SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

Or HadashIt took approximately 45 minutes for 200-plus members of Congregation Or Hadash (COH) to walk their sacred Torah scrolls to their new permanent home on Trowbridge Road in Sandy Springs on Feb. 17. The brevity of the trip was ironic, given that COH’s journey began ten years prior.

In late 2002, a small group of individuals and families gathered to discuss founding an egalitarian congregation in Sandy Springs. Between December of that year and March 2003, the application process with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism was submitted and approved, a site was secured to hold services, by-laws were prepared, a budget was drafted and a mission statement was written.

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The congregation held its first service on Aug. 1, 2003 at the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, where COH was given a place to worship for its first four years. In the decade that has passed since that first service, membership has grown from 18 to 400 members.

Dr. Rabbi Analia Bortz and Rabbi Mario Karpuj were hired in 2003 to be the fledgling congregations spiritual leaders; this dynamic husband-and-wife duo was ordained at the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“The founders were looking for rabbis who would bridge tradition and community to foster an inclusive, warm and joyous environment that focused on lifelong learning, prayer, and music,” noted Betsy Edelman, President of the Congregation Or Hadash Board of Directors.

Today, COH’s member families enjoy a thriving religious school, exceptional tikkun olam (community service) opportunities, diverse adult education programs, family activities, music and study to elevate prayer services.

“Or Hadash, which translates to ‘new light,’ was founded on and is committed to serving the needs of its members within the framework of Conservative Judaism, celebrating today’s Jewish religion with contemporary and innovative services and encouraging member participation while maintaining core rituals and values,” Rabbi Mario Karpuj said. “That guiding vision helped the congregation to grow and thrive to reach this point.”

In March 2012, COH purchased the 3-acre site that was formerly the Tom Jumper Chevrolet Paint Shop. Working with architects from BLDGS and The Conan Company as general contractor, the building was transformed to house a sanctuary, social hall, courtyard, offices, six classrooms and a multipurpose room for services and classes.

Then, 10 years in the process, Congregation Or Hadash held its first Shabbat service in its new building on Feb. 22.

Congregation Or Hadash is a Conservative egalitarian synagogue in Sandy Springs dedicated to providing a warm and welcoming Jewish environment in which to build spiritual and social connections through prayer, learning, music and tikkun olam. Visit our website at or-hadash.org.

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