Temple Beth Torah

Statement of Values
and Goals

Rabbi Katz and Cantor Fliegelman
Cantor Fliegelman & Rabbi Katz

Temple Beth Torah is a Conservative Synagogue

TBT is a Conservative Congregation affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and committed to the observance of Halakhah (Jewish Law) as interpreted by the Conservative Movement. With its motto of Tradition and Change, the Conservative Movement brings a modern perspective to our ancient faith. Tradition refers to the recognition that a Conservative synagogue's primary goal is to conserve the Jewish people through the observance of Jewish tradition. Change recognizes that Jewish tradition has evolved over time to meet the needs of each generation.

Temple Beth Torah is Warm, Friendly, Inclusive and Egalitarian

TBT was started in 1960 when a number of families decided they wanted to fulfill their Jewish yearnings through a Conservative congregation. Since that time, TBT has developed a style and mode of conduct that is warm, friendly, inclusive, and egalitarian. The Congregation, Rabbi, and Cantor work harmoniously. Congregants are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the Temple's activities, with a special emphasis on educating ourselves about Judaism and developing our understanding and commitment.

By warm and friendly, we mean that the Congregation considers itself to be an extended family. We treat each other with respect, recognizing that we share common interests and goals. We want to create a personal relationship among our Congregants, as well as between them and our religious leadership. We recognize that approaching God and participating in religious services may be difficult, and that many of us may be unsure about what to do and what is expected of us. Realizing this, we try to create an atmosphere that helps our Congregants feel comfortable in the Sanctuary, as well as in the Social Hall and other TBT facilities and events. TBT's membership is small enough that no one need remain an anonymous name on a roster.

By inclusive, we mean that we invite your participation in all of our activities. TBT is not 'run' by a small group of individuals, but by its full membership. For example, TBT's Board of Trustees has more than 50 members. TBT's Shabbat services are attended by more than 100 Congregants, even when there is no Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration. TBT's Kol Nidre Appeal has a participation rate of more than 75%. In addition, many Congregants attend our weekly Adult Education classes. We encourage your participation.

By egalitarian, we mean that women and men have the same rights and responsibilities. Both are counted in the minyan, may be given aliyot and other honors, and can read from the Torah and lead services. During the High Holidays, our Cantor leads a volunteer choir comprised of male and female Congregants, which enhances these services. And women as well as men play important roles in TBT's operations, serving as president, as well as in other offices.

Temple Beth Torah Celebrates the Cycle of Jewish Life

Jewish life cycle events are often those that bring Jews to the synagogue. First and foremost, we are a religious institution. We want you to share your simchas, as well as your losses, with us. Your son's bris, your daughter's naming, your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah or wedding, even your sad occasions, are important to all of us.

So, too, the Jewish calendar provides a framework in which TBT members operate, from Shabbat to the High Holidays to Succot, Purim, Pesah, Shavuot, and Hanukkah. We want to help you enhance your Jewish life, to learn more, observe more, participate more. So, too, we want you to enhance the life of TBT. TBT conducts services each Friday night, Saturday morning and afternoon, as well as during each holiday during the year. We encourage your joining us to worship. The TBT family is also committed to supporting shiva minyans and yahrtzeits.

Temple Beth Torah is a Cultural and Social Center for Members

TBT is also a cultural and social center for our Congregants. We offer a wide range of activities that bring us together, that entertain and educate us. We support Jews and Israel through social action, including our annual UJA-Federation and Israel Bond events. So, too, the Rabbi's Charity Fund helps support Congregants and countless others to get through difficult periods. And our Sisterhood and Men's Club offer many opportunities for Congregants to meet and socialize throughout the year.

Volunteerism is very important, and the Congregation depends on its members for a wide range of services. Although TBT is run on a business-like basis, collecting dues, and meeting bills, much of the actual work is borne by our Congregants. While our Rabbi is the interpreter of Halakhah and helps determine ritual practices; TBT's bylaws place the ultimate responsibility for operations on the Congregation, through our Board of Trustees. The Congregants, Rabbi, and Cantor collectively share responsibilities. We join together to learn from our Rabbi's and Cantor's knowledge and skills, allowing the Board to make informed decisions.

Temple Beth Torah Emphasizes Lifelong Jewish Education and Practice

Education is a very important aspect of being a Jew. It is a lifelong endeavor. TBT offers Congregants many educational opportunities, including adult education classes, personal discussions and instruction with the Rabbi and Cantor, sermons, pamphlets, and TBT's mailings and newsletter. TBT is also a participating sponsor of our local Institute for Adult Jewish Studies. Over the years, a significant number of adults have attended and participated in many of these offerings. In so doing, many Congregants have learned Hebrew and studied Jewish texts. Our Cantor ensures that Congregants of all ages are involved. Through personal instruction, he has taught many Congregants to chant the Haftarah and read from the Torah, including dozens of adult women who have celebrated their Bat Mitzvah with us, a privilege they had missed when they were younger.

Education for our children begins when they are in kindergarten and first grade. The first years are introductory, and our formal education program begins with a child's entrance into third grade. We require five years of formal education for a child to be eligible to celebrate Bar/Bat Mitzvah at TBT. This educational program requires school attendance two days a week and participation in Junior Congregation. It also offers youth groups, Junior Choir, and other activities.

TBT's goal is to foster an understanding of our heritage and values. We hope to achieve Jewish literacy, including the ability to read Hebrew, and familiarity with the Jewish calendar and holidays. We also want our children to be comfortable at synagogue services.

Our children have been praised for their conduct on the bimah when they celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This is largely due to the caring and comprehensive attention given by our Cantor, who offers individualized instruction. Students are expected to reach their maximum capability, including chanting the Friday night Kiddush, chanting the Haftarah and reading from the Torah, and leading parts of the Shabbat morning service. This is achieved through an admittedly intensive and demanding full-year program of training. The celebration will bring you much pride and 'nachas,' but it also requires your, as well as your child's, cooperation and support.

Education should not, and does not, end with a child's reaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah. It is then that our children become mature enough to begin to more fully appreciate our Jewish heritage. To this end, TBT invites our teenagers to participate in post- Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes and in United Synagogue Youth (USY) programs, as well as in innovative and individualized educational opportunities. Our Rabbi encourages this continued participation through formal and informal offerings. Our Cantor encourages participation as our post- Bar/Bat Mitzvah teenagers are called on to read from the Megillah on Purim and from the Torah during the High Holidays.

With today's challenges of assimilation, intermarriage, and competing interests, it is especially important that all Congregants - male and female, parent and child - participate as active members of the Temple Beth Torah family. We invite you and your family to join us.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rabbi Michael Katz, Cantor Kalman Fliegelman, our President, or our Membership Vice Presidents. Everyone at Temple Beth Torah is eager to help you in any way we can.