ANDOVER — A new, unaffiliated congregation that will focus on community and music will open this summer in the Merrimack Valley.
The new temple will be called Congregation Ahavat Olam, which in Hebrew translates to “eternal love.” It will be led by Rabbi Idan Irelander, who spent the last 20 years as the cantor and musical director at Temple Emanuel in Andover. Irelander, a native of Israel, originally came to Boston to study music, and holds a degree from Berklee College of Music. He received his cantorial ordination from Hebrew College, and his rabbinical ordination from the Academy of Jewish Religion.
“I am so excited to serve as the founding rabbi of Congregation Ahavat Olam, a vibrant place where everyone is welcome and appreciated for who they are,” said Irelander, whose wife, Einat is also Israeli. Idan and Einat have two children.
“I have always felt that by classifying different streams in Judaism, we create an artificial division among Jews. At Congregation Ahavat Olam, we practice one Judaism that transcends any single denomination, one that unites people with varying identities and celebrates the best our tradition has to offer. After all, our people share one Judaism, one God, one Torah, and one family.
“B’nai Mitzvah students are dear to my heart. I am excited to be able to continue working one on one with our students, build individualized curriculums that fit each student best and give them the tools to be successful and proud during their big day.”
According to its founders, Congregation Ahavat Olam will be a welcoming and inclusive congregation, void of bias. “We believe in community, spirituality, inclusivity, and growth. Our members display their spirituality in various ways, but our commitment to each other, Judaism, and God shows us that we all belong,” the new congregation wrote on its website, ahavatolam4all.org.
“Rabbi Idan is the spiritual leader our community needs now. Rabbi Idan’s fresh energy, his compassionate pastoral connection with children and adults alike, and his extraordinary musical talent will serve as our shul’s most attractive draw,” said Marc Freedman, the congregation’s founding president. “I am so excited to meet our newest members and introduce them to a community where we can share the oys and joys together.”
For more information about upcoming events, visit ahavatolam4all.org.