THE FIRST ORTHODOX COMMUNITY OF GREATER WASHINGTON
Rabbi Herzel Kranz established the Silver Spring Jewish Center in 1967, becoming the first Orthodox rabbi to start a congregation in the Kemp Mill Community in Silver Spring Maryland. He has been the rabbi and spiritual leader of the Center for the past 48 years.
Rabbi Kranz has been advocating for many years on social justice and human rights issues. He was a founder of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Social Justice, whose values include a belief in such inalienable human rights as life, liberty, and access to productive property. One of the main proposals of the Center is worker ownership of companies, called Employee Stock Ownership Plans, which enables employees to purchase equities in the companies. Rabbi Kranz also helps inmates of all faiths with religious issues, and is very active in rehabilitation of people caught up in the criminal justice system. He was instrumental in creating kosher food programs in the Federal Prison system as well as in many State Prisons.
A member in many national Jewish organizations, Rabbi Kranz promotes inter-cultural and inter-religious understanding. He has met with many religious leaders including Pope John Paul II. Rabbi Kranz is involved in many “Tzedakah” charity projects, and serves as the President of the Hebrew Sheltering Home of Greater Washington.
Since 1964, the community of Silver Spring has grown from 150 to an average of 3,000 families. Many having emigrated from countries including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela, as well as Israel and a number of European countries. Seven days a week, the synagogue is a hub of activity, providing multiple daily prayer services to accommodate different working schedules. In addition, the Synagogue provides a wide variety of classes for all ages on diverse topics taught in several languages, community social events, and youth activities. The synagogue has a “mikveh” Ritual Baptism, A large Nursery School, Elementary School, Summer Camp, Sheltering Home and After School Programs open to the Community.
NEW BUILDING PROJECT
Building an addition to our synagogue in Silver Spring is a very ambitious project, loaded with emotions and feelings. We add the fact that we are talking about an orthodox synagogue, we can certainly say that the project is making history. The Silver Spring Jewish Center was born 50 years ago, offering a new way of understanding and living Judaism. An open vision, involved in the society, with a special emphasis on the youth. We are proud of our youth movement. SSJC promotes our future, and we have always focused our hopes on our exceptional educational programs.
Our new headquarters will encompass a space for religious, cultural, social, educational and Zionist activities. This is an open door and a reference for the development of traditional Judaism in Silver Spring, Maryland. Obviously with our growth, the space became smaller, representing a limitation to the development of the wide range of activities we have planned. Today, with the opening of a new Jewish Center wing, we have made a major leap that marks a new phase in the Jewish life in the nation’s Capitol.
Our area truly represents the Jewish Community of Greater Washington.