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Our History

Temple Shalom of Newton, Massachusetts is a Reform Jewish congregation and a member of the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism). Our Temple was founded in 1950 by 225 families.

With no temple building in the early years, a location for worship services, a Religious School and an office needed to be found. From the outset, we have had a close relationship with the First Unitarian Church, where our services were originally held, and with the Second Congregational Church where our Religious School met. The rabbi’s office was housed in a rental space on Walnut Street in Newtonville.

The Temple Shalom groundbreaking set the stage for generations.

In 1956, the Temple completed construction of its sanctuary, social hall and religious school at its current location, 175 Temple St.

In 1994, we began a Capital and Endowment Fund campaign. We expanded and renovated our temple, culminating in our temple rededication in 1998. Several classrooms, an elevator and meeting rooms were added, along with a new chapel and entryway. Today, the Temple has grown from its original 225 families to over 750 families!

rabbi rothman no outlineRabbi Murray Rothman became Rabbi at Temple Shalom in January 1954, after completing 2 years of military service. He was a Navy Chaplain attached to the First Marine Division in Korea. He arrived in Newton along with his wife, Charlotte, and daughter, Jo. Their second daughter, Lily, was born a few years later. Rabbi Rothman served as Temple Shalom’s spiritual leader for 35 years until 1988 when he became Rabbi Emeritus. The temple’s chapel is named in honor of Rabbi Rothman, who died in 1999.

Rabbi David Whiman came to Temple Shalom in 1981 as Assistant Rabbi and continued to lead as Rabbi after Rabbi Rothman’s retirement.  Rabbi Whiman loved to teach and inspire people of all ages with memorable stories, classes and sermons. Many of his experiences became the fodder for a “Cornerstones” column that appeared bi-weekly in the Religion section of the Newton Graphic newspaper. One of the first things that Rabbi Whiman created in 1988 was the Shabbat morning Minyan and Torah study group, which is still going strong today.

Rabbi Eric Gurvis arrived in 1999, settling in with his wife, Laura, and their children Benjamin, Sarah, Aaron and Jacob. Rabbi Gurvis continued the Temple tradition of excellent teaching, expanding the offerings for adult learning to include iEngage from the Shalom Hartman Institute, mussar classes, a study Kallah weekend and a robust Altshuler Family Scholar-in-Residence program. Many discovered Israel on a trip that Rabbi Gurvis led while many teens experienced Jewish New York City through his eyes.

The video "Temple Shalom: 60 Years"  was presented at a dinner celebrating Temple Shalom’s 60 years of community. It features many founding and long-standing members re-telling some of their favorite stories and sharing some of Temple Shalom’s rich history.

Rabbis Allison Berry and Laura Abrasley are the rabbis of the Temple. Rabbi Berry joined us in 2011 and Rabbi Abrasley in 2015. Rabbis Abrasley and Berry were formally installed as co-Senior Rabbis on Nov. 16, 2018, marking the first time that two females were co-Senior Rabbis at any congregation in the world.

The Sanctuary and Social Hall underwent a major $3-million renovation in 2019 with Rosh Hashanah marking our first service in our new space.

Thu, November 14 2019 16 Cheshvan 5780