Frequently Asked Questions about Temple Beth David

Where is Temple Beth David (TBD) located?
The temple’s historic building is located at 3 Main Street in the center of Cheshire, Connecticut. Cheshire is a family-oriented community with an excellent school system, beautiful parks and walking trails, and easy access to both Hartford and New Haven. A wonderful place to live and work, Cheshire is a residential community located in northern New Haven County with a population of just under 30,000.

How many families are members of TBD?
Temple Beth David serves approximately 200 families from Cheshire, Southington, Prospect, Wallingford, Bethany, Hamden, Woodbridge, Farmington, Meriden, and other surrounding towns. We are a diverse community with young families, singles, empty nesters, interfaith, and LGBTQ families. We are a reform congregation that strives to be a welcoming and comfortable environment for all!

What can I do to learn more about the TBD community?
We're excited that you're interested in becoming part of the traditions, rituals, and celebrations of Temple Beth David. Visitors are always welcome to experience the warmth of our congregation at our Friday night Shabbat services. Additionally, we offer a range of adult education classes as well as innovative weekly Torah study. If you would like to visit our religious school or arrange another time to tour our building, please call the Temple office at (203) 272-0037 or email us at membership@tbdcheshire.org. Our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TBDCheshire/) also offers a great way to learn about our other events you might like to attend.

How much does it cost to become a member of TBD?
We offer different membership categories depending on the number of adults and/or children in your family. We are committed to ensuring that our doors are open to all, regardless of financial means. To receive a current application, along with associated dues, please contact membership@tbdcheshire.org.

Who can I talk to regarding dues and finances?
Should you have financial concerns, please contact our membership committee at membership@tbdcheshire.org to discuss our welcoming approach and current procedures. We will work hard to ensure that dues will not create a financial hardship for your family.

What makes TBD special compared to other reform synagogues in central CT? Anyone who is a member of Temple Beth David is treated as a member of our temple family. We support each other when times are good and work hard to ensure that each member is comforted during life’s challenges. We hope that when you first walk through the doors of TBD, you will feel the warmth and support of a community that is ready to welcome you with open arms. For many of our congregants, TBD is like a second home!

Can you tell me more about your Rabbi?
We were thrilled to welcome Rabbi Micah Ellenson to the TBD community in 2017. Rabbi Micah lives in Cheshire with his wife Sara, and two daughters, Lily and Rose. He grew up in Los Angeles and earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California in psychology. Prior to joining TBD, Rabbi Micah served as Director of Congregational Learning at Temple DeHirsch Sinai in Seattle, WA. Rabbi Micah was ordained from Hebrew Union College and holds a Master’s in Education from the American Jewish University. In addition to his family and Judaism, Rabbi Micah’s passions include history, literature, film, music, and sports.

What is a typical Friday night Shabbat service like at TBD?
Our Shabbat services often include music, moments for mindfulness, and community dialogue, but styles of worship vary throughout each month. Our youth/family service is geared toward families with younger children, and is often co-lead by students from our religious school. Our monthly ruach (spirit) Shabbat services blend contemporary Shabbat music with thoughtful stories and teachings in a casual and uplifting setting. We also offer a “Retro Shabbat” for congregants who prefer the comfort of music they consider to be more traditional. And after each Shabbat service has concluded, everyone enjoys an oneg (sponsored by one or two of our temple families) in our social hall, with delicious treats and wonderful company!

Does TBD welcome interfaith families?
Absolutely! Many interfaith families can be counted among both our newer and more established members. We warmly welcome interfaith families and pride ourselves on including all members of our interfaith families in all aspects of temple life, including on our bema.

What kind of programming is available for families with young children?
In addition to our monthly youth/family Shabbat service, families with young children enjoy our popular story hour program. Once per month, families from the surrounding community gather at TBD to learn about Jewish holidays and traditions through songs, stories, and crafts. Story hour events are free and open to the public, and are developmentally appropriate for children ages birth through five. Please visit our website for upcoming Story Hour dates! Additionally, Rabbi Micah leads a monthly parenting workshop and discussion group that’s ideally suited for parents of children of all ages.

Can you tell me more about your religious school?
Through joyful and meaningful tefillah (prayers) with Rabbi Micah, interactive classroom learning, and experiences in Cheshire, the greater New Haven community, and beyond, our students acquire knowledge during their time with us to help them on their Jewish journey. Our teachers are passionate about Judaism and ensure that even our youngest members feel welcomed and valued in our school. Our madrichim (teen aides) are invaluable role models to our students and take active roles in the classroom.

What is the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process like at TBD?
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah process is a part of the overall Jewish education of our children, and we delight in celebrating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah simcha (celebration)! Working with your family and B'nai Mitzvah student, we look for ways to make your child’s journey into Jewish adulthood meaningful by encouraging individualism and creativity in how they choose to lead the Shabbat morning service through prayer, music, and their interpretation of the Torah. Over the course of six months, B’nai Mitzvah students work closely with Rabbi Micah to learn how to lead a Saturday morning Shabbat service. They also chant from the Torah and write a D’var Torah (words of the Torah) to share their learning with the congregation. We welcome the participation of all family members during the service.

Do you offer special activities for teens to become engaged in temple life?
We work hard to engage our teens in temple life, whether as part of our school community serving as madrachim (teen aides) or teachers in our school, working directly with our social action committee on community-wide projects, or getting to know each other through fun, social activities or social justice projects designed solely for teen participation. Temple Beth David is associated with NFTY, the Reform Jewish Youth Movement, which offers opportunities for teens to develop leadership, personal growth, and deep connections with Jewish youth from all over North America. Many of our teens attend Jewish camps through both the Reform Movement (including Camps Eisner and Crane Lake in western Massachusetts) and the Jewish Federation Camp in Madison, CT (Camp Laurelwood).

What are other ways members get involved at TBD?
Whether it's attending a Sisterhood or Brotherhood event, lending a hand with social action, or joining one of the many committees that helps keep TBD going, our members find many ways to make a difference in our community. Some other ways to engage with TBD include Torah study, joining the caring community (which provides support to temple members in times of need), lunch and learning sessions with the Rabbi, Sisterhood game nights, hands-on work in the Mitzvah Garden, and much more!

I’d like to learn more about becoming a TBD member. What’s the next step?
To request a membership application and/or schedule a meeting with Rabbi Micah, please contact the TBD office at (203) 272-0037 or office@tbdcheshire.org. If you have additional questions about life at TBD, feel free to contact our membership committee at membership@tbdcheshire.org. We look forward to sharing with you all the wonderful things happening at Temple Beth David and welcoming you into our temple family.