Congregation Beth Israel, the Valley’s oldest reform congregation, is celebrating its centennial year with various special events and programs throughout the upcoming year.
Founded in 1920, the synagogue had plans to celebrate its 100th year throughout 2020. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, the board of directors delayed the celebrations until the time it could be done safely in-person, according to a press release.
CBI announced the centennial kickoff at a special Shabbat service held on Friday, Oct. 22 at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 2nd Street and Culver in downtown Phoenix. Built in 1921, the historic landmark was the original location of Temple Beth Israel, as CBI was known at the time.
“It was the perfect location to begin our year-long celebration and bring to life the plans we’ve been discussing for the past couple years,” said Julie Hymovitch, president of the board of directors, in the release.
As part of the year-long celebration, CBI commissioned the writing of a Torah. Through a series of writing events, members of the congregation will have an opportunity to serve as “sofer” or scribe, using quill and ink to complete letters that will be a part of this one-of-a-kind scroll, the release said.
“Writing a new Torah is the fulfillment of Mitzvah #613, the very last Mitzvah in the Torah,” said Rabbi Stephen Kahn in the release. “It is one of the highest levels of Jewish giving and is a central part of our centennial year.”
The Centennial Torah Project kicked off at an event held from 10 to 11 a.m., on Sunday, Oct. 31 in the Courtyard at CBI. The opening ceremony included music, a generational passing of the Torah, brief remarks from Congressman David Schweikert and city of Scottsdale Vice Mayor Tammy Caputi, and blessings from CBI clergy, noted the release.
“In addition to our Torah Project, there will be a variety of events scheduled throughout the coming year,” said Hymovitch in the release. “Lectures, learning sessions, community service projects and of course, a centennial gala are just a few of the opportunities for our members to celebrate our centennial.”
As a center of Jewish life in the Valley of the Sun since 1920, Congregation Beth Israel is a Reform Jewish Congregation in Scottsdale, serving more than 700 families and the community. CBI welcomes visitors and guests to weekly, uplifting Shabbat services and programs throughout the year.
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