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

The Work Continues

The vote to unite the legacy congregations was taken and both congregations voted overwhelming in favor. Now what?

The process to uniting B’nai Israel and Beth Shalom is a deliberately slow and thoughtful process. The Board of Directors of the new unified congregation started work in August and their terms officially start Jan. 1, 2022.

Action Teams
The Board has asked nearly 100 members of the legacy congregations to serve on Action Teams that help them make important decisions as they work through the details of uniting two legacy congregations.

Those teams include membership, communications, ritual & music, youth group, legal, governance, finance, fundraising & development, personnel & staffing, adult education & lifelong learning, religious school, the Rayner Center, social action, community building, preserving our history and care & bereavement. Some updates from the Action Teams are below.

Naming Action Team

The vote starts soon! Watch your email for more details.

Rabbinical Search Update

The Rabbinical Search Team, made up of six members each from both legacy congregations, has submitted our application and started interviews. Interviews will likely continue into 2022.

Facilities Action Team Update

The UJCBR Board voted that the physical home of UJCBR will be at the Kleinert Avenue location currently housing Congregation B’nai Israel. The facilities team recommended an architectural firm to the Board, which approved hiring. The firm, along with a consultant with experience designing synagogues/sanctuaries, will study and assess the needs and desires of the congregation. This process will include input from congregants including live and/or virtual meetings. The design process will take some time and, we are confident, will result in a space for worship, study, and gathering of which our community can enjoy with pride for generations.

Need to contact an Action Team?
If you have comments or suggestions, please email Put the name of the Action Team you are writing about in the subject line to help us get it to the appropriate team quickly.

Working Mission & Vision of Our New Congregation


Our mission is to advance the practice of Reform Judaism in a single inclusive, welcoming congregation serving the needs of all Reform Jews in and around the greater Baton Rouge area. As we continue to grow and evolve, we pursue our Jewish values through the lens of a modern world while building a community of Jewish understanding, value and compassion through Teshuva, Tefilah and Tzedakah.


Our vision is to develop a collective commitment to Jewish Heritage and tradition while affirming the freedom to express shared values in creative and individualistic ways. Through our passionate Jewish Commitment, we strive to bring Tikkun Olam to our community, Israel and the world.

We respect and value the individual preferences among members in worship and expression of spirituality, offering enriching opportunities and programs for Jewish learning and growth at all ages, pre-K to seniors. We recognize that the strength of our diversity can best enhance the broadest expression of the principles of Reform Judaism.


  • We are welcoming of all people: Jews by birth and by choice, interfaith couples and families, everyone inclusive of all races, genders, sexual orientations, identities, and cultures.
  • Our children are the future of our congregation and Reform Judaism and their education is one of our strongest, strategic priorities.
  • Financial circumstances will never be a barrier to full participation. As an organization supported by our members, and in accordance with Jewish principles, we expect those who have the means to provide financial support will do so.

Answers to some questions about unification:

List of those that JSEC would like to thank.