The History of Congregation Beth Ami
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.
In 1955, Beth Ami was known for having fun on Purim, and we still do.
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.
- 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.
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.
Want to learn more about Congregation Beth Ami?
A brief description of the committees and their roles follows:
In conjunction with the Rabbi, determines the schedule and other details pertaining to the religious services and practices at Beth Ami. Encourage and develop higher levels of participation and skill in all matters of religious observance at the synagogue and in the home. Assists the Rabbi in implementing decisions of halacha and liturgy. Function of Religious Practices Committee
Chair Lee Feinstein
Sub Committee: Cemetery Committee
Supervises arrangements for members needs.
Subcommittee: Kitchen Committee
Encourages the use of the synagogue kitchen by and for congregants. Ensures that all users of the committee are familiar with synagogue policies regarding Kashrut, safety, hygiene and security. Seeks to establish a vibrant culinary community and provide rich and varied feasts for onegs, Kiddush luncheons, and other synagogue events.
Youth and Education
Creates and implements new classes and programs that encourage participation in Jewish learning.. Develops the schedules, engages the instructors, produces the publicity, and assumes all responsibility for the creation of new programs. Advises the Board and Staff on matters of program generation and execution.
Subcommittee: Nursery School
Works with the Nursery School director to develop, implement, and support school programs and activities.
Subcommittee: Religious School
Works with the Religious School Director to develop and support Religious School programs and activities
Subcommittee: Youth Activities Committee
Works with Youth Advisors to support youth programs and activities
Subcommittee: Adult Education
Works with Rabbi and staff to develop ongoing study courses, lectures and guest speakers
Welcomes new members to the synagogue, and acquaints them with various aspects of synagogue programs. Encourages unaffiliated Jews to consider joining the synagogue. Seeks out inactive members to renew their interest and participation in synagogue life. Interviews members who have recently left the synagogue, and discusses their comments with the Board. Advises the Board on policies that may impact the attraction and retention of members.
Subcommittee: Welcoming Committee
May supplement the Board as greeters at Shabbat services. May provide a table with information for visitors to our synagogue. Assures that visitors are noticed, introduced, and made to feel at home. Follows up, where possible, with visitors.
Actively engages congregants (who wish to be included) in existing Chaverot, and creates new Chaverot as members request. Communicates guidelines for choosing a Chavurah. Reviews existing guidelines for membership and programming, and makes suggestions as appropriate.
Subcommittee: Chesed Committee
Supervises the well being synagogue members in times of need and difficulty. May visit the sick, visit the physically and socially challenged, and may assist and comfort in times of bereavement, family illness, or other need.
Budget and Finance
Oversees and reports on the fiscal health of the congregation. The Committee reviews the monthly balance sheets, profit and loss statement and the department detail reports, reviews the draft budget compiled and prepared by Executive Director and makes recommendations to the board. The budget and finance committee also works with the bookkeeper and CBA office staff on maintaining proper accounting procedure.
Organizes fundraising for capital improvements and their associated finances.
Fund Raising, Development, and Special Events
Responsible for organizing and coordinating activities to generate revenue for operation and endowment, consistent with the values of the synagogue. Supervises the Gift Shop
Fundraising and Special Events Committee
Plans and organizes special events designed for community building and fundraising.
Subcommittee: Gift Shop
Stocks and supervises the gift shop.
Israel Affairs Committee
The Israel Affairs Committee has a CLEAR mission to:
Communicate with the community regarding Israel-related and Masorti issues,
Learn more about current affairs related to Israel, including the Masorti movement,
Educate the community about Israel, including the Masorti movement,
Act positively to provide a love of the Jewish State and
React in response to political anti-Semitism.
Building and Grounds
Responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of synagogue-owned buildings and grounds, Advises the Board on matters of insurance coverage, renovations, repairs, possible economies in utility usage, and long term capital improvements. Supervises renovations and construction projects.
Subcommittee : Aesthetics and Décor
Supervises the décor of the synagogue.
Subcommittee : Security
Supervises security issues for the synagogue.
Develops programs to further the commitment to the entire extended Jewish Community, and to Israel. Organizes social and political action consistent with our Jewish values. Develops positive relations with the general community
Establishes policies for employment at CBA: provides leadership in hiring and terminating employees, including Rabbi and Executive Director; establishes vehicles and timetables for annual reviews of all employees; creates and updates employee handbook.
Leadership Development/ Board Operations
Develops and administers training programs for synagogue leadership roles. Supervises Board Trainings for new Board members. Monitors compliance with current By-Laws, and recommends By-Laws changes when appropriate. Functions as the parliamentarian at Board meetings. Acts as the Nominating Committee for elections.
Supervises the synagogue web page. Makes suggestions for web page changes, and supervises their implementation. Develops, as appropriate, suggestions for on line resources and on line learning. Supervises the Cyber Shul and the Shofar. Assists other committees and organizers in carrying out their publicity for CBA events, both to the Sonoma County Jewish Community, and the General Community.
Subcommittee: Web guru
Oversees the operation of the library. Encourages appropriate use of the library. Supervises the use of library supplies and materials, including computer and on-line sources. Supervises the recruiting and training of volunteer staff. Advises the Board on all issues relating to the library
Friedman Center Board Chair: Bill Friedman
Guides and Checklists for Organizing Events
To help events or programs run smoothly, the office now has a Program and Event Planning Guide.
CBA Program and Event Planning Guide
CBA Publicity Guidelines
CBA Cleanup Guidelines
CBA Equipment Use Guidelines
CBA set-up form
Guidelines for using the kitchen