WESTBOROUGH – Congregation B’nai Shalom has begun the yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary.
What began as the Westborough Jewish Women’s Club in 1972 became the Westborough Jewish Association in 1974. At the end of 1977, the organization became Congregation B’nai Shalom; it held its first High Holy Day services to welcome in the Jewish New Year in 1978.
Today, the Reform synagogue counts approximately 450 families from 20 or more communities in the MetroWest / Central Massachusetts area as members and 300 students in its religious school.
During this past Simchat Torah, a ceremony was held at B’nai Shalom in which the Torah scrolls were passed from those who founded the congregation back in the 1970s through the generations of members, to those who have most recently joined the B’nai Shalom community.
As part of the ceremony, the entire scroll was unrolled across the sanctuary. More than two dozen members read and chanted portions of the text, beginning at Genesis, through to the end of Deutoronomy, and then back to Genesis, marking the start of the annual cycle of weekly readings. Symbolically, the final chapter was read by one of the founding members, Alan Fox, and the first chapter then read by one of the congregation’s newest members, Eric Schoenfeld, who himself had grown up in
Additional events to commemorate the 40th anniversary are planned throughout the year. These include an artist-in-residence weekend to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah (December 8-9), and a Sabbath service honoring many original members and B’nai Shalom’s founding rabbi to be followed by a celebration called “Fabulous at Forty” (March 15-16).
There are also plans for an outdoor music festival on May 19 to wrap up the year of festivities. That event will be provided for the entire community of Westborough and local towns as a way for Congregation B’nai Shalom to show its appreciation — in the early years of the congregation, many local churches and civic groups opened their doors to enable the community to celebrate Shabbat and Festivals, prior to finding their own home, first on Charles Street and later at the congregation’s current location at
117 E. Main St.
CAP: Congregants celebrated the beginning of Congregation B’nai Shalom’s 40th anniversary year at their Simchat Torah service this year.