Two synagogues are coming together as Congregation Shir Shalom

Temple Shearith Israel of Ridgefield, CT in the winter

Two synagogues — Ridgefield’s Temple Shearith Israel and the Jewish Family Congregation of South Salem, N.Y. — are coming together as Congregation Shir Shalom, beginning a new tradition that will serve both the Fairfield County and Westchester communities.

The name Shir Shalom — expected to become official in the next few weeks with a vote of acceptance by the new congregation — means “Song of Peace.”


The synagogue is located at the former home of Temple Shearith Israel at 46 Peaceable Street in Ridgefield, where services for more than 600 people were performed during this fall’s High Holy days.

Rabbi David Reiner, Rabbi Marcus Burstein and Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray led the clergy, along with Rabbi Emeritus Jon Haddon.

“Our two Reform synagogues have united as one strong congregation to serve Jewish families for generations to come,” said Rabbi Reiner.

“The spirit of what is taking place is phenomenal,” said Rabbi Burstein.

“Sharing our first High Holiday services together was truly a joyful experience. We came together as a new community in worship and friendship, and the sanctuary was filled with music and spirit. Our future is bright and exciting.”   

Under the guidance of the Union for Reform Judaism, congregational votes were held in May, at which both synagogues overwhelmingly voted “yes” to a joint union.

Congregation Shir Shalom includes an estimated 800 to 1,000 people from about 335 households.

This summer, religious schools were combined under the direction of Leslie Gottlieb, and JFC moved much of its paperwork, artifacts and Judaica into the Ridgefield building.

The Early Childhood Center, a preschool that has served young children for more than 15 years, also moved into the Ridgefield facility under the continued direction of Jane Emmer.

The leaders of the two synagogues have been working for months with several committees and key personnel to ensure a smooth transition.

“Joining the two congregations provides an opportunity to establish a stronger, more robust and more sustainable Jewish community in the area,” said temple co-president Gale Berman. “Our new name represents a new beginning for both congregations, and reflects the values of Jewish tradition that we all share.”

The name “Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties” was chosen after an arduous process by the naming committee, comprised of 14 members equally representing each legacy synagogue. The committee met weekly from the summer through September.

The former Jewish Family Congregation building in Lewisboro, N.Y., is being sold, although some activities are still going on there.

Congregation Shir Shalom is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, but serves Jews from all backgrounds and denominations who are looking for a meaningful and lasting connection to Judaism and Jewish culture. All are welcome.

For more information, call 203-438-6589.

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