The spirit of Congregation B’nai Torah is as vibrant as the people who have made the synagogue their spiritual home. As a flourishing, multi-generational egalitarian congregation with a traditional feel, B’nai Torah serves our members in many important ways.
B’nai Torah is a place for:
- worship, where the principles of traditional Judaism are honored in an authentic and welcoming environment;
- education, where we deepen our understanding of Judaism and make the tenets of our faith known to younger generations;
- community, where we forge life-long friendships and gather for celebrations and support at challenging times that bind us in our faith.
B’nai Torah is blessed with active and engaged members, and in recent years a concerted effort has been made to expand programming for members of all generations. Throughout the week, B’nai Torah hosts:
- A variety of opportunities for worship, including multiple Shabbat services for adults and children and two daily minyans;
- Educational offerings for members of all ages, from our robust preschool and religious school (both about to enter a newly renovated school wing), to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, adult and family education;
- Activities that build community among members of our congregation and beyond, engaging the many peer groups – Sisterhood, Brotherhood, young couples, youth, and 40 North – that meet on a regular basis, frequently undertake social action projects, and have become a meeting hub for local Jewish groups.
- Simchas and life-cycle events that are of central importance to our families
Community is an integral element of the Jewish faith, and it is fundamental to the strength of B’nai Torah. From toddlers, teens and young families, to “40 Northers”, seniors and earliest members, together we all enrich the B’nai Torah community. We strive to make all who enter our doors feel at home and welcome you to join us.
Congregation B’nai Torah is conveniently located in Sandy Springs, just north of Atlanta, Georgia, and is a member of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.
Our congregation was founded in 1981, with its roots going back into the 1970’s. The young unaffiliated Jews of Atlanta found themselves meeting annually in the Hillel facilities of Emory University for High Holidays. After the 1980 High Holiday services, several families decided it was time for a Traditional Synagogue on the north side of Atlanta. The effort coincided with the tremendous northern growth of the city and the immigration to Atlanta of a large group of Jews from around the world. By early 1981, the organizers were ready to formally introduce Congregation B’nai Torah to the city. The introduction included a religious philosophy, orthodox except for mixed seating, a location on Mt. Vernon Highway, which was central to the northern suburbs of Atlanta, and a Rabbi.
While forward-thinking founders purchased the land, there was still a need to find a place to meet until funds could be raised for a building. This need was met by renting a nearby closed grammar school. The building had been closed for years and it took all the skills of the early members to make two classrooms (leaks included) feel like home for our pioneer founding members.
Membership quickly grew from 125 families when we opened to 350 families 5 years later when we moved into our permanent facility. Unfortunately, we were only able to stay in the school for 3 years. It was sold to a developer who put up a high rise. Then, like our nomadic ancestors, we moved regularly. First, we managed to find temporary quarters in a house that was to be redeveloped for an office park. Then we met in trailers as our permanent facility went up in the muddy lot next door. All of this built a strong and resilient membership. Shortly after we moved into our permanent home our membership shot up to over 600 families, where it remains today.
In 2004 we affiliated with the Conservative movement, and hired Rabbi Joshua Heller, now our Senior Rabbi and began a transition, now completed, towards egalitarian practice. In 2009, we added Rabbi Kenter, now our “Chief Learning Officer”.
We have now grown to about 750 families and our wide range of activities has necessitated an expansion. Our newly renovated sanctuary and expanded social hall are already bustling with congregational and community activities and our renovated, state of the art school and office wings will open before the High Holidays 2015.