June 14, 2018

Windsor synagogue to close amid declining membership

PHOTO | Temple Beth Hillel
PHOTO | Temple Beth Hillel
Congregation Beth Ahm will close later this month and merge with South Windsor's Temple Beth Hillel at 20 Baker Lane.

Declining membership and changing demographics have forced a 68-year-old Jewish congregation in Windsor to shut its doors, officials announced Thursday.

Congregation Beth Ahm, a conservative synagogue at 362 Palisado Ave., said Thursday it will close later this month and merge with South Windsor's Temple Beth Hillel.

The congregation is currently completing merger plans with the South Windsor temple, housed at 20 Baker Lane.

Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman is the religious leader of Temple Beth Hillel, a position he has held since 1996.

Meantime, Congregation Beth Ahm Rabbi Alan Lefkowitz, the group's leader for 19 years, is beginning two new posts in West Hartford as the chaplain of the Hebrew Center for Health & Rehabilitation and rabbi for Hoffman Summerwood.

Marla Adelsberger, a member of the congregation's executive committee, said members identified Temple Beth Hillel after touring area synagogues in search of a new home over the last year.

"From our earliest conversations and visits to Temple Beth Hillel, we knew there was a special connection," Adelsberger said.

Congregation Beth Ahm's closure follows a growing trend in Connecticut of religious organizations closing and selling their properties or merging with nearby groups.

According to real-estate listings in April, there were 19 church or religious properties for sale in Connecticut. The majority are part of the Archdiocese of Hartford and owned by each parish.

Last year, St. Gabriel and St. Joseph merged to form St. Damien of Molokai in Windsor. In South Windsor, St. Margaret Mary and St. Francis of Assisi joined in March 2017 to form St. Junipero Serra.

The moves resulted after a major restructuring by the Archdiocese of Hartford as part of a pastoral planning initiative.

Founded by 16 Jewish families in 1951, Congregation Beth Ahm was previously known as the Jewish Community of Greater Windsor. The congregation began operations at its Palisado Avenue location in fall 1960.

At its peak, the congregation had a membership of 120 families, which has dropped to 60 families in recent years.

Congregants will gather at the synagogue on June 21 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to thank area residents, organizations and businesses for their years of support. On June 23, Lefkowitz will lead the group's final Shabbat service at 9:30 a.m.

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