In 1947 a small group of women who had been meeting regularly for a social evening decided to form a club of interest to Jewish men and women.
Calling themselves the "Jewish Community Group of Roxborough," the group of Jewish men and women met often in various locales. By the following year, the need for a Jewish community center was determined and the fledgling congregation held its first High Holy Day Services in an empty house donated by one of its members. The group became affiliated with the Conservative movement.
In 1949 the congregation purchased the vacant Epiphany Lutheran Church in Roxborough. With a membership composed of 25 families, it became known as the Ivy Ridge Jewish Community Center. After several years of study and debate, the congregation voted to join the Reform Movement and became affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Prompted by the move of many congregations to the suburbs, the congregation purchased a tract of land in Lafayette Hill. It is on this land that the present structure was dedicated on May 20, 1960 and enlarged in 1964. Subsequent major enlargements occurred in 1972 and 1990. Each took years of planning and resulted in modernization of the building.
The congregation elected its first full-time rabbi in July, 1961. Rabbi Seymour Prystowsky led the congregation from 1963 until his retirement in June 2001, when he became our Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Kenneth Carr became the spiritual leader of the Or Ami Community in July 2001. Cantor Jordan Franzel is our first full time cantor. In 1965, the Ivy Ridge Jewish Community Center became known as Congregation Or Ami. The name means "light of my people."
Judaism, at Or Ami, is viewed and experienced as an evolving religious civilization. It is the ongoing creation of the Jewish people, rooted in the dreams and tradition of the patriarchs, the prophets and the sages offering us the insight, wisdom and experience of four millennia of our people's pilgrimage among the nations.
Our members are asked to confront our tradition and, on the basis of their needs and those of the Jewish people, to engage in responsible religious decision-making. We encourage worship study and social action and provide the settings for such expression. Shabbat Services are held providing both traditional and innovative approaches to worship. Adult education classes meet weekly to provide the congregation with opportunities to study our past and present while action oriented programs on behalf of our people in America, Israel, Russia, Syria and other parts of the world, take place continually.
Judaism, for us, is a way of life. We hope that you will become a part of our congregation.