Reflecting the diverse population of Cambridge, Temple Beth Shalom represents a unique, creatively traditional approach to Judaism. Our goal is to make Jews of every affiliation feel at home. Impossible? Try us.
Our Egalitarian Minyan meets Friday evenings, Shabbat, Monday and Rosh Chodesh mornings. Our Traditional/Mechizah Minyan meets Shabbat, and Sunday mornings. The two Minyanim come together later Saturday mornings for a sit-down Kiddush. Our Kiddush includes a lite lunch, singing and much fellowship. Our Friday night service is run by our 20s & 30s group, which also runs Friday Night dinners and social events throughout the year. All holidays are celebrated with services and appropriate observances.
The Temple hosts a number of educational activities, including the Alef-Bet preschool, a Talmud class, lecture series and other adult education programs. Along with two other local congregations we support the Kesher after-school Hebrew School program.
A unique event at Beth Shalom is our famous erev Simchat Torah celebration which draws as many as 1000 or more people. Part of the fun-filled service is the Hakafot, which takes the congregation out onto Tremont St. for singing and dancing well into the night. This service attracts a wide cross-section of the Greater Boston community, including special participation of local college Hillels.
Temple Beth Shalom was formed when Temple Ashkenaz and Congregation Beth Israel merged in 1962. The merged Shul chose to use the Temple Ashkenaz building at 8 Tremont Street because it was newer. The name was changed to Temple Beth Shalom, in part to mark a new spirit of community cooperation.
As members of the original Cambridge Jewish community migrated to the suburbs, the synagogues in Cambridge consolidated in stages. The Tremont Street Shul was the last of original Shuls to remain in operation. In the 1970's, all the local colleges decided to have a joint Simchat Torah celebration at TBS. Helped by the success of this annual event, the Shul began to attract new members from the young professionals in the greater Cambridge area and has grown steadily since then.
Our Shul underwent a major renovation in 1987. The basement vestry was made suitable for the Alef Bet child care center, which was founded at that time. A second renovation in 1994 transformed our balcony into a convertible classroom. A new office was added in 2004. Meticulous care was taken during each renovation to conserve our building's historic character. We think our main sanctuary is one of the Jewish architectural jewels of the greater Boston area. Come and see for yourself!
The ancestors of Temple Beth Shalom include:
Congregation Beth Israel, organized 1900, building at 238 Columbia St.
Temple Ashkenaz, split off from Beth Israel over the issue of Ashkenazic vs. Sephardic ritual 1908, building at 8 Tremont St.-- originally the home of Joshua Kaplan, house torn down and a new building erected 1924
Congregation Yavneh, chartered 1918, building at 8 Howard St. erected 1920, closed 1934.
For more information on our history and the history of Jews in Cambridge, see our on-line exhibit Centennial of the Jewish Community in Cambridge, an event we celebrated in 1996.
Temple Beth Shalom is a member of the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts.
Photos by Arnold Reinhold
Arnold G. Reinhold, email@example.com