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In 1981 a handful of island families incorporated The Jewish Community Association of Hilton Head and began holding services on a regular basis in the Fellowship Hall of the First Presbyterian Church.

By 1985 our congregation became known as Congregation Beth Yam, or “House by the Sea”. Our membership began to grow, representing a wide diversity of backgrounds, both religious and geographical. Most of the members live on the island full time while other make Hilton Head their home only part of the year.

As a Jewish congregation we came together bonded by a desire to strengthen our roots in this lovely resort and retirement community, and in so doing, build a wealth of meaningful traditions. With great pride, on January 14, 1990, we dedicated our building and became the first Jewish house of worship on Hilton Head Island.

An in-depth historical record of Congregation Beth Yam has been beautifully prepared by Mike Fritz and the late Robert Pascal. It covers the period from 1978 to 2007. This history was updated in 2014 by Joseph Levy and Michael Werner and can be viewed by clicking here. We are greatly appreciative of the generosity in time, effort, and talent they dedicated to this project and the impressive document they produced.


Dedication of Our New Building

Congregation Beth Yam celebrated its newly renovated and expanded synagogue with a Building Dedication on the weekend of December 4-5, 2009. The lead-off event was a Community Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 11:30 AM on Friday that was led by Rabbi Bloom and was attended by many congregants, guests, community leaders, and clergy from nearby churches. The ceremony was followed by a service in our Sanctuary where our Torahs were installed in the Ark. A special service was held for the installation of the Holocaust Torah in its own permanent location. Following the service, refreshments were served and guests were invited to take informal tours of the building. Friday evening, a congregational Shabbat dinner was served in our social hall, which was then followed by Shabbat Services. During the service, past presidents and those who participated in the design and construction of the new building were recognized. Dr. Alex Cohen and Rabbi Linda Joseph provided comments and greetings from the Union of Reform Judaism. A special Torah Study was held on Saturday morning. The Dedication Weekend culminated on Saturday night with dancing and music provided by The Carolina Klezmer Project Band, which was followed by a champagne reception. To see photos and videos of the dedication, click here.

Congregation Beth Yam Founders

Current Members Who Joined in 1981 
Hank & Sue Noble 5/1981 Gilbert & Beverly Held 10/1981
Stuart & Linda Silver 5/1981 Lynne & Roger Irvine 10/1981
Debbie & Cosimo Urato 5/1981 Marshall & Arlene Katz 10/1981
Henry* & Paula Flink* 5/1981 Burt* & Ruth Reinhold 10/1981
Dan* & Jean Caplan* 10/1981 Irvin & Dorothy Rudick 10/1981
Neil* & Ida Ruth Citron 10/1981 Allen & Cookie Slan 10/1981


Current Members Who Joined in the First Decade
Joined in 1983 Joined in 1988  
Karl & Elaine Engelman 2/1983 Robert & Bonita Levin 4/1988
Renee Bernheim  7/1983 Ellen Lash (Goldstein) 7/1988
Herman Gruber* 12/1983 Gordon* & Sheri Farbstein 7/1988
    Edwin & Shirley Schiffer  
Joined in 1984   Arthur & Stephanie Blank 10/1988
Arline Levit  1/1984 Irwin & Laura* Lindenbaum 10/1988
Joined in 1985   Joined in 1989  
David & Alece Schreiber  1/1985 Stuart & Sandra Rosenberg 1/1989
Milton & Poppy Richman 9/1985 Ina Rae Levy  8/1989
    Myron & Elyse Meister 8/1989
Joined in 1986   Max* & Darlene Gutmann 9/1989
Scottie Davis  1986 Richard & Sherri Einhorn 9/1989
Emanuel & Sheila Rosenbaum 10/1986 Charles & Barbara Jesser 9/1989
    Bernard* & Nikki Greenberg 9/1989
Joined in 1987   Joseph & Lucinda Jacobs 11/1989
Theodora Feldberg 7/1987    
James & Ethel* Montag 7/1987    
Michael & Suzanne Fritz* 11/1987    
Former Members Who Joined in 1981
Sara* & Al* Adams 5/1981 Lawrence & Betsy Jukofsky 10/1981
Lorle Astruc 10/1981 Molly Kagen 10/1981
Sylvan* & Elaine* Bank 5/1981 Dorothy Kaplan* 10/1981
Marsha & Joel Barash 10/1981 Harold* & Gladys Kaplan 10/1981
Albert & Eileen Berkelhammer 10/1981 Dr. Herbert* & Harriet* Keyserling 10/1981
Harriet & Les* Bernick 5/1981 Raymond & Sharon* Kraus 10/1981
Saul* & Adele* Blumenthal 10/1981 Stanley & Pearl Levinson 10/1981
Alfred & Karen Cerrati 10/1981 Bertram* & Barbara* Levy 10/1981
William* & Beatrice Chait* 5/1981 Julian & Bernice* Lewin 10/1981
Steven & Geryl Deixler 10/1981 Robert & Roberta Lucas 10/1981
Herb & Ruth Falk 10/1981 Harvey & Harriet Martin 10/1981
Howard Fein 10/1981 Harold & Selma Newmark 10/1981
Connie & Arnold Franzblau 5/1981 Herb & Ann Novit 6/1981
Abraham* & Betty* Friedman 10/1981 Ruth Parris 10/1981
Julian Friedman 6/1981 Charles Priesand 10/1981
Howard & Rosanne* Germain 5/1981 Irving* & Ruth* Purcel 10/1981
Charles & Jean Gleuck 10/1981 Malcolm* & Faye Rabins 10/1981
Josh & Jean Gold 6/1981 Leonard & Ivy Reade 10/1981
Lloyd & Diana Gordon 10/1981 Herbert* Ross 10/1981
Jackie & Steve Gottfried 5/1981 Peggy Rothschild 5/1981
Elaine & Steve Green 6/1981 David & Sheila Saul 10/1981
Barry Gruber 5/1981 Walter & Bev Seinsheimer 10/1981
Joni Gruber 5/1981 Blanche & Hy Selwyn 5/1981
Marlyn Heller 5/1981 David* & Ethel* Shapiro 10/1981
Richard Jacobson 10/1981 Marcia Smelkinson 10/1981
Lee* Jaffe 8/1981 Edward & Nancy Smith 10/1981
Lou & Diana Jaffe 10/1981 Peter* & Nettie* Wile 10/1981
    Brad Zeiger & Kim Moore 5/1981
*indicates “deceased”
Note: Our list is based on existing synagogue records. Please assist our collective memories by calling the Congregation Beth Yam office (843-689-2178) with any omissions or inaccuracies in these three lists.
Sun, December 10 2023 27 Kislev 5784