Kol Ami joins Reform
By Amy Kaufman
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Congregation Kol Ami of Vancouver, Wash., affiliated with the Reform movement on Dec. 4.
Last summer, a three-person committee of CKA members entered discussions with the Union of Reform Judaism and educated the congregation in preparation for the vote, according to Douglas Green, vice president of Kol Ami. He said the congregation voted unanimously to affiliate.
John Moss, executive director of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, chaired the URJ panel that reviewed CKA's application.
Affiliation with the URJ will help Vancouver residents and people moving to the area to identify the "flavor" of the congregation, said Sue Meyer, CKA president.
It will "open up avenues to participate in the Reform movement, to be on URJ committees, to attend their biennial and go to their conferences, and to participate in Judaism at a different level," she said.
CKA is in the process of searching for its first rabbi, and Meyer said CKA will utilize URJ's placement services in the search. The synagogue's identity may evolve under the rabbi's leadership, she said.
CKA historically has described itself as "Reform style," but it tends to be "conservative," said Meyer. Its members typically wear kippot and tallitot, and services are about 40 percent Hebrew, she said.
"We have tried to be a lot of things to a lot of people, and in doing that you err on the part of being more traditional," said Meyer.
CKA, a congregation of about 100 families, started as a social group called the Jewish Community Association of Southwest Washington in 1989 and became an unaffiliated congregation in 1998.
The synagogue holds Shabbat services on the first Friday of the month and on a second, variable date available on the synagogue's Web site, www.jewishvancouverusa.com. It also holds services on the Jewish holidays and hosts a community Passover seder.
CKA has a Sunday school and offers classes for adults. It has its own cemetery.
"It puts a bigger umbrella over us," Meyer said of the synagogue's decision. "I think when you start a congregation, you think you're the only people on the planet doing this, you work so independently."
The congregation now will be linked with more than 900 Reform congregations.