In 1974, Hevreh was founded with “B’reisheet” – the first word of Genesis – at the top of a flyer sent to Berkshire County Jews, inviting them to a meeting to discuss founding a new Jewish fellowship group in south Berkshire County.
“Hevreh” comes from the Hebrew word for friendship and our name states our purpose, to be a community of friends in a Jewish context. 40 years later, Hevreh of Southern Berkshire still adheres to the goals of its founders, to be a supportive Jewish community based on egalitarian and non-authoritarian leadership. Hevreh continues to emphasize democratic decision-making and worship leadership.
As a congregation, Hevreh began meeting in members’ homes and meeting spaces throughout Berkshire County; eventually purchasing its first permanent building in 1992 at 41 Mahaiwe Street. When the congregation was 18 years old; we hired our first Rabbi, Deborah Zecher. By 1996 we had outgrown Mahaiwe Street and began the process of planning, designing, and building our current building at 270 State Road. In June 1999 the dream became a reality, as members of the congregation, clergy and religious school carried our Torahs through Great Barrington from our old home to our new synagogue.
During Rabbi Zecher’s tenure at Hevreh, our membership grew to over 375 families and the values which animated Hevreh’s founders are still very much alive and well. The Board of Directors continues to reflect those values, balancing the needs of the congregation with the responsibility of reaching out to the larger Berkshire County community. Hevreh’s members welcome newcomers as we strive to embody the best of Jewish history, culture, ritual, and ethical values.
Rabbi Zecher became our Rabbi Emerita in 2014. After a year of transitional leadership, we are fully staffed once again with Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch and Rabbi Jodie Gordon who also serves as Education Director. Together they are a dynamic, exciting team and Hevreh is looking toward continued growth in a future that is full, engaging, enriching, meaningful and joyous.