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Or Ami happenings

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Or Ami has bragging rights for two things this month.

First, we are proud to announce after 33 years and one month from the dedication of Congregation Or Ami’s current home, it is now 100% our own!

Our mortgage was paid in full through the generous matching challenge by two members and donations from Or Amians and friends of Or Ami.

A brief history of how we arrived at this milestone:

May 29, 1972

Congregation Or Ami began on May 29, 1972, with four couples and two individuals. At a July 23, 1972 meeting attended by 36 individuals, the new Congregation named itself “Congregation Or Ami” (Light of My People.)

During the early years, the Congregation made its temporary home at the Friends Meeting House. In 1979 we purchased a house on Huguenot Road on the Southside of Richmond.

The members converted this small house (nicknamed “The House on the Hill”) into a cozy Synagogue, the first and still, only Jewish Synagogue south of the James River in Richmond.

Within ten years of its founding, Congregation Or Ami was still “growing with a purpose” and remaining true to its original goals while fitting within a Reform Jewish framework.  It also made Jewish history by hiring a female Rabbi as its spiritual leader in 1981. Rabbi Beverly Lerner, who served Congregation Or Ami until 1984, was the first woman rabbi to head a Reform congregation.

The year 1984 was a significant year for the Congregation. It was the year the State Highway Department finalized plans for a new highway that would cut directly through Or Ami’s property, which was roughly at the current Huguenot Road exit from Chippenham Parkway.

Congregation Or Ami had to relocate by 1987. In early 1986, the Congregation bought a 3.3-acre site at 9400 Huguenot Road, about one mile south of the house it bought in 1979.

New home in 1987

Our owned home, Congregation Or Ami.

Or Ami’s new home was completed in November of 1987.  The newly constructed contemporary facility with its expandable sanctuary, its exposed beams pointing to the ark, its Eternal Light of pottery (made by congregant Joel Moses), and its multi-purpose classrooms was dedicated on December 4, 1987.

We are thankful for the generous donations made to our Building Fund over the past 34 years, bringing us to this milestone.  We appreciate the two donors who initiated the recent challenge and all those who stepped up to meet the challenge.

As with any 34-year-old facility, repairs and refurbishment are necessary.  Soon, we hope to paint and replace the carpet in the sanctuary. Additional donations are welcome as we save for these projects.

Congregation Or Ami is happy and proud to be an enduring part of Richmond’s vibrant Jewish Community.

Sam Merkle

Or Amian, Sam Merkle, in Disney+ documentary, “On Pointe.”
Or Ami Photo

Sam Merkle is the other reason Or Ami is busting at the seams with pride. Sam has pursued his love of dance and succeeded in earning a place in the School of American Ballet at the young age of fifteen. Now 17, the pandemic has interrupted his stay in New York, but we look forward to seeing more of his talent in the future. You can learn more about his journey on Disney +.

Our virtual Book Club continues to meet, and on Feb. 1, we discussed “The Lake on Fire, by Rosellen Brown. March 1 features Yossi Klein Halevi’s, “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor,” and the April 5 selection is from Ruth Gilligan, “Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan.”

Please join our lively and fun virtual meetings. You can contact office@Or-Ami.com for links to these or any other events.

Virtual Shabbat Services are held online Friday evenings from 7:30-8:30. Torah Study is on Saturdays, from 11a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in Zoom format.

For more information on any of our programs or to obtain links to zoom events, please contact our office at (804) 272-0017 or office@or-ami.com.

Would you like to know more? Contact us at Belong@Or-Ami.com or check us out at www.Or-Ami.com. You can follow us on at facebook.com/OrAmi-Richmond, or catch us on Twitter @oramirichmond. All inquiries are always welcome.

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