Union headquarters in New York City.
The seven congregations are:
Olympic B'nai Shalom Havurah, Port Angeles, WA Congregation Beth Haverim, Spokane, WA Temple Beth Sholom, Napa, CA Temple Havurat Emet, Sun Lakes, AZ Congregation Adat Ari El, Las Vegas, NV Congregation Am Echod, Waukegan, IL Congregation B'nai Shalom V'Tikvah, Pickering, Ontario
Most of these congregations are new synagogues, founded within the past decade to meet the needs of the growing Jewish communities in their respective cities. Olympic B'nai Shalom Havurah was established in 1994 by a group of Jewish women who met for weekly study sessions; its membership currently consists of 26 families, and it has 19 students in its religious school. Temple Havurat Emet, located in a senior housing development, has seen its membership balloon from 47 households to 162 in the past year. Congregation Am Echod has existed since 1897; the synagogue's first treasurer was Meyer Kubelsky, the father of radio comedian Jack Benny.
"Each one of these congregations approaches Reform Judaism differently - and each one is a welcome addition to the UAHC," Schaktman says.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, and represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 congregations across the United States and Canada. UAHC programs and services include music and book publishing, youth camps, adult education programs, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.