The story of Ahavas Israel:
At Congregation Ahavas Israel, we are committed to welcoming and providing community support to all persons seeking a spiritual path using traditional Jewish practice in a modern, egalitarian Conservative Jewish setting. Ahavas Israel offers a warm and friendly Shabbat experience, as well as diverse religious and social activities for families and adults, including Torah study, Junior Congregation, art workshops, and a community garden. Ahavas is fortunate to have an active, thoughtful Rabbi with a great teaching manner and a mensch of a Hazzan/Cantor with a wonderful, engaging voice and a down-to-earth sense of humor. Children ages two through high school participate in an active, joint Conservative-Reform United Jewish School that has an excellent curriculum and high retention rates. Rabbi Krishef also offers special activities (including Hebrew enrichment) for Ahavas Israel children attending the religious school. A diverse group of people in business, professions, and academics from a wide variety of backgrounds enriches our congregational life. We understand that each person’s path to Jewish engagement is different, depending upon one's education, age, sexual orientation, family structure, and socio-economic status among other factors. Allow us to welcome you into our family.
Our rich history has evolved from Orthodox to an inclusive, egalitarian Conservative congregation.
In 1892, fifteen families joined together to form Temple Beth Israel, the first Orthodox Congregation in Grand Rapids. Over the next two decades it grew quickly, but in 1911 a dispute over the presence of girls on the bima singing in the choir caused a small group to form the second Orthodox synagogue in Grand Rapids, Ahavas Achim, located on the West side of Grand Rapids. Over the next sixteen years, both congregations continued to grow and were virtually the same size when they merged in 1937, forming Congregation Ahavas Israel.
Following WWII in 1947, Ahavas Israel, like many other congregations, formally joined the United Synagogue of America (today known as the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism). While up to that point the ritual of the congregation was orthodox, such things as mixed seating, women's voices in the choir, and an emerging bat mitzvah ritual made for a natural transition to Conservative Judaism. Ahavas Israel moved to Lafayette Street in 1953, and into our current building in 1971, which features a large and small sanctuary, religious school classrooms, library, meeting room, two kosher kitchens and a social hall. It also houses the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids.
In 1978, the congregation took a giant step towards becoming fully egalitarian as Rosalie Rotenberg became the first woman to receive an aliyah. We have continued on that path ever since, with women fully participating in leadership and Torah reading. Our professional staff consists of a full-time rabbi, part time cantor, office manager, and custodian.
Interested in learning more about us or our history? You can download an informational brochure here, A list of our rabbis can be found here, and a list of our presidents can be found here.
2727 Michigan NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 949-2840
Fax: (616) 949-6929
As a member of the Conservative movement, Congregation Ahavas Israel is a place for Jews to gather for lifecycle rituals, to support members of all ages, to teach Judaism and spirituality, and to cultivate religious, educational, spiritual, social, and emotional fulfillment.
Congregation Ahavas Israel welcomes all persons who wish to explore a spiritual path using Traditional Jewish practice in an egalitarian Jewish setting.
Mission Statement of Congregation Ahavas Israel:
Congregation Ahavas Israel creates a vibrant egalitarian Conservative Jewish community helping each individual follow his/her spiritual path using traditional Jewish practice.
To create connections between individuals in our Jewish community through religious, educational, and social programs that attract participation of all our members.
Congregation Ahavas Israel is a fully accessible building. Our Sanctuary, Chapel, and Social Hall are equipped with an induction loop system to aid worshippers with hearing loss. The system broadcasts an audio signal that can only be picked up by hearing aids with a telecoil feature. The telecoil is that feature you would use in order to hear more clearly on a telephone. If you're not sure that your hearing aid has one, talk to your audiologist.
By activating the t-coil, anything said at the microphone will broadcast directly into your hearing aids. Additionally, there is one set of headphones that will pick up the loop broadcast. See the usher to use that headphone.