The Jews of Corpus Christi knew a decade ago they had to act fast to save their two synagogues.
With at most 1,000 Jews left in the Texas town and only 60 families making up its membership, the 60-year-old Conservative synagogue was in shaky financial shape. So in 2005, B’nai Israel Synagogue merged with Temple Beth El, a Reform shul, to form Congregation Beth Israel, combining customs and sharing sacred spaces to preserve Jewish life in an area that saw its heyday around World War II.
The combined synagogue, and a small but growing number of others like it, makes a concerted effort to be inclusive despite denominational differences in liturgy and theology. Friday night services are tailored to Reform-minded members, while Saturday morning is conducted in the more traditional Conservative style, according to Kenneth Roseman, Beth Israel’s Reform-ordained rabbi.