History of Temple Beth Am

In April 1956, nine people met in a home to discuss the possibility of forming a Reform Temple in the Framingham area.  They were all new in Framingham: and knew none of the people prior to moving there. Two couples had met socially, and they brought a neighbor. Two other couples were neighbors. All were in our late twenties or early thirties, in first homes, with pre-school children. Theyhad no idea that they were a small part of a movement that was spreading across the United States-that of young American Jewish couples settling in the suburbs. They were all determined that they could make their goal a reality and asked for voluntary donations-five or ten dollars.

sanctuary 1

Rabbi Leon Jick, who at that time was Assistant Rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston, was at this first meeting. He was enthusiastic and encouraging but he cautioned that it was late in the year to plan for High Holiday services. He suggested the name “Beth Am” – house of the people. We all liked it and Beth Am became the name of the Temple.

The first public meeting was held in May. There were  now the names of 75 people in the Framingham-Natick area who were interested. They needed by-laws, officers, a religious services and a religious school committee. They met weekly and often twice weekly throughout the summer. The irst High Holy Day Services was held in September at the Unitarian Church. Rabbi Goldenson, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanuel in New York, delivered the sermon, a student Rabbi, Neil Brief conducted this service and also Yom Kippur Services. The Torah was loaned to us by Temple Emanuel in Worcester, as were the prayer books. The ark was built by one of our members; the ark cover was made and embroidered by his mother-in-law.

Our student Rabbi conducted services every other week throughout the year and services were held at the Unitarian Church. The Rabbi stayed for the weekend at a member’s home. Oneg Shabbats were held at several members’ homes. We were determined that anyone who came to our service would be welcome at a home for an Oneg Shabbat. So, we had directions to homes printed and distributed prior to and after services. As far as we knew, no one was ever overlooked.

Our Religious School opened in October 1956.


Presidents of Temple Beth Am through the years

NAME                                                                                                              YEARS OF SERVICE
Edward Wolper                                                                                                   1956-1957
Arnold Cole                                                                                                          1957-1958
Kenneth L. Ross*                                                                                                1958-1960
Michael R. Levy                                                                                                   1960-1961
Kenneth L. Ross*                                                                                                1961-1962
Herbert Weller                                                                                                    1962-1964
Lawrence L. Lewis                                                                                              1964-1965
Joseph Byer                                                                                                         1965-1967
Mrs. Terry Batzer                                                                                               1967-1968
Arthur Barbash*                                                                                                 1968-1971
Gerald P. Bonder*                                                                                              1971-1973
Irving L. Greenbaum*                                                                                       1973-1975
Richard Ober                                                                                                      1975-1979
Ira W. Morris                                                                                                      1979-1981
Barry N. Levitt,                                                                                                  1981-1983
Herschel Clopper                                                                                               1983-1985
Moe Wasserman*                                                                                              1985-1987
Leon Pinstein                                                                                                     1987-1989
Laurence Faiman                                                                                              1989-1991
Peter B. Nesson                                                                                                 1991-1993
Patricia Bell                                                                                                       1993-1995
Leonard S. Goldberg                                                                                        1995-1997
Leonard S. Brenner                                                                                          1997-1999
Jane O. Chafetz*                                                                                              1999-2001
A. Eric Rosen                                                                                                    2001-2004
Craig Berkson                                                                                                   2004-2005
Staci Berkson                                                                                                    2004-2005
Robert A. Cohen                                                                                               2005-2007
David Helinek*                                                                                                2007-2009
Rick Davis                                                                                                         2009-2011
Steven Schneider                                                                                             2011-2013
Karen Eglitis                                                                                                     2013-2015
Howard Schwartz                                                                                            2015-

  • of blessed memory