Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland has been serving southern Oregon since 1973, when it was known as the Rogue Valley Jewish Community. The congregation held services primarily at First Presbyterian Church in Medford. Its members included people as far away as Grants Pass to the north and Yreka, California, to the south.
With help from the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the main organization for the Reform movement, student rabbis would fly in from Los Angeles once a month to lead services, teach at the Sunday school and conduct an adult education class.
In 1983, the congregation voted to purchase a building in Ashland to accommodate the need for a permanent home to serve the growing Jewish population. That same year, the first part-time rabbi was hired, the Sunday school expanded and Temple Emek Shalom, our new name, became a proud and visible member of the religious community.
As more families moved into the area, the old temple building no longer had space for all its activities, so land was purchased for construction of a future home. Finally, in February 2003, Temple Emek Shalom’s new facilities opened with a community wide celebration.
From the day the congregation moved into its new synagogue, it flourished not only as a house of worship for the Jewish community but as a participant in the community at large. The Temple has played host to any number of events aimed at serving not only its members but non-members as well, an example being its annual fundraising auction which has become one of the most successful events in the Valley.
Highlights of this community involvement came when the Temple’s first full-time spiritual leader, Rabbi Marc Sirinsky, was installed in a community-wide event. After Rabbi Marc’s tenure, the Temple was fortunate to find Rabbi Joshua Boettiger, its current spiritual leader, who was installed in a similar but larger community event. Joining Rabbi Boettiger in leading the work of the Temple and its many programs is Rabbi Julie Benioff.
Temple Emek Shalom is dedicated to a mission of religious, educational, cultural, social and charitable activities to which congregants devote time and energy as they strive for Tikkun Olam. The Temple continues to be a welcoming home for all Jews.