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Congregation Ner Tamid

Photograph of the sanctuary of Congregation Ner Tamid

Congregation Ner Tamid is the second oldest Jewish synagogue in the Las Vegas Valley, Nevada, founded in 1974. It is the largest Reform synagogue in Nevada, and has been led by Rabbi Sanford Akselrad since 1988. Ner Tamid is home to the Gary and Lynn Kantor Early Childhood Education Center and the Mark L. Fine Judaica gift shop.  It offers youth and adult education, as well as a Men’s Club, Sisterhood, and other social groups. In 2015, more than 600 families were members of Ner Tamid, and the congregation offered over 200 programs and activities in the course of a year. Partners include Nevadans for the Common Good, Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada, the Anti-Defamation League, Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas (an Orthodox school), and others.

In the early days of the Las Vegas Jewish community, the population was small and one temple (Temple Beth Sholom) served a spectrum of religious philosophies. By 1974 the number of Reform Jews had grown, and thirty-five families held their first services as a congregation that would later be named Ner Tamid (Eternal Light). The leaders of this new congregation were Eugene Kirschbaum and David Wasserman. Early Rabbis included Stephen Weisberg and Mel Hecht. During Hecht’s tenure in the early 1980s, casino owner Moe Dalitz contributed $500,000 for the construction of the Ner Tamid’s first permanent synagogue, under the condition that the congregation would match his donation. The fundraiser was successful and Dalitz’s pledge was matched within ten weeks. 

In 2005, Ner Tamid broke ground on a new site in Henderson, Nevada, which they named the Greenspun Campus for Jewish Life, Learning, and Spiritual Renewal. A Service of Dedication was held for the campus on February 25, 2007, beginning with a Torah Walk to transport the torahs from their temporary location at King David Memorial Chapel to the new synagogue. One thousand people attended the Service of Dedication. 

 

Sources:

“Our History.” Congregation Ner Tamid. Accessed January 12, 2015. http://www.lvnertamid.org/about-us/our-history.

Marschall, John P. Jews in Nevada: a history. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2008.

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