Visitor Information

We have many visitors to our synagogue, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and many wonder about the etiquette. Here's what you need to know when visiting Congregation Ahavas Israel.

If you are coming as individuals, you are welcome anytime for any service. If you are coming with a group, we ask you to call the office and schedule your visit. We limit groups to five people at a time. If your group has more than that, we ask that you divide your group and schedule your visit on more than one Shabbat.

If you visit on Shabbat or a holiday, please understand that Ahavas Israel strives to create an atmosphere of Shabbat within our walls, a “bubble of Shabbat space.”  Please help us by turning off cell phones and other electronic devices.  Texting, audio or video recording and photography are prohibited on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.  In consideration of traditional Shabbat practice, we also ask that you not write in the synagogue.

Jewish adults are encouraged to wear a tallit.  All men should wear a head covering during worship.  Kippot are available in bins outside the sanctuary or chapel.  Women’s head coverings are only required when leading a service or taking an aliyah. For services, we usually have conservative dress, appropriately modest. Men wear anything from a suit, to a nice shirt and slacks or clean jeans. Women can also wear a suit, dress, or slacks.

Our services start at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings, and end at about about 11:45 a.m. The service consists of 4 parts:

  • (9:30 a.m.) Preliminary service, consisting of mostly of chanted Psalms;
  • (9:45 a.m.) The Shema and Amidah - The core of Jewish prayer
  • (10:15 a.m.) The Torah service - a reading from Torah, Prophets (the Haftarah), and a bit of learning (D'var Torah)
  • (11:30 a.m.) An additional Amidah prayer and concluding prayers

A service Guide, called Tefillah (Prayer) Tidbits, is available at the back of the Sanctuary or chapel or can be read or downloaded online here.

We use a prayer book that has both Hebrew and English. Services are in Hebrew, with some prayers in English. If you don't know any Hebrew, you can read along in the English translation. Please follow along where you can.

If you need some extra help following the service, please let the usher know. Many times a member of the congregation will sit beside you and help you understand the service, including where we are in the prayer book as well as "what's happening now."

After services we have kiddush, which is a light communal meal/snacks. You are welcome to attend; we would like to get to know you, whether you are Jewish or not.

We look forward to meeting you!

Membership

happy Faces!Congregation Ahavas Israel welcomes all persons who wish to explore a spiritual path using Traditional Jewish practice in an egalitarian Conservative Jewish setting.


It is Ahavas Israel's membership policy, whether you are unaffiliated or currently a member of another institution, to welcome you and thank you for your membership and participation at Ahavas Israel.

It is Ahavas Israel's dues policy to ask you to set your own level of yearly dues.  We'll talk to you about the actual cost of running the synagogue and encourage you to take that into account, but the final decision as to your dues offering is yours.

Interested in learning more about us or becoming a part of our community? You can download an informational brochure here, and you can download a membership application for an individual here, and for a household here. Ahavas Israel has a special affiliation category for those who are not Jewish who want to support the work that we do, called "B'nai Noah" affiliation. You can find the B'nai Noah application here.

For more information, please contact our chairs, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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 Happy Faces!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. 

 

For a more detailed history of Ahavas Israel, see the About Us page.

Youth Programs

Opportunities for Youth

Congregation Ahavas Israel participates in the national Kadima middle school age and USY high school age youth groups of the Conservative Movement, encouraging our young people to participate in regional and international conventions. The Hy and Greta Berkowitz scholarship program supports youth educational activities, selected Jewish camp experiences, SKIP (Send a Kid to Israel Program, providing matching scholarship funds to send our congregational children on a trip to Israel), and other youth activities. For more information, see the Youth Scholarship page.

We also have youth activities, such as movies, Synagogue sleep-ins, and trips planned. For information on the synagogue’s current youth program, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

kadima

 

Sermon Archive

 

Rosh Hashanah
First Day 

Rosh Hashanah
Second Day 
Yom Kippur
Kol Nidre 

Yom Kippur
Day

Notable Deaths
2018 Bury the Bird Properly! Separation or Reconciliation?
Judaism: Race or Tribe? Falling Kor'im Notable Deaths/5778
2017 Aging Parasites  Adding to the Fast  Israel  Notable Deaths/5777
2016 Power of Making Connections Sacrifices

The Vidui Confession Ritual, Beating Your Chest

 Kaddish Notable Deaths/5776
2015 Refugee Crisis Clarifying Thoughts Sacred Self-Delusion Mapping Our Lives Notable Deaths/5775
2014 Nourishing the Five Souls Israel - National Spirituality Fear Erasing Memories Notable Deaths/5774
2013 Teshuvah Religious Experience  Achieving Peacefulness  Torah Study Notable Deaths/5773
2012 Healthy Forgiveness Ethics - Absolute or Relatively Relative What Social Media Cannot Do Winning and Losing Notable Deaths/5772
2011 Blessing, Shalom, and Birkat Kohanim Learning from Honeybees Stewardship Interfaith Understanding Notable Deaths/5771
2010 Lower Manhattan Islamic Center Conversion of N. American Jewry Miners in the Belly of the Fish A Theology of Mi Sheberakh Notable Deaths/5770
2009 Our Time or God's Time? Health Care Rudeness Hopelessness Notable Deaths/5769
2008 Happiness Living With Integrity Membership and Belonging Dying:  Gateway to Living Notable Deaths/5768
2007 Community Israel Mitzvah Miss the Roses Notable Deaths/5767
2006 Sacred Boredom Religion and Politics Carrying Baggage Ensoulment Notable Deaths/5766
2005 Cultivating Humility Sibling Relationships Reproach Torture Notable Deaths/5765
2004 Competition Anger Homosexuality Discovering Your Potential Notable Deaths/5764
2003 Prayer Mr. Rogers and Harry Potter Marketing Ourselves From Age-ing to Sage-ing  
2002 Freedom and Happiness Centrality of Israel Religious Pluralism Yizkor and Traumatic Memory  
2001 Terrorism Israel Stem Cells Yizkor  
2000 Leiberman Judaic Comfort Genome Modesty  

Adult Education Scholarships

Israel and Belle Shapiro Educational Endowment Fund

Congregation Ahavas Israel believes that a strong and healthy congregation requires an educated laity.  It is our responsibility to educate not only our children, but our adults as well.  To this end, we have an adult education scholarship fund called the Israel and Belle Shapiro Educational Endowment Fund.  The fund exists so members of Ahavas Israel can participate in a programs of serious adult Jewish education, such as Hebrew ulpans, online or in Israel, to improve his/her Hebrew skills; summer school programs such as those offered by the Jewish Theological Seminary or the American Jewish University, to study Bible, Talmud, history, philosophy, etc.

Recipients of Ahavas Israel scholarships are expected to volunteer for a Board or Committee, develop and run an educational or religious program, or in some other way share their learning with others at Ahavas Israel.

To download an application, click here.

Corners of the Field Garden 2018

No experience is needed to work in the garden. You bring some gloves and your energy. Please email Allyson Cole-Strauss at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (616-406-6536) or Mary Kaneti at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about helping to feed the hungry. Thank you!


Each year, the garden produced over 400 pounds of produce donated to the Temple Emanuel and the Baxter Street Food Pantries.

photo

2013-05-19 10.28.211



2013-05-19 10.38.46

Hello Gardeners- I thought you would like to see what our first delivery to Temple Emanuel looked like. Mary K. was kind enough to pick and wash everything and get it over to them. Thanks Mary!  See you in the garden-Allyson


2013-07-15 16.39.59

2013-08-04 17.52.00

Past Presidents

1937-1938 - Abraham Turetsky
1938-1939 - Harry Plous
1939-1940 - Abraham Geller
1940-1942 - Israel Smith
1942-1943 - Abraham Turetsky
1943-1949 - Max Subar
1949-1951 - Reuben Turner
1951-1953 - Seymour Rapaport
1953-1956 - Percy Berman
1956-1958 - Abe Drasin
1958-1959 - Harold Turner
1958-1959 - Jacob Weiner
1960-1962 - Benjamin Kleiman
1962-1965 - Morris Weinstein
1965-1967 - Lester Berman
1967-1968 - Morris Weinstein
1968-1970 - Morris Kleiman
1970-1973 - Philip Rotenberg
1973-1976 - Hyman Berkowitz
1976-1978 - Lewis Rader
1978-1980 - Rosalie Rotenberg
1980-1982 - Morris Kleiman
1982-1984 - Stuart Rapaport
1984-1986 - Lewis Rader
1986-1988 - Judith Joseph
1988-1990 - Mort Hoffman
1990-1992 - Michael Halprin
1992-1994 - Sidney Pachter
1994-1996 - Stuart Rapaport
1996-1998 - Robert Stein
1998-2002 - Edward A. Miller
2002-2004 - Sanford Freed
2004-2006 - Rhonda Reider
2006-2008 - Richard Stevens
2008-2010 - David Reifler
2010-2012 - Marni Vyn
2012-2014 - Bill Lewis
2014-2016 - Guy De Jager
2016-2017 - Paula Bojsen
2017-2018 - Ken Strauss
2018-2020 - Barb Wepman

Gemilut Hasadim/Social Action Projects

 

Our Corners of the Field Garden provides three deliveries a week of various vegetables to the Temple Emanuel food shelf and/or other organizations that provide food distribution. We have distributed approximately 2000 pounds a year for the past three years. In addition, a group from Ahavas Israel volunteers monthly preparing meals for those in need.

 

The Corners of the Field Community Garden needs you!

For more information, see the Corners of the Field Garden page. If you would like to be on the Garden email list (and sign up for work times on the google doc spreadsheet), please contact Marni Vyn.

 

 

 



Gemilut Hasadim @ God’s Kitchen

We need you!!! -- to help the Ahavas Israel group at God’s Kitchen, 303 South Division, every 2nd and 5th Sunday of the month, at 10:00 A.M.

  Contact  Guy and Theresa De Jager, (616) 375-5926, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
for more information.

 

 

Past Rabbis and Spiritual Leaders

Temple Beth Israel (founded 1892)

1894-1895 - Abraham Wohlknen
1895-1900 - Zachary Kramer
1901-1903 - Abraham Runiner
1904-1909 - Abraham Rosenthal
1909-1910 - Gedalie Dickstein
1910-1911 - Harry Black
1911-1914 - Albert London
1915 - Aaron Schneiderman
1916 - Samuel Bernstein
1917-? - Harry Cantor
1924 - Albert London
1925 - Louis Kurland
1926 - Israel Groban
1927- Aaron Bell

Ahavas Achim (founded 1911)
1914-1922 - Zachary Kramer
1924-1928 - Enoch Hochberg
1928-1935 - Benjamin Emdin

Congregation Ahavas Israel (founded 1937)
1938 - Goodman
1938-1939 - David Katz
1940-1942 - Lazarus Axelrod
1943-1945 - Carl Castle
1945-1946 - Alexander Friedman
1947-1950 - Herman Kieval
1950-1954 - Gershon Winer
1954-1958 - Oscar Fleishaker
1958-1959 - Benson Skoff
1959-1963 - Edward Neufeld
1963-1964 - No Rabbi
1964-1968 - Erwin Halprin
1968-1971 - Joel Chazin
1971-1975 - William Marder
1975-1980 - Melvin Glazer
1980-1985 - Philip Sigal
1985-1986 - No Rabbi
1986-1994 - Michael Rascoe
1994- present - David Krishef

About Congregation Ahavas Israel

Ahavas Israel

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 twenty-seven 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
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.

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Mission Statement of Congregation Ahavas Israel:

We create a welcoming, inclusive, and engaging sacred community, helping individuals follow their spiritual paths using traditional Jewish practices.

Vision Statement:

To create connections between individuals in our Jewish community through religious, educational, and social programs that attract participation of all our members.

Accessibility

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.

From Address:

Rabbi David J.B. Krishef Bio

Rabbi David J.B. Krishef

Rabbi David J.B. Krishef grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Hebrew and Jewish Studies.  Following a two year stint as a program director at the University of Minnesota Hillel Foundation (serving students at Carleton and Macalester colleges), he entered the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he received ordination in 1994.

Since then, Rabbi Krishef has served as the rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Grand Rapids, Michigan and blogs at EmbodiedTorah.com. He created and writes the popular weekly “Ethics and Religion Talk” column for Mlive.com and the Grand Rapids Press. He is the author of a CHAI curriculum revision published by URJ Press revising the CHAI Judaic curriculum to adapt the Reform curriculum for use in a Conservative or joint Reform/Conservative religious school; and edited a section on Judaism for a World Religions textbook (published by Teacher Created Materials).

From 2006-7 he taught Beginning and Intermediate Biblical Hebrew at Grand Valley State University; in 2008, 2011, and 2013 he taught a course in Jewish Life, Literature, Culture, and History at Kuyper College; and also in 2011 he taught an Introduction to Judaism course at Aquinas College.

His interests also include Biomedical Ethics.  He serves on the Spectrum Health Bioethics committee, and delivered an address on “The Beginnings of Life” at the DeVoss Medical Ethics Colloquy in Grand Rapids.  He also serves as one of the volunteer rabbis for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s AskaRabbi service.

He lives in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife (Cantor) Marisa, and four children, Zachary, Solomon, Harrison and Sarah.

Ahavas Israel Welcome

 

Ahavas Israel Grand Rapids, MI

Shalom!

 

Congregation Ahavas Israel welcomes all persons who wish to explore a spiritual path using Traditional Jewish practice in an egalitarian Jewish setting.

 
 

  

Over a century of traditional Judaism in Grand Rapids

 

 

 

Mission Statement of Congregation Ahavas Israel:

We create a welcoming, inclusive, and engaging sacred community, helping individuals follow their spiritual paths using traditional Jewish practices.

Vision Statement:

To create connections between individuals in our Jewish community through religious, educational, and social programs that attract participation of all our members.

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

 

Congregation Ahavas Israel

2727 Michigan NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: (616) 949-2840
Fax:   (616) 949-6929
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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