When the long-time members of Naples Jewish Congregation (NJC) share memories of the early times of the congregation, a significant focus of the discussion is its remarkable continuity and commitment to welcoming both guests and members with open arms. Throughout its history, the congregation has held steadfast to these core values, fostering an environment where newcomers are embraced, and existing members are cherished.
The Naples Jewish Congregation (NJC) was established a quarter-century ago by thirteen visionary couples seeking a unique Reform congregation tailored to the needs of adults without young children. Initially gathering within the warmth of one another’s homes, the group soon recognized the necessity for a more expansive space to accommodate their growth. To address this, they forged a lasting alliance with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, a partnership that endures to this day.
Since its inception, NJC has been guided by four esteemed rabbis. Initially engaging a rabbi solely for the High Holiday services, the congregation’s expansion facilitated the appointment of Rabbi Solomovitz. He was succeeded by Rabbi Schenkerman, whose dedicated service continued until his passing in early 2005. Subsequently, Rabbi Sylvan Wolf led the congregation for a span of twelve years, imprinting his wisdom upon its journey. Presently, Rabbi Howard Herman, who joined in 2017, brings a renewed vision and boundless enthusiasm to our congregation.
When members reminisce, there is unanimous praise for the enduring social and educational programs at NJC. They expressed their delight in the ongoing success of these initiatives and their ability to bring the community closer together. What frequently comes up is the collective sentiment among participants who had previous experiences in different temples. They unanimously agreed that none had matched the depth of emotional connection and steadfast commitment found within the Naples Jewish Congregation.
The discussions often touch on the extraordinary ways in which NJC has consistently offered support during various life phases. From celebrating joyous milestones to providing solace during challenging times, the congregation has stood as a pillar of strength for its members. Whether it was the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, or moments of personal struggle, NJC has continually extended a compassionate hand and a supportive community to lean on. It wasn’t merely religious guidance or social interaction; it was a coming together of emotional understanding, religious backing, and social camaraderie that formed the very fabric of
NJC’s life. Members emphasized how this multi-dimensional support network had profoundly impacted their lives, fostering a sense of belonging and comfort unparalleled in their experiences elsewhere.
In essence, the Congregation feels the unique depth of care and commitment that Naples Jewish Congregation has consistently provided throughout its history. It has not just been a place of worship; it has been a sanctuary where members have found solace, community, and unwavering support, making NJC an exceptional and cherished beacon in their lives.