The Jewish Community in Sacramento in 2008

An article in the Sacramento Bee on August 25, 2008, told of the establishment of an eruv in the Arden-Arcade area of Sacramento. An eruv is an artificial area in which Orthodox Jews are able to behave on the Sabbath as though they were inside their own houses. The eruv, approximately six square miles in area, contains three synagogues, two Orthodox and one Conservative; the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region; the Shalom Day School; the Albert Einstein Residence (for seniors); and Jewish Family Service. This area is clearly kind of a Jewish center for the Sacramento community, although the Jewish population is only a small percentage of the total, and it may not even be the area with the highest percentage of Jews.

At the same time, the four Reform congregations are becoming more regional. Two of the four: Bet Haverim (formerly the Jewish Fellowship of Davis) and Or Rishon (formerly the Sunrise Jewish Congregation) were started as regional congregations. Temple B’nai Israel, which was the only synagogue in Sacramento, is becoming more of a regional congregation, and is serving the suburbs south of Sacramento. Congregation Beth Shalom, which remained an unaffiliated congregation for a long time, but was always Reform in spirit is serving primarily the northeastern part of the city of Sacramento and the adjoining suburbs. Beth Shalom, which started out in 1973 as a social experiment where everyone would be welcome, the amount of contributions would be set by the contributor and most of the work would be done by volunteers, now is very similar in its strengths and weaknesses to other congregations in the area. It could be said that the experiment was a failure, but the congregation is a success.