Orthodox synagogue to open satellite campus Beth Tfiloh is first in northwest county

November 03, 1998|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

Beth Tfiloh Congregation in Pikesville is opening a satellite campus this week in Glyndon, bringing the first Orthodox synagogue to a growing area for the Jewish community in northwest Baltimore County.

Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg inaugurated the Beth Tfiloh Owings Mills/Glyndon campus last night with the first lecture in a five-part series on "A Crash Course in Basic Judaism," one of many adult education courses to be held there.

Beginning next fall, the synagogue's Hebrew School will relocate to the campus, off of Owings Mills Boulevard, and the site will become a secondary location for Beth Tfiloh's pre-school. The 1,300-family synagogue will remain on Old Court Road in Pikesville, along with Beth Tfiloh Community School, which has 933 students in pre-school through 12th grade.

Wohlberg said the expansion to the Owings Mills area reflects the fact that much of Baltimore's Jewish community is moving to northwestern Baltimore County.

"The reality is the majority of our members and school children are coming from out there and we should be meeting them out there," he said. "That's where the Jewish community is and we want to be there while at the same time continuing to serve the community here."

Beth Tfiloh joins several other congregations that have moved to the Owings Mills/Reisterstown corridor. Reform Temple Emmanuel and Conservative Beth Israel Congregation both moved there from Randallstown. Har Sinai Congregation, the oldest Reform synagogue in the United States, has sold its building on Park Heights Avenue to Maimonides Academy, an Orthodox co-educational day school, and will move its school and synagogue in the next few years to a site in Worthington Valley.

Beth Tfiloh's expansion to the suburbs is unusual in that most Orthodox congregations have chosen to concentrate along Park Heights Avenue in Northwest Baltimore or just over the city line in order to be close to the homes of their members. Orthodox Jews believe that Jewish Law prohibits driving on the Sabbath and so they choose to live within walking distance of their synagogue.

But Beth Tfiloh is a "modern Orthodox" synagogue, Wohlberg said, and welcomes every Jew, from the most observant to those who are less strict in their adherence. "We feel we have a unique way of presenting Judaism that doesn't put an emphasis on labels," he said. "We are open to people from the most diverse backgrounds, from the very observant to the nonobservant."

Wohlberg said there is a possibility that religious services could be held in Owings Mills. "If we feel there is a community that wants to have the kind of service we provide, we would be happy to provide that," he said.

The Owings Mills site was purchased earlier this year by four Beth Tfiloh members from the American Diabetes Association.

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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