Bet Chesed dissolves after 14 years


Congregation Bet Chesed is no more. “We didn’t go out with a bang. We did not go out with a whimper. We went out with a bracha,” said Rabbi Reeve Brenner, who was the rabbi at the Bethesda synagogue.

Lacking a space of its own, the congregation had conducted services at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences on Old Georgetown Road, using a Torah owned by the rabbi.

At its height, Bet Chesed had about 50 members.

Brenner, who previously worked at Bethesda Jewish Congregation and as chaplain at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center’s Spiritual Ministry Department, said Bet Chesed, which was affiliated with the Union of Reform Judaism, was formed from some of the people who “stayed with me” from his earlier positions.

But both Brenner “now pushing 80,” and his congregants are aging. “We realized it was time.”

One member, who has been with the congregation for all its 14 years, called Bet Chesed’s decline “a gradual fall off.” Most members were 80 years or older, and the number of people attending services dwindled, she said.

“We couldn’t even get a quorum to a final meeting” to discuss whether to close, the woman said. However, there were enough proxy votes and a vote to dissolve the synagogue took place Nov. 19.

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