Beit Ahavah Solar Ner Tamid
Beit Ahavah’s mission statement states: “Beit Ahavah is an evolving Reform Jewish community that embraces tradition while celebrating the mysteries of life through ritual, music, and art. We seek to experience and study Judaism in order to give meaning to our daily lives, and we welcome all to join us.”Our theme and project this year 2012-13 is “A Light in the Marketplace: The SOLAR NER TAMID Project – In a Small Congregation, together we keep the light shining bright!” supported by a URJ Incubator Grant for Engagement in Synagogue Life. We built, installed and are celebrating our battery-operated, community member-built SOLAR NER TAMID! Our programs are spiritual and meaningful, creating community and connection. When we dedicated and lit up our Solar-powered Ner Tamid this December at Beit Ahavah, the co-presidents held the Torahs, everyone of the 200+ people (all ages, children, newcomer, old-timers) touched hands and arms as we sang – so everyone turned on the light. Truly one of the most beautiful community experiences of a life-time – turning on the Eternal Light of a Jewish community! Shehechiyanu ~ In gratitude and awe!
On the 1st light of Chanukah, December 8, 2012, Beit Ahavah members designed, built, installed and celebrated a battery-operated SOLAR-powered NER TAMID (Eternal Light) now shining continually above our portable Ark in our rented home at the Florence Congregational Church in a project envisioned and led by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske. All members of the community participated in myriads of ways and we “lit up” the Pioneer Valley!Engagement included many hands-on programs learning about solar-power, the Jewish environmental movement, Judaism and the environment, how to construct a solar-panel; members signed the back of the solar panel that our member/solar-construction-builder attached to the back of the “chynagogue” facing the southeastern exposure; members helped stained-glass artists Nancy Katz and Mark Liebowitz design the lamp fixture to house the two LED lights powered by battery that plugs in to the solar-panel; a dynamic committee organized the Installation Celebration Party with Klezamir band and transformed our building into a phenomenal celebration space bringing in 225 members of our community and the Jewish community at large; the Rabbi led a riveting and moving, musical Solar Ner Tamid-lighting ceremony on the 1st night of Chanukah with our in-house member singers and musicians. We did all of this to re-dedicate our community towards sustainability, vibrancy and creative Jewish expression and to engage our members on the issues they care most about, including: The Environment. Our members are largely involved personally and/or professionally in environmental issues in the secular progressive world. Almost all of our events are progressive socially or environmentally in nature focusing on an earth-based understanding of Jewish tradition. We are a dynamic, young and small URJ-affiliated Reform congregation with a Jewish Renewal flavor. This Solar Ner Tamid project is being funded by a generous and prestigious Incubator Grant for Synagogue Engagement by the Union for Reform Judaism.