In 1987, Rabbi Sid Schwarz and a few others discussed creating a new Reconstructionist congregation in Montgomery County, MD. They launched their initiative with High Holiday services, attracting a diverse group of more than 100. The excitement of this initial effort quickly led to the establishment of a new Reconstructionist synagogue, with Rabbi Sid serving as the part-time rabbi. Adat Shalom was born!
Over the next few years, Adat Shalom held bi-monthly services at two local churches. In 1993, services were held in the Rockville Jewish Community Center. That year, members voted to purchase land and build a permanent home. In 1995, a 4.7-acre property in Bethesda was purchased. Through the late 1990’s the Adat Shalom community continued to grow, articulating our values and character, while carrying out a major capital campaign to fund construction of the synagogue building. The architect hired for the project expressed our vision, designing a beautiful building in harmony with nature, deeply evocative of Jewish themes. Finally, in early 2001, our community joyfully celebrated the dedication of our new building. We were home.
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After Rabbi Sid so ably set things in motion, he continues to play an active clergy role for the community as the Founding Rabbi of Adat Shalom. His influential writings and teachings (e.g. Finding a Spiritual Home) continue to burnish our reputation and he continues to thrill with his frequent sermons and teachings. Fred Scherlinder Dobb started at Adat Shalom as a Reconstructionist Rabbinical College student intern in 1995. Rabbi Fred became Adat Shalom’s first and only rabbi two years later. He brings to his role warmth, humility, broad knowledge, and passion for ecology and social justice. Our first cantor was the talented volunteer and charter member, Jack Feder. As the role expanded, Anita Schubert was hired; among those she empowered to sing at services was member Rachel Hersh. Rachel was to become our full time Hazzan in 1996 (and a Rabbi in 2018). Rachel is much beloved for her amazing voice, deep spirituality, and profound presence.
We are blessed to have four Torah Scrolls in use each with unique and moving stories. The Shapiro and Spirtas Family each generously donated a Torah. We are also honored to house a Czech Torah scroll rescued from the Holocaust and brought back to Adat Shalom with Rabbi Sid Schwarz and family as part Joel Schwarz’s Bar Mitzvah project. To learn more about the Holocaust Torah project, visit The Memorial Scrolls Trust.