We celebrate the full cycle of the Jewish year with High Holy Day services, outdoor meals at Sukkot, Chanukah latke dinners, noisy get-togethers on Purim, Passover and Tu B'Shevat community seders, and more! We also celebrate the cycles of our members’ lives – bris and baby-namings, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and commitment ceremonies, conversions and confirmations. And of course, we come together and provide support as a community in times of illness or death of members or their families.
Our Religious School provides intellectually challenging, spiritually fulfilling, and socially rewarding opportunities for children from pre-K through high school. Our curriculum focuses on the internal and external challenges facing the Jewish people in different societies and historical periods. We stress the development of religious practices, and our code of ethics and values. Children learn Hebrew by studying liturgical texts as well as Modern Hebrew, forging a bond with both our ancient traditions and the state of Israel. There are occasions throughout the year for families to celebrate holidays, get together socially, and serve the wider community through mitzvah projects. We nurture and encourage an active youth group.
There are many ways to learn at Beth Shalom. Through our Beit Midrash program, our Rabbi conducts classes on substantive social and spiritual issues, studied through a Jewish lens. The Rabbi, with the participation of our members, is committed to bringing a serious level of engagement with Torah, Talmud and other traditional Jewish texts to contemporary issues. This past year's topics have included: theology, the nature of God, prayer, Mitzvot, poverty, and dealing with death. The Gathering, meets monthly during the academic year for a program and lunch prepared by our talented member-chefs. Presidential politics to Jewish folk tales to Indiana Jewish history and musical performances – we’ve been going strong for over a decade! Additionally, the Adult Education Committee organizes lectures – often by IU faculty – on topics from climate change and the philosophy of Spinoza to the meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Our members volunteer their services at the Shalom Center, Interfaith Winter Homeless Shelter, Volunteers in Medicine, Habitat for Humanity, and other community organizations. As a congregation, we have partnered with the Islamic Center and area churches for interfaith activities. We are also committed to conservation of energy on an individual, local, and global basis. Over the past several years, a substantial number of our members had home energy assessments, reduced their household energy consumption, and/or helped raised funds for congregational greening efforts. In 2011, we won a national award for encouraging our members to reduce home energy use, and in 2012, we were awarded a federal grant for the purchase of solar panels for our building, which were installed in April 2013.
Gan Shalom, the Beth Shalom early childhood center, provides a nurturing, stimulating, and safe environment for children ages 1-5 years. Our program enhances children's sense of wonder and empathy, develops communication and learning skills, promotes positive self-image, and engenders trust in peers and caregivers. Following the rhythms of the Jewish calendar, the program immerses children in Jewish culture, songs, and language. Gan Shalom is there for young families in the community and supports their parenting in these crucial years. This program is so well respected in the community that a substantial number of non-Jewish families also send their children there