Three New Congregations Contribute to Reform Movements Continued Growth Temple Beth Am, Beth Shir Shalom and Congregation Beth Or Join the Union for Reform Judaism
Temple Beth Am of Las Vegas, Beth Shir Shalom of Santa Monica and Congregation Beth Or in Deerfield are the three new congregations admitted into the Union for Reform Judaism at the December meeting of its Board of Trustees.
Founded in 1984, Temple Beth Am is a vibrant synagogue, dedicated to building a community, striving to fulfill the spiritual and social needs of the Jewish community, encouraging the principles of Reform Judaism and championing social justice. As the Las Vegas Jewish community has grown, so has Beth Am, which moved to its current campus in 1991, said Rabbi Victor Appell, Small Congregations Specialist in the Department of Synagogue Management.
In January of 1991, when Beth Sholom Temple and Temple Shir Shalom merged, Beth Shir Shalom has become a pillar of the Jewish community. The progressive Reform congregation is a welcome home to people with diverse backgrounds, who approach their Judaism with different needs and expectations. A unifying element of Beth Shir Sholom is its musical expression and they have even produced a CD titled 10 Thousand Opinions, said Rabbi Appell.
Congregation Beth Or, founded in 1960, has long been a part of the North Shore Jewish community in suburban Chicago. Its religious approach emphasizes spiritual growth and personal transformation through the teachings and practices of Judaism. As this congregation joins the Union its dedication to its heritage and community become more defined; already with a strong social action agenda and welcoming community feeling for all Jews of many backgrounds, Beth Or prides itself as a place where reason and religion meet, said Rabbi Appell.
The new congregations, Congregation Beth Or, Temple Beth Am and Beth Shir Shalom, are located in communities from across the United States. As part of the largest and fastest-growing Jewish movement in North America, they will have access to innovative the Unions worship programming, the opportunity to explore adult education programs and worship retreats, and the support of Union staff members in both their local areas and at Union headquarters in New York.
Membership in the Union offers boundless opportunities to growing synagogues, said Rabbi Appell. Union membership enables these congregations to send their youth to URJ camps, exposing them to a wider spectrum of Jewish life. It provides them with help and guidance in areas including worship, education and synagogue management. And it allows them to become a part of the North American Reform community, where they can exchange ideas with Jewish leaders from across the continent.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.