Ohev Shalom began as a congregation on Purim 1976, when Rabbi Perlstein conducted a Purim service for the 22 families that came together to found a Conservative Synagogue in Bucks County. For the first few years, the congregation held services at the Friends Meeting House in Southampton and Hebrew School classes in the homes of members. In September 1978 the congregation purchased its first home on Second Street Pike. The congregation grew that summer from sixty to one hundred and twenty families. After holding High Holy Day services in a tent for three years, an effort began to construct a new Sanctuary and Social hall to meet the needs of the growing congregation and Jewish community. In June 1982, Rabbi Perlstein graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. After serving as a student rabbi, he assumed the full time position as the synagogue’s spiritual leader.
With over 240 families, the congregation dedicated its new Sanctuary in August 1983. The congregation continued to grow and so, too, the youth groups, which are among the largest in the greater Philadelphia area. Ohev Shalom has enjoyed a very high percentage of its Bar and Bat Mitzvah young people continuing in Hebrew High. At the same time, the synagogue developed its Pre-School, which is widely acclaimed for its loving and caring environment and its educational excellence. It reflects the values of the entire congregation.
In the early nineties, the congregation refurbished the Sanctuary to be the beautiful and spiritual setting for prayer and life-cycle celebrations that it has become. A few years later, Ohev Shalom built the state-of-the-art Rothman Family Education Building, which houses the Pre-School, Religious School, High School of Jewish Studies, and the Beyt Midrash Adult Judaic Learning Center. During that time the synagogue also commissioned a scribe in Israel to write a new Torah for congregation. Members of the community participated in the creation of this sacred scroll, which culminated in a Torah parade on the Pike and a great celebration.
In 2003 Ohev Shalom welcomed the membership of the Adath Tikvah-Montefiore synagogue, which had served the Northeast Philadelphia Jewish community for over fifty years. The synagogue’s daily chapel, which was constructed as part of a larger project to complete our campus was named in honor of Adath Tikvah Montefiore and is now an integral part of worship and ritual at Ohev Shalom. The construction project, completed in 2008, also saw the creation of the Irv & Elaine Levin Building, the Gottesman Grand Hall, beautiful new lobby space, the Simcha Boutique, offering the area’s finest Judaica.
In 2008, the Pre-School expanded and became the Early Education Center, with the program open to children from 3 months through Kindergarten. As part of a Conservative Synagogue the Early Education Center has a strong focus on Judaics and all of the school families are welcome to become part of the Synagogue family as well.
In 2011-2012, Ohev Shalom celebrated its 36th Double Chai Anniversary. Looking to another 36 years (and more), the synagogue’s HeAtid Strategic Planning Project helped craft a long range plan that will secure Ohev’s role as a dynamic center of Jewish life in Bucks County.