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.

Destination: Judaism

Guiding Hevreh to 2020



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

What is Reform Judaism?


Throughout history, Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we learned much from our encounters with other cultures. Nevertheless, since its earliest days, Reform Judaism has asserted that a Judaism frozen in time cannot coexist effectively with those who live in modern times. The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.


Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices. We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God, and that we are God’s partners in improving the world. Tikkun olam — repairing the world — is a hallmark of Reform Judaism as we strive to bring peace, freedom, and justice to all people.

Reform Jews accept the Torah as the foundation of Jewish life containing God’s ongoing revelation to our people and the record of our people’s ongoing relationship with God. We see the Torah as God inspired, a living document that enables us to confront the timeless and timely challenges of our everyday lives.


In addition to our belief that Judaism must change and adapt to the needs of the day to survive and our firm commitment to tikkun olam, the following principles distinguish Reform Jews from other streams of Judaism in North America.


Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been reaching out to Jews-by-choice and interfaith families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism. Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they are the child of a Jewish father or mother, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.


Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors, and elect women presidents of our synagogues.


Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.


For more information, visit reformjudaism.org by clicking here.