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Strengthening KBY congregations makes progressive Judaism more accessible to the vast majority of Israelis who yearn for an alternative to the orthodox approach to Judaism.


Contributing to KBY makes a positive statement to Israel about the value, validity and authenticity of progressive Judaism by strengthening and empowering the 50+ Reform and Conservative kehillot in Israel.

Voja's Bat Mitzvah
A very special Shabbat

Rabbi Tamar Kolberg
94 Pardess Meshutaf Street
43576 Ra'anana  Israel
Phone:  011-972-9-7740311
E-mail: kehilat-raanan@bezeqint.net

Kehilat Ra’anan has committed itself to effecting social change in the spirit of Progressive Judaism within Israeli society.

Kehilat Ra’anan is an IMPJ congregation founded 18 years ago in Israel’s Sharon plain.  Several years ago the congregation moved to it’s new exquisite home in Ra’anana, The Samueli Center for Progressive Judaism.

Thanks to the indefatigable leadership of Rabbi Tamar Kolberg, the congregation is making an impact on the overwhelming secular community of Ra’anana way beyond the number of people on its membership list. The ratio is impressive: for every one of the 80 member families of Kehilat Ra’anan, five non-member families receive a service or have some sort of need met as part of the congregation’s Outreach program. 5:1 is quite a hefty ratio for a congregation that is still in the “developing” stage.

A very special Shabbat at Kehilat Ra'anan - January 28th 2006, or
about the multi colored strands of modern Judaism

The greatest impact perhaps, in terms of numbers, is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Last year, ninety teenagers and their parents were exposed for the first time, for most, to an introduction to Judaism, in a 12-lesson course deemed an inseparable part of the ceremony for ideological-theological reasons by the congregation. These secular, upper-middle class families, initially drawn by the attractiveness of the Samueli Center for Progressive Judaism as a venue for the event, go away with, as one parent put it, “a sea of knowledge crammed into a limited period of time”. And if we’re talking about first-time exposure to a Progressive Judaism, figure in the 50-or-so guests at each Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and the numbers are mind-boggling.

The greatest impact, however, in political and social-action terms, is the Kehilat Ra’anan’s olim (new immigrant) program that reached out this year to approximately 170 adults and 40 children, all new immigrants. Walk into the Samueli Center on any given afternoon, and you’re likely to hear Russian being spoken by members of the conversion class, teenagers babbling away in Spanish or adults breaking their teeth trying to read the newspaper in heavily-accented Hebrew. The adult Spanish-speakers come for supplementary Hebrew classes, vital for integrating into the Israeli workforce, as well as for a unique support group, called Al HaGesher, which has proven to be a true bridge to a new life.

Plans for next year include projects for twinning congregant families with olim and integrating the newcomers into Kehilat Ra’anan’s ongoing congregational life. Also in the planning is a follow up for the graduates of Al HaGesher to meet their ongoing social integration and emotional support needs. Thirty kids met with ten youth leaders trained by the synagogue’s olim director, Ruth Brumiger, for weekly meetings of the only youth group for South Americans that has taken off in town; the congregation also funded camp fees for 10 of these youngsters. The congregation’s work with olim has received unprecedented recognition from Ra’anana’s municipal Director of Olim Services.

Two nursery schools (gans) catering to 45 toddlers and their parents operate in the Samueli Center under the name Gan Renanim. The families are attracted by the high-quality premises and a curriculum that integrates Progressive Jewish values and customs so lacking in other educational formats. Parents register their kids with the understanding, and desire, that they get this special programming which includes: a strong emphasis on "experiential Judaism” with equal participation by boys and girls alike in kiddush, lighting candles and prayer services; close involvement of the Rabbi in the curriculum and in educating the staff in teaching Jewish subjects (from a Progressive perspective); and visits by gan kids to the synagogue and participation in holiday celebrations in the synagogue. The parents themselves are encouraged to come for after-hours programming, as part of a School-Shul program designed to impart the values of Progressive Judaism and involve them in the congregation. The gan programming is unique in Ra'anana in that this programming is by our choice and fulfills our goals as a Progressive congregation to positively affect Israeli society according to our beliefs.

One final Outreach project deals with local schools. This year, three completely secular schools in Ra’anana requested to conduct their annual Bnei Mitzvah ceremony at the Samueli Center with Rabbi Kolberg. That translates into 120 kids from each school, plus their teachers and their parents stepping foot into a Progressive shul for the first time in their lives. Another school, privately run by parents seeking a quality education for their children, will be cooperating with the congregation and the Rabbi on integrating Judaism into their curriculum. The latest project is being set up with the secular high school located across the street. Thirty high-schoolers, with their parents and teachers will participate in a national pilot program sponsored by Rabbis for Human Rights that aims to make Israeli youth aware of “Civil Rights, Man B’Tselem Elohim and Tikun Olam.

Facing the Future
Being new in the neighborhood, means having to answer many questions.

People who drop in to see what we are all about or families who avail themselves of our extensive Bar / Bat Mitzvah program or any of our other activities are curious to know what we stand for. They ask about our congregational life as well as our affiliation with the Israeli Reform Movement They want to understand what it means to belong to our Kehila and what there may be for them to be interested in.

It takes a lot of courage to create the societal framework that reflects your vision of Jewish life in modern Israel. Our congregation is doing just that: step by step it is forming patterns of communal life as well as frameworks for individual spiritual growth.

We have adopted and adapted the three pillars upon which the Jewish world stands and upon which we see our Kehila being built:

  • the pillar of study and learning (Torah);

  • the pillar of spirituality (Avoda);

  • the pillar of social action and care for others (Gemilut Chassadim).

We will concentrate our efforts on each of these areas – both within our community as well as in ever increasing circles, through outreach programs.

There is a challenge out there which we perceive and wish to meet:

  • To live as Jews connected to the reservoirs of strength which are hidden in our heritage yet to draw upon these from the point of view of present understanding, of present values and dilemmas.

  • To provide the missing link between both the individual and the family unit on the one hand, and society at large on the other hand. A community is able to provide the source of strength needed to deal with the tasks of living: raising children, facing life cycle events and points of transition, mourning loss and celebrating the joy of living.

The agenda of today as well as the concern for the future point us to the need for a stronger and richer continuity with the past.  The unique and very traditional Jewish blend of memory and of vision that links one generation to another is the path we travel as we face each new day.

Congregational Bulletin  (not available)

Service Times
Shabbat and Holiday Evenings:    5:30 PM

Shabbat and Holiday Mornings:     9:00 AM



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Rabbi Tamar Kolberg

Every child dreams about what they want to be when they grow up.  I no longer remember these dreams of yesterday, but I do not think I ever dreamed of saying "Hello, I am Rabbi Tamar"!

The memories I have of my youth belong to those early years of the State of Israel, when there was little to be had yet so much to be proud of.  In my hometown, Hadera, every orange grove and eucalyptus tree told a tale of survival, courage and belief of founding families in love with the land and the nascent Jewish state.

My parents came to Hadera with a group of Zionist friends – adventuresome dreamers, raised and educated in America. Thus, I was born in 1951 to an English speaking home, rich in western culture and steeped with love for this country, but also staunch in its belief in the democratic values.

My parents soon felt that the school system was not doing enough to secure a strong Jewish identity for their daughters. Their concern for their offspring, as well as for their own spiritual needs, encouraged them to seek a deeper connection with Judaism.  We joined a fledgling reform congregation in Kfar Shmaryahu, led by Rabbi Moshe Zemer. A few years later we joined the new reform congregation in Netanya to which my parents still belong.

Going to pray and study became a cherished way of life.  I soon discovered amongst my parents’ books volumes written by Martin Buber, Abraham Heschel, and Will Herberg, along side books by A.D. Gordon and Ahad Ha'amm.

My quest for my roots and tradition led me to enroll in the Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University and later at Tel Aviv University where I completed my Master’s degree.

During these years I married Lou who was raised in a modern yet traditional and Zionist Jewish home. We faced the challenge of building a home that would reflect our joint values – our love of being Jewish and our love of Israel.

Our three children all attended the Tali school system known for its enriched program of Jewish studies.

Professionally, I have worked in teacher training since 1980.  At a crossroads in 1990, I made a decision to become a Rabbi. Machon Schechter (the Rabbinical school of the Conservative movement) offered a program of study that appealed to me because it combined a yeshiva style learning with intellectually challenging academic study and professional training. I was ordained in 1997.
In July 2001, I was asked to be the congregational Rabbi of Kehilat Ra'anan.

I now find myself standing at the threshold of an open gate – beyond which lie both curiosity and many questions, but most of all the vast openness of the future.

KBY is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable, tax-exempt organization.  Contributions to KBY are tax-deductible, to the fullest
extent permitted by U.S. tax laws.  KBY is also registered with the NY State (NYS) Dept. of Law, Charities Bureau.
KBY's IRS registration and current Form 990 filing is posted under "Administration" and available from the IRS or NYS.
Copyright © 2006 KBY Congregations Together, Inc.