Joint Synagogue Exploratory Committee Congregation B'nai Israel full logo

Toward A Strong Reform Jewish Future for Baton Rouge

When I was born into this world, I found many beautiful trees
planted by those who came before me.
Just as my ancestors planted trees for me,
I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren,
so they will be sustained.

based on a Midrash in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit 23a

Mazel tov!


We would like to announce the results of the vote that was held on Sunday, August 22nd, regarding the possible unification of Beth Shalom Synagogue and Congregation B’nai Israel. The votes have been cast and counted according to the requirements of each congregation.

     Beth Shalom Congregation voted overwhelmingly in favor
     Congregation B’nai Israel voted overwhelmingly in favor

Mazel tov! This is an amazing moment of transition for the Baton Rouge Jewish community, and now the hard work really begins.

The Board of Directors for the new congregation will meet soon to start planning next steps, including the selection of its Executive Committee. The members of this new Board are Scott Berg, James Bullman, Lindsey Burton, Steven Cavalier, Heather Folks Givens, Julie Hoffman, Jak Kunstler, Mitch Rayner, Victor Sachse, Marc Sager, Harold Silverman, and Lindi Spalatin. There will be many decisions to be made and many opportunities for your involvement as the work of our new shared sacred community begins. Among the earliest and most important tasks will be selection of a name for the new congregation and establishment of a Rabbinic Search Committee.

The unification of the two congregations will become effective January 1, 2022, and our hope is that the first Congregational Meeting will occur soon thereafter. We will continue to have shared worship and programs, in addition to the joint religious school, as the new congregation is created.

Thank you to the Joint Synagogue Exploratory Committee, chaired by Barry Blumberg and Linda Posner for their more than two years’ work. Their discussions and hard work paved the way that has now brought our congregations together to become one sacred community. Thank you to James Bullman, Steve Cavalier, Diane Dean, Mark Hausmann, Jak Kunstler, Susan Lipsey, Jill Roby Pike, and Robbie Rubin. Thank you to all those who were part of the task forces that prepared their reports and recommendations. You have laid the groundwork for the incoming Board of Directors. Thank you to the current Boards of both congregations for ensuring that their members fully participated in making this decision. Thank you to everyone who voted.

We are on the brink of celebrating the Jewish New Year as we celebrate beginning a historic direction for the future of Jewish Baton Rouge. We will build our new community retaining the heritage and history of two strong legacy congregations as we look to the future. May 5782/2022 be a year of hard work, growth, harmony, and holiness for the new congregation that we are creating and shaping.

We wish you and your family a L’shanah tovah u’metukah!  A good and sweet new year!

Andy Blumberg, President, Congregation B’nai Israel
Mark Posner, President, Beth Shalom Synagogue

Answers to some questions about unification:

List of those that JSEC would like to thank.