Twenty five years isn't very long for a religion that just started the year 5768. But Fort Washington, PA, synagogue Or Hadash: A Reconstructionist Congregation is proud of all it has accomplished in those 25 years. From its start in 1983 by six families as a laboratory to train student rabbis at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the congregation has committed itself to being a warm and participatory place catering to the needs of modern Jews eager to honor their religion's past while creating their own place in its future.
The original six families held an open house in the college's chapel to explain their vision of a new type of synagogue. That open house drew more than 100 people, and 65 households joined. The next few years saw steady growth in membership and experimentation with the position of student rabbi, who also directed the religious school taht was begun the first year.
In 1989, the congregation officially became independent of the college and changed its name to Or Hadash, chosen from a verse in Psalms meaning "A New Light." Membership continued to increase and, by the 1990s, the congregation decided to seek a new home. After a long search, the community's home on Camp Hill Road was found in time for its bat mitzvah year.
Today, this vibrant and diverse congregation of over 220 families is an emerging leader among synagogues in Montgomery and Bucks counties. Rabbi Joshua Waxman, who became rabbi in 2004, has helped Or Hadash retain its intimacy and commitment to family, Jewish continuity and creative Judaism. This commitment will be expressed throughout the many events commemorating the congregation's Silver Anniversary year, with the theme, "Celebrating Our Past, Anticipating Our Future."
The year includes special events for the religious school, directed by Lori Rubin; a concert by singer Debbie Friedman; the dedication of the congregation's illustrated Purim Megillah; and its first trip to Israel. It will conclude with a joyful and fun-filled gala in June. In addition, the public will be invited to a joint choir concert with the New Life Church, former residents of the congregation's building, in March; a series of unique shows in its Staircase Art Gallery; and a sports night, hosted by local celebrities, in the spring.
In addition Or Hadash is delighted to host two major JRF North American events in the same week! The first ever Harmoniyah; Reconstructionist Music Network retreat Nov. 9-12, 2007 and the annual RENA (Reconstructionist Educators of North America) conference Nov. 11-13, 2007.
For more information about the congregation or its Silver Anniversary events please call (215) 283-0276.