Reform Leader to Speak at Har Sinai’s Anniversary Year Finale

Har Sinai, the nation’s oldest continuously Reform congregation, has been located at 2905 Walnut Ave. since 2002. (Provided)

For the past 175 years, Owings Mills’ Har Sinai Congregation has held a special place in the history of the Reform community.

On May 11, the temple – the nation’s oldest continuously Reform congregation — will cap off a yearlong anniversary celebration with a special Shabbat service officiated by the synagogue’s Rabbi Linda Joseph, Rabbi Emeritus Floyd L. Herman and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

“It’s inspiring for me to be visiting this congregation,” says Rabbi Jacobs. “Anyone who has studied Reform Judaism has studied Har Sinai. I’m excited to celebrate the past and see where the congregation is today.

“But even more then the past and present, I’m looking forward to hearing about the future,” he says.

Linda Joseph

Rabbi Linda Joseph of Har Sinai: “Bringing in the president of the URJ to mark this momentous occasion seems fitting.” (Provided)

Among the events over the past year celebrating the milestone was an anniversary dinner last November recognizing four congregants for their longtime support — Rabbi Herman; Dr. Jay A. Perman, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Dr. David and Nancy Posner, supporters of the Posner Judaic Education Magnet at Har Sinai.

Founded as the Har Sinai Verein (Society) in 1842 by 17 young men of German Jewish origins and chartered the following year, Har Sinai held its first services at Union Hall in East Baltimore. The first regular religious services were held in the S. Exeter Street residence of department store owner Moses Hutzler.Among the events over the past year celebrating the milestone was an anniversary dinner last November recognizing four congregants for their longtime support — Rabbi Herman; Dr. Jay A. Perman, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Dr. David and Nancy Posner, supporters of the Posner Judaic Education Magnet at Har Sinai.

Har Sinai’s first temple was located on N. High Street and later on W. Lexington Street, and the congregation’s first spiritual leader was Rabbi David Einhorn. Famously, Rabbi Einhorn was run out of Baltimore at the start of the Civil War for his publicly stated anti-slavery sentiments.

From 1894 to 1959, Har Sinai was located at Bolton and Wilson streets before moving to its iconic domed building in the Upper Park Heights community. The congregation has been located in Owings Mills, at 2905 Walnut Ave., since 2002.

Last fall, the leaderships of Har Sinai and Temple Oheb Shalom announced they were exploring the idea of a merger.

Har Sinai currently has a membership of approximately 300 families and individuals. The temple has been affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism since that organization was founded in 1873.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism: “Anyone who has studied Reform Judaism has studied Har Sinai.” (Wikipedia)

“The congregation began its life as a URJ congregation and is the longest continuing congregation to be a part of the URJ,” says Rabbi Joseph, who became Har Sinai’s senior spiritual leader in 2016. “Bringing in the president of the URJ to mark this momentous occasion seems fitting. Additionally, the congregation was created for religious purposes, so to end our celebrations with a religious service makes sense.”

Open to the public, the Shabbat celebration service is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. with the dedication of the congregation’s new Torah cover, which depicts the four buildings occupied by Har Sinai since its inception.

During the service, Rabbi Jacobs will be accompanied by the donor of the Torah cover as well as children from Har Sinai’s religious school.

“Having our kids involved in this service is wonderful because they are the future,” says Rabbi Joseph. “Having the children sing and be part of the service with Rabbi Jacobs and the congregation means we aren’t only honoring our past but also what is to come in the next generation.”

Following the service, attendees are invited to a Shabbat dinner catered by Martin’s West. The dinner costs $17.50 per adult and is free for children under 13.

 

Har Sinai’s first temple building was located at 148-150 N. High Street, between Fayette and Low streets.

“This service and dinner will reinforce the significance of our 175th anniversary and our commitment of service to the Reform movement in the Baltimore Jewish community,” says David Carp, co-chair of the 175th celebrations. “Not only has Har Sinai Congregation been involved in the Reform community, it has been involved in the community at large with various social action programs for the betterment of the entire community. Our congregation is proud of our past and excited for our future.”There will also be a variety of activities for children while Rabbi Jacobs discusses Har Sinai’s membership in the URJ in a talk titled, “Reimagining Reform Jewish Life in the 21st Century.”

It’s members like Carp — whose family has belonged at Har Sinai for 45 years — that Rabbi Jacobs is looking forward to interacting with during his visit.

“I want to meet the people who love this congregation and are committed to its success,” Rabbi Jacobs says. “I want to share with them the strength of the Reform movement in North America, Israel and around the world, express how much we appreciate them and how important these congregants are to our movement.”

For information, visit harsinai-md.org.

Aliza Friedlander is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.

Source: https://www.jmoreliving.com/2018/05/03/reform-leader-to-speak-at-har-sinais-anniversary-year-finale/

A NEW TORAH COVER WILL BE DEDICATED AT THE EVENT. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Har Sinai 175th Celebrations Close with Gala, Rabbi Rick Jacobs

A NEW TORAH COVER WILL BE DEDICATED AT THE EVENT. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

A NEW TORAH COVER WILL BE DEDICATED AT THE EVENT. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Har Sinai Congregation in Owings Mills is holding the final event of its 175th anniversary celebrations with a special Shabbat service and catered dinner Friday, May 11, with music by Chai-Jinx and cantors Robert Gerber and Rhoda Harrison. Union of Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs is slated as guest speaker.

Jacobs will co-lead the service with Har Sinai Rabbi Linda Joseph and Rabbi Emeritus Floyd Herman. A new Torah cover embroidered with images of the four buildings that have housed the historic congregation will be dedicated.

More than 100 people are expected to attend the event, where Jacobs will deliver a talk, “Reimagining Reform Judaism in the 21st Century.”

“I look forward to being with Har Sinai Congregation to commemorate its 175th anniversary,” Jacobs said via email. “As the oldest consistently Reform congregation in America and the home of some of Reform Judaism’s greatest historical leaders, including Rabbi David Einhorn, Har Sinai Congregation has had an impressive history and I look forward to all that’s in store for the community.”

RABBI RICK JACOBS (PHOTO PROVIDED)

“Our 175th anniversary service will be an opportunity for our community to gather together, to celebrate who we are, to think about who we could be, to sing, to dance, to enjoy and to learn,” Joseph said via email. “The presence of Rabbi Rick Jacobs will actualize our dedication not just to the Union for Reform Judaism but also our commitment to creating a continuous and vital Reform Jewish presence here in Baltimore.”Joseph said the event will commemorate the congregation’s forebears, while looking to its future, as the congregation explores a merger with another of Baltimore’s historic reform congregations, Temple Oheb Shalom.

Temple administrator Valerie Thaler hopes people come away from the event feeling even closer to their Judaism.

“I hope they will feel connected to something much larger than themselves — a specific institution and spiritual community that have navigated through eight generations of Jewish life in America,” Thaler said via email. “I would also love for them to feel motivated to get more involved in our congregational life as a result.”

For more information, visit harsinai-md.org/product/final-175th-anniversary-service.

singram@midatlanticmedia.com