Temple Beth Shalom was founded in 1960 by four families who wanted to create a Reform Jewish community in Anne Arundel County. We began by holding services in a fire station and then at a local church. Within months, we were able to establish a religious school, a Sisterhood, a Men’s Club, and a board of directors, who actively planned for the future of the congregation. The ingenuity, commitment and passion of these pioneering families laid a solid foundation for the strong temple community that we have today.
In 1963, through the generous contributions of member families, we were able to purchase the land in Arnold, Maryland that continues to serve as our spiritual home. At the time, it was a wooded, eleven-acre parcel of land with a single home, which was converted into the Gideon Sanctuary. As our congregation and its needs expanded, so did our facilities. Within a decade, the temple grew to include a new sanctuary and social hall. The Gideon building was transformed into a religious school and office. We dedicated an additional large building in 1998, which contains classrooms, a library, and the temple offices. These enhancements to our property have allowed us to continue to meet the needs of our dynamic community.
In February 2003, a severe winter storm damaged the roof of our sanctuary building and made both the sanctuary and the social hall unusable. Again, we found ourselves looking for places to hold our worship services amongst our neighbors. Eventually we worked out a way to put temporary buildings for our sanctuary on our own grounds. Our devoted congregation rose to the occasion by generously donating time, creativity and funds that enabled us to construct our glorious, and award winning, new sanctuary and social hall which was dedicated in September 2007.
The community that started with only four families over fifty years ago has grown into a vibrant congregation of more than three hundred and seventy families. While our increase in size brings substantial benefits, we also recognize the importance of retaining the sense of community that has been a characteristic of our congregation since its founding. We are proud that some of our earliest families are now represented by second and third generations of congregants. At the same time, we value our welcoming atmosphere, which encourages even the newest members of our community to participate and to take a leadership role in all aspects of temple life.