Beth Am Temple’s incorporation took place on April 13, 1963. But Rabbi Daniel Pernick said to keep the temple president, a CPA, happy the 50th anniversary celebration is happening almost a week later. On Friday evening, congregants both new and old will join for a festive Shabbat service at the Pearl River temple.
Rabbi Pernick, a Nanuet resident, said the temple got its start when several local families who were members of Temple Beth El in Spring Valley wanted their house of worship to be closer to their homes. They were encouraged and assisted by Beth El’s rabbi and found a location in Pearl River.
“We met in the Old Nauraushaun Church,” said Rabbi Pernick.
The church is located at Old Orangeburg Road and Sickletown Road and the families met there for about six years until Beth Am Temple was built in its current location.
Currently its 220 families represent a cross section of the area. About 10 percent of the members come from Pearl River, about a third live in northern New Jersey and the rest reside throughout Rockland County in New City, Nanuet, Nyack, West Nyack, South Orangetown, Airmont and Suffern.
He said one of the strengths of the membership is its sense of community.
“We really are a community,” he said. “It’s a community that people feel a strong part of.”
Rabbi Pernick, who has led the temple for 28 years, said the diversity enables the religious school’s 125 students to make friends with children they might now have otherwise met.
“I’m very fortunate to have found a place where we were able to mesh we well and stay together and thrive for so long,” he said.
People with connections to Beth Am are traveling from Florida, Rochester, Syracuse and elsewhere to attend the Friday service and join together for a Kiddush luncheon after the Saturday morning service. These events are the culmination of a year’s worth of events and programs. The final activity is a Neil Berg concert onSaturday, May 4.
The special service will be followed with an Oneg with the desserts prepared by temple members. He said it is yet another example of the engaged congregation, adding that people should come hungry.
“One of the strengths of our congregation is that it has always been very participatory,” said Rabbi Pernick.