Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 25 September 2018.Phone: 617-566-3960
History Now the largest Reform congregation in New England, Adath Israel was founded in the 1854 by twenty-five Jewish families of German origin who separated from Temple Ohabei Shalom, Boston's first synagogue. In addition to the congregation’s size and urban location, Temple Israel is known for its innovation and diversity. Description Housed in an impressively large building, the temple's leaders make a conscious effort to evoke feelings of a smaller community. The main sanctuary, which is large enough to accommodate 1000 people, uses colorful cloth dividers to enclose the front section and to create a sense of a smaller room for weekly services. Additionally, there is a much smaller space in the basement called the Robert Lloyd Chapel. This chapel shares a similar style with the upper sanctuary but is smaller and more intimate. Temple Israel's facilities include a sanctuary, chapel, atrium, social hall, religious school, preschool, library, conference rooms, offices, and an outdoor terrace. While Temple Israel’s Hebrew School can only accommodate members’ children, the synagogue offers adult education classes that are open to the public. Services are signed for the hearing impaired monthly, on High Holidays, and at the Passover seder. Activities and Schedule Services are conducted in both Hebrew and English and are characterized by an atmosphere of inclusiveness, with members of both sexes and all age groups actively participating. There are both Friday night and Saturday morning shabbat services. The Friday night service draws the most people and is kid-friendly. Typically between 200-250 people attend the Friday night service. On Saturday mornings, there are usually two services (both led by rabbis): the service in the sanctuary occurs when a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is scheduled; a more adult-oriented service with an extended text study takes place in a smaller reading room. In addition, there is a weekday, lay-led minyan (a word used to refer to daily prayer services, it literally means a quorum of 10 Jews that is traditionally required for services). Temple Israel’s commitment to study is clear through its dynamic preschool, religious school, youth groups, and educational opportunities for adults. Their learning initiatives include the Center for Adult Jewish Learning and Tent, their teen learning community. Temple Israel also uses “affinity groups” to help people connect with others that share their interests. For example, there is an initiative called the Riverway Project, that helps local young adults connect with one another and with Judaism, neighborhood groups for members in their 50s and 60s who gather every few weeks at one another’s homes, and a group of interfaith families who get together to study, discuss, and socialize. The Riverway Project for 20s & 30s has started to expand to Cambridge and Somerville, introducing new programs such as the 'bridge', an innovation started in June 2017. It is designed to offer a Riverway Project Shabbat experience for the burgeoning Riverway Project community who live on the Red Line and with about 65 pre-registered attendees, connections are formed in a more intimate setting. It includes an evening of music, reflection, prayer, and connection, followed by Shabbat dinner and drinks. Moreover, Temple Israel has a very active social justice effort called TIkkun Central that acts as an umbrella for all justice and compassion activities at Temple Israel. Some key subgroups of TIkkun Central include TI Cares, Racial Justice Initiative, and Green Team. Green Team, launched in 2015, is group of congregants, clergy, and staff committed to mitigating the effects of climate change and making climate justice and preservation of the Earth core values of Temple Israel. The have taken on a campaign to earn the Energy Shield, a certification conferred upon green congregations by GreenFaith, a national environmental organization that works closely with the Religious Action Center (RAC). Temple Israel will be the first congregation in New England to earn the credential. Leadership Such a large congregation calls for great leadership, and Temple Israel rises to the challenge by employing multiple clergy members. The rabbis share responsibilities and also have one or two areas of focus within the community. In 2016, Rabbi Elaine Zecher became Temple Israel's Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Zecher is the first female Senior Rabbi in their 164 year history. Affiliation with Other Communities/Organizations Adath Israel holds some classes in partnership with the Union of Reform Judaism. In addition, the community is involved in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. The Village for Families with Young Children is a collaborative effort between Temple Israel, the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center (FJECC) and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) to engage families with kids ages 0-5 in the Boston area in Jewish life through Jewish holiday celebrations, parenting groups, story times, and weekly drop-in meetups.