MAY 24, 2018 – Nine synagogues in Greater Boston spanning all movements were selected to become Congregational Partners of the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project, collaboration between Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston’s Jewish Federation, and the Ruderman Family Foundation.
Together, they are working to create communities where people of all abilities are welcomed and participate fully. The synagogues are Young Israel of Brookline; Temple Emanu-El of Marblehead; Temple Israel of Natick; Temple Aliyah of Needham; Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel and Temple Reyim of Newton; Temple Sinai of Sharon; Temple Emmanuel of Wakefield; and Temple Beth David of Westwood.
The congregations were recognized at a community event on May 15 at Temple Emanuel in Newton. Former Governor and First Lady, Michael and Kitty Dukakis, participated in a panel discussion about the importance of destigmatizing mental illness and how to best support individuals and families affected by mental health issues.
The Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project provides partner synagogues with funding and other resources to support innovative programs, improvements, or training to become more welcoming and inclusive. Since its inception four years ago, the project has grown from three to 40 participating congregations.
The Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project crosses denominations, bringing rabbis from all streams of Judaism together to collaborate and identify significant action to make Jewish life more inclusive.
“The impact of the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project has been incredible,” said Sharon Shapiro, trustee and director of the Ruderman Family Foundation Boston office. “Through this work, we have infused inclusion into dozens of synagogues, touching the lives of thousands of families. We have worked with congregations that are big and small, that represent all denominations, and that span the Greater Boston area.
“We are delighted to focus now on mental health and are thrilled to see synagogue leaders and community members embrace the issue. With this work, synagogues are fulfilling their potential to be vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive for all.”
Rabbi Greg Hersh of Temple Emmanuel of Wakefield added: “While we all can agree that being a caring, loving, accepting community is a wonderful goal, RSIP has shown us that it’s about much more than smiles and warm greetings. Our work with RSIP has helped us to make Temple Emmanuel of Wakefield a comfortable home for anyone who desires to enter.”
Rabbi David J. Meyer of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead echoed those thoughts. “The members of Temple Emanu-El are intentional, creative, and eager in our pursuit of inclusivity,” he said. “As expressed in our prayer book, ‘Mishkan Tefila’: ‘May the door to this synagogue be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for fellowship. May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture.’”
Six congregations who are in various stages of their inclusion efforts will join the project as affiliates. They include: Temple B’nai Abraham of Beverly; Moishe Kavod House of Jamaica Plain; Temple Kol Tikvah of Sharon; Temple Beth Israel of Waltham; and Temple Shir Tikva of Wayland. Affiliates are added to the program on a rolling basis.