Tidewater Chavurah turns 25 and celebrates learning, growing, and giving

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Other News

A wonderful celebration for the Tidewater Chavurah’s 25th anniversary was held at Vino’s Italian Bistro in Kempsville on June 11. Some founding members joined the celebration, which included a video retrospective of people and events during those years.

A “synagogue without walls,” Tidewater Chavurah is an independent Jewish congregation serving Tidewater worshiping in the Reform tradition. “Chavurah” is a small group of like-minded Jews getting together for religious services, life cycles, and social events.

Tidewater Chavurah was formed in March 1998 to provide a new Jewish presence in the community with three main goals: Jewish worship, friendship and Torah study.

Being a “synagogue without walls,” the congregation’s journey took it to different locations: Kempsville Conservative Synagogue, Grand Affairs, Hebrew Academy (Tompkins Lane), Jewish Community Center, Old Donation Episcopal Church, Temple Israel, members’ homes, and Rabbi Ellen Jaffe- and Spencer Gill’s home, where High Holiday services, celebrating other major holidays, as well Second Friday Sabbaths were held.

Reconstructionist student Rabbis Aviva Bass and Jerry Siedler, and lay members such as Carol Tickton have led the congregation. Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill joined in 2015.

A small group, it has accomplished much on so many levels during the past 25 years.

• The congregation participated in Mitzvah of the Month events, preparing and serving meals for the Judeo Christian Outreach Center (JCOC) clients at least once a year for the past several years.

• A choir, led by Carol Smith, brightened services with their melodic voices and sang at several community events.

• Kol Nidre service has been a highlight with Jeff Phelps’ melodiously playing his cello and Rabbi Ellen alternately chanting the Kol Nidre prayer.

• Other activities have included a monthly book club and a weekly Mah jongg game that has continued for 20 years.

 To share personal memories, send to tidewaterchavurah1@gmail.com. Check out more memories at tidewaterchavurah.org or TidewaterChavurah on Facebook.

Betsy Blank