Kol Tzedek West Philadelphia Synagogue
Kol Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue in West Philadelphia, builds a diverse and inclusive community through prayer, education, spirituality, and Jewish activism within and beyond our local neighborhood.
We are located at the Calvary Center for Community and Culture, 801 S. 48th St., in West Philadelphia.
Kol Tzedek began as a dream shared among a small group of committed Jews living in West Philadelphia. They sought a community with which to pray, yet the last remaining synagogue closed its doors in the 1980s. An inspired group of leaders started a havurah that met monthly for davenning. The havurah’s success demonstrated a need in the community. Rabbi Lauren, then a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, worked with the core leadership on a vision for a full fledged Jewish community in which people could gather, pray and learn, celebrate and mourn. Beyond simply creating a bridge from the past, the founders desired to establish something that reflected the needs of those seeking meaningful connection, spiritual grounding for their progressive values, and joyful, life-affirming religious practice.
Drawing on skills learned in the Jewish Organizing Initiative, Rabbi Lauren met with potential participants one-on-one, listening to their needs and concerns and inviting them into varied leadership efforts. The initial event, a Hanukkah party in December 2004, drew 150 people and affirmed our belief that there was an unmet need in the community. Kol Tzedek set up its first Board of Directors in February 2005 and began building organizational infrastructure.
The name “Kol Tzedek” (Voice of Justice) was chosen by the initial group of members, reflecting the shared desire that justice stand at the center of our mission. Kol Tzedek attracts a wide variety of seekers, including those with traditional backgrounds and those with no formal Jewish background. Our unique religious, cultural, and tikkun olam programming along with our “spirituality groups” engage roughly 600 people, including our roughly 85 member households.