A series of religious, academic and social events are being planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Community Synagogue. On Jan. 4, Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, the founding rabbi of the congregation will lead the Sabbath service on Friday evening at 8:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. All are invited to participate.
Rabbi Borowitz is recognized as one of Judaism's leading scholars having earned the title "Dean" of American Jewish Philosophers. Also participating in this service will be Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, Cantor Jacob Yaron and Rabbi Elisa Koppel, the assistant rabbi.
Dr. Borowitz serves as the Sigmund L. Falk Distinguished Professor of Education and Jewish Religious Thought at the New York School of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he has taught since 1962. He is a prolific author, having written numerous articles and 15 books. He is the only Jew to serve as president of the American Theological Society. In 1982, Harvard University Divinity School invited him to inaugurate its newly established List Professorship of Jewish Studies. He wrote the featured, comprehensive article on Judaism in the 16 volume Encyclopedia of Religion. His 1974 work, The Mask Jews Wear, received the National Jewish Book Award in the field of Jewish thought.
Rabbi Borowitz is widely known in the Jewish community as the former editor of Sh'ma, a journal of Jewish responsibility, a magazine of Jewish social concern he founded in 1970 and edited for 23 years. He and his wife, Estelle, were long-time residents of Port Washington and now reside in Connecticut.
Last month, Rabbi Martin Rosenberg launched the 50th anniversary festivities with a series of lectures and he also conducted the Sabbath services on Nov. 2. Rabbi Rosenberg, now the Rabbi Emeritus, served the Synagogue for 33 years.
The Community Synagogue represents a leading house of worship in Reform Judaism. Its members are leaders in the executive bodies of the movement's organizations. Norman Gross serves as a member of the Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Robert Heller, a past president of The Community Synagogue, has just been named chairman of Reform Judaism's Commission on Social Action; he also is a vice chairman of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and a member of the New York Board of Overseers of HUC-JIR. Georgia DeYoung, a past president of the synagogue, is a member of the UAHC's Board of Trustees.
In additioin to Ms. DeYoung and Mr. Heller, the synagogue's past presidents constitute the 50th anniversary committee. They are Michael Rubinberg, Jane Broido, Leonard Weintraub, Brian Sindel, Lawrence Rothenberg, the current Community Synagogue president, Laurence Tarica and Rabbi Salkin.
Other events planned include: guest pulpit appearances by the two leaders of Reform Judaism. On January 25, Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a former assistant rabbi of The Community Synagogue. On March 22, Rabbi Eric Yoffe, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, will address the congregation. To honor the anniversary, the Port Washington Public Library will exhibit a photographic and memorabilia display of the 50th anniversary during the month of February.
Also planned are a festive dinner-dance, a choir concert, a musical program sponsored by the Sisterhood and Brotherhood and a Jubilee Year End Picnic attended by children and parents of the religious school. Members of the religious school will produce a video history of the congregation interviewing founding members and others will prepare a tile or flag project commemorating the event.
"Our synagogue has grown immensely over the years," noted President Tarica. "Today we have 2,500 individual members and are in the middle of a capital expansion program to build new youth facilities, classrooms, study centers and expand existing facilities."
The National Foundation for Jewish Culture recently bestowed upon Rabbi Borowitz its medal for Jewish Cultural Achievement in the realm of scholarship, the first time it has been awarded for work in the field of Jewish thought. His two recent books, published concurrently, are The Jewish Moral Virtues and Judaism After Modernity. His special place among American Jewish thinkers had already been confirmed by the publication in 1991 of his magisterial volume, Renewing the Covenant, a Theology for the Postmodern Jew, the first systematic Jewish theology since Abraham Heschel's seminal publications in the 1950s. This work depicts Judaism as the personalistic relationship between God, the Jewish people, and thus, individual Jews.