BEIT CHAVERIM…a house of friends.
Beit Chaverim was founded in 2004 by a group of friends searching for a
spiritual home. We started with only a few families. We met in each others’
living rooms. During our first year we found a home in a basement of a friend’s
office building. That is where we conducted our lay-led services from a
photo-copied paperback prayer pamphlet and home-schooled our eight religious
school age children. They have all become bar or bat mitzvahs.
During our second year three of our members built our own Aron Kodesh for our
newly acquired Torah scroll. Each member of the congregation, young and old,
learned how to read a line or two of Torah for our dedication service on Shavuot
that second year of our existence. We experienced a “Sinai Moment” in the
basement, and we all marveled at how we as a community of Jews were reliving an
Exodus experience. By doing in the tradition of our ancestors, we brought
Judaism alive for our children who were in that Place.
During the third year of our existence, Congregation B’nai Tzedek and
Congregation Beit Chaverim discovered one another. Our friends at B’nai Tzedek
had a beautiful light-filled sanctuary on Kugler Mill Road, but not a rabbi;
Beit Chaverim had access to a rabbi through Hebrew Union College. In 2006, Beit
Chaverim and B’nai Tzedek entered into a collaboration which has changed the
face of modern Judaism in Cincinnati forever. Now a historically Conservative
congregation, B’nai Tzedek, and a newly formed Reform congregation have joined
in a post-denominational association sharing space, spiritual leadership and
Jewish education, all the while retaining their own identities. Differences in
approach are simply viewed as learning opportunities.
Beit Chaverim takes great pride in offering educational opportunities for all
age groups. Moreover, some of our most effective programming has al of us
learning together, sharing experiences of the young and old as one family.
Our community services projects in recent years have included Operation Warm-Up,
People Working Cooperatively, Cedar Village Volunteer Programs and the
Over-The–Rhine Soup Kitchen.
Our family oriented worship services are held in the round, with participation
by young and old, in Hebrew and English. Casual pot-luck meals, before services,
provide ample opportunity for everyone to get to know one another, to share the
week’s triumphs and disappointments, and simply to be comforted by the presence
of friends and familiar rituals. By the end of each service, most always,
Shabbat peace has been rediscovered.