B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom, known as BTS, is a young synagogue – having come into being in 2011 – but it has its roots in two venerable congregations: Congregation B’nai Sholom of Newington and Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh of Bloomfield, each with its own proud history.
Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh was started by families who had fled persecution in Nazi Germany. On November 8, 1942, a group of 18 men met in the vestry of the Bedford Street Synagogue in Hartford to found the new shul. A Board of Directors (Vorstand) was elected to guide and manage the organization. The purposes of the congregation were originally declared to be: to conduct services as often as possible, especially Friday evening, to take care of the dead, and to teach the children.
Rabbi Hans Bodenheimer, himself a survivor, became the founding spiritual leader of Tikvoh Chadoshoh. The growing congregationcontinued to meet in the vestry of the Bedford Street Synagogue for both Sabbath and holiday services until 1957 when they moved into a permanent synagogue building on Cornwall Street. In 1969, the congregation relocated to a beautiful new building in Bloomfield.
Congregation B’nai Sholom was founded in 1955 by a handful of families from Newington, West Hartford and Elmwood who wanted to observe the High Holidays in their new community. They began meeting in a rented hall with a student rabbi and, less than a year later, purchased a building on Francis Avenue. In 1971, the congregation dedicated their new building at 26 Church Street.
Several years ago, the merger of these two Conservative synagogues was celebrated with a public procession of Torah scrolls and a gala wedding, complete with huppah and ketubah [see above].
Located in the former home of Tikvoh, on 180 Still Road (at the corner of Mountain, on the West Hartford/Bloomfield line), BTS is led by Rabbi Debra Cantor, formerly the rabbi of B’nai Sholom. Rabbi Cantor is a graduate of the first rabbinical class of the Jewish Theological Seminary to ordain women; she is a popular speaker and renowned Jewish educator, and has long been involved in interfaith and social justice initiatives.
BTS is known for its friendly members, lively services and commitment to Jewish learning. This year, in partnership with the Mandell JCC, BTS is launching Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning, which will welcome people of all backgrounds to take a breather from the fast-paced world in which we live, and engage in creative, inspiring, joyful Jewish learning.