Jews have been a part of life in South Australia for as long as Adelaide has existed as a city. The Adelaide Hebrew Congregation built its first building in 1950 and moved to its current site in 1969. Beit Shalom, which is registered as Adelaide Progressive Jewish Congregation, was founded by a dedicated group of lay leaders in 1963 in response to the need for a Liberal Jewish presence in South Australia. After renting space for nearly twenty years, the congregation moved to its present home on Hackney Road in the late 1970s.
Beit Shalom was founded with assistance by Rabbi John Levi of Temple Beth Israel and served first by a number of visiting student rabbis. Its first Rabbi, Jeffrey A Kahn, was formally inducted in 1981. He was followed by Rabbi Ian Morris led our congregation for nine years here until he accepted a position in Leeds, England. Rabbi Adam Morris and Rabbi Lenore Bohn both served the congregation for two years, and then Rabbis David and Patricia Kopstein remained with Beit Shalom for four years. Our current rabbi, Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky joined us in September, 2006.
Throughout its history, Beit Shalom members have held positions of leadership in the larger Adelaide Jewish community. Beit Shalom created the very successful community Purim carnival, which is now the largest Jewish event of the year in Adelaide. Our members serve as officers and board members in Jewish Community Services, the Jewish Genealogical and History Society, the State Zionist Council and WIZO.
They also punch above their weight in the Progressive Jewish world. Nine Beit Shalom members have been awarded the Union for Progressive Judaism’s highest honours the Vatik and Ner Tamid awards. Beit Shalom members have also served and continue to serve in the leadership of Netzer–the Reform Zionist youth movement. Beit Shalom’s youth were instrumental in developing Adelaide’s independent youth movement JAZY which is uniquely suited to serve our small and diverse Jewish population.