About Us

B’nai Shalom offers a continuum of enjoyable Jewish programming for young people from ages 12 through high school graduation.

B’nai Shalom celebrates Jewish life and community. We cherish the traditions that give rhythm and meaning to our lives. We encourage spiritual and intellectual growth, and treasure the warmth and kindness that make B’nai Shalom feel like home. Join us for:

  • Inspiring rabbinic leadership and teaching; compassionate pastoral care
  • Egalitarian, family-friendly Shabbat and holiday services
  • An award-winning Religious School included with membership
  • Lively youth programs, with a special welcome for young families
  • Cultural, educational, and social programs; opportunities for social action
  • Connection to Israel through the Jewish National Fund and the Masorti Movement
  • Support in the sorrows and joys of life cycle moments

Located on a beautiful campus in the heart of an area rich in Jewish resources, B’nai Shalom welcomes all who wish to join in learning, prayer, celebration and friendship.

Our History

B’nai Shalom’s Story

In the 1920s, when the Pleasantdale section of West Orange was considered “the country,” Goldman’s and Green’s hotels on Pleasant Valley Way were thriving resorts catering to Jews from Brooklyn and the outer boroughs. But the local Jewish population was small.

By 1932, Jews in the area were numerous enough to form a congregation, incorporated as the Jewish Center of Pleasantdale. For nine years, they met where space could be found, until—in 1941—the 75-member congregation bought a single-family home and converted it into a house of prayer. The congregation’s first, full-time rabbi, Harold Mozeson, arrived in 1944. He served the community for 28 years.

As the West Orange Jewish population grew after World War II, the congregation acquired a large, corner plot at Pleasant Valley Way and Woodland Avenue, with assistance from Mac Goldman, son of the founders of the resort. They built a modest synagogue, set back on the property’s sweeping lawn. A hexagonal sanctuary was connected to a cinder-block gymnasium by a glass-walled hallway. The gym contained a basketball court with hoops that retracted for High Holiday services and social events. True to its name, the “Jewish Center of West Orange,” the building functioned as both synagogue and community center. There were few other Jewish organizations in the area and the synagogue was the place to go for Jewish culture and communal programs.

Two events, one terrible and one joyful, then shaped the history and spirit of the congregation, establishing a depth of connection to place and community felt to this day.

The first was the explosion of a massive bomb in the synagogue lobby, on April 18, 1971. Torah scrolls were rescued, but the damage was devastating. Despite all efforts of the police and FBI, the perpetrators were never found. The assumption that anti-Semitism would never touch West Orange was shattered along with windows and walls, and the reconstruction that followed was accomplished with a sense of keen resolve.

By that time, Rabbi Mozeson had retired, succeeded by a young rabbi, Stanley Asekoff, whose gift for pastoral care was essential for the healing of the congregation. Rabbi Asekoff’s tenure lasted 39 years, and, as Rabbi Emeritus, he continues to be a respected and loved part of our community.

The second defining event began when a bit of ink on one of the letters on a Torah scroll fell from the parchment—making the scroll unfit for use. The congregation commissioned a scribe to examine all six of our Torah scrolls. A fundraising plan ensued, with congregants invited to sponsor the examination and kashering of whole scrolls, books of the Torah, weekly portions, and even single letters. On the day of the rededication, there was a grand parade, with Torah scrolls carried by singing congregants for a full mile along Pleasant Valley Way to the synagogue. There, the scribe sat ready to inspect and repair every Torah. By afternoon, all scrolls were pronounced kosher.

In the late 1980s, with the development of a strong YM/YWHA (now the JCC) in West Orange, the congregation changed its name to B’nai Shalom, identifying itself as a religious organization and not a community center.

By the mid-1990s, a grant by the Maron Family, in memory of Lynn Sunshine Maron, the first woman president of B’nai Shalom, sparked a Building Campaign that funded the modernization that produced the beautiful building we know today. Maron Hall, dedicated in Lynn’s honor, became an elegant room, suited for High Holiday services, receptions, and special events. Thanks to the generosity of the Gruhin Family, the sanctuary was significantly enlarged and reoriented to the east, with the bimah in the center. An impressive, glass-walled loggia was added, dedicated by the Legow Family. The Morris and Miriam Hammer Campus was dedicated in 2006.

Rabbi Asekoff retired in 2011. When his successor, Rabbi Robert L. Tobin stepped onto the bimah for the first time, he was only the third rabbi to serve B’nai Shalom in 79 years. Dedicated to infusing every aspect of congregational life with opportunities for learning, Rabbi Tobin initiated the congregation’s latest venture, development of the Culture and Learning Center at B’nai Shalom.

In 2017, Verona’s Congregation Beth Ahm closed its doors. Its members joined B’nai Shalom, bringing with them their spirit and strength, and a set of beautiful stained glass windows that now enhance our sanctuary and sanctuary lobby.

Goldman’s Hotel is now the Wilshire Grand and its golf course is the Woodlands, a condominium community. Green’s on the Lake is a nursing home.

But, stable and resilient, B’nai Shalom is thriving, looking to the future, welcoming young families and all who seek a place to learn, pray, make friends, and build community.

Facilities

A Safe and Accessible Space

B’nai Shalom’s campus and building are fully accessible. There are ramps and railings to facilitate participation at the bimah, and an audio-amplification system in the Gruhin Sanctuary.

In the last several years, our facility has benefitted from multiple Homeland Security grants for special windows, safety systems and staff training. Partnering with the Essex County Sheriff’s Department for on-site security personnel, we take the safety of our members and visitors very seriously.

Planning Your Event

B’nai Shalom welcomes inquiries about space rental for all kinds of events, and we will work with you to make your planned event beautiful.

Set on a verdant, spacious property, our Morris and Miriam Hammer Campus in West Orange is minutes from Rte. I-280.

We are a kosher facility with commercial meat and dairy kitchens under the supervision of Rabbi Robert L. Tobin. Outside kosher caterers are welcome at B’nai Shalom, provided that their certification of kashrut is approved by Rabbi Tobin. For individual events, glatt kosher Orthodox supervision can be arranged.

B’nai Shalom can comfortably accommodate up to 400 for weddings and B’nei Mitzvah parties, and up to 750 for lectures and performances. Spaces in our building can be customized for all kinds of events, and we are experienced in working with a variety of caterers and event designers.

  • Magnificent sanctuary in-the-round, with skylight
  • Elegant glass-walled loggia
  • Ballroom with raised stage and new dance floor
  • Intimate, architecturally interesting chapel
  • High-tech audio-visual system
  • Bridal Room
  • Large parking area

For further information about renting space in our facility, please contact Gary Rothschild, Director of Synagogue Operations (973-731-0160 x202 or director@bnaishalom.net).

Our Rabbis

Rabbi Robert L. Tobin

rabbi tobin

His classes on Jewish history and thought, weekly Talmud Mondays, discussions of text on Shabbat afternoons, and graduate-level Melton class have faithful followings.

Rabbi Tobin grew up in Rochester, New York, and has lived and studied in South Africa, Chile, France, and Israel. He speaks English, Spanish, Hebrew, and French.

Rabbi Emeritus Stanley L. Asekoff

rabbi Asakoff

During his 39-year tenure at B’nai Shalom, Rabbi Stanley Asekoff’s warmth and compassion touched nearly every family in our congregation and established a spirit of hesed that enriched all our lives.

A proud Bostonian and graduate of the famous Boston Latin School, Rabbi Asekoff received his BA in psychology from Brandeis and BA in Jewish Education from the Hebrew College in Boston. He earned both an MA in Hebrew Literature and Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Leadership

Executive Committee

President Jesse SchneiderEmail Me
Co-Executive Vice President Misha TsirulikEmail Me
Immediate Past President Orit KastnerEmail Me
Co-Executive Vice President Ari KampelEmail Me
VP for Finance Bruce GallantEmail Me
Treasurer Myron SpektorEmail Me
Secretary Debra GrossmanEmail Me
Co-VP of Technology and Communicaiton Alex MushkinEmail Me
Co-VP Technology and Communications Ed BierEmail Me
Co-VP of Education Marcia PaisnerEmail Me
Co-VP of Education Yael WebberEmail Me
Co-VP Administration Irwin PollackEmail Me
Co-VP Administration Debra LawrenceEmail Me
VP Membership Vicki Phon CaplanEmail Me
Presidential Appointee Debra Lawrence
Gabbai Don Batchelder
Gabbai Sam Kamens

President: Jesse Schneider

president
Click to see Jesse's Video Testimonial

Board Members

Barbara Newman
Bruce Friedman
Deborah Studen
Francesca Peckman
Gary Silver
Howard Kastner
Kenneth Levitt
Mitchell Skolnick
Tom Phon

Special Tribute For Ronnie

Click Here

Past Presidents

Max Richman Z"L
1944 to 1945

Lee Sherman Z"L
1945 to 1946

Edward Goldfein Z"L
1946 to 1947

Irving Gennet Z"L
1947 to 1948

Maclyn Goldman Z"L
1948 to 1949

Irving Galin Z"L
1949 to 1950

Harold Jay Z"L
1950 to 1951

Sol Eichler Z"L
1951 to 1952

Nathan Rothenberg
1952 to 1953

Milton J. Schwartz Z"L
1953 to 1955

Max Bruss Z"L
1955 to 1956

Frederick Wolf
1956 to 1957

Arthur Hirsh
1957 to 1958

David Hersh Z"L
1958 to 1961

Harold Levine
1961 to 1962

Eugene Ross Z"L
1962 to 1963

Morton Grebelsky Z"L
1963 to 1964

Milton Breitman
1964 to 1967

Alfred Goodman Z"L
1966 to 1967

Isidore Krosser
1967 to 1968

Milton Newman
1968 to 1969

Murray Gottlieb Z"L
1969 to 1971

Irving Berkowitz Z"L
1970 to 1990

Walter Springer Z"L
1971 to 1972

David Millstein Z"L
1972 to 1973

Irving Kerzner Z"L
1973 to 1974

Arthur Maron
1974 to 1975

Joseph Friedman Z"L
1975 to 1976

Mortimer Eber Z"L
1976 to 1977

Melvin L. Benjamin
1977 to 1979

Lynn Sunshine Maron Z"L
1979 to 1980

Murray Gottlieb Z"L
1980 to 1982

Donald Legow
1982 to 1985

David Plotkin Z"L
1985 to 1987

Leonard Fisher Z"L
1987 to 1989

Howard Cohen
1989 to 1991

Max Spinrad
1991 to 1993

Paul Kurland
1993 to 1995

Mary Mandel
1995 to 1997

Barry Liben Z"L
1997 to 1999

Bennett Schwartz
1999 to 2001

Simone Shenassa
2001 to 2003

Steve Colten
2003 to 2005

Bonnie Kessler
2005 to 2007

Seth Saltzman
2007 to 2009

Charles Kurtzer
2009 to 2011

Susan Friedman
2011 to 2013

Seth Saltzman
2011 to 2013

Noel Meltzer
2013 to 2015

Seth Cohen
2015 to 2017

Murray Fryd
2017 to 2019

Noel Meltzer
2017 to 2019

Orit Kastner
2019 to 2021

Debra Grossman
2019 to 2021