The Making of a Kehillah
It’s the spring of 1982 and the population of Atlanta is booming. Imagine this if you can, people are actually moving outside of the perimeter to live. There’s a young Rabbi, assistant Rabbi at another local area synagogue, who envisions Atlanta’s immense growth with opportunity and potential.
This story, like so many other Jewish stories, involves dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, a meal complete with dreaming, planning and thoughts to the future. As the months go by, conversations between Rabbi Winokur and his friend and fellow Temple Sinai congregant, Alan Abrams, continue and begin to build momentum. The idea was to start a new congregation, one that would serve those who were looking for a different kind of kehillah, a community that reached out in a new way to those who were interfaith or unaffiliated, those who wanted a new approach to worship and observance.
With 15 families, the new kehillah was born in the summer of 1982 and began gathering for prayer and learning. It wasn’t long before 15 families grew to 100 families, then 150. It seemed there were many people who appreciated a less traditional approach to Judaism and embraced the idea of this new kehillah. While the first few years were spent meeting and worshiping in a variety of interesting locations such as a bank, rented school classrooms, and a variety of churches, all were still locations inside the perimeter. It wasn’t long before thoughts of a putting down roots started to arise and the idea of growth outside the perimeter was broached.
The move to Roswell in 1987 wasn’t an easy one for Temple Kehillat Chaim, but it felt like the right move at the right time. It was especially difficult because some members didn’t follow as the congregation established its roots outside the perimeter. But with progress, comes change. And with change, comes progress. The congregation successfully established itself in historic Roswell, a home that became our permanent location for the past twenty-four years.
There are many people whose efforts have had a significant impact on building the Kehillah that we know today. We hope that our 30th anniversary year provides us with an opportunity to honor those individuals and celebrate their contributions. We are planning numerous events to commemorate our many achievements and celebrate together as we look to the future of this wonderful congregation. We invite you to come with us on a journey this year that both celebrates our past, embraces our rich tradition, and welcomes progress and change to our beloved Kehillah.
Interview of Rabbi Winokur by Renee Sevy-Hasterok, incoming President, 2012.