Ramot Shalom is an exciting and entrepreneurial Reform Community in the southern city of Be’er Sheva. It is the first of its kind in the Negev, with its members coming from near and far, to experience prayer in a pluralistic setting. Ramot Shalom was started in order to provide an alternative vision to the Jewish people living in Israel and in the Negev region: a vision of peace, dialogue, openness and acceptance.
The community is now in the stage of rapid growth. Its first service took place on Yom Kippur in 2014 with 150 people in attendance. The congregation then decided to have weekly Shabbat services and an operating community centre throughout the week. Ramot Shalom is currently seeking to develop its community in several ways. First, the community is looking to form a weekly Jewish and Arab Beit Midrash for Jewish and Muslim scholars seeking peaceful communication and discussion. It is also hoping to move into a suitable physical space, as its current location is only 60 square metres in size. Its aim is to further develop the parent-child centre and to offer more classes and to provide support for children with special needs.
In Israel where 80% of the population identifies themselves as secular Jews, Temple Sinai is building bridges in the Ramot Shalom community in Be’er Sheva and helping to strengthen the Reform Jewish identity there. Thanks to the generosity of Jeffery & Tatjana Singer and the Israel Special Projects Fund, Temple Sinai was able to start this partnership in 2012 with a new gan. This union has blossomed, and in 2014, Temple members visited Be’er Sheva and presented a cheque for additional funds during the 60th anniversary mission to Israel.
The coordinator of the Be’er Sheva community initiative is Naomi Efrat, who is connecting secular Jews and promoting Reform Judaism in what she sees as essential to the future of Israel. Naomi is concerned about the lack of community involvement and feels that the answer lies in the Reform movement.
Naomi, who has been working toward bringing community together for over 15 years, believes that Reform Judaism is ideologically attuned to our ever-changing, fast-paced, modern society and promotes open-minded dialogue, understanding and social action.
Temple Sinai is fortunate to be able to offer a multitude of inclusive, accessible, and innovative programs to its members, which are not normally offered in Naomi’s community. She has been working to change that by connecting members there to a number of different spiritual and learning opportunities. Temple Sinai’s support has been used in a variety of new ways:
- Creating a community Shabbat dinner for those who would normally eat alone on Friday evening.
- Initiating lectures series for the adult community on relevant issues including the LGBTQ community and Holocaust remembrance with a Holocaust survivor.
- Providing opportunities for families to come together through play and learn services and an expanded parent-child centre.
- Offering activities like yoga and pilates with a meditative component that creates an understanding of Jewish tradition through experience.
- Connecting and supporting other communities, for example initiating a conversation with a Bedouin village after a terror attack.
Temple Sinai is excited to be a part of this dynamic, evolving environment and is partnering to create a new voice in Israel through the Reform ideals that it so strongly embraces. Our support can make a tremendous difference and ensure that our traditions and culture that were created thousands of years ago will remain alive for generations to come.
The first cover was created by the children of our congregation to be used by Ramot Shalom at family and children’s services. The primary Torah cover was created by Temma Gentles using a verse from the Tanakh.
Learn more about Ramot Shalom
Temple Sinai has the opportunity to participate in the new and changing world in Be’er Sheva.
On this page, you will find updates and pictures from Ramot Shalom, visits from Be’er Sheva and new and exciting opportunities to be a part of this wonderful community. If you would like to get involved, please contact us.
We hope you will join us on this journey!