This profile was last updated in 2003
Temple Chai began when a few Reform Jewish families in northeastern Phoenix and Scottsdale began to meet as a congregation in private homes. The community grew and then occupied a high school cafeteria until the group was able to rent out a store-front. Gathering funds, the group purchased rural property in northern Phoenix, using a barn on the land as a meeting center. Eventually the group erected the current temple on the site, along with a number of supporting buildings.
Activities and Schedule
Shabbat services are scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Friday evenings, preceded by light meals and conversation starting at 5:45 p.m. Shacharit services are Saturday mornings at 8:45 a.m. This large congregation hosts a numerous activities, ranging from education (including adult religious education, Hebrew lessons and religious school education for children and youths) to community involvement (such as blood drives, toy and book collection programs). The temple also sponsors occasional conferences with invited scholars and guest speakers on particualr themes. Most recently this included a conference entitled “Mining the Jewish Tradition for Its Healing Wisdom.” The Temple publishes a monthly newsletter called Chai Lights and maintains an excellent and updated website. The temple grounds include a gift shop (the Judaica Shop), extensive kitchen facilities, and reception halls for weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.
The temple is large and modern, with an ornate ark and three Torah scrolls. One of the Torah scrolls is European and dates from the Holocaust; another is on a scale suitable for children to use. Other buildings include a set of classrooms for adult education and the Chai Childhood Care Center facilities. A large courtyard leads to the sanctuary.
The temple serves a long-established Reform Jewish population in the Scottsdale / northeastern Phoenix area. The range of ages reflects great diveristy, from retirees to new families. Most of those attending declare and Ashkenazim background, with a very few African-American Jews as members.