welcome! bienvenidos! !ברוך הבא
Temple Beth Shalom is a welcoming, inclusive community, celebrating Reform Judaism, exploring our connection with God, and dedicated to learning and pursuing justice.
Santa Fe’s Temple Beth Shalom is a dynamic, diverse, friendly and inclusive Reform Jewish Community ~ the oldest and largest Jewish congregation in one of North America’s oldest and most unique cities. We unequivocally welcome Jews from all backgrounds: traditional, interfaith, LGBTQ, Conversos and Crypto-Jews. All who feel a connection to Judaism, or who are interested in Jewish life and practice, are invited to join us.
TBS is also a leader in social justice, promoting a future based on progressive Jewish ethical values. Together, we explore our spirituality, we study, we form life-long friendships, and we share life’s journey while making the world a better place.
Centuries of Judaism in "The City Different"
Santa Fe is one of North America’s most ancient cities and the oldest capital city in the United States. Despite its small-town feel, it’s a remarkably diverse city, populated by artists and scholars, writers and scientists, teachers and businesspeople, attorneys and accountants, engineers and physicians, and many others who have been drawn by the art and atmosphere of this unusual place. There are families here who trace their ancestry back to Santa Fe’s 19th century Jewish settlers, but most are more recent arrivals from across the United States and around the world.
There is considerable evidence that Jews from Spain who were fleeing the Inquisition were part of New Mexico’s Spanish colonial presence dating back to the turn of the 17th century. During the 19th century, many "pioneer" Jews of Ashkenazic origin migrated to the West and founded communities beyond the Mississippi River, including, by 1850, in Santa Fe. In the years that followed, Santa Fe’s Jews prospered, establishing a positive relationship with the region’s Catholic-majority Christians. In the late 1860s, two Jewish families on close terms with Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy contributed funds for the completion of Santa Fe’s imposing St. Francis Cathedral (now the Basilica) which led to the presence of a Hebrew Tetragrammaton carved over its grand entrance.
It was the influx of Jewish personnel for the Manhattan Project during World War II that finally created the “critical mass”, as it were, for a permanent Jewish worship center. In the late 1940s, eighteen families purchased property on Barcelona Road, a quiet street about a mile-and-a-half from the city’s historic Plaza. They engaged the noted architect John Gaw Meem, a key figure in the development of Santa Fe’s signature “Pueblo Revival” style, to design a building that could accommodate the forty families who made up what was then called the Santa Fe Jewish Temple. The congregation dedicated its Meem-designed worship space in June 1956.
In 1970 the congregation adopted its current name, Temple Beth Shalom. Throughout that decade and into the next TBS’s membership expanded dramatically. In August 1982 TBS affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), now the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). In response to the Temple’s growth, a new building designed by renowned solar architect Ed Mazria was dedicated in September 1986. An adjacent classroom and office wing was completed in May 1987. The original building now houses the Temple's Preschool and its adult library and is used as a multi-purpose meeting space and classroom. It reverts to its original purpose during the High Holy Days, when our Youth Services are held there. Our large campus also has a quiet and verdant meditation garden which is available for use year-round.
TBS is the proud steward of the “Las Vegas Torah,” the oldest in New Mexico, which resides in our Main Sanctuary in a specially designed display case. It is scrolled to the Ten Commandments—the last portion read during a service. We are also pleased to be guardians of a Holocaust Torah, loaned to us by the Westminster Memorial Trust.
Over time, TBS moved from an initial reliance on part-time rabbis commuting from Albuquerque to full-time rabbinic leadership. Following Rabbi Marvin Schwab’s retirement in 2014, we were happy to engage the services of Rabbi Neil Amswych. Rabbi Neil came to us after 9 years as the principal rabbi of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue in England.
Our Friday night services and High Holy Day observances are enriched by great music and lots of congregational participation. Saturday mornings start with a very well-attended Torah discussion featuring a lox and bagels breakfast. Our Jewish practice, grounded in Reform, incorporates everything from meditation to dancing in the aisles, accurately reflecting the multi-dimensional nature of our congregation.
Today TBS has a membership of more than 300 families, making it by far the largest Jewish congregation in Santa Fe. Like Reform Jews everywhere, we know that the future of Judaism is bound up with our children. Thus, TBS places a high priority on education. Our K-12 religious school, under the direction of Joy Rosenberg, educates some 85 students annually, not just up to their B’nai Mitvot but right through high school. Beth Shalom Temple Youth (BSTY), TBS’s NFTY-Southwest Region-affiliated youth group, has been a magnet for teens for over two decades under Ellen Zieselman’s warm, witty guidance. Our daily preschool for 2 to 4 year olds has an enrollment of about 30 students, is accredited by the NAEYC, enjoys a sterling reputation and is open to all children, Jewish or not.
Joy Rosenberg also heads our Adult Education program, partnering with the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival, the Jewish Community Council of Northern New Mexico, and the Jewish Federation of New Mexico in presenting dynamic educational and cultural learning opportunities to the congregation and the local and regional community.
Temple Beth Shalom is also firmly committed to tikkun olam, “the repair of the world”. Guided by our Social Justice Coordinator, Judah Horowitz, TBS has been instrumental in effecting real change in the larger Santa Fe community, engaging in everything from legislative advocacy to hands-on assistance to the homeless and needy. Our strong commitment to outreach is reflected in our close connection to the Interfaith Leadership Alliance (co-founded by Rabbi Schwab) and by our “sister” relationships with two very different congregations: the Reform-affiliated Kehilat Yedid Nefesh in Carmiel, Israel, and Christ Lutheran Church right here in Santa Fe.