By Terri L. Spilman
In the spirit of Tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase meaning “to repair the world,” Congregation Beth Shalom in Hamilton County is bucking the mega-church trend by creating a more personal, creative and intimate worship atmosphere.
Beth Shalom also is celebrating the arrival of its first rabbi and cantor at the end of the month.
“Building the congregation from the ground up has been a labor of love,” said Mickie Gurvis, a founding member of the temple. “We hope to resonate with young people and create something that is meaningful to them.”
Congregation Beth Shalom was established in 2011 to meet the spiritual, educational and cultural needs of the growing, highly diverse Jewish population on Indianapolis’ far north side.
It is the first Reform Temple to form in the Indianapolis area in more than 100 years and it’s the first in Hamilton County.
The temple distinguishes itself by its philosophy of inclusion and the principle of leadership by its members, for its members, Gurvis said.
“Congregants are not just the consumer of the product, they are the producers of the product, which is a different style and completely different mindset,” said Rabbi Stanley Halpern, who will be officially installed along with Cantor Debra Winston on Sept. 27.
The addition of professional clergy has allowed Congregation Beth Shalom to expand its teachings in the areas of life-cycle events, adult and childhood education, counseling and support. In addition, Rabbi Halpern and Cantor Winston will play an integral part in both the Jewish and interfaith communities of greater Indianapolis.
The membership of the congregation is now up to 65 families, compared to more than 1,000 families that worship at Indianapolis’ largest synagogue.
The congregation holds Erev Shabbat services at University High School and aspires to have a facility of their own in the future.
New members have discovered the temple mostly by word of mouth and the congregation is hoping that the High Holy Holidays will bring visitors who are looking to experience something different.
Congregation Beth Shalom plans to offer religious schooling in the future, and in the meantime will focus on education with adult classes beginning in January.
“I hope people who are wondering will take the time to drop in,” Winston said. “I suspect they will have a wonderful experience. We plan to be around for a very long time.”
Erev Shabbat Services
The second and fourth Friday of every month
All services begin at 6:30 p.m.
University High School, West Building
2825 W. 116th St., Carmel, IN 46032
More information: bethshalomindy.org.