Even among the stately single-family and historic homes on Riverside, Temple Concord stands out from the crowd with its brown stone and castle like structure. Built in 1898 as formerly the Kilmer Mansion, religious services were instituted in 1951 after the establishment of the temple. It is the only Reform Jewish synagogue in the greater Binghamton community. As its popularity grew, a social hall, sanctuary, Hebrew and Judaic schools, and a library were all supplemented to meet the growing needs of the congregation. The synagogue takes “a liberal approach to Judaism, finding a meaningful way to combine traditions with the modern world”. Today, there are endless activities at the temple that Binghamton students can become engaged in.
But why even get involved when there are so many religious groups on campus?
Becoming active in a religious institution outside of campus will give you more insight into what life is like beyond the university for local residents. For those who yearn to say they did not just “study at Binghamton” but lived here, engagement in a neighborhood religious institution will definitely make you feel like a local. Being religiously active also leads to more a connected and positive outlook on your community. By becoming spiritually involved, you are contributing something unique.
So… are there any community service options?
If community service is an interest, Temple Concord offers several opportunities:
- Their congregation is a part of CHOW, or the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. CHOW feeds the hungry of Broome County through a system of over 30 food pantries and 35 soup kitchens and community meal programs. Temple Concord runs a pantry in conjunction with this charity which is open on Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:00 pm. They even supply their congregants with a list of needed food items. The website provides a contact email address if you are interested in volunteering.
- Every 6 weeks, congregants volunteer in the Canteen Lunch Program at Trinity Church. This program provides a hot meal on Sunday at noon for between 80 and 100 people each week. Different religious groups switch off Sundays preparing and serving the meal. They also have an ongoing rummage sale store which is usually the first Sunday of the month from 10-2. The sisterhood runs it, and could usually use help on Sunday mornings as it serves a large population.
- Each year, they run an annual “Whale of A Sale“, which raises money for the synagogue, that takes place in November. The sale is in the social hall and runs for a week. It normally takes a week to organize the merchandize, and extra hands are always needed. If any of these interest you, Temple Concord is always happy to see new faces come and serve the community.
How about the religious options? How can I participate/volunteer?
For those students looking for alternatives to the religious offerings on campus, Temple Concord has services every Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday morning. The sanctuary is small yet intimate, fitting around 200 congregants comfortably. They have also had soloists at Shabbat evening services who were Binghamton University students. It is a paid position and they are always looking for more musicians.
- If you enjoy working with children, the synagogue is open to volunteers for its religious school on Saturday mornings and Hebrew program on tuesday and thursday afternoons.
- If you want to enrich your Jewish learning, religious and bible study is offered every Saturday morning in the library from 9:15 am to 10:30 am. It is stated on the website “You do not need to know Hebrew to attend our sessions. All you need is an inquiring mind with a willingness to learn and something new and different”.
- Temple Concord also hopes to attract more college students, and would like to organize receptions and programs to reach out to younger people after service or some other time. They currently have an intern who works on organizing the archives of the entire Jewish community.
There is a bounty of social events at the congregation that are either celebrating the Jewish holidays or just bringing its patrons closer together. Whether it be an essay contest or a dinner to honor the holiday or Purim, there are always happenings at Temple Concord and ways to be involved in the community. It is an incredibly welcoming congregation, with members that come from all walks of life. It is not just a synagogue, but a spiritual home and a connection to a heritage.