Congregation Beth Tefillah strives to offer an authentic Jewish experience anyone can enjoy and benefit from regardless of religious affiliation.
“The most important thing is that people remain connected to their heritage and that we provide that forum for everyone,” said Rabbi Yossi New, who launched the congregation after arriving in Atlanta in January 1984 to start Chabad of Georgia. “Our future depends on engaging the next generation by offering a wide menu of services members can gravitate to, which may be a challenge but also something we are prepared to meet.”
Since its establishment, Beth Tefillah has expanded on its campus along High Point Road. A replacement for its mikvah is being built, with an opening expected next spring, and the Jeff and Carla Youth and Education Center, which houses the Chaya Mushka Children’s House preschool and summer programs, was constructed two years ago. The congregation is planning to revamp its Hebrew school, invest in multiple programs for young families and increase volunteer opportunities, all under the Chabad of Atlanta brand.
In addition to religious services, adult education and youth programing, Beth Tefillah tries to create an atmosphere to draw more community members.
“It’s all about the kids and providing programs which attract families with children,” Rabbi Isser New said.
“We probably have the most diverse congregation in Atlanta, including individuals who are ultra-Orthodox to people who are not yet observant, which I believe reflects our philosophy and attitude toward embracing every Jew,” Rabbi Yossi New said.
As part of an effort to expand its membership beyond the current 400 families, the congregation has revamped its office leadership with the hiring of Chief Operating Officer Reuven Gartner and Director of Finance Chaya Morris, a certified public accountant previously employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
With a background in sales and marketing, Gartner hopes to streamline and professionalize the organization through the greater use of technology.
Gartner said the congregation is combining its accounting and shul management into the computer program “Shul Cloud.”
“Whether it includes reserving High Holiday seating, submitting donations or paying dues, people will now be able to do so online,” Gartner said. “This will provide us more accuracy and transparency in the long run and greater ability to share resources, which will ultimately minimize any duplications.”
Beth Tefillah also is creating a new logo.
“The logo has not changed in close to 30 years and does not represent who we are as a new shul and community,” Gartner said. “We’re a congregation that is always growing and reinventing itself while looking for opportunities to attract new members, which makes it really exciting.”
The congregation hopes to upgrade programming, membership outreach and fundraising through various events, which in the past have included a golf tournament and guest lecturers.
“There is no pressure or expectation for conformity at Congregation Beth Tefillah,” Rabbi Yossi New said. “There is fundamentally no distinction between one Jew and another within the organization, and individuals can glean and take away whatever they wish to apply to their own lives, at a level they are comfortable with.”
Gartner added, “I think most if not all synagogues should focus on how to involve children while providing an enriching and educational program toward Judaism.”