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Bolton Street Synagogue

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Baltimore’s Bolton Street Synagogue Affiliates with the Reform Movement

After 30 years as an unaffiliated congregation, Bolton Street Synagogue announced this week that it has joined the Reform movement, making Bolton Street the only Reform Congregation in central Baltimore City.

Baltimore, MD, August 14, 2016 --( Founded in 1986 in the basement of a church on Bolton Street, the congregation moved to its current location on 212 W. Cold Spring Lane in the Roland Park neighborhood in 2003. According to Russell L. Margolis, president of the congregation, “Bolton Street remains committed to its original mission to serve as an open Jewish community rooted in tradition, a place where all Jews, including those from interfaith families and those who identify as LGBT, can participate in a joyful atmosphere of prayer, observance, culture, social action, and life-long learning. Aligning ourselves with the Union for Reform Judaism allows us to maintain our traditions as an intimate, congregant-focused synagogue, while providing us access to the many resources of the URJ.”

Ken Karpay, a founding member and past-president of the congregation, led Bolton Street’s year-long efforts to explore the options and potential benefits of affiliation. After extensive research and input from a vast majority of congregants, Karpay’s committee recommended affiliation with the URJ to the Bolton Street Board of Directors, which unanimously accepted the recommendation. Karpay noted that “the congregation became deeply engaged in the process, leading to important discussions about our mission and fundamental values.”

Bolton Street’s rabbi, Rabbi John Franken, ordained at the Hebrew Union College of the Reform movement, was very supportive of the congregation’s decision. “What animates our synagogue are the same values that animate Reform Judaism. Over time we realized that there was a convergence of belief that Judaism at its best challenges, ennobles and inspires us to bring Torah into the world. I think many congregants also recognized that we could exert more influence in the Jewish world for pluralism and equality by becoming part of Reform Judaism rather than going it alone.”

For further information about Bolton Street Synagogue, visit contact 410-235-5354, or email administrator Erin Bolan at or Rabbi Franken at
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Bolton Street Synagogue
Erin Bolan

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