Social Justice/Activism




Social Justice/Activism


The JCA’s religious culture is characterized by devotion to the traditional forms of Jewish prayer and observance, combined with a progressive commitment to enhancing their contemporary relevance.

Using the Reconstructionist prayer book, Kol Haneshamah, our Shabbat morning services feature traditional nusah and congregational melodies, triennial Torah readings, the Haftarah, and a d’var Torah or Torah discussion. We incorporate our young learners, particularly those preparing for b’nai mitzvah, in significant ways, and we offer a Renewal-style chanting service each month.

On Friday evenings, our Kabbalat Shabbat services explore a variety of approaches throughout the month, often including instrumental music, to invite a full range of demographics into the experience, including families with young children and young adults.


All our services are available on zoom.  Links can be accessed at the link below.

Zoom Links Access

Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday Night)

Our most important holiday is the one that comes every week. Our community religious practice is centered on the observance of Shabbat. As Abraham Joshua Heschel noted: “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.”

We come together in community to daven (pray), to sing and chant, to share words of Torah, to discuss issues of personal importance and in the larger world, to share meals at the JCA and at home, and simply to relax and enjoy life in a particularly Jewish way.

KABBALAT SHABBAT SERVICES are on Fridays from 6:00 – 7:30 pm followed by an oneg (reception) or community meal. Prayers are in Hebrew and English from Kol Haneshamah, the Reconstructionist siddur (prayerbook). On occasion, special programs follow Friday night services.

SHABBAT B’YACHAD (TOGETHER), is on the first Friday of the month during the academic year, when college students, grad students, and other young adults are invited to join the Jewish Community of Amherst for a special Shabbat evening program.  The egalitarian service is designed and co-led by students from UMass and Amherst College, along with JCA Rabbi Benjamin Weiner, and is followed by a community dinner.  Zoom access is available.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY FRIDAY NIGHT, beginning a bit earlier at 5:30 pm on the second Friday of the month, is a Shabbat celebration with singing, storytelling, a community dinner and more. It is open to members and non-members alike, families and children of all ages. Zoom access available.

SHABBAT NE’IMAH, on the third Friday of the month is our signature Shabbat service featuring a full congregational band, an array of melodies, and spirited singing and dancing. It is followed by a community dinner.  Zoom access is available.

KABBALAT SHABBAT WITH TEMPLE BETH EL, on the fourth Friday of every month is a zoom only service in collaboration with Temple Beth El of Springfield. Rabbi Benjamin Weiner co-leads with Cantor Elise Barber and Rabbi Amy Wallk.

Shabbat Shacharit (Saturday Morning)

SHABBAT MORNING SERVICES begin each week at 10:00 am on Saturday, last between two and two-and-a-half hours, and are followed by a kiddush (light lunch) for the community. Prayers are in Hebrew and English from Kol Haneshamah, the Reconstructionist prayerbook.

TORAH READING by members is encouraged and trope tutors are available to teach and support new readers. For more information, contact Randi Stein or Ruth Love Barer at A listing of parshiot (portions) along with the readings for each aliyah (both full and triennial) can be found at

Weekday Minyanim

Your presence at daily services is a gift that allows those who are currently in mourning or commemorating a yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) to be able to say kaddish (the mourner’s prayer). Please join with us in gratitude for the many blessings in our lives. Weekday minyanim are on zoom only.

Thursday and Friday Mornings at 8:15 am

Shacharit masorti (traditional) and egalitarian service using the Kol Haneshamah daily siddur (prayerbook)

Monday-Thursday, 7:00 pm
Ma’ariv masorti (traditional) and egalitarian service using the Kol Haneshamah daily siddur (prayerbook)

PDF Siddur (Prayer Book) Excerpts

Festival and Other Holiday Services

On holidays, we gather together for observances like a communal seder on Passover and Tu b’Shvat, the Megillah reading on Purim, Hanukkah candle lighting parties, and late-night Torah study on Shavuot. We also offer rich festival davening, including traditional elements like Hallel and Yizkor.




On holidays, we gather together for observances like a communal seder on Passover and Tu b’Shvat, the Megillah reading on Purim, Hanukkah candle lighting parties, and late-night Torah study on Shavuot, and we also offer rich festival davening, including traditional elements like Hallel and Yizkor.

Life Cycle Events

From baby naming, and brit milah to b’nai mitzvah and weddings, the JCA community invites you to celebrate your life cycle event with joy.

Please be in touch with Rabbi Weiner to discuss life cycle celebration options.


The JCA’s wide-ranging educational program offers opportunities for adults, as well as tots to teens and their families, to learn, grow, and celebrate in Jewish community. JCA educational opportunities are designed to encourage us to engage with our own Judaism and find our authentic Jewish selves. At the same time, we balance the needs of individual families and students with our traditions, and honor our diversity including what defines our Jewish identities.

Adult Education

The Adult Education Committee offers programming every spring and fall that reflects religious, secular, practical, and cultural aspects of Judaism. We are fortunate to have access to many fine scholars, artists, and musicians who enjoy teaching workshops, seminars and semester-long classes from within our community and beyond. Most programs are offered either on zoom or in-person with a hybrid zoom option.

For More Information and Registration

Youth Education/Kesher

Religious School:
Kesher means “connection” and to that end, Kesher is committed to: Guiding the development of a Jewish identity by providing authentic, genuinely engaging learning opportunities and activities for children and families — experiences that promote confidence, compassion, and pride in one’s “Jewish” self; Providing a hands-on experience rooted in community and service to others: parents, teachers, students, and the greater community working together in meaningful and memorable ways to create friendships and foster a commitment to service that extend beyond our time together; Focusing on each child and family, and meeting them where they are at with a program that is, by design, customizable and flexible.

Teaching customs, traditions, Torah, Hebrew, and rituals in engaging, multimodal ways that foster memorable, positive experiences, and support life-long engagement and connection with the Jewish community. We believe that Jewish religious practice can transform: It can change lives, make meaning, and invest people in the world, and for this to happen, we need to actively participate, not just talk about it.


Teens/B'nai Mitzvah

JCAT (JCA Teens) is a place for teens in grades 6-12 to experience a supportive environment for personal exploration, self-expression, and Jewish engagement. You do not need to be a JCA member to participate in JCAT.  Our goal is to provide a meaningful and relevant Jewish experience for teens that builds character, positive values, leadership skills, and a strong Jewish identity.  We provide a variety of programs and opportunities for teens to engage with the community and Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them

For those 6th and 7th graders wishing to engage with our B’nai Mitzvah process, we provide a vibrant and multi-dimensional experience for Jewish adolescents that requires them to do more than go through the motions. It requires them to engage with themselves, Torah, community, and the world in a way that transforms them. Parents are involved in every step of this process and are also counseled on ways they can support their children before, during and after this momentous rite of passage. We employ diverse program elements such as text study, outdoor education, arts, research, discussion, writing, public speaking, and field trips. Our hope is that this two-year program helps our students to step into their Jewish adulthood with a sense of purpose, agency and joy.


Shemesh Summer Programs (Day Camp)

For over 35 years, the Jewish Community of Amherst has offered a unique summer experience for children in the Pioneer Valley. Through a framework of Jewish themes and values, we provide space for youth to explore their authentic selves while learning to be empathic and environmentally sensitive people and leaders.

Shemesh programs engage music, creative arts, gardening, sports, swimming, field trips, team challenges, Kabbalat Shabbat celebrations and more to nurture exploration of self-expression, earth stewardship, community, and identity.

We value diversity and pride ourselves on our welcoming, joyful, and inclusive atmosphere for both Jewish and non-Jewish families. We welcome entering 1st through 6th graders.


Social Justice/Activism

The Tikkun Olam Committee welcomes new and returning members. Our work is to contribute to social justice efforts locally and beyond. Read the regular JCA Tikkun Olam emails to learn more about current initiatives, activities, opportunities and actions. Reach out to co-chairs, Judith Souweine ( or Amy Rothenberg ( with any questions or if you would like to join our efforts. We meet the third Thursday of each month, and will continue to meet by Zoom.

Annual and Special Initiatives

  • Source to Sea Cleanup
  • Northampton Pride March
  • Mitzvah Day
  • Human Rights Shabbat
  • Tzedakah
  • Civil Rights Trip

Ongoing Initiatives and Sub-Committees

  • Food Drive
  • Not Bread Alone
  • Craig’s Doors
  • Immigrant Justice
  • Love in a Backpack
  • Racial Justice Tzedek: A Racial Justice Initiative
  • Vetting Group
  • Book Group
  • Reparations Committee
  • Refugee Resettlement
  • Reproductive Rights Subcommittee