Attended a bar mitzvah on a lovely Fall day in September. The cantor has a wonderful voice and the young rabbi is charming.
<p>Temple Beth Sholom is a Reform Congregation dedicated to building on the rich traditions of its sacred past, joyfully creating a more meaningful Jewish present and exploring new paths towards a vibrant future.</p> <p>In 1958, the area's thriving Jewish community founded the Clarkstown Liberal Reform Congregation, and the first Shabbat service was held that August.</p> <p>The following month the name was changed to Temple Beth Sholom, and in the spring of 1959 the property on New Hempstead Road was purchased, a site that included the white building where the Nursery School is now housed and a swimming pool. The pool immediately became Avkim, "mikva" spelled backward—a congregational swim club that provided Beth Sholom with both a feeling of community and the nickname "the shul with the pool."</p> <p>The young congregation was one in which every member took part. By 1964, when the growing number of members required a new building, the congregants literally built the new structure themselves. The active lay leadership encompassed a large percentage of the congregation. Sisterhood and Brotherhood were always willing and enthusiastic supporters of the Temple and its programs. An active theater group was formed, mounting productions from <i>Teahouse of the August Moon</i> to the original musical <i>Mortimer Meek</i>, a children's play written and staged by congregants. The school's first students were confirmed and the youth group became a strong and active part of the congregation.</p> <p>The 1970s brought more expansion, and along with it, growth pangs. Plans for a new building were eventually accepted. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building took place in September 1974, and the dedication of the new Sanctuary in October 1976. The new building became the center of activity and programming including an Israel Bond Drive, active involvement in UJA, a yearly joint service with New City Jewish Center and an annual interfaith Thanksgiving service.</p> <p>The new building brought a surge in membership and a new burst of activity. The religious school program was strengthened and expanded, and the junior and senior youth groups took their place along with Sisterhood and Brotherhood as vital parts of congregational life. A highly successful nursery school was established, as well as a Learning Center Program so that children of any ability could participate fully in Jewish education and life cycle celebrations.</p> <p>As part of Temple Beth Sholom's commitment to Social Action, for many years there was a "twinning program" in which Beth Sholom's bar and bat mitzvah students symbolically shared their <i>simcha</i> with the children of Soviet Jewish refuseniks. The largest and oldest program in the county providing religious services and holiday programming for adults in group homes has been maintained by the congregation for many years.</p> <p> Pulpit exchanges and interfaith activities with local African-American and Muslim congregations were in the vanguard of such programs in the Reform movement. Temple Beth Sholom is known for its egalitarianism and the warm welcome it extends to people of all sexual orientations. </p> <p>The congregation has been under the leadership of Rabbi David Fass for more than 25 years. The Rabbi serves as a Jewish Chaplain for the Rockland County Sheriff's department, sits on the Clarkstown Board of Ethics, is a member of the board and the executive committee of the Rockland Jewish Federation, and is active in social action, interfaith and interreligious work with the Christian, African-American and Muslim communities.</p> <p>The congregation's clergy also includes Cantor Sergei Schwartz.</p> <p>The congregation has a Brotherhood, a Sisterhood, a Youth Group, Chai Society and Social Action Committee.</p>