Our Story

The History of Congregation Beth Ami

Beth Ami, Purim 1955, from Evelyn Gurevitch

In 1955, Beth Ami was known for having fun on Purim, and we still do.

CONGREGATION BETH AMI was incorporated as the religious congregation of the Santa Rosa Jewish Community Center in 1943. The institution sought to embody and promote the totality of Jewish life in Santa Rosa. Jews were a small minority of the overall population and Beth Ami was indeed the “center” of their Jewish lives. They would come together to worship at the Synagogue, share life’s joys and sorrows, entertain each other and work, play and relax there. We are fortunate to still have many of these “old-timers” as members.

Since then, the community has grown. In 1962, we acquired the present campus property and in 1963, dedicated the Synagogue building. For many years the small, but committed membership stretched to the limit to keep the Synagogue alive. At times a rabbi was affordable. At other times, our members used their skills to serve that role for the community. Sonoma County began to boom at the end of the 70’s and early 80’s. The local Jewish population and membership at Beth Ami kept pace. The Nursery School was begun in 1978. The Religious School grew, and in 1985 the new classroom wing was dedicated. Inspired by the growth of the congregation and concerned for its future, Benny, Rosemary and Joe Friedman donated the Friedman Center in 1987.

Our Mission, Values, Purpose

A kehilla that is open, where relationships matter

Congregation Beth Ami enriches our lives, transforms our hearts, helps heal the world and sustains our Jewish heritage. We are deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and welcome all to our community for celebration, learning, education and prayer.

Our Values

  • Teshuvah (return): We value the opportunity, through careful attention to our lives, to make every moment meaningful and to increasingly avoid harmful acts.
  • Tzedakah (generosity): We value the opportunity to use our wealth and resources to benefit other people.
  • Gemilut Chesed (acts of loving kindness): We value the opportunity to perform acts of loving kindness through speech and deed.
  • Talmud Torah (prayer and learning): We value the insight and inspiration we get through the study of our sacred texts and our people’s culture.
  • Mishpacha (family and community): We value the strength that our congregants derive from forming relationships with each other and sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows.
  • Hagim and Simchot (celebration): We value the opportunities to mark together the passage of time, the changes of seasons, the continuing story of our people and the cycles of our own lives.
  • Tikkun Olam (repairing the world): We rejoice in the role we play in helping to make the world an ever better place.
  • K’vod Habriyot (care for the earth): We value our responsibility as God’s stewards to protect and preserve all life on Earth.
  • Eretz and Am Yisrael (the people and land of Israel): We value our participation in the unfolding history of our people, rich in culture, diverse in practice and bound through time by the Hebrew language. We are inspired by the challenge of creating a Jewish state that strives to express the truest values of our people and provides refuge for all Jews.
  • Kehillah Kadosha (holy community): We are humbled and heartened that through the concrete expression of all our values we can indeed create a community in which holiness can be expressed and brought into the world.

Our Purpose

The purpose of this organization is to foster the growth and fuller expression of Jewish life in our community by:

  • Nurturing Jewish culture, heritage and family life.
  • Providing intellectual stimulation and ongoing Jewish education.
  • Integrating Jewish law and ritual into modern life.
  • Seeking spiritual and religious experiences.
  • Developing a sense of community by working together while acknowledging and encouraging our diversity.
  • Welcoming and inviting non-Jewish partners.
  • Meeting social, recreational and human needs of people in all life stages.
  • Developing commitment to extended Jewish community and Israel.
  • Developing Jewish social conscience as a stimulus to social and political action.
  • Developing positive relations with the general community.
  • Providing and maintaining facilities and programs to accomplish these aims.