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Congregation Kol Am finds a home
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Congregation Kol Am finds a home

Rabbi Brooks Susman leads the Kiddush at the last Shabbat service to be held by Kol Am at West Freehold Elementary School. From June 27 through July 1, services will be conducted at Calgo Gardens in Howell; Friday, Aug. 8 will mark the inaugural service f
Rabbi Brooks Susman leads the Kiddush at the last Shabbat service to be held by Kol Am at West Freehold Elementary School. From June 27 through July 1, services will be conducted at Calgo Gardens in Howell; Friday, Aug. 8 will mark the inaugural service f

The three weeks from May 31 to June 20 were filled with memorable moments for Rabbi Brooks R. Susman, 67, and the members of Kol Am, the 70-family Reform congregation he leads.

On May 31, Susman was guest of honor at a Havdala service and party honoring the 40th anniversary of his ordination. 

Then, on June 20, Kol Am held its final Friday evening Shabbat service at the West Freehold Elementary School on Castronova Way. The school had served as a semi-regular place of worship for the congregation, which is now in its 12th year.

“For the six weeks beginning June 27, we’ll be meeting at Calgo Gardens, a landscaping center on Adelphia Road in Howell,” Susman told NJJN in a phone interview. “This has customarily been our summer location for several years.”

Then, Friday, Aug. 8, will be a milestone day: “We’ll be moving into our new home, located within Freehold Jewish Center, at 59 Broad St,” said Susman. “For the first time, we will have a sense of permanence, and we will also gain a lot of space — enough for a sanctuary, offices, and classrooms — even access to a kitchen.” 

“We felt strongly that we wanted to help another Jewish organization,” said Rabbi Edward Friedman, religious leader of the century-old Agudath Achim, a traditional congregation that has called the FJC home for several decades. “Of course, it will also benefit our members in the form of rental fees.” 

FJC already houses Bais Yaakov of Western Monmouth County.

Both Susman and Friedman emphasized that Kol Am is not a total stranger to FJC. “We have about 40 students from the lowest grades to high school, and they have been attending classes for some time at the FJC facility,” said Susman.

Fred Eckhaus, outgoing Kol Am president, said the congregation “has waited a long time to have a place like this where we can spread out. That we’ve managed to hang on and grow until now is a tribute to Rabbi Susman. He has developed personal relationships with the congregants, and we all appreciate his intellect, compassion, and openness to other points of view.”

Kol Am embraces all manner of families, some traditional and some not, said Susman. “We follow an eclectic, inclusionary style.”

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