Temple Bat Yam, the South Shore’s first and only synagogue and Jewish organization, is celebrating its 30th anniversary starting today.
Charna Silver, chairwoman of the celebration, said the people associated with the organization decided three decades deserved a fete.
“We haven’t really celebrated anniversaries in the past, so we had the energy and decided it was time,” Silver said.
Silver attributes the longevity of the organization to the people, the community and a “family atmosphere within the temple,” she said.
“When we started the temple, and now part of the mission statement, a big part of it is we’re doing this for our children,” Silver said. “In Judaism, it’s very important to pass down tradition and the Jewish values to our children. What better way to do it than in a loving environment?”
Silver was one of the original founders of the organization in 1983. Since then, she said the temple has evolved in that family from the many surrounding areas have become members or visited Temple Bat Yam.
“We have members in Gardnerville, Minden, Carson City, Reno, Markleeville,” Silver said.
With families moving in and out of the South Shore area, Silver said current members and frequenters keep in touch with people no longer nearby.
Young rabbinical students would often come to Temple Bat Yam to teach and speak to people for a short period of time, living with local residents during their stay.
Today, the synagogue has a full-time rabbi, Evon Yakar.
Some of the people who are able to return should be in attendance this weekend, Silver said.
“They stay in touch; they come back,” she said. “For many people, they would describe (Temple Bat Yam) as their extended family. This has been a place for people to celebrate joys, sorrows and to support each other.”
Maidy Rosenfeld also has lived in the South Shore area for more than 30 years and has no immediate relatives in the area. When she first arrived, the temple meeting area was located in the family room South Lake Presbyterian Church. Initially a small group, Rosenfeld said their numbers grew with time.
“I have no blood family here, and I consider the people here at the temple my family,” Rosenfeld said. “When I come here, it’s like,” pointing to her chest, “my heart.”
Most prominent in Silver’s memory over three decades is witnessing young people receive their bat mitzvah and bar mitzvah ceremonies. She said the temple was the only place for their children to learn Hebrew, history of Judaism and more of the culture.
“One of the keys is to celebrate the holidays when you don’t have any blood family for miles,” Joel Brody, a member of Bat Yam, said.
The celebration kicks off tonight with a Shabbat service with Jewish entertainer Sam Glaser.
For more information, visit www.tbytahoe.org or call 530-542-1211.