bradleysNo one in the room quite knew what to expect when they met for their first Shabbat service on May 4, 2013. A small group of Conservative Jews decided they didn’t want to leave their davening community for Shabbat morning services. When Becca and Guy Bradley graciously offered to open their home, others in the community were grateful.

With no rabbi or official hazzan, those attending would have to lead services themselves. Several had already led portions of the service, and that morning of May 4 went quite smoothly. The following Shabbat, the process was repeated.

That summer, the Bradleys moved into a new home. The Shabbat service would now have a comfortable, dedicated space. Prayer books and chumashim were donated by area synagogues. A torah was purchased. Members stepped out of their comfort zones, learning to read Torah, lead portions of the service and present a D’var Torah. Members also took turns sponsoring a kosher Kiddush lunch. “Kehillat Chaverim” – community of friends – was incorporated later that year.

The members grew spiritually and became closer to one another personally. A second Torah was purchased in 2014. New chumashim were also purchased.

Although Kehillat Chaverim is still small, it is vibrant beyond its numbers. It remains a congregation in which individuals are invited but never coerced to take an active role in helping lead services, and where new faces are greeted as members of the family.