Home November 2023 A Shul for You- Temple Beth Shalom of Western Monmouth

A Shul for You- Temple Beth Shalom of Western Monmouth

Purim cast

Background: Temple Beth Shalom, 108 Freehold Road, Manalapan, is a Conservative egalitarian synagogue. According to its website, “Our mission is to ‘Bring Good Things to Light.’” Sharing the bima are Interim Rabbi Andra Greenwald and her daughter, Cantor Summer Sunshine. Rabbi Greenwald graduated from California State University (with distinction) and was the graduation speaker when she received her smicha. Cantor Summer graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 2017 with a Master’s of Sacred Music and a Master’s degree in Jewish Education through its Davidson School. In October 1984, shortly after celebrating High Holiday services, Temple Beth Shalom’s new building was attacked by teenagers who drove a bulldozer into a wall, causing extensive damage, and painted antisemitic slogans on the walls. Arrests were quickly made. Days later, more than 3,000 people, including then-Governor Kean and then-U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg z”l, wiped out the acts of hate with chemical cleaners and sent out a different message from Monmouth County.
Contact information: phone, 732-446-1200.
Web site, www.templebshalom.com,
email, templebeth@aol.com.
Rabbi Andra Greenwald,
Cantor Summer Sunshine,
Steven Strauss, President.
Karen Ross, Executive Director,
Nancy Shechter, Education Director
What are the most popular of your synagogue’s programs and/or services?
    Since 1979, Temple Beth Shalom has served the Manalapan, Marlboro, Freehold, Old Bridge, Monroe Township and surrounding areas as a contemporary Conservative egalitarian synagogue committed to active participation in a caring community. We have been in our present home since October 1984 with two expansions in the 1990s. Our building includes the sanctuary, two social halls, a library, nine classrooms and an activity center. All of us together can celebrate each other’s joy, comfort each other in sorrow, learn together, strive to keep Judaism alive and bring good things to light for ourselves and the community.
Are there any other challenges you’ve overcome that you’d like to share, so others can learn from your experience?
    Our founding Rabbi, Ira Rothstein retired after 40 years of being our Rabbi and spiritual leader. He was followed by Rabbi Dina Rosenberg who was with us for four years. We now welcome Rabbi Andra Greenwald to our congregation as Interim Rabbi. Cantor Summer is in her seventh year as our Cantor and is very excited to be joined on the Bimah with her mom as our Rabbi. They are quite a wonderful team and we are delighted to have both as our current clergy.
What is the most unique aspect of your synagogue?
   From age 5 to teens, our religious school, BBYO, and Youth leadership programs meet our youth’s needs. Our religious school meets weekly on Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Our Education Director, Nancy Shechter, has been with us over 25 years and treats every child in her school with love and personal attention. We teach Hebrew though our unique multi-pronged program. Students learn values and mitzvot through Bible, holidays, arts and crafts, music and much more. Wonderful Wednesdays is a program for children ages 5-7 which meets once or twice a month and is an introductory program for the younger children of our community.
What programs and/or services do you think capture the synagogue’s underlying philosophy?
    At Temple Beth Shalom, we strive to create a warm, welcoming and friendly environment, where every person, regardless of their background and beliefs, feels genuinely accepted and valued. We wholeheartedly embrace a culture of hospitality and recognize that each person’s presence contributes to the enrichment and sustainability of our community. Our dedication to our community extends beyond the walls of our synagogue, as we regularly engage in acts of kindness, compassion, charity and social justice.
     We strive to uplift those who are disadvantaged and marginalized, while making a positive impact on our local and global community. Our multi-generational congregation recognizes the importance of family and provides a nurturing atmosphere for people of all ages. Through our diverse range of programs and activities, we strive to foster strong family ties and cultivate lasting and meaningful relationships that endure over time. While we value our collective strength, we also inspire each other to live meaningful Jewish lives in today’s modern world.
What are the most popular of your synagogue’s programs and/or services?
    We offer many different venues for all age groups to express our love of Judaism, friendship and family including but not limited to our TBS Cares Social Action Committee (where we cook food at a local food pantry, collect toiletries, clothing and food items for those in need, bring bags of cheer to a local assisted living facility and much more), our Strategic Vision and Planning Committee and Task Forces are developing a plan to help us to continue to follow our mission of bringing good things to light while becoming more of a Jewish Community Center without activities and use of our facility, our Sisterhood and Men’s Club events, Teen Leadership programming events, Adult Education classes and discussion groups, Holiday programming, challah baking, our 9/11, Shalom and Aloha and other concerts, Family Fun Day and many exciting other programs which all bring good things to light for our membership family and to the greater community. Once a month, we have our TBS Alive! Service with musical accompaniment. This is a lively, well attended service which has a highlighted theme relating to that month and is enjoyed tremendously by all of the attendees.
Have you implemented any changes based on the COVID experience?
    During COVID, we used Zoom to keep bringing our membership together for adult education and for all of our services and programs. We joined together with synagogues all over the United Stated States (Partners in Programming) to bring additional adult education and cultural programs to our membership. Our goal is to continue this type of programing while also bringing people into our building for face-to-face services, programs and relationships.
    We always enjoy a sense of community, intellectual growth, enduring friendships and warmth. We welcome you to join us at our services, programs and events throughout the year.  

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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