Led by Rabbi Liza Stern, Congregation Eitz Chayim (tree of life) is best characterized by its warm, haimish atmosphere and meaningful engagement with Jewish traditions. As a community, we celebrate Shabbat and holidays together, share life cycle events, and promote life-long Jewish learning through our thriving religious school and rich adult education programming. We are a non-affiliated congregation that often worships creatively, and we work together to make new, fresh ideas happen. Community at Eitz Chayim has always been intimate and organic.
Eitz Chayim is fully inclusive, drawing families of all configurations and individuals from diverse backgrounds and varied identities. We take seriously our involvement in the local and world communities. Our dynamic urban congregation is the fastest-growing in Cambridge; our members come from all over the Greater Boston area.
Our roots go back to 1970, when a group of faculty and graduate students formed a cooperative Hebrew School for their children at Harvard Hillel. With the arrival of a creative educational director, Cherie Koller-Fox, an early leader in family education, the Harvard Hillel Children’s School grew and offered family celebrations of Jewish holidays, Bnai Mitzvah services and adult education. The school soon became independent, offered more services, opened membership to non-Harvard families and moved to another part of the Harvard campus. By 1992, the school had evolved into Congregation Eitz Chayim, the educational director had become an ordained rabbi, and we purchased our present building on Magazine Street.
When our founding rabbi left in 2001, Eitz Chayim was fortunate to engage another dynamic rabbi, Rabbi Liza Stern, who serves us into the present. Rabbi Stern creatively involves ALL comers: children open the ark at services; we bake hamantaschen in our temple kitchen for Purim; we recreate the desert tent at Passover; and Rabbi Stern leads lively, weekly, adult Torah Study, to name just a few of the many actitivites let by our rabbi. Congregants laugh with her, pray in a modern way with her, and deeply connect with her learned teaching. When Rabbi Stern is not at the bima, our congregants lead services.
Eitz Chayim is noted for our hands-on personal involvement with making our Hamish Jewish community. Congregation Eitz Chayim lives up its name, truly our tree of Jewish life.