Poughkeepsie-When Shir Caddash, a Jewish congregation based in Poughkeepsie, New York, found themselves searching for a new space, the members of the Freedom Plains United
Presbyterian Church welcomed the group with open arms.
“Shir Caddash is a congregation that formed itself out of need,” said Rabbi Daniel Polish, “we outgrew our old Synagogue so we purchased new land.”
While the construction of the new Synagogue on Freedom Road, Poughkeepsie is underway, Polish began the search for a place to gather in lieu of the unfinished project. He didn’t have to search very long until he received a call from the Rev. Paul Lent.
“Why don’t you meet at my place,” Lent said and the union between the two congregations was made.
Freedom Plains United works under the mission statement, “we affirm that there can be no exclusiveness in the body of Christ,” and welcoming Shir Caddash is a testament to that statement.
“We are a community that values differences and respects opinions,” Lent said.
The schedule has the Jewish congregation meeting on Saturday and the Presbyterian congregation meeting on the following day, Sunday. Between each service, the iconology of the respective group is put up and the other safely stored behind the scenes.
“There isn’t much iconology in the Presbyterian church so it’s very easy to do the switch,” Polish said, “the switch is virtually friction-less.”
Both congregations actively participate with one another to help build understanding between two different faiths. Over the summer there was a joint trip to Israel and both congregational leaders speak at the others services regularly.
The two groups hope to create an example and foster an open space of learning and interest.
Shir Caddash in Hebrew translates to, “a new song” and both groups want to exemplify to this idea to the public, a new song of interfaith understanding.