In 2005, after a ten year merger process, two Conservative synagogues, Temple Beth El and Temple Israel, both of Swampscott, MA, formally united and formed, Congregation Shirat Hayam. The goal of this merger was not simply to become one dying synagogue together. Rather, it was to change the downward direction of Judaism in general, and Conservative Judaism in particular. The hope was that in forming this new congregation they would breathe new life into a stagnating Jewish community and inspire Jews to return to, reconnect with and recommit to their synagogue, their Jewish community and their Judaism. In 2006 CSH recruited Rabbi B to lead this charge. For the next decade, together with amazing cantors, Jewish professionals, lay leaders and congregants, Rabbi B & CSH literally created a Revolution of Jewish Spirit.
CSH soon became a regional, even national, phenomenon with visiting rabbis, cantors, lay leaders and ritual committees attending CSH on a regular basis, to witness the CSH Synaplex, interview CSH leadership and meet with Rabbi B to learn more about how they had done what so few other synagogues and Jewish communities have been able to do:
- Successfully merge two Jewish instutions
- Defy downward demographic trends
- Radically increase membership
- Dramatically increase philanthropic giving
- Attract, once alienated, business people and professionals to leadership positions
- Utilize technology to create 21st century Judaism
- Re-engage young families and next generation leadership
- And fill the synagogue, week in and week out, with hundreds upon hundreds of enthusiastic, engaged and passionate participants from across the Jewish spectrum as well as the secular and Christian world.