This profile was last updated in 2004
Activities and Schedule
The Temple offers Friday evening shabbat services and Sunday morning Sunday school and confirmation class. For specific times and locations, see their website. Children’s educational programs follow the principles of Reform ideals and include such subjects as Jewish history, the life cycle, and the ritual calendar. The educational philosophy emphasizes putting ethical practices ahead of ritual practices. The religious school allows children to learn Hebrew and get a better understanding of Judaism. The temple offers this schooling for free, an unusual practice. Adults also have opportunities to learn in the Temple. Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn teaches classes every fall and spring. The Temple makes it a priority to educate the congregation in all aspects of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Cukierkorn sends out a monthly newsletter. In addition to the religious programs the Temple offers, there are celebrations and receptions. The Temple observes the holidays with a dinner or a special ceremony.
Peggy Benjamin was the founding leader of the New Reform Temple in Kansas City ; she led the first organized religious meeting in 1966. A small group attended with a shared purpose: to practice the traditions of classical Reform Judaism. Initially they used by-laws from a sister temple, Temple Emanuel in St. Louis, Missouri. To get the word out about the new community, this group sent out letters inviting those with similar beliefs to join. In that first year, there were about 100 members. After the hiring of a rabbi, the next order of business was to construct the present temple. Construction was made possible by many donors whose names are now engraved under the sanctuary windows. The temple is small, modest, and beautiful. Today there are about 300 families. The congregation remains relatively small and preserves a sense of closeness and family.
The majority of worshipers at the New Reform Temple is Euro-American, and there are one Hispanic family and one Asian family. The temple does not discriminate by race, creed, or sexual orientation. The membership values the intimate social relation of the Rabbi and his congregation, which can aid in the development of true Reform practices. Members are typically between 30 and 60 years of age, with a few children present. English and Hebrew are both spoken in the Temple, and the prayer book is in both languages.
The Temple is made of brick, with a pointed roof over the sanctuary. The chief color in the sanctuary is yellow, and chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The wooden pews hold prayer books containing the songs and prayers for services. A beautiful organ enhances the front of the sanctuary. Before the temple was built, the building had served as a church and a telephone building.