Beth Joshua Congregation, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Rockville, is rebranding itself as Kehilat Pardes —The Rock Creek Synagogue.
The 60-family congregation began using the new name during the High Holidays, said Rabbi Uri Topolosky. It will make a formal change after Jan. 1, when the bank accounts are switched and the synagogue sends an email blast to the community announcing the new identity, he said.
The congregation has been considering its identity and a new name for the past year.
The congregation is growing, and “with new people and new faces come energy and new ideas,” Topolosky said. The congregation wanted new members to feel ownership of the synagogue’s identity and name.
“We solicited input from the community, held community conversations and allowed our values to drive branding,” he said.
Kehila is the Hebrew word for community or congregation. Pardes is a multilayered word in Jewish tradition, meaning both orchard and paradise and hinting at deeper significance. The synagogue’s name reflects those things, the rabbi said.
We identify as a spiritual and close-knit community. Pardes is a place of interconnectedness,” he said. “We’re nestled along Rock Creek Park,” so there’s an aspect of nature in the synagogue’s identity.
Pardes is also an acronym for four levels of meaning in the Torah. “We’re modern Orthodox. We’re doing critical readings of the Torah” and reaching out to the wider Jewish community, he said.
Beth Joshua was formed in 1944 as part of what is now Berman Hebrew Academy. It is still housed within the Orthodox day school.
Kehilat Pardes is looking to expand its community. It offers discounted preschool tuition to Berman Hebrew Academy.
Said Topolosky, “Here is a community where your presence matters, where you can change the culture from day one.”