When I lived in Philadelphia, Kol Tzedek was my community. My partner was often away for work, and I felt adopted by this beautiful community. Once when I was sick, the rabbi even brought me saltines! The community is warm, welcoming, diverse and creative. So much of its strength comes from its lay people. The only thing that I felt was a downer sometimes was that we did not have worship services every Shabbat. However the services we did have were musical and spiritual, and the rabbi always had great knowledge to share.
Kol Tzedek is an incredibly warm and welcoming place. As a new member of the community, people reached out to me without my having to seek them out. My significant other is not Jewish and Kol Tzedek is a welcoming place for him too, with many programs for interfaith couples and an accessible service that he can participate in. I highly recommend Kol Tzedek and the incredible community there to anyone who moves to Philadelphia!
I joined Kol Tzedek in June 2008 and have been an enthusiastic member since. Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann guided me through my conversion process and KT has been just about everything I could have wanted in a Jewish community--warm, welcoming, supportive, spiritual, traditional yet progressive, and fun. I have taken classes, attended services, planned events and made friends. As I get closer to my college graduation I am getting sadder by the day at the thought of having to leave KT if I move to another city.
I was a reluctant founding member of Kol Tzedek -- I grew up in a reconstructionist minyan and I didn't want to see the West Philly chavurah become a 'synagogue' with a rabbi. I also thought the rabbi-to-be was kind of young. I could not have been more wrong. The congregation has blossomed thanks to a number of community members who've worked very hard and because in Lauren Grabelle-Hermann, we are blessed to have a tremendously talented rabbi. She's learned, smart, loving and warm and handles tricky situations with tact and grace. She's a gifted storyteller, which is a boon for the kids. And when I was in a precarious, frightening situation several years ago, she provided comfort and reassurance far beyond her years. Kol Tzedek is the best non-profit!
Kol Tzedek has been an amazing positive force in my life every since I first attended High Holiday services there two years ago. The range of events and services they offer is staggering --- aside from the expected religious services, their members run a Torah school, cook and deliver meals for families with new babies, involve themselves in community organizations and interfaith efforts (like winterizing homes in West Philadelphia), and so on, all without losing the warm and welcoming community atmosphere that first drew me in two years ago. In all honesty, before attended Kol Tzedek I was feeling very disconnected from my religion and my community. But KT helped me to find the positive aspects of both, and now I'm a committed member and frequent volunteer.
I have just moved to West Philadelphia and was looking for a nearby Reconstructionist congregation. Kol Tzedek was the perfect fit! Although I have not been able to commit much time to attending events and services, the ones in which I do participate always prove to be very worthwhile. The services are both familiar and unique. Everyone is very welcoming and I feel very lucky to have found such a comforting congregation in this new city.
Kol Tzedek started as a small but dedicated group of individuals committed to Jewish rebirth in West Philadelphia, a neighborhood that has been without a synagogue for many years. It has blossomed into a vibrant community that welcomes people with a range of viewpoints on Jewish culture and practice. As a former chair of programming on Kol Tzedek's board, I've seen how a youthful exuberance and willingness to experiment has blended with interest in the Jewish past to create an organization that appeals young people and young families and serves the urban setting perfectly. It's truly gratifying to see how attendance has grown at services, educational programs, and social justice outreach.
I've seen it go from an idea to a sustaining reality, and throughout have been compelled to participate (previously had become disillusioned with Judaism). I have never before seen a congregation where everyone really wants to be there and enthusiastically takes part in the community, not just going through the motions.
When I was considering a move to West Philly, I had to check out the neighbohood shul before I could decide. I went to Kol Tzedek Friday night service and I was really touched by the geniune affection of the people there. After I joined, I realized that the container of Kol Tzedek is the most successful example I have every seen of a shul that holds a pluralistic membership. Everyone seems to find their niche there. Four years later, I am getting married (this Sunday); both my bride and me were memebers of Kol Tzedek before we even met. This community is thriving. And the best part, you don't need a ticket for high holy days. Just come. Everyone is welcome.
I am a founding member of Kol Tzedek, despite not being a resident of West Philadelphia. (I live as far east as you can in Philadelphia - I watch the sunrise over the Delaware River every morning.) I was drawn to Rabbi Lauren's knowledge and enthusiasm as well as the emergent warmth and sense of community of the kehillah. Unfortunately for me, I was one of Kol Tzedek's first test cases for organizing our Hesed committee when I required multiple operations three years ago. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of visitors, phone calls, meals, offers for help, general compassion, etc. that came from our small community. In fact, many of the KT friendships that I've made have grown from these interactions. I can't say enough positive about our but growing community.