Reform and Conservative synagogues merge in New Jersey

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — A Reform temple and Conservative synagogue in northern New Jersey will officially merge as of the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

Temple Shalom in Franklin, N.J., which is Reform, and the Jewish Center of Sussex County in Newton, N.J., a Conservative congregation, have joined to form B’nai Shalom of Sussex County, the New Jersey Jewish News reported.

The merger is one of scores of similar mergers throughout the United States in recent years, as liberal synagogues face financial challenges and declining membership numbers.

The Jewish Center, which was founded in the early 20th century, has 50 members — down from twice that number 15 years ago.

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“We were losing members, and they were struggling. It doesn’t make sense to have two faltering congregations 15 minutes apart when you could have one solid congregation,” Rob Richman, its president — who will now be co-president of the new congregation — told the NJJN.

The 70-member Temple Shalom was itself the product of a 1975 merger between Congregation Sons of Israel and another synagogue.

Rabbi Josh Cantor of Temple Shalom will be spiritual leader of the new congregation, which will use Reform prayer books. The two combined their religious schools last year.

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