Kerem Shalom began as four families in 1968 as the Concord-Lincoln Study Group. Their goals were simple: a Jewish education for their children and to celebrate some holidays together. By 1970, the name had changed to the Concord-Lincoln Jewish Group and it had grown to some 30 families. They hired Brandeis students as teachers and attended other area synagogues for services. During the 1970s, the group’s members needs expanded beyond children’s education. Programs grew to include adult education and non-religious social events. The group renamed itself the Concord Area Jewish Group (CAJG) and met at a local community center. In the late 1970s, the group’s definition of Jewish life expanded yet again. It held its first Shabbat service, led by a Brandeis student. The success of the service deepened the community's hunger for a richer, consistent community life including High Holy Day services and a permanent Hebrew School. The decision was made to hire a rabbi. They chose Michael Luckens, a man with a strong background in religious education. After more than thirty years serving the Kerem Shalom community, Rabbi Luckens moved to Emeritus status on July 1, 2012.
By 1980, the 80 member families of CAJG were holding Bar/Bat Mitzvah services, High Holiday services, and occasional Shabbat services. They had designed and written their own prayer book, now in its fourth edition. Outgrowing the community center, in 1981, CAJG rented space from First Parish (Unitarian) in Concord. The next year, our first Torah was purchased.
From CAJG to Vineyard of Peace
In 1985 the membership began to think about buying land for a synagogue, a wholly Jewish space. Two years later, our land in Concord was purchased. Our synagogue building was completed and dedicated in 1989. To commemorate this transition, CAJG formally became Kerem Shalom, Vineyard of Peace. The synagogue’s dedication was celebrated community-wide with hundreds walking to Klezmer music, to accompany the Torah, from First Parish in Concord center to the new Kerem Shalom. Since 1989 Kerem Shalom has nearly doubled its membership from 139 to 260 member households today. As before, Kerem Shalom’s self-definition continues to expand and with it the variety of programs we offers our members.
Kerem Shalom Today
Always active in social action work, today our social action is growing to include both congregational- and community-oriented events. Kerem Shalom is a major supporter and volunteer source for Concord’s Open Table and the Family Table of Jewish Family and Children’s Service. Our growing programs, created to meet our member’s needs, meant that Kerem Shalom needed to expand its home to comfortably embrace the multitude of activities occurring within its walls.
Our newly expanded building provides our first permanent classrooms for Hebrew school students, a Youth room for teenage members, adequate office space for our professional staff, and a sanctuary that draws the beauty of the landscape into our sacred space.
Be a part of Kerem Shalom’s future. Come visit us. Attend a Shabbat service, one of our adult programs or help out on a social action project. Be with us.