First Time Visitors
Questions and Answers
What is the history of Beth Adam?
Congregation Beth Adam was established in 1980 in response to the needs of a contemporary and diverse Jewish community. Dedicated to the celebration of Jewish holidays and life cycle events, Beth Adam approaches Judaism from a humanistic perspective. As a congregation we affirm a moral commitment to human dignity and ethical behavior. We encourage each member to explore his or her Jewish heritage with an open mind and a willingness to take personal responsibility in determining his or her life course.
Beth Adam provides Jewish experiences through religious services, education programs for children and adults, Bar/ Bat Mitzvah classes and services, social activities, and community social action programs.
Strengthened by our 35 year history, Congregation Beth Adam values on-going growth and change. Members, long-standing and new, bring to the congregation ideas, involvement, and energy that guide Beth Adam’s present and future. At Beth Adam we do more than just remember the past – we are building the future.
Who are your rabbis? To learn more about our rabbis please click here
Rabbi Robert B. Barr, D.D. is Congregation Beth Adam’s founding rabbi. He was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1981. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity for his service to the Jewish community by HUC-JIR. Rabbi Barr is currently the longest serving pulpit rabbi in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Barr is a past president of the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis and is active in the leadership of many community organizations, as well as in Jewish organizations throughout the country. Known for his irreverent and often witty presentation style, Barr is a popular speaker on a wide range of topics including contemporary Jewish thought, religious fundamentalism, and ethics. Recognized by his peers as a leader in the evolution of modern, liberal Judaism, his writings have been published in journals, books, and Web sites around the world.
Iah Pillsbury is a 4th year student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is serving Beth Adam this congregational year as our Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Fellow and Rabbinic Intern.
Iah is committed to academic inquiry, spiritual growth, and honest community building. She grew up in a devoutly interfaith home in Los Angeles, California. Iah graduated from the University of Chicago with honors in English and has worked with incarcerated youth in Los Angeles, Congregation Oheb Shalom in Sandusky, Ohio, residents at Cedar Village, and patients at Jewish Hospital. She is excited to learn and grow with the Beth Adam community.
Does the philosophy of Beth Adam deny the existence of God?
Beth Adam is a congregation that encourages its members to explore their understanding of God. At Beth Adam there is recognition that there is a wide range of understandings for the term God. For some the term reflects their deepest beliefs while others no longer use that term. All can find a religious home here at Beth Adam. At Beth Adam we take theology seriously. What we believe has implications on ethics, Judaism, and our understanding of our place within the universe.
To learn more about Beth Adam’s approach to theology please click “The Concept of God.”
Why does the liturgy of Congregation Beth Adam not include the term “God” or employ traditional prayers?
As part of the congregation’s effort to create an environment which allows for individual expression of deeply held religious beliefs, we have chosen to employ language which we view as expansive and inclusive. Our liturgy is created by and is written for individuals who do not presume a God who intervenes or manipulates the affairs of this world. Therefore, traditional prayers which hold such a world view are inconsistent with our philosophy. The challenge for us is to articulate our shared vision while providing opportunity for individuals to infuse the liturgy with their personal understanding of the nature of the universe.
Congregation Beth Adam has over 30 years written its own liturgy which has attained international recognition. Included in the collection are two Shabbat services, a compilation of Home Services (including Shabbat, Hanukkah, Havdalah, and a home dedication ceremony), a Passover Haggadah, Benediction for Life (a pocket-sized collection of readings appropriate for memorial services), and Beyond the Silence (a pocket-sized collection of readings appropriate for times of crisis). Each of these volumes gives expression to our contemporary religious beliefs in a meaningful and poetic manner.
Does Congregation Beth Adam read from the Torah?
Beth Adam is home to a historic Holocaust Torah. The congregation is proud to have such a Torah and gives it a place of honor in its sanctuary. This Torah is read from on High Holidays and at Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies.
And NO – Beth Adam does not delete the term God when reading from the Torah. Rather, we recognize the Torah as the legends, tales, laws, struggles, and writings of our ancestors. When we read from it we try to understand our ancestors’ struggles and issues they were attempting to address. Obviously, our ancestors’ writings reflect their worldview which was far different from our own. We can embrace the Torah and value the stories in it – even when we recognize that our ancestors’ values and views are no longer ours. Appreciation of the past does not require acceptance of what they wrote – rather it asks us to respect their religious endeavor even as we continue on the journey that they began for us.
What are the Mission, Vision and Values of at Beth Adam?
MISSION: Congregation Beth Adam is a unique community integrating Jewish tradition and humanistic principles.
VISION: Congregation Beth Adam is a spiritual home, a meaningful voice, and a humanistic resource for people worldwide, seeking a contemporary Jewish identity and experience.
- We value humanistic principles of responsibility and origin of authority that rests with each individual
- We value learning opportunities that support members’ connection with their Jewish heritage
- We value open-mindedness and respect for differing views
- We value discerning intellectual inquiry that thoughtfully questions and explores Jewish text and other sources of wisdom
- We value acknowledgement of each congregant’s religious and spiritual journey supported through our unique liturgy
- We value evolving to meet the needs of our growing congregation and a changing Jewish community
- We value nurturing connection and building community with each other as Jews and with all humanity
- We value community engagement and social justice that is responsive to the ever-changing world
When are services at Beth Adam?
Shabbat services are typically held every other Friday evening. For current service times, please click here for our calendar. More information about services is available through the congregation office (513-985-0400). For those with children, look for “Services for All Ages” on our calendar.
Is there a fee for High Holiday services?
Congregation Beth Adam has for 35 years had open, free, and ticketless High Holiday Services for our members and guests. We have opened our doors wide to everyone since our founding. We do give priority seating to our members who, through their financial generosity, support and maintain the congregation.
If you have questions regarding High Holiday attendance, please call our congregational office.
What about membership at Beth Adam?
The members of Congregation Beth Adam are committed to creating a dynamic and vital community through the generosity of their talents, commitment and financial support. Beth Adam’s 35 year history is a testament to their dedication, vision, and values.
Being a member of Beth Adam affirms one’s desire to be part of a community which values a contemporary Jewish voice and supports all on their religious journey. Membership also offers a number of benefits, including access to the services of our Rabbi, staff, our educational offerings and social programs. Members also have voting privileges and are eligible to serve on the Board of Trustees. Being a member of Beth Adam means being a part of our community and supporting our institution.
Does Beth Adam have Religious School?
Beth Adam’s Religious School is a vibrant and welcoming community. Our experienced volunteer teachers use dynamic and age-appropriate methods to expose our students to a range of topics. Our curriculum includes Jewish history, live cycle events, holidays, texts, values and ethics, and theology. We encourage questioning. Most important to us is that students enjoy their Jewish experiences so that they continue to feel connected to the Jewish community for years. Our approach is contemporary and promotes personal responsibility and critical thinking. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah program is a two-year course of study during which students learn to read Hebrew and complete a research paper related to the theme of their Torah portion. We are more than a school – we build Jewish connections and community.
What volunteer opportunities does Beth Adam offer?
A remarkable number of our members take active role in several aspects of the congregation. At Beth Adam our goal is to create rewarding and meaningful volunteer opportunities – where one’s time is respected, valued, and well spent. Examples of ways Beth Adam members participate include social action projects or our teams focusing on education, liturgy, social functions, membership, and fundraising. Perhaps most important, many members participate by teaching or assisting in our Religious School.
It should also be noted the Beth Adam has a very engaged Board of Trustees and of course they are volunteers. Service on the Board is open to all Beth Adam members.
For Social Action information, please click here
I’m coming for a Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah. What should I know?
A Frequently Asked Questions page all about Bar and Bat Mitzvah services can be found here.
After reading the above, if you are interested in speaking to Rabbi Barr, come to “An Evening with Rabbi Barr”, Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm and/or Shabbat Services on Friday, September 23, 2016 at 8:00 PM. At both Rabbi Barr will expand on the history, philosophy of Beth Adam, and more, and he’ll answer any questions you have.