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OUR ROOTS

CBH was founded in 1994 by 27 households.  Meeting first in people's homes and then in local churches, the original group soon grew to over 40 households, and decisions needed to be made:  Where would we settle?  Would we affiliate with a movement within Judaism and, if so, which one?  What would we do about a rabbi?

Under the leadership of our first president, Bob Max, the group set us on the path to becoming who we are.  First, we voted to affiliate with the Reconstructionist movement, attracted by its commitment to egalitarian and democratic principles, its respectful yet intellectually honest take on tradition, and its deep sense of spirituality and humanity. 

Then, we needed a physical home.  Although most of the original members had roots in a reform synagogue in Summit, we decided to move our fledgling community to nearby Chatham, a town with a history and reputation for bias against Jews, but also with a healthy Jewish minority.  It seemed important to establish an institutional Jewish presence in Chatham and take on the challenge of building bridges with the Christian majority.  

Our very first service was held at Corpus Christi, the Catholic Church on Southern Boulevard, but it was the Presbyterian congregation next door that ended up being our first home.  Although we were somewhat restricted as to the space we could use and the times we could use it, we were grateful to have any space at all.  We settled into town, with the help of welcoming clergy such as Skip Vilas, pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and president of the Interfaith Council.  Within a few months we'd opened our religious school, with Nancy Hersh as our master teacher. From that beginning we've remained committed to the idea that kids should associate Judaism with fun, friends, and being part of a supportive community.  

After that we sped through developmental milestones:  our first part-time rabbi (Brian Field), our first fully functional space with access to classrooms, kitchen, storage (the Friends Meeting House), our first full-time rabbi (Amy Small), and, eventually, our own building.  In 2014 Rabbi Hannah Orden became our spiritual leader, bringing her enthusiasm and joy to our midst.  And now we just keep pushing from strength to strength and from generation to generation.  We hope you'll make the journey with us.  

Tue, July 16 2019 13 Tammuz 5779