Ahavath Sholom's historic building on North Street in Great Barrington is the oldest continually utilized synagogue structure in Berkshire County. A group of local Jewish families began worshiping together in the early 1920s and in 1923 purchased the building that is still the home of the congregation.
Love of Peace Congregation was officially chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1926. (Twenty years later, the synagogue changed its name to Congregation Ahavath Sholom, the Hebrew translation of Love of Peace.) Rabbi Jacob Axelrod became spiritual leader of the congregation and the Jewish community's shochet (ritual slaughterer) in the synagogue's charter year of 1926. He lived, worked, and raised his family in buildings that once stood next to the shul. Rabbi Axelrod devoted himself to his Orthodox congregation and his community for sixty years.
In the late 1980s, Ahavath Sholom began a new life, serving a changing Berkshire community, and in 1995, the congregation became affiliated with the Jewish Reconstructionist movement.
Inclusiveness is a central aspect of a Reconstructionist community. We welcome all Jews and those with an interest in exploring Judaism regardless of race, sexual orientation, financial ability, or prior knowledge of Judaism or the Hebrew language. We respect the interfaith backgrounds of many of our members and families and deeply appreciate the decision to commit to participation in our synagogue. Our vibrant committees provide possibilities that appeal to the interests of our diverse membership. Our religious school provides a nurturing and meaningful learning environment for our children with an emphasis on creating a lifelong love of Judaism, a sense of belonging to the Jewish people and responsibility for kol yoshvei teiveil, all those who dwell in this world.
The thoughtful guidance of our Board, the Religious and Spiritual Life committee, working hand in hand with our Spiritual Leader, reflect one of the deeply held values of Reconstructionism and Congregation Ahavath Sholom—the respectful partnership of leader and congregation in creating a healthy religious community.
Ahavath Sholom Board of Directors