With local notables and longtime members in attendance, the former Jewish Congregation of Concordia formally changed its name to Congregation Beit Shalom in a May 22 ceremony.
The event drew more than 200 to the Monroe synagogue, whose members are denominationally mixed but which affiliates with the Conservative movement.
The name change was made to better reflect the makeup of the synagogue’s growing membership. Once largely consisting of residents of the Concordia adult community, where it was founded in 1984, the congregation’s membership now numbers more than 2,000 and includes residents from all of Monroe’s more than 10 adult communities. Given this, the original name, according to congregation leaders, was confusing and outdated.
The synagogue officially became Beit Shalom on Jan. 1, but the ceremony was put off until May to allow members who spend the winter in warmer climates to participate.
President Joan Kornblum said she had long dreamed of the congregation taking on a Hebrew name. Beit Shalom, or House of Peace, was chosen as the winner in an election among its members.
Kornblum acknowledged that “a lot” of people were unhappy with the change, but she and other congregational leaders have vowed not to forget the founders “who formed the nucleus of this congregation when it was less than 100.”
In line with that, a plaque with the names of the 14 founders was also dedicated. The synagogue’s religious leader, Cantor Eli Perlman, ended the ceremony by leading Kaddish for the founders who have passed away, all but one.
In the shul’s early days, Friday night services were held in Concordia’s sales office; in 1992, the growing congregation moved to the Concordia Shopping Center, and in 2003 to a larger space at the center. It now offers a variety of religious, educational, and social programs.
Monroe Mayor Richard Pucci read a proclamation on the occasion and said each time he came to a congregational event it was like “coming home.”
State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Dist. 14), also a regular attendee at synagogue events, told the gathering the new name was appropriate because “I know this is a house of peace.”