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Welcoming the Community into their Dream at Congregation B'nai Israel

By Elisha Neubauer

The year was 1984. The location was sunny Boca Raton, Florida. And the mission: to create a new synagogue; one that focused on the real people which formed the congregation. This was more than just a pipe dream...to four couples in the sunshine state, this was a quest. The dream, which began over thirty years ago, garnered more attention from the community and more couples subscribed to the idea. What once started with four couples, became seven, and quickly spearheaded into reality. Congregation B'nai Israel was born.

While the founding couples couldn't have known it at the time, this Reform synagogue, grew in popularity, becoming the fastest growing congregation in the country. When they started, classes and services were held in a borrowed space, in a community room at the Center for Group Counseling, with volunteer teachers and donated books. But, the room couldn't hold this trending congregation for long, and in 1989, Congregation B'nai Israel was breaking ground on their own facility.

Today, the synagogue hosts over one thousand families, with over six hundred students enrolled in the state of the art religious school and early childhood programs. "We pride ourselves on both our religious school and preschool," says Rabbi Robert A. Silvers. "Our religious school maintains a high percentage of students following Bar/Bat Mitzvah and our APPLE Accredited preschool is one of the best in the country." Rabbi Silvers goes on, explaining that B'nai Israel students learn to embrace their heritage by actively engaging in Jewish learning. "Our curriculum is experiential, hands-on, and fun, we have dedicated, award-winning teachers, and our students gain an understanding of their Jewish identity."

While the institution prides itself on its schools, they're equally as proud of their entire congregation that focuses on helping the entire community. "We aimed to create a community that is supportive of fellow congregants in both good times and difficult ones," explains President Robin Siegal. "One that participates in worship, learning and social action together, building relationships with each other, our clergy, our staff and the whole community. One that supports Israel and Jews around the world!"

All members and guests are welcome to participate in worship, learning and social action activities at Congregation B'nai Israel. "We try to give guests of our synagogue, whether they are local or seasonal residents looking for a spiritual home, or out of towners here for a simcha, a warm and welcoming experience in our sanctuary and all around our campus," explains Siegal.

"Our musical services are really special and will definitely lift your soul!" The institution prides itself on education and not just for their younger congregational members. "Our CBI Talks Speakers Series featuring well-known and highly inspirational speakers sharing on timely and contemporary issues is a perfect example of what we offer the community," explains Rabbi Silvers.

When he says they feature well-known speakers, he's not joking! CBI has hosted such speakers as the late Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Professor Alan Dershowitz, Mossab Hassan Yousef-the Green Prince, and many more. Additionally,Congregation B'nai Israel has a strong and unparalleled Social Action program that serves the entire community through interfaith and inter-cultural relationships. Through these relationships, CBI has fed the hungry at Thanksgiving time, provided food for local food pantries, joined in with organizations standing up for those with disabilities and life threatening illnesses; all with much more on the horizon.

President Robin Siegal encourages everyone to attend a service and 'Come be Inspired' by Congregation B'nai Israel.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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