Beth Chaverim celebrates 40th anniversary

December 15, 2022

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Happiness was overflowing on Sunday, November 6 as current and former members of Congregation Beth Chaverim gathered at the Sandler Family Campus to celebrate the congregation’s 40th anniversary with food, drink, an abundance of hugs, smiles, laughter, and memoires.

Chad Bornstein, president of Congregation Beth Chaverim since 2019, said he was “very honored to work with so many dedicated members who serve on the board of directors and as officers of the congregation.

“I continue to appreciate the dedication shown by the members of CBC, working Bingo for many years to fund the construction of the building, working hard to expand the building, and then fighting to keep the building,” he said. “They did then and continue to do now what we have to do.”

Bornstein took a moment to recount the congregation’s history.

Beth Chaverim started in 1982 with the Levy, Meyer, Feldman, Bass, and Nudleman families. They met in each other’s homes and then in area churches. With community support, the growing congregation built a temple on Stoneshore Road in Virginia Beach, which was its home until 2018. The congregation now meets in Temple Emanuel’s social hall each Friday for services that are also broadcast on Zoom. Once a month the congregation has a short worship then meets at a local restaurant for dinner and drinks.

Bornstein credited Cantorial Soloist Jim Hibberd as “the glue that continues to hold this all together. Without his wonderful music each week we could not continue. His music brings us all together each Friday night and his many roles at High Holidays are immeasurable.”

The congregation continues to have a choir on High Holidays, other holidays, and special events, which Kat Sinclair-Fenter directs.

For the celebration, Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell, Beth Chaverim’s first rabbi, wrote:

“My thoughts went back to that first High Holidays together in the Methodist Church, the first Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation class later that year. Whenever we spoke about doing something, people came forward with ways to make whatever it was happen. We made Havdalah candles on hot plates at our campsite overlooking the ocean when we camped out and did a sunrise service in the morning. The founding families and those who followed brought positive energy and a can-do attitude. We used to have a second Oneg after the Oneg Shabbat in a restaurant on Friday nights for everyone who was setting up and breaking down the spaces for services and our social gatherings.

“I was honored to be part of the early journey of the Beth Chaverim”.

“Synagogues are and will continue to be the center of Jewish life in America,” continued Bornstein. “During times when we are seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism, it is more important that we support and sustain the only Reform synagogue in Virginia Beach as a center for Jewish life.”

Acknowledging there are many things that make Beth Chaverim special, Bornstein said, “We remain a close-knit community where people can come as they are, and a community that values life-long learning, innovative approaches to Jewish spirituality, creativity, and tikkun olam—healing the world. That’s what draws people to us from diverse Jewish backgrounds, Conservative, Reform, and non-affiliated.

“As we continue into our 40th year, we think back to our accomplishments and who was there to help us, parents, family, friends, our community,” he said.

“Your support of the legacy of Beth Chaverim keeps us moving towards the future.”

-Staff report


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