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Even in Paradise, it is not good to be alone.
The Importance of Synagogue Affiliation
Throughout most of Jewish history, synagogues were loosely organized units that were strengthened and sustained by the dedication of a few individuals. Synagogue affiliation, as the conscious and voluntary act of a person who wishes to participate in the support and maintenance of a congregation, is actually a recent innovation in Jewish life. In many ways, it is a consequence of the separation of church and state. It is no longer the responsibility of others to sustain our cultural and spiritual heritage, a heritage that is the cornerstone of western civilization. That task now falls to us.
Active synagogue membership is critical to the life and continued vitality of the Jewish community. Through all the trials and vicissitudes of the Jewish people, it has been the synagogue that stands ever ready to respond to the needs of each and every soul, strengthening our commitment to the task of tikkun middot -- the perfection of our inner selves -- and tikkun olam -- the perfection of God's world.
As a practical matter, a supportive membership is the only means by which Temple Beth Shalom can hope to keep its doors open 365 days a year, offering comfort in times of need and community in times of joy. We cannot be here for you, unless you are here for us. We hope you will decide to join in the sacred task of ensuring the survival of Judaism in the modern world.
Our Temple Beth Shalom Mission
Congregation Temple Beth Shalom commits to nurture and celebrate our connection with God, to cultivate a love and understanding of the Jewish heritage, and to strengthen community through the wholehearted practice of Tikkun Olam, the repair, healing and transformation of the world.
A Virtual Tour of Temple Beth Shalom
Many factors contribute to a spiritual experience: a thoughtful sermon, inspiring music, the warmth of community, and beautiful surroundings. There is an old Chasidic saying: “Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance and the secret wonders that fill the world.” Here’s a brief guide to some of the highlights of our sacred space that may go unnoticed.
If you pause at the front doors, you will notice the two mezuzahs on either doorframe. They were hand-crafted in sterling silver, gold, and cloisonné by Gail Rapoport when the “new” sanctuary was completed in 1986. The design of the major mezuzah echoes the outside of our temple. The other contains an opalescent enamel and is, in Gail’s words “the best mezuzah I ever made.”
Look up as you stand in the foyer and you will see a whimsical mobile hanging in welcome. These painted steel-cut Jewish symbols were designed by the late Isa Barnett, father of Patina Gallery owner Ivan Barnett. “The fact that it’s kinetic, and always in some sort of movement, makes sense to me in that Judaism, with its five thousand years of history, is always in some form of reshaping.” Wise words from Ivan.
The beautiful framed print that hangs above the information table between the social hall and the sanctuary was made by congregant and talented artist, Sara Novenson. Sara chose Hannah from her Women of the Bible series because “Hannah stands for prayer.” When praying to God for a child, Hannah said, “If You give me a son, I will give him back to You.” She did give birth to a son and she named him Samuel. This story has special significance to the artist, as her parents were Hannah and Samuel.
Architect Ed Mazria recalls that only two things were specifically requested for the design of the Main Sanctuary: that the rabbi feel like part of the congregation when conducting services and that the congregants feel united in the space. Thus the lower step of the bima extends forward into the congregation and the seating is at a 45-degree angle, so congregants may see each other across the aisle instead of staring at the back of the person in front of them. The sanctuary faces east, and the windows on the west wall are high, so that a direct beam of sunlight washes over the congregation as the Ne’ilah service ends each Yom Kippur.
We are particularly pleased with our new ark: a perfect example of how a disaster can lead to great things. In 2008, Temple Beth Shalom suffered a roof leak that required the total removal of the former ark. Rod Gesten’s design for the new ark interior was inspired by the white oak and brass ark doors which, years ago, inspired the design of our Torah table, built by Bill Light. The twelve handmade stars that grace the ark’s tile backdrop were made by Kari Rives to echo the stars in the tile wall above it.
The high tile wall above the ark has its own story. Len Goodman, owner of Santa Fe’s famed Arius Tile, was originally engaged only to create the dedication wall in the foyer. Once installed, however, the gorgeous tile work in the entry made the sanctuary look drab. The interlocking pattern on the wall above the bima was inspired by Islamic tile work. Len says it took two weeks just to figure out the geometry of the pattern. The large Star of David in the center echoes the iron star that hangs above the Temple’s main entrance.
Above the ark is a stained glass ner tamid, eternal light, made by Bette Yozell, our current Board President. The Hebrew phrase, “It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it”, refers to the Torah. The motif of the tree intermingled with the Star of David reflects this quote from the psalms. The root system of the tree reminds us that we all need to be grounded in that which sustains us.
Our Temple Torahs are our treasures
The Las Vegas Scroll was probably the first Sefer Torah in New Mexico. When the Montefiore congregation in Las Vegas, NM, was dissolved, this precious Torah came to us for safekeeping. As the story goes, it was brought to New Mexico by wagon train. Despite its poor condition, the scroll is very rare and valuable due to its writing quality and its size. It may be a composite of several scrolls patched together with some Sefardic pieces incorporated into it. This Torah was a featured display at Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors during their “Pioneer Jews” exhibit.
The Holocaust Scroll -- Czech Memorial Scroll No. 426 came from the town of Mlada Boleslav and was written circa 1890. It served the Jewish community in Czechoslovakia for many years until the Nazi occupation in 1938/39. It has been on permanent loan to us from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, Westminster Synagogue, London, England, since October 17, 1989. The scroll serves as a memorial to the Jews of Czechoslovakia and a reminder that, despite the best efforts of the Nazis, the Jewish people survive and persevere. This scroll suffered severe damage and underwent extensive repair following our disastrous roof leak in 2008. The entire ark was ruined as well and was beautifully redesigned, restored and rededicated in 2009.
The Swartzberg Scroll Donated by Alan Swartzberg, a long-time supporter of the Temple Beth Shalom community. It was restored by Detroit Torah scribe, Rabbi Yosef Lange.
The Beck Scroll Donated June 12, 1988 by J. Howard Beck of Newton, Massachusetts.
Temple Beth Shalom Scroll Purchased in the 1960’s for the Santa Fe Jewish Community, this scroll was repaired in Denver by Rabbi Menachem Goldberger in 1986.
The Morrow Scroll Purchased in 2005 by our Rabbi Emeritus Ben Morrow in memory of Jeff Morrow and Bart Larzelere. It served a small community in Almaty, Kazakhstan, until 1939, when the entire Jewish community of Almaty moved to Isfahan, Iran. In 1990, with the help of a Jewish rescue agency, Mrs. Saiden and her children emigrated to Israel (via Pakistan and Switzerland) bringing this and six other Torahs with them. It is made of calfskin and was written by an Ashkenazi sofer in 1865. This latest acquisition is graced by a lovely Torah cover woven by congregant Lisa Trujillo.
How can Temple Beth Shalom meet my needs? OR What's in it for me?
From baby namings to funeral services, the benefits of Temple membership are numerous and varied. But the real benefit is community: as you are there for us, so we are there for you. Whether you come once a year for High Holy Days or share in our services every Shabbat, your membership makes you part of our Jewish family. Like any family, we will both delight and annoy you. What more could a Jew ask?
We will, of course, noodge you to celebrate with us on holidays, to educate your children in our preschool and religious school, to pursue adult learning, to volunteer your time, to support us and to live ethically in the world. In return, our Mitzvah Corps will help when you are ill, our Chevra Kadisha will be there for you in times of loss, and our Rabbi will offer you his strength and guidance when you need it.
What are my obligations? OR What's in it for TBS?
"These are the obligations whose reward is without measure." The words of our Shabbat prayer have special significance in this context. The Jewish community can survive only if every member supports it. Just as you take responsibility for our needs with your contributions, we in turn pledge to care about yours. We welcome your honesty with regard to your own financial situation. In our world, there is no such thing as "I can't afford to be a member." When it comes to money, there's always something to talk about. Come and have a conversation. Or give our administrator a call: she will be happy to send you a complete membership packet.
What if my spouse is not Jewish?
Welcome to the world of Reform Judaism! Of our 350 family units, easily one third are intermarried. We invite all interfaith families to participate fully in the life of our congregation and hope that they will decide to raise their children in the Jewish faith. There is more to be said on this subject than can be summarized here. If you have questions or concerns, please call us. Our doors are always open.
Can I join at any time?
Yes. The TBS fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. If you purchase tickets for High Holy Days at a non-member rate and then decide to join within 60 days, the cost of the tickets can be applied to your annual dues. Dues may be prorated depending on when you join.
What if Santa Fe is not my primary residence?
Those who live in Santa Fe or Northern New Mexico six months or less annually and do not consider Santa Fe or Northern New Mexico to be their primary residence and/or those who belong to another Jewish congregation at their primary residence are eligible for part-time membership. All the benefits and obligations of membership at half the cost, excepting only the right to vote at congregational meetings.
Can I receive the bulletin and adult education catalog without joining immediately?
$45 per year will put you on our mailing list. This is a great way to get to know us and a great way to keep in touch if you move away from Santa Fe. And you can subscribe to our weekly email for free. Just go to the home page and sign in.
What if I am like one of the four sons at Passover and I don't know what to ask?
In that case, be like the wise son. We know that every individual has a unique perspective that demands a unique answer. All of our staff members will be glad to arrange some "face time" -- just give us a call. We are available to answer your questions between 10 and 3, Mondays through Fridays, at (505) 982-1376. Or you can contact us through this website. Our doors are always open to visitors. We are located at 205 E. Barcelona Road in Santa Fe. Please consult our map page for more detailed directions.
Anything else I should know?
Well, we are members of the Union for Reform Judaism, the umbrella organization of the Reform Movement in Judaism. The URJ seeks to foster the vibrancy of Reform Judaism through Torah (lifelong Jewish education), avodah (worship), and gemilut chasadim (the pursuit of justice, peace, and deeds of loving-kindness). They support Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion which trains the rabbis, cantors, educators, and other professionals essential to our religious community. Finally, the URJ is supportive of the State of Israel and the Jewish people and works to develop Liberal Judaism worldwide under the auspices of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. In exchange, URJ member congregations are assessed dues in accordance with their size, their expenses, and the nature of their programs. As you support us, so we support them.
What is Temple Beth Shalom doing to insure its financial future?
Because we care deeply about our synagogue today, we have had the foresight to plan for tomorrow. The Temple Beth Shalom Foundation, a tax-exempt charitable organization, was established with the sole purpose of managing Temple Beth Shalom's endowment. It is a goal of the Foundation to create designated funds which will underwrite important areas of Temple life, such as rabbinic leadership, religious school, the community Passover seder, prayerbook acquisition, the maintenance of our Torahs, and adult education, to name but a few. We encourage you to consider the Foundation when doing estate planning.
For membership information, please call the Temple office at (505) 982-1376.
Still not ready to join? Subscribe to our Bulletin for $45 a year. And call and ask to have an adult education catalog sent out to you. Our courses are delicious.