When the Jewish Congregation of Concordia in Monroe was established in 1984, it took its name from the one adult community from which its members hailed.
Over the years, membership has grown, along with the number of adult communities. With members now representing 10 such Monroe communities, leaders decided it was time for a new name.
As of Jan. 1, the synagogue is called Congregation Beit Shalom.
Congregants suggested names, said president Joan Kornblum, and a committee chose three after making sure no other synagogue in the state had them. The membership then voted on the new name “hands down,” she said.
(Of course, plenty of New Jersey synagogues are named “Beth Shalom,” a phonetically less accurate English transliteration of the Hebrew words that mean “House of Peace.”)
The choice pleased Kornblum: “It’s always been my heart’s desire to have a Hebrew name” for the congregation, she said.
The synagogue, now in the Concordia Shopping Center, was originally located in the Concordia at Monroe adult community.
“We now have people from all the communities here in Monroe so it was important to us to change our name,” said Kornblum.
The wish for a new name was not universal, she acknowledged; a small number of ballots came back with the words “under protest” written on them.
“Of course, these were people who lived in Concordia,” she said.
A formal dedication ceremony for the newly named synagogue is to be held on May 22, when a plaque with the names of its Concordia founders will also be dedicated.
Meanwhile, a small sign with the new name went up on the building Jan. 7; a larger sign is being made.
The shul’s almost 2,000 members come from Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox backgrounds, said Kornblum, although the congregation affiliates with the Conservative movement.
In its early days, Friday night services were held in the Concordia community’s sales office, with attendance gradually increasing to 125.
In 1992, the congregation moved to the shopping center, situated conveniently close to all the adult communities of Monroe. Synagogue membership continued to grow, and, after an expansion of its space in 1996, in 2003 the congregation moved to even larger quarters at the shopping center. With longtime religious leader Cantor Eli Perlman at the helm, it now offers a variety of educational, religious, and social programs, including a daily minyan, holiday services and programs, lectures, films, courses, and a bikur holim — visiting the sick — program.