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Our Cortland Home


Over 3 decades ago, 3 current members, who were in interfaith families, wanted to give their children education that provided Jewish learning in an atmosphere of open questioning and inclusivity. This included beliefs about God, government policies in Israel, and participation of interfaith families in Jewish life and learning. They approached Rabbi Pamela Frydman who had put out a flyer in one of the kids’ schools inviting families to have their child join a Jewish learning class. Hence the first class and seed for Or Shalom began in the living room of a home in Bernal Heights, just 4 blocks from Or Shalom’s new home!

One class led to another in more homes, then a rented office and a desire to spend holidays together, as well as engage in Jewish learning with children. After some years, Or Shalom was founded and incorporated. The Rabbi and the founding mothers were committed to creating a peaceful Jewish Community where all people would be welcome. Inclusivity meant everyone could participate at all levels in our worship, music, education, social and community activities, and in leadership.

Or Shalom was conceived as a community for spiritual, social, political, and religious openness, with interfaith roots. The charter members wanted to ensure that Or Shalom was a friendly place and one where music played a central role not as performance, but as prayer and expression of contemplation, beauty, and joy.

We continued for over 3 decades without a permanent home, sharing sacred and learning spaces with both Jewish and Christian congregations. While originally considering ourselves Jewish Renewal, Or Shalom never affiliated until becoming Reconstructionist, now called Reconstructing Judaism, under Rabbi Katie Mizrahi’s leadership 14 years ago.

Fast forward to today

Or Shalom is a thriving community, open and welcome to all. We embrace Jewish tradition and values as we encourage questioning and experimentation. Tikkun Olam/repairing the world plays a central role in all community activities. Today, we finally have our very own home at 331-333 Cortland Avenue, and look forward to creating our new vibrant space—
a place where we can feel connected and at home. 

Thu, December 8 2022 14 Kislev 5783