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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
June 10, 2005

Chevrei Tikva to merge with Fairmount Temple

Cleveland--By the end of summer, northeast Ohio�s most prominent group for LGBT Jews will no longer exist as an independent congregation.

Chevrei Tikva will instead become part of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, existing as a chavura, or group of friends, within the larger congregation.

�We�re excited about the possibilities this creates for us,� said Nancy Huntsman, past president of the congregation. �This enhances our ability to return to our root of reaching out to the gay community, instead of trying to support an independent congregation.�

Chevrei Tikva, which was formed in 1984, had 90 members at its peak. It is currently at 60 members. It presently holds services at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Cleveland Heights.

Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood has 1,800 households in its congregation, compared to 45 households in Chevrei Tikva.

However, Fairmount Temple also has other already-formed sub-groups like the Chevrei Tikva Chavura.

The thinking behind a chavura is that, by joining with other similarly-minded people in a large congregation, it both makes the synagogue feel smaller and creates a stronger bond with the congregation at large.

The Chevrei Tikva Chavura will have its own board to plan events for the group, and can act with a degree of autonomy within the larger congregation.

Chevrei Tikva officially aligned itself with the Reform movement of Judaism in 1991, and Fairmount Temple is a Reform congregation.

Of the three major wings of Judaism, Reform is the most progressive, supporting LGBT civil rights and partner rights for same-sex couples.

Dues for membership in Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple are higher than those of Chevrei Tikva, but the synagogue is working to incorporate all who wish to join, regardless of their ability to pay the higher dues.

Four years ago, Chevrei Tikva hired Rabbi Rachel Rembrandt. The move to join Fairmount Temple leaves her, to an extent, at loose ends.

�I actually encouraged them to make this move,� Rembrandt said. �I think it�s best for the congregation at this time.�

�I think this is the healthiest way they can proceed,� she continued. �I felt very honored to be their rabbi, and I hope they can develop a strong relationship with the clergy at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple like they did with me.�

Rembrandt has, for the past two years, also worked as a regional educator for the Union for Reform Judaism, and will continue with that job.


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