About - Hevreh
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Hevreh – Jewish Life. Learning. Community.

 

Hevreh, a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, is a diverse community. Some of us are Berkshire natives, while the vast majority of our members have come from somewhere else. We are single and married, with and without children. We are gay and straight. We were born Jewish, we have chosen to become Jewish and we are non-Jews who are part of Jewish families. We celebrate the fresh insights of the young and the sage wisdom of those who are older. We embrace Judaism in many ways. For example, concurrent with our regular Shabbat service in the sanctuary on Saturday morning, the Berkshire Minyan, a member-led, egalitarian group unaffiliated with any branch of Judaism, worships in our library. Both congregations gather together at noon for a joint Kiddush.

 

Joyful and music-filled worship, thoughtful study of Torah and Jewish texts, a deep commitment to social justice and an ongoing exploration of God and spirituality form the core of our activities. We also are a center of Jewish living and experience, offering concerts, lectures, a film series, and even exercise classes.

Our History

 

In 1974, the Jewish population of Berkshire County was invited to a meeting to discuss founding a new Jewish fellowship group in southern Berkshire County.

 

The hope of Hevreh’s original founders was to create a supportive Jewish community based on egalitarian and non-authoritarian leadership. With dedication, belief, and hard work, they met each challenge of growth, from purchasing and constructing buildings, to finding learned, compassionate rabbinic leadership.

 

Forty years later, Hevreh proudly remains true to our founders ideals, evolving into the diverse and dynamic congregation of today.

Purpose & Values

 

In 1974, Hevreh was founded with “B’reisheet” – the first word of Genesis – at the top of a flyer sent to Berkshire County Jews, inviting them to a meeting to discuss founding a new Jewish fellowship group in south Berkshire County.

 

“Hevreh” comes from the Hebrew word for friendship and our name states our purpose, to be a community of friends in a Jewish context. 40 years later, Hevreh of Southern Berkshire still adheres to the goals of its founders, to be a supportive Jewish community based on egalitarian and non-authoritarian leadership. Hevreh continues to emphasize democratic decision-making and worship leadership.

 

As a congregation, Hevreh began meeting in members’ homes and meeting spaces throughout Berkshire County; eventually purchasing its first permanent building in 1992 at 41 Mahaiwe Street. When the congregation was 18 years old; we hired our first Rabbi, Deborah Zecher. By 1996 we had outgrown Mahaiwe Street and began the process of planning, designing, and building our current building at 270 State Road. In June 1999 the dream became a reality, as members of the congregation, clergy and religious school carried our Torahs through Great Barrington from our old home to our new synagogue.

 

During Rabbi Zecher’s tenure at Hevreh, our membership grew to over 375 families and the values which animated Hevreh’s founders are still very much alive and well. The Board of Directors continues to reflect those values, balancing the needs of the congregation with the responsibility of reaching out to the larger Berkshire County community. Hevreh’s members welcome newcomers as we strive to embody the best of Jewish history, culture, ritual, and ethical values.

 

Rabbi Zecher became our Rabbi Emerita in 2014. After a year of transitional leadership, we are fully staffed once again with Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch and Rabbi Jodie Gordon who also serves as Education Director. Together they are a dynamic, exciting team and Hevreh is looking toward continued growth in a future that is full, engaging, enriching, meaningful and joyous.

HEVREH MISSION STATEMENT

 

Hevreh of Southern Berkshire is a welcoming and inclusive Reform Jewish congregation. Our goal is to build relationships within and beyond our community that embrace and enrich our lives. We strive to bring purpose through sacred and secular activities, worship and rituals, sharing our stories, education, community service, and social action.

 

We will accomplish in our Mission:

 

  • by welcoming all who seek a place in our Southern Berkshire Reform Jewish congregation.
  • by offering a culture and a community that strives for connection, support, and creation of relationships for a strong sense of belonging.
  • by being inclusive, comforting, and joyful.
  • by being a place where our stories are shared and honored.
  • by providing means for the broadest participation of our members in our religious, spiritual, educational and communal life.
  • by healing the world (tikkun olam), through an active program of social action, acts of righteousness (tzedakah) and loving kindness (gemilut hasidim) through ongoing participation in the local, national, and world-wide Jewish communities.
  • by marking the seasons of the year and life’s transitions through meaningful Jewish ritual and worship.

Rabbi’s Blog

Parashat Vayigash 5779 | December 14, 2018 Consider the concept of restraint: is it a virtue or is it a vice? What benefits come when we restrain ourselves? Do we cause harm when we force ourselves to do something we do not want to do?......

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Liz Goodman, the pastor at the Monterey Church. We explored our different understandings of personal prayer. Take a listen and let us know your thoughts! The Religious Round Table airs every week on WSBS. The show is hosted each week......

Delivered on Kol Nidrei 5779 During my time in Rabbinical School I interned as a chaplain at NYU’s Tisch Hospital. One of my responsibilities was to serve the spiritual needs of the patients and their families in the pediatric rehab unit. Each morning, the attending......

Destination: Judaism

Guiding Hevreh to 2020

 

Purpose

A living, working document to be used as a tool to guide Hevreh into and for the future.

 

Objectives of This Strategic Plan:

To deepen one’s sense of Jewishness
To strengthen our congregation’s sense of belonging, engagement and connection.
To strengthen Hevreh’s financial viability.

The Plan

2016 – Focus on Planning

✔Draft Strategic Plan
✔Submit plan to Board for approval
✔Create Revenue Enhancement Task Force
Purpose: identify best ways to maintain and grow Hevreh’s revenue streams.
✔Create Metrics Team
Purpose: Measure congregation’s views, through a Congregation-wide sentiment survey, regarding perceptions of life at Hevreh and engagement in it. – In progress

 

2017 – Focus on Congregant Connection & Engagement

Launch the Early Childcare Center at Hevreh
Focus on the Hevreh Worship Experience
Get, keep, and grow membership
Implement the Revenue Enhancement Task Force’s recommendations, as adopted by the Board

2018 – Focus on Lifelong Learning

Design new educational paradigm for school aged children and families
Adult Jewish learning
Continue implementing previous year’s planning, building on the Revenue Enhancement Task Force’s recommendations

 

2019 – Focus on Implementation

Preserving the core while stimulating progress for the future:
Integrating the traditions of our community with the new approaches we are implementing.

 

2020 – Focus on Evaluation

 

2020 Strategic Planning Team:

Carol Beyer (Chair), Jeff Blaugrund, Jan Kabel, Joan Kleinman, Sharon Mozian, Helice Picheny, Shelley Rolf, Suzanne Sawyer (President), Rabbi Neil Hirsch, Rabbi Jodie Gordon

Legacy Circle

 

“I believe the Synagogue is the very heart of Judaism and must be supported and sustained always. From that vantage point and more, Hevreh is very important to me and the Jewish community it serves, and I want it to continue to do so in the near and distant future.” – Phyllis Weiss z”l

 

Hevreh’s Legacy Circle is comprised of those individuals who have made gifts to Hevreh through their wills or other estate plans. Our goal is to increase participation in the Hevreh’s Legacy Circle by expanding this group of individuals.

 

On May 23, 2018, Hevreh will be hosting an informational luncheon and discussion. You are invited to join us to hear from a panel of financial experts on the important things to consider regarding planned giving. The purpose of the meeting will be to explain the advantages of legacy and estate planning and to answer any questions that you may have. This event is open to all.

 

Hevreh’s Legacy Circle welcomes all forms of gifts (e.g. stocks, bonds, etc.). Pledging a legacy gift to Hevreh is easy to do. Please contact Matt Mozian at 917-626-1034 or Larry Frankel at 413-645-3246 if you are interested in including Hevreh in your estate plans.

 

As a member of the Hevreh Legacy Circle you will insure the future of Hevreh for generations to come. Your legacy gift will further serve as an example to your children and heirs of the importance of Tzedakah.

 

Hevreh’s Legacy Circle is made up of the individuals below, whom we thank for their generosity and participation:

 

Marion F. Adler
Mel Greenberg
Beth Laster-Nathan
Amy Linder-Lesser
Sharon and Matthew Mozian
Deborah and Stephen Schreier
Phyllis z”l and Joel Weiss