History

In 1999, a small group of us, both men and women in Columbia County, New York, came together because we felt that our community was missing something vital: a place to join together in identifiable Jewish fellowship.


the beginnings

The seeds of a vibrant Jewish community took root and gave life to the first new synagogue in Columbia County in almost a century. For its first five years, the synagogue held services in a Methodist church in Malden Bridge. In this welcoming environment, we were able to focus on building a solid foundation of committed members and providing spiritual, cultural, and educational opportunities for people at all points on the spectrum of Judaism. 

Original Schoolhouse building, circa 1890

Original Schoolhouse building, circa 1890

FINDING A HOME

As membership grew, the search for a permanent home intensified and in April 2005, with over 90 member households, we purchased the former Chatham Town Hall, which had been a turn-of-the-20th century schoolhouse located in the hamlet of Chatham Center. We changed our name from The Synagogue at Malden Bridge and became The Chatham Synagogue Netivot Torah ("paths to Torah").

After renovation of the schoolhouse building, we moved into our new home in August 2005. A celebratory procession followed that drew neighbors, clergy from other faiths, and curious passersby who all joined in the festivities. 

After renovation of the schoolhouse building, we moved into our new home in August 2005. A celebratory procession followed that drew neighbors, clergy from other faiths, and curious passersby who all joined in the festivities. 

Synagogue members lined up along the country road outside our new home and danced the Torah into the building to the accompaniment of klezmer musicians.

Synagogue members lined up along the country road outside our new home and danced the Torah into the building to the accompaniment of klezmer musicians.

Many of us took turns carrying the Torah . . . 

Many of us took turns carrying the Torah . . . 

and there was no shortage smiles.

and there was no shortage smiles.

 

expanding our spiritual home

The new addition to the original building was completed in Spring 2017. 

The new addition to the original building was completed in Spring 2017. 

Our home in Columbia County immediately began to attract more worshipers, especially during the High Holidays when we welcome all who would like to be with us (membership and tickets not required!).  After many years of makeshift and off-site arrangements to accommodate the holiday crowd, we decided an expansion of our space was essential. A bigger space would also allow us to host more community events such as films, concerts, readings, interfaith events, and member celebrations. And so, with the generous support of our members and from donors in the wider community, we created an addition to our synagogue that was completed in the Spring of 2017.  We have more than doubled our space, ensuring that the treasures of Jewish community and spiritual practice will be accessible to all.