Who We Are
TBZ is an independent, inclusive Jewish congregation whose members of all ages are committed to each other, to joyful participatory worship, to meaningful Jewish learning, spiritual growth and acts of social justice.
Unaffiliated But Engaged
People often ask us, “What kind of temple are you?” The answer they expect is one of the denominational labels — orthodox, conservative, reform, reconstructionist, and/or renewal. Our answer often surprises: “We are just Jewish.” TBZ is an independent Jewish congregation dedicated to spiritual awareness, Jewish continuity and questioning, social action, a relationship with the State of Israel, and community.
We steep ourselves in Jewish traditions and operate with a coherent, joyous Judaism enriched by borrowings from the Orthodox, Hasidic, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal movements.
Key to our practice is engagement, both in the tradition and in how that tradition must change, thoughtfully, in response to changing times. The Judaism we practice is flexible but principled, community centered but alert, always, to the ways we can serve others.
An Unorthodox Shul
How is our shul different than many other synagogues? We are a relaxed place. We laugh a lot. We instill a spirit of joy and inquiry into everything we do. We are a community of seekers, of people who do not comfortably fit into neat categories of Judaism, of people who have long experience with other spiritual paths and find, to their delight, that they can achieve fulfillment within their own Jewish tradition without denigrating or negating the experiences they bring with them. TBZ is a place to find oneself.
Along with the commitment to passing on traditional forms of Judaism, we constantly try to introduce innovative and creative means of expression. TBZ is not a shul for everyone. We are not hierarchical. If you need the president sitting on the bima; if you need the trappings of solemnity; if you feel that Jews must dress divinely to explore the Divine, TBZ may not be the place for you. We do not confuse solemnity and seriousness. Because we are a young congregation, we are not rigid. We are not locked into ritual behaviors, and we do not lock people out. Our members bring themselves, fully, into our community, and they tend to take TBZ with them into the world.
Our Diverse Shtetl
We think of our community as a diverse shtetl, a modern incarnation of those vibrant Old World villages, towns and centers of learning which nurtured and evolved our Jewish heritage. Today, our shtetl is populated by an extraordinary mix of passionate people, including singles and those on single-life paths, alongside newly-married and longtime couples; college students; families with young children; single parents; elders; spiritual seekers; GLBT Jews; Jews by choice; and interfaith and multi-cultural families.
Our members come from a wide variety of spiritual- and life-paths. Some of us were raised in observant families. For others, TBZ is the first shul we have ever joined. Our weekly services are populated by former twice-a-year-Jews — men and women who, after b’nai mitzvah, attended services only on the High Holy Days. . . until they discovered Temple Beth Zion. Others among us had regularly attended synagogues, dutifully (if passively) following along in the prayer books, reading responsively and standing when asked, only to discover that something — anything; everything! — was missing. But at TBZ, as one of our members has noted, “I have found connection, authenticity, home. . . .”