Home March 2024 A Shul for You-Monmouth Reform Temple

A Shul for You-Monmouth Reform Temple

Volunteers tend to the synagogue’s thriving Community Garden

Monmouth Reform Temple, 332 Hance Ave, Tinton Falls

Background: According to the synagogue’s official history, posted on its website, “In early 1959, about 29 families discussed forming the first Reform Jewish congregation to serve the area around Red Bank, New Jersey. In June of that year, 50 families attended a dinner celebrating the founding of Monmouth Reform Temple.”
    Until March 1967, the home of the temple, now located in Tinton Falls, was a Presbyterian Church. Among its clergy has been Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, who was ordained as America’s first female rabbi in 1972, became spiritual leader of Monmouth Reform Temple (MRT) in 1981. She retired in 2006, after 25 years of service, becoming Rabbi Emerita.
    Rabbi Renee Goldberg Edelman is the current spiritual leader.
    Cantor Clissold joined the MRT clergy team in 2002.
   Dean Ross is serving as President.
    Contact information: info@monmouthreformtemple.org  and (732) 747-9365.

What are the most popular of your synagogue’s programs and/or services?
  Tuesday morning study group led by Rabbi Edelman
  Religious School K-12 including a Mitzvah Academy
  Adult Education lectures, programs and speakers
  Annual Mitzvah Day
  Justice Shabbat for MLK birthday with African American Church
  High Holy Days
  Congregational Seder
  Hanukkah Shabbat Service and Dinner
  Purimshpiel play and Dinner
  Sisterhood Book Club
  Gan Mazon-Community Garden
  Beach Services

MRT’s Beach Service is always well attended

What programs and/or services do you think capture the synagogue’s underlying philosophy?
    We do not require a set amount of money to join our temple family. We ask people to make a pledge of what they can give. We also, however, have a strong Life & Legacy Program in which members have donated thousands of dollars to keep the synagogue thriving.
What is the most unique aspect of your synagogue?
    We are open to all interfaith and LGBTQ families with a strong focus on Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Our outreach in our local community is historic and unparalleled. Among the local agencies that benefit from our donations of time and funds: The Center in Asbury Park, Lunch Break, Fulfill Food Bank, JBJ Soul Kitchen, and Interfaith Neighbors.

Volunteers prepare and pack meals as
one of the Mitzvah Day activities

Have you implemented any changes based on the COVID experience? What is the most unique aspect of your synagogue?
    While we had Live Stream capabilities in our sanctuary before the pandemic, we have used the technology more so since 2020. Most of our meetings, and many of our programs, are now offered on Zoom.

Are there any other challenges you’ve overcome that you’d like to share, so others can learn from your experience?
    We never closed our religious school during the pandemic. Our clergy and staff have been incredible in their flexibility and caring for our MRT families. Students faced many challenges, but we rose to the occasion including b’nai mitzvahs remotely at the start of the pandemic.

What would you say to encourage someone to join your synagogue?
    Come visit on a Friday night for Shabbat, call our Rabbi and our Cantor, see what we are all about. All of our programs are open to everyone, there are no fees to participate. We welcome everyone!  

Joann Abraham began chronicling Jewish life as editor of Monmouth County’s Jewish newspaper, now defunct, and has written for national and international publications. She is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.


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