Temple Emanuel and Congregation M’kor Shalom, two Reform Jewish synagogues in Cherry Hill, NJ, will unify to form one new congregation effective July 1, 2022. The unification decision, approved by both congregations during meetings held Monday, January 24, comes after nearly 16 months of discussions and planning on both sides.
The new Reform Congregation, currently unnamed, will be housed in the current Temple Emanuel building, at the corner of Springdale and Kresson Roads in Cherry Hill, directly across the street from the Katz JCC. Rabbi Jennifer L. Frenkel will be the Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Jerome P. David will be the Rabbi Emeritus, Cantor Rhoda J. Harrison will be the Senior Cantor, Cantor Neil Schnitzer will be the Cantor Sheini, and Cantor Anita Hochman will be the Cantor Emerita. All clergy from both individual synagogues are being retained by the new synagogue to continue as their spiritual leaders.
In early discussions, Temple Emanuel and M’kor Shalom discovered many similarities, shared values, and complementing strengths and challenges. Unifying presents a unique opportunity to build a stronger Reform Jewish community in Southern New Jersey. While both synagogues are strong, membership at each has decreased over the years, creating a need for long-term strategic planning. This unification establishes a new path together by honoring the ideals and accomplishments of those who laid the foundation at these two established congregations.
“We are standing at the threshold of an incredibly exciting opportunity!” said Rabbi Frenkel on the unification. “At a time when we see the landscape of Judaism and synagogues change around us, we are bringing together our collective strengths to create a community that infuses the deep roots of our past with a boldness to grow and envision a new path forward as we lead the way into the future.
“I look forward to partnering with our clergy, staff, leadership team, and members of our new synagogue family as we take this next step, committed to inspiring generations of our families as a synagogue community through engaging together in study, prayer, and making a difference in the world. And being a sacred place where we can find a heightened and transformative sense of meaning, purpose, and connection wherever we find ourselves on our life-journey.”
Both synagogue presidents shared their appreciation of the decision to move forward.
“I am so happy that both congregations committed to sharing their collective strengths to create a powerful and enduring Reform synagogue in South Jersey for generations to come,” said David Chasen, President of Temple Emanuel. This has already been a long process to get us to this point, with much work still to be done. I want to thank everyone from both synagogues who has and will participate in this sacred work.”
Sharing his enthusiasm, Drew Molotsky, President of M’kor Shalom added, “I could not be more excited about the formation of this new and vibrant congregation. Building on the strong traditions of both M’kor Shalom and Temple Emanuel, we now have the opportunity to innovate and strengthen our community for many years to come. Under the guidance of Rabbi Frenkel, I look forward to continuing to work with the dedicated leadership and congregants of Temple Emanuel to combine our strengths and make this a new home for South Jersey’s Reform Jews in the years to come.”
Temple Emanuel and M’kor Shalom are both part of the URJ, Union for Reform Judaism. For more information on Temple Emanuel, visit www.TempleEmanuel.org. For more information on M’kor Shalom, visit www.MkorShalom.org.