Welcome to Beth Israel Synagogue
We are an independent, egalitarian Jewish community that welcomes all spiritual seekers. Proud of our ancient faith, we combine the study of our sacred texts with prayer that is engaging emotionally and spiritually. In our charming, 100-year-old building, we nurture a community that is caring and joyful.
My Jewish upbringing was entirely cultural, not religious. Yiddish aphorisms did more to shape my identity than any biblical story. For a long time I missed the irony that, though raised an atheist, I was taught to believe that certain things were basheyrt - meant to be. Certainly the Torah wants us to understand the marriage of Rebecca and Isaac as basheyrt.
On Yom Kippur, I asked each of us to consider what we would do if the cost of becoming a Jew in American were to become more expensive. I considered that cost in terms of money, inconvenience, and social isolation. I did not raise the issue of safety because I believe that America’s culture of pluralism and religious tolerance is such that the systematic demonizing of Jews is unlikely to occur here - at least in the next decade or so. But I did not consider the impact a random act of anti-semitic violence might have on our perception of our safety here. Now we must consider that too.
Terri and I both know that life is fragile and precious. It is the reason we pray: not as a way of protecting us from harm, but as a means of giving thanks for the gift of this day, this moment.
Parents of our Hebrew school students put that question to the test on Sunday, assembling our synagogue's Sukkah sight-unseen and without the benefit of directions. After the Sukkah went up, our children joined their parents to decorate it.