How fitting that Congregation Beth Chaverim’s first service in its new home was for Simchat Torah. This holiday was an extremely special occasion for the congregation as they not only turned the Torah scrolls back to the beginning, but brought them to rest in a new home.
For the past two years, Congregation Beth Chaverim has experienced significant struggles. In addition to conducting services and many life cycle events with only the help of lay leadership, 18 months ago, the congregants made the tough decision to sell their building at 3820 Stoneshore Road in Virginia Beach. While many congregations would not have survived this process, Beth Chaverim is surviving and embracing its new journey.
So far, one of the positive aspects of the journey is the friendships Beth Chaverim is forming. As soon as the Tidewater community got news of the synagogue’s
troubles, many area congregations contacted Beth Chaverim offering space for services, or space to store ritual items. Kempsville Conservative Synagogue and Temple Emanuel have been instrumental in making congregants feel welcome in their buildings, exemplifying what it means to be a Jewish community. Through joint services, holiday celebrations, and events, the three Virginia Beach congregations have learned that, although each congregation has its own unique Jewish identity, they are one in Jewish spirit. Pluralistic friendships are important in any community, and Beth Chaverim looks forward to continuing joint endeavors with both congregations.
Through this journey, Beth Chaverim has also embraced the strength of its own identity and has a newfound appreciation for their house of friends. It is with this renewed appreciation that the congregation is meeting weekly in Temple Emanuel’s social hall in Virginia Beach. There, on Friday nights at 8 pm, Beth Chaverim now conducts its traditional Shabbat service with the warmth of friendship and Jewish spirit that epitomizes this congregation.
Embracing and looking forward to a bright future, Beth Chaverim realizes their new service location is only the beginning of its journey. Next steps will include the search for a spiritual leader, building upon existing membership, and furthering pluralistic friendships. The congregation is determined to succeed and looks forward to the road ahead.