By Rachel Gross Weinstein
Ner Tamid means “eternal light,” and since 1984, Congregation Ner Tamid has been just that for the Jewish community. That light will continue to shine bright in Lewisville — and beyond — for many years.
The Reform synagogue dedicated its new space and sanctuary at a ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 11. The congregation moved in March to Hebron Office Plaza, 751 Hebron Pkwy. in Lewisville, after years of conducting services in homes.
Being in a new area allows Ner Tamid to be more of a presence in the Jewish community, said Cantor and Para Rabbi Patti Turner. The synagogue has about 25 families and is hoping to expand.
“It’s wonderful. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to move, but now we can give people the opportunity to worship and be part of a community,” she said. “I believe you can achieve kavanah [doing something with heart] anywhere, but when you are in a communal setting with a grand ark and being in an area bigger than a living room, it inspires people to pray with even more heart. This gives us a sense of stability, that we are here to stay.”
The dedication began with a ribbon cutting, followed by a service, mezuzah hanging and Torah reading. Rabbi Brian Zimmerman of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Frank Joseph of Temple Beth-El in Corsicana, Rabbi Avraham Bloomenstiel, the Jewish community’s sofer, and Bradley Laye, interim president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, were all in attendance.
The three rabbis each hung a mezuzah in different areas. Bloomenstiel also wrote the new Sefer Torah and noted that it will allow Ner Tamid to have many simchas in the coming years.
Zimmerman, who works with various Reform congregations in the Southern U.S., praised Ner Tamid for its perseverance throughout the years and continuing to stay strong.
“Ner Tamid is an eternal light, and it’s not always easy to keep that light lit,” he said. “You bring Torah everywhere and will continue being an eternal light. In these 29 years, wandering at times in homes, in places you rented and created and built with this ark and light, you kept the light bright, and sometimes it was easier than others. I want to offer a different type of Mishebeirach. We often think of that as a prayer for the sick, but it means, ‘May God bless those in need of blessing.’ This one is for people who struggle and strive, who sing and dance and sweat and cry to keep synagogues alive. The prayer is both what you do for each other and what you do for the community.”
Ner Tamid is a storied congregation with a rich history, Laye said during his remarks. Everyone involved — from volunteers, to lay leaders, to members — should be proud to be part of what it has accomplished, he said.
“There is a quote that Rav Cook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, used to describe the state of Israel: ‘What is old make new, what is new make holy.’ If there is anything that typifies that, it’s what we are experiencing today,” Laye said. “It’s a source of pride, and the prayer that will happen here, the families that will grow up here, the b’nai mitzvot and other simchas you will celebrate here, should only bring much success and strength. Thank you for all you are doing to provide another light in another area — to provide a beacon for folks to participate and join our Jewish faith.”
Randy Friedberg, Ner Tamid president, said moving was a dream the synagogue had for a while, and he is grateful it was able to happen. Growing and being a presence in the community are the ultimate goals, he said.
Having their own space is very rewarding, Friedberg said, and he is excited for the future.
“We are thrilled to be in Lewisville,” he said. “We have been around for a long time and continue to move forward, grow and be a place where people can gather, pray, make friends and be social.”
Added Joseph: “I remember Ner Tamid when I lived in Carrollton and would walk there on Friday evenings. It has kept going and keeps getting stronger. It goes on to persevere and is a microcosm of the Jewish people, because we never give up. I see a strong, wonderful Ner Tamid, and this is just the beginning. There will be many more blessings and reasons to celebrate in the years ahead.”