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Our Featured Member synagogue for November/December 2007 is Temple Hillel Bnai Torah, a Reconstructionist congregation in West Roxbury. We are pleased to recognize the synagogue in honor of its 55th anniversary and in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Rabbi Barbara Penzner's ordination.

Temple Hillel Bnai Torah (HBT) is a mature community, rooted in over 50 years of devoted congregational life in West Roxbury and Mattapan. Temple HBT's beginnings date back to the 1950s when the Parkway Jewish Women's Club and the Parkway Jewish Men's Association formed Temple Beth Torah, a conservative synagogue with its own Hebrew School. With 300 Jewish families in West Roxbury, the congregation moved to Corey Street. In 1970, Temple Beth Hillel of Mattapan merged with Beth Torah to form Temple Hillel Bnai Torah. In 1995, members of a local havurah joined together with the senior members of Hillel Bnai Torah to search for a rabbi that would successfully weave together the growing and diverse membership of the congregation. Rabbi Barbara Penzner was hired in 1995, and in 2004 Hillel Bnai Torah formally affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement.

As a Reconstructionist community, we offer the best of the old and new. We find the traditions of our people comforting and inspirational. At the same time, we are open to learning, questioning and reinterpreting Jewish practices and teachings in creative and inspiring ways. We mix traditional prayers with new interpretations of rituals. We worship together with music, stories and reflection. We pray in Hebrew, in transliteration, in English, and in silence. Congregants may lead services, prepare a Dvar Torah", or continue to explore their individual spiritual paths through devotional chanting, study, and service. Our Hebrew School (K-12) and adult education programs provide our members with opportunities to delve into Jewish thought and values. Our goal is to create a community of friends and learners who respect each person's chosen level of observance. We learn Reconstructionist ideals and philosophy, through the lens of art, music, study and prayer. Our educational programs actively incorporate our core values of Torah, avodah, tikkun olam, and havurah.

We welcome a diverse range of congregants, and a hallmark of our synagogue's culture is that each individual is truly welcomed and accepted. Our community draws its members from Boston's many neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs. We are inclusive of people of varied backgrounds and traditions, young and old, learned Jews to beginners, and interfaith couples growing in their individual paths. Heterosexual couples from Needham sit comfortably with lesbian moms from Jamaica Plain. Elderly congregants enjoy the b'nai mitzvot of the community of multi-racial, multi-ethnic children who learn and celebrate with us. Young singles find themselves networking and sharing their Jewish path with those of us who are still figuring out "what's next!"

On Saturday evening, December 1, 2007 join us as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rabbi Barbara Penzner's ordination as a Reconstructionist Rabbi. The highlight of the evening will be a concert with Cantor Jeff Klepper and remarks by celebrated author, Anita Diamant. Other local notables will be present as well as lots of surprises in store as we honor Rabbi Penzner and celebrate our community's integral place in the life of Jewish Boston.

For information call the temple office at 617-323-0486 or visit us at www.templehbt.org.

120 Corey Street
West Roxbury, MA 02132
Clergy: Rabbi Barbara Rossman Penzner