Beth Alper’s Or Hadash Story
Like many Jewish families, we began searching for a synagogue home when our children were young and we knew we wanted them to have a Jewish education. But perhaps unlike many Jewish families today, we had already searched a good bit on our own: Jeff and I were married in a Reform synagogue (Temple Zion), then joined a traditional Orthodox synagogue (Mikveh Israel in Center City), and also tried a Conservative synagogue (where the Rabbi was Fred Kazan, RRC-trained). We were clearly searching for a congregation where we had the freedom to learn, ask questions, and observe a liberal Judaism that was meaningful.
In July of 1988, we chose Or Hadash (then CRRC) along with close friends Arlene & Steve Burns, based on Jeff’s desire to explore Reconstructionist Judaism and my desire to feel a part of a warm Jewish community.
I jumped right in, knowing that I had joined as much for my own as for my children’s education. I quickly attended Adult Education offerings and soon became Chairperson of the committee. That blossomed into volunteer opportunities galore when we moved into our new home in Fort Washington in 1995. We finally had our own kitchen, so we created a Kitchen Committee and, with Rabbi Vivian Schirn and Susan Afriat, I developed the kashrut policy for the synagogue. We felt that it would be most welcoming if we had a kosher dairy kitchen. We wanted congregants to be able to bring food cooked in their homes for Shabbat dinners and other events. When Rabbi Vivian retired in 2001, we wanted a year of activities celebrating her tenure, so I chaired eight events, along with Sally Silverman, culminating in a wonderful evening of toasts and roasts.
Having fun was also the impetus for my yearly participation in our Purimspiel. Serving on the Board for two separate terms (one as VP of Administration) and on the Long-Range Planning Committee also helped me see the need for strong leadership and allowed me to work with talented people like Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan and President Fran Swartz. Participation in the OH Israel trip with Rabbi Josh Waxman, in 2008, led to my chairing the Israel Committee, and then I served as High Holiday Chair from 2009-2011 with Rabbi Josh and interim Rabbi Roni Handler.
Clearly, Or Hadash has been an integral and enriching part of our lives.