Congregation Beth David celebrates its 40-year history and its future

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When the 60 or so Jews who summered in Narragansett began to gather for Shabbat services at the home of Charles and Sarah Koffler, they couldn’t imagine that over time their devotion would evolve into a year-round synagogue serving the spiritual, social, educational and cultural needs of a vibrant Jewish community.

In 1961, the congregation built a permanent structure, and 18 years later turned that building into a year-round house of worship for hundreds of Jews living in and around Narragansett.

On June 21-23, members of Congregation Beth David celebrated 40 years as a year-round synagogue by honoring its past presidents and by celebrating the past, the community and synagogue’s vision through a film.

On June 21,  the congregation recognized a long continuum of strong leaders, from its first president, the late Joe Block, to the current president, Harris Chorney.

At a Sunday dinner event on June 23, at Kinney Bungalow, in Narragansett, the congregation viewed a film featuring Beth David members and leaders, from teens to seniors. They remembered the past, celebrated community and spoke about a growing congregation. 

In addition, Yarden Fanta, an Ethiopian, told her story, a journey to find freedom and opportunity. She spoke about her childhood in a remote Ethiopian village, walking with her family more than 450 miles to flee Ethiopia, spending a year in a Sudanese refugee camp, and eventually arriving in Israel.

In Israel, Fanta pushed against popular opinion to rise from an illiterate Ethiopian girl to become the first Ethiopian woman to earn a Ph.D. in Israel. Today, she serves as president of the Empower Boston Immigrant Center, and shows the same determination and perseverance that helped a group of South County residents create a vibrant congregation that serves the needs of a growing Jewish community.