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About

Early Sonoma had a tiny but influential Jewish presence; city pioneers remembered in the local landscape include Schocken (Hill) and Nathanson (Creek). But it wasn't until 1995 that the area's congregational seed was planted, after a Sonoma woman wrote a letter to the local newspaper asking, in effect, "Am I the only Jew around here?"

Some 63 people answered her invitation to meet at the town's community center, and on August 30 of that year, officially formed what was then called the Sonoma Valley Jewish Community.

During the next six months, the fledgling group created the Valley's first Shabbat, S'lichot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, a Torah study group, and celebrated Hannukah and Sukkot together. (From the very beginning, the generosity and support of the First Congregational Church has enabled us to hold services and other programs at the Church's West Spain Street building.)

In February 1996, the community officially allied itself with the Reform movement. Seventy-eight households (numbering 137 adults) became Founding members, and chose the name Congregation Shir Shalom. Robert Daum became the first rabbi in August 1996, serving the congregation until he moved to Canada in June 1998. Rabbi Bridget Wynne served from 1998 to 2003, Rabbi Yoel Kahn acted as interim rabbi for the year 2003/4, Rabbi Michael Goldberg followed by the two-year presences of Rabbi Alan Greenbaum and Rabbi Jack Gabriel. From 2009 until early 2014, we were blessed to be led by Rabbi Bella Bogart. Our current worship leader is Rabbi Steve Finley who recently joined us and we are so pleased that he did.  Rabbi Steve brings personality, experience, wisdom, and a beautiful style of guitar accompaniment to our services and educational programs.

A landmark event occurred on October 21, 2000 -- Shemini Atzeret 5761 -- when, after five years of using Torah scrolls generously lent to us by local Jewish organizations, we welcomed our own sefer Torah with singing, dancing, and feasting.

Currently, Shir Shalom numbers approximately 100 households. We have developed an extensive Adult Education program that includes classes, films, lectures, a book group and cultural events. Our Torah study group is open to all and meets regularly, every Saturday morning. We have a very active Sisterhood,  Men's Club, and a dynamic children's religious school. and a Hebrew School for B'nai Mitzvot. We also host the Jewish Winemakers' Tasting and Nosh as well as part of the Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival.  We celebrate baby naming ceremonies and B'nai Mitzvot, with more on the way! Members of our community are involved in social action projects and are actively engaged in the greater Sonoma community.

Like myriad Jewish communities everywhere, Congregation Shir Shalom is busily weaving its own notes into the multi-layered melody that is Judaism. And that song becomes stronger and more beautiful with each passing Shabbat.

Contact Information
Congregation Shir Shalom
252 W. Spain Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
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Phone: 707-935-3636
info@shir-shalom.org
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© 2000-2015 Congregation Shir Shalom
252 W. Spain Street, Sonoma, CA 95476   707-935-3636   info@shir-shalom.org