Our Community

jca building

The JCA offers an environment of warmth, joy, compassion and belonging, in our daily lives and in times of celebration and crisis.

Founded in 1969 to foster a “spirit of Jewish community” in Amherst, today we have a diverse membership of more than 340 households with families, couples and individuals from towns throughout Western Massachusetts and beyond.

We value openness and welcome all to our community, including all sexual orientations, people of color, interfaith couples and their children, people with disabilities and those of limited economic means.

The JCA is committed to non-exclusion with universal access and equal participation to spiritual and cultural life, regardless of a person’s visible or invisible disability, physical or mental health concerns, and chronic illness. We celebrate that all are made b’tzelem Elohim, in G-d’s image, (Genesis 1:26), and we honor the divine in ourselves and others when we remove the stumbling blocks (Leviticus 19:14) that marginalize disabled members of the community.

Embracing the values of our heritage, we honor the assertion in Pirkei Avot (Teaching of the Sages) that the world stands on Torah (study and mizvot), Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness).

We share and enhance our understanding and practice of Jewish ritual and tradition through prayer services, cultural experiences and lifelong educational programs.

We provide many opportunities for participation and volunteer engagement within the JCA and in the wider world. As our community struggles with issues of oppression, social justice, peace, a clean and safe environment, and true equality, we strive to place our actions in a context of chesed and tikkun olam.


In 2002, the JCA affiliated with Reconstructing Judaism (at that time named the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation) after 30 years as an unaffiliated congregation. This affiliation matched the JCA well with its diversity of Jewish practice and belief, respect for traditional Jewish worship, study and culture, and emphasis on tikkun olam – improving the world and ourselves. Central to Reconstructing Judaism is the belief that we are individually and communally involved in and responsible for the evolution of Judaism, and for shaping the spiritual and cultural legacy we leave to future generations.