The founders of Beth Hillel fulfilled that obligation and have left us a very rich heritage.
It was 1952, seven Jewish families got together to explore the needs of Jewish families in the Bloomfield area. The Bloomfield Jewish Community Center was founded. A full-fledged congregation was born. Three years later, an eight-acre plot was purchased on Blue Hills Avenue. Ground was broken and a building with seating capacity of 300 was erected, with most of the men donating their time and labor. In September 1955, the first High Holiday Services were conducted in the new synagogue, now renamed Beth Hillel Synagogue. Rabbi Louis Kaplan was named Beth Hillel’s first spiritual leader. Beth Hillel’s membership increased to 250 families and the congregation purchased land on Wintonbury Avenue. The new home was dedicated in November 1966, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Irving Spielman.
In September, 1969, Temple Beth Sholom (‘House of Peace’) merged with Beth Hillel. Membership numbered more than 450 families. Dr. Philip Lazowski, the rabbi of Beth Sholom, became the spiritual leader of the new Beth Hillel Synagogue.
Beth Hillel, of course, is more than just a place of worship. It serves the religious, cultural, and social needs of the surrounding Hartford Jewish community. Religious school classes play an important function, as well as a full range of social and educational activities. Beth Hillel has been intensively involved in promoting better relations and cooperation among all religious institutions of Bloomfield.
In the late 1980′s Beth Hillel Synagogue erected a larger social hall, a dairy kitchen, a multi-purpose room and a chapel allowing capacity to expand the main sanctuary to over 1300 seats. After more than 30 years as Beth Hillel’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Lazowski retired in 2000 and was honored as Rabbi Emeritus. He remains active and loved at Beth Hillel. Rabbi Gary Atkins serves Beth Hillel as Rabbi today. He has led the congregation since 2006. He and his wife, Iris, bring a renewed spirit of life and involvement to our congregation.
Our history has been very rich.. The past decades are filled with memorable events. We shared life experiences: births, bar/bat mitzvahs, marriages, anniversaries, and the loss of loved ones. It is in this synagogue that we have found friendships, shared goals, our holidays, and our prayers. It is here we have identified ourselves as Jews, and affirmed our faith. Beth Hillel maintains a traditional yet contemporary approach within the Conservative movement. We pride ourselves in being a truly egalitarian synagogue both in its religious practice and synagogue governance. From its beginnings, Beth Hillel has been an active member of the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism. Beth Hillel and its affiliates have received numerous awards for excellence. Beth Hillel has contributed numerous regional and national leaders.
And now, we look to the future. L’dor v’dor, from generation to generation and Hazak v Nitahazak, from strength to strength. Become part of the thriving Beth Hillel family today!