Beth Am combines elements of a rich Jewish heritage with the dynamic characteristics of Reform Judaism.
This orientation is expressed in our liturgy, music, customs, educational philosophy, and approach to ritual expression. Here at Beth Am, the wearing of tallit and/or kipah is optional. Men and women participate equally in all religious services. We incorporate traditional prayer and creative readings, using both traditional and contemporary melodies. People who attend vary from those who were raised in traditional backgrounds to those who are Jewish by choice. We welcome interfaith families. Our Shabbat siddur – prayer book – is Mishkan T’filah that includes prayers written in Hebrew, their transliteration, translation, and alternate readings – contemporary / spiritual / rabbinic citations — that explore the central theme of each prayer. This unique siddur provides an opportunity for everyone to participate in their own way.
We have many opportunities for spiritual connection. We Welcome You!
Are you interested in exploring Judaism? We welcome you and are delighted that you are interested in learning more about Judaism. We accept Jews by Choice and view them as a gift to our people and the Jewish community. While each person’s path into Jewish life is unique, there are shared questions and experiences that are common to many. We are here to help you find resources as you begin your Jewish journey. Please contact the clergy to schedule an appointment to discuss your Jewish journey.
(H)our Shabbat: The first Friday evening of each month we celebrate Shabbat with a Family Shabbat service entitled (H)our Shabbat. This service includes the use of a colorful, approachable prayer book written by our clergy, illustrated by our children, and dedicated in memory of Pamela Goldstein z”l . Beginning at 6:30 p.m. or 7:00 p.m., the service is geared towards our school-age children and their families to enjoy a relaxed, music-filled Shabbat evening service with the Rabbis, Cantor and youth leadership. (H)our Shabbat services can be used to fulfill Shabbat service attendance requirements.
“Tots-N-Torah” and Young Family Shabbat: Join us throughout the year for special Shabbat services with a short musical service, birthday celebrations, refreshments, and special activities. Family and friends are welcome. Bring a neighbor, bring a friend, and celebrate Shabbat as a community.
Bikkur Cholim – visiting the sick – and Mi Shebeirach – the prayer for healing — are two ways our congregation reaches out to support others who are ill. Because of Federal confidentiality regulations (HIPAA), hospitals no longer advise the Temple if a congregant is hospitalized. Our Clergy, when asked to do so, visits congregants and close members of their family in local hospitals.
Many of us rely on community to support us when we are in pain. Each Erev Shabbat, we sing Debbie Friedman’s Mi Shebeirach prayer for those who are ill. The Clergy, when notified of a congregant, family member or close friend of a congregant who is ill, recites the names and also invites those in attendance to mention the names of those not on the list. When we hear the name of a congregant who is ill, we are offered the opportunity to reach out to them and their family, and to provide support, send a card, or make a friendly phone call to let them know we care.
We invite you to provide us with the name(s) of loved ones who are facing the challenge of illness, that we may support them, and you, by inclusion in our communal Mi Shebeirach prayers and by hospital visits. Please contact Jackie Lehner, administrative assistant to the Clergy if you have a name to add to the list. Contact or call her at 215-886-8000, ext. 148.
The Mi Shebeirach prayer is one of the central Jewish prayers for those who are facing the challenge of illness. The prayer includes pleas for both physical and spiritual healing within the community of others facing illness. In modern times, the Mi Shebeirach is often said by professional health caregivers, patients, and loved ones at various times during treatment and recovery from illness of all sort:
Avoteinu: Avraham, Yitzhak, v’Yaakov,
v’Imoteinu: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v’Leah,
Hu yivarekh virapei
et haholeh/haholah _____ ben/bat ______
HaKadosh Barukh Hu
yimalei rahamim alav/aleha,
V’yishlah lo/lah bim-hera
r’fu-at hanefesh u-r’fu-at hagoof,
b’tokh sh’ar holei Yisrael v’holei yoshvei tevel,
hashta ba’agalah u-vizman kariv,
May the One who blessed our ancestors —
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah
bless and heal the one who is ill:
__________ son/daughter of _________.
May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon him/her,
to restore him/her,
to heal him/her,
to strengthen him/her,
to enliven him/her.
The One will send him/her, speedily,
a complete healing —
healing of the soul and healing of the body
along with all the ill,
among the people of Israel and all humankind,
soon, speedily, without delay,
and let us all say: Amen!
Judaism has always recognized important moments in people’s lives. At Old York Road Temple-Beth Am, we help to create these significant moments and infuse them with personal meaning. Whether breaking a glass under the wedding chuppah (canopy), passing on a cherished Hebrew family name to a newborn, or being called to the Torah to read the blessing of our ancestors, our clergy add a personal touch to these experiences.
At Beth Am, we are an inclusive congregation and welcome the participation of our non-Jewish family members and all family configurations in life cycle events.
Brit Milah – The Torah commands us to circumcise our newborn sons on the eighth day of their new lives. This powerful ceremony celebrates new life and brings our sons into Judaism’s sacred covenant. Our clergy can put you in touch with a mohel (ritual circumciser), help parents understand the ceremony and co-officiate along with the mohel.
Baby Namings and Simchat Bat (Joy of A Daughter) – We celebrate the great blessing of all genders of newborns with a ceremony that brings them into the covenant and confers upon them a Hebrew name. Our Clergy can help you think through and design this ceremony, which can take place either at home, or at the synagogue. Please let us know as your family grows so that we may extend a warm and personal welcome to your newborn.
B. Mitzvah – at the age of 13 your child moves from childhood to adulthood. As the son or daughter of the commandments, you commit yourself to proud membership as part of our ancient people. The student is guided through lessons and shares the experience of leading a service.
Wedding – Our clergy can help you prepare for this wonderful, joyous occasion by teaching engaged couples the meaning of the ceremony. From Ketubah (marriage document), to Kiddushin (Engagement) to Chuppah (Marriage Canopy) to Nissuin (marriage ceremony) to breaking the glass. We offer counseling on Jewish wisdom in preparation for a life dedicated to love and companionship. Additionally, we assist in designing the ceremony, providing our knowledge and experience. Our clergy celebrate with two adults beginning their lives together and welcomes LGBTQIA couples and interfaith couples to the chuppah.
Unveiling – “Hakamat Matzeivah” The unveiling of a grave marker may take place after the first month since burial but usually occurs at 11 months. The presence of clergy is not required, and a user-friendly sample services are available from the administrative office in the event congregants choose to facilitate on their own.
Funeral – Our tradition offers several powerful end-of-life rituals – from kriah (tearing of a garment), to shiva (mourning). Our clergy will instruct you on these and other rituals. We can also perform the funeral ceremony for our congregants and their close family members, and help you understand and implement other meaningful Jewish mourning practices.
T’fillah Band – Here at Beth Am we enjoy the music of our T’fillah (prayer) band that comes together for monthly musical Shabbat services, Simchat Torah and Chanukah Services, Purim Shpiels, Sisterhood Seders, special musical programs and concerts. Guitar, drums, trombone, flute and bass all have a “voice” in our band. We welcome those who would like to add their time and talent to the band. We are very fortunate to have our music director, Mark Daugherty, arrange the music for different instruments. It is a lot of fun to be a part of this musical group. Join us! Contact Cantor Elena Zarkh for more information.
Adult Volunteer Choir – Led by Cantor Elena Zarkh and Music Director Mark Daugherty, our Adult Choir brings a variety of choral music to our Erev Shabbat Service, singing on the last Friday of the month. At this service, we typically honor those who celebrated wedding anniversaries during the month. The voices of our choir enhance this celebration and invite congregants to sing along, making beautiful music together. In addition, the choir performs a variety of community events and holidays throughout the year. If you have an interest in singing, contact Cantor Zarkh to add your voice to the choir.
Purim Shpiel Players – Singing, dancing and re-telling the Purim story based on the Megillah add up to outrageous performances for all ages! The Megillah According to Broadway, Motown Megillah and Disco Megillah (written by Norman Roth) have brought together a dedicated group of talented congregants who sing, dance and act. They invite the audience to sing along and celebrate the victory of the Jewish people over Haman. Performances are directed by Cantor Elena Zarkh with Music Director Mark Daugherty.
The Molish Sanctuary was designed by the noted architect Vincent G. Kling and completed in 1972. Our sanctuary is a dramatic room, structured with a soaring ceiling, continuing red brick walls and a warm gold carpeting which is meant to represent the dessert sand of Sinai. Two main features of the Sanctuary are the “Ner Tamid” – the Eternal Light and our award winning Ark designed by the late Hungarian architect, Mark Zubar. The Ark is fashioned entirely of brass and stained glass. The brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds, fashioned in an upward, angled design seem to burn like flames against the brick and glass wall behind it. The Ark contains elevated rows of 12 Stars of David, reminiscent of the Twelve Tribes if Israel. At the back, interspersed among the pieces of bold stained glass, are 10 small circles of opaque glass representing the Ten Commandments. To the front of the bimah, you can clearly see that the Eternal Light hangs at the lowest point of the sanctuary ceiling. Again made of glass and brass, the eternal light glimmers, suggesting of a multitude of colors. The light is represented by glass, cut into flame-like shapes that irregularly jut out of the brass casement. The flames of the Eternal Light, the Star of David is etched in black into the concrete ceiling. Other stars glow from this initial one, building the image of a pulsating symbol of the Jewish faith. The sanctuary is a beautiful place for peaceful contemplation and is the heart of Beth Am. It is accessible to all.
The Temple Beth Torah Chapel is an integral part of The Evelyn and Ronald A. Krancer Center for Jewish Life, which was dedicated in 2008. It provides flexible space for prayer and special activities such as Tots-N-Torah, adult and family education programs, family celebrations and Torah yoga. The original Aron Ha Kodesh – holy ark – from Temple Beth Torah’s building on Welsh Road – provides the centerpiece of the room. The Ner Tamid – eternal light – was designed by New York artist David Klass. Above the ark, the words Da lifnei mi atah omed — Know Before Whom You Stand — provide a constant reminder that we stand before God when we pray, and recall the scene described in Exodus when Moses appeared before God at the burning bush. The ark is flanked by a pair of original Temple Beth Torah seven-branched menorahs, signifying the seven days of the week. Celebrations that took place at Temple Beth Torah are recalled with leaves on the Etz Chayim – Tree of Life. In addition, the original panels that appeared on Beth Am’s chuppah – wedding canopy – needle pointed by volunteers from Sisterhood, are framed and mounted, quotig biblical love poetry: Ani L’dodi, v’ Dodi li – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Songs)
The Klein Chapel on the lower level, is easily accessible from the main entrance of the building facing Old York Road. The intimate space of the Klein Chapel features warm brick and soft lighting. The adjacent lobby area looks out into a beautiful inner courtyard, enjoyed throughout the changing seasons. Colorful tapestries provide magnificent interpretation of prominent bible themes, and were created by the celebrated Israeli artist Bracha Lavee. The Klein Chapel was dedicated to honor the memory of Adolf and Jeane Klein in 1976.
At Old York Road Temple-Beth Am, we honor the memory of our beloved relatives. During the period of “shloshim” (30 days) following the death, we read the names of the recently departed before Kaddish at both our Erev Shabbat and Shabbat morning services.
In Jewish tradition, when the year of mourning is over, mourners are expected to return to a fully normal life. There are several occasions each year when our loved ones who have passed on are memorialized. The most significant of these is yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death, which is observed according to the Hebrew calendar unless you request that the English date of death be observed. Either is acceptable; the name is read on the Shabbat at the end of the week when the yahrzeit occurred. If you are unable to be in the congregation on the night that a yahrzeit is to be read and would like the Rabbi to read the name on another Friday evening, please contact the Administrative Office.
We also honor the memory of our loved ones when we recite “Yiskor” on Yom Kippur, the last day of Pesach, Shavuot and Simchat Torah.
Yahrzeit observance begins at night. A 24-hour candle is lit and one may attend synagogue to recite the Kaddish [the memorial prayer].
MOURNER’S KADDISH Yit-ga-dal v’yit-ka-dash sh’mei ra-ba, b’al-ma di-v’ra chi-ru-tei, v’yam-lich mal-chu-tei b’chai-yei-chon uv’yo-mei-chon uv’chai-yei d’chol-beit Yis-ra-eil, ba-a-ga-la u-viz-man ka-riv, v’im’ru: Amen. Y’hei sh’mei ra-ba m’va-rach l’a-lam ul’al-mei al-ma-ya. Yit-ba-rach v’yish-ta-bach, v’yit-pa-ar v’yit-ro-mam v’yit-na-sei, v’yit-ha-dar v’yit-a-leh v’yit-ha-lal, sh’mei d’ku-d’sha, b’rich hu, l’ei-la min kol bir-cha-ta v’shi-ra-ta, tush-b’cha-ta v’ne-che-ma-ta, da-a-mi-ran b’al-ma, v’im’ru: Amen. Y’hei sh’la-ma ra-ba min sh’ma-ya, v’cha-yim, a-lei-nu v’al kol-Yis-ra-eil, v’im’ru: Amen.. O-seh sha-lom bim-ro-mav, hu ya-a-seh sha-lom a-lei-nu v’al kol-Yis-ra-eil, v’im’ru: Amen.
An English Translation Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen. May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. May they rest in peace and may their memory ever be for a blessing… At this moment, I pause for thought in memory of my beloved………………………
I give thanks for the blessing of life, of companionship and of memory. I am grateful for the strength and faith that sustained me in the hour of my bereavement. Though sorrow lingers, I have learned that love is stronger than death. Though my loved one is beyond my sight, I do not despair for I sense my beloved in my heart as a living presence. ustained by words of faith, comforted by precious memories, we kindle the light in remembrance. “The human spirit is the light of Adonai” (Proverbs 20:27). As this light is pure and clear, so may the blessed memory of the goodness and nobility of character of our dear…………..illumine our souls.
May they rest in peace and may their memory ever be for a blessing… At this moment, I pause for thought in memory of my beloved………………………I give thanks for the blessing of life, of companionship and of memory. I am grateful for the strength and faith that sustained me in the hour of my bereavement. Though sorrow lingers, I have learned that love is stronger than death. Though my loved one is beyond my sight, I do not despair for I sense my beloved in my heart as a living presence. ustained by words of faith, comforted by precious memories, we kindle the light in remembrance. “The human spirit is the light of Adonai” (Proverbs 20:27). As this light is pure and clear, so may the blessed memory of the goodness and nobility of character of our dear…………..illumine our souls.