In the summer of 1995 twelve families approached Rabbi Louchheim to be the rabbi of a new congregation.
“More than 150 people attended the Or Chadash, New Light, first Friday Shabbat service on August 18” at the Zenith Center, 330 East 7th Street. Part of the congregation’s vision, according to Rabbi Louchheim, was to reshape the Shabbat ritual experience and to “offer a new perspective on our spiritual search for value and meaning.” (Arizona Jewish Post, September 1, 1995)
In late 1995, Friday night services moved from the Zenith Center to the Pavilion at the home of Peggy Hitchcock; while Torah study, some holiday celebrations, and the first religious school were at the home of Rabbi & Marcia Louchheim. Trudy (Wrubel) Haggard served as the first accompanist and cantorial soloist.
First Religious School
Fifty-six students enrolled in the religious school program under Marcia Louchheim, the first Director of Education. Classes were at the JCC, and the staff expanded to include Melissa Winkle and Cindy Weintraub.
First Bat Mitzvah: Ayla Ruben, February 6, 1996
First Bar Mitzvah: Andrew Shalek, June 22, 1996
First Adult Bat Mitzvah: Fran Braverman
First Confirmation Class: Emily Brent, Ruth Morrison, Ariel Tinney, and Robert Weintraub, June 9, 2000
Joining the URJ
The congregation joined the Union for Reform Judaism (at the time, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, UAHC). We received our charter on January 29, 1999.
The congregation moved Friday night services to the Junior League of Tucson on River Road.
Cantor Janece E. Cohen, D.S.M, was our soloist for the 1999 High Holy Days and then hired as congregational cantor in January 2000.
First Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class
April 13, 2002: The congregation celebrated its first Adult B’not Mitzvah on Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5762. The B’not Mitzvah were Su Benaron, Diane Kerrihard, Terri Krasner, Rhonda Krinsky, Fay Roos, and Toni Tallman.
Home on Alvernon
March 1, 2002:
At a special meeting, the congregation passed a motion made by Fred Havas & seconded by David Weintraub, to purchase a 4.2 acre property at 3939 N. Alvernon Way from Libby Ross as the site of its religious school and synagogue
May 2, 2004:
Rabbi Louchheim hung a mezuzah on the door of the new office building at 3939 North Alvernon Way and moved the Torah scroll from the JCC to the new ark in the congregation’s chapel on the Alvernon campus.
Or Chadash launched the Make Your Mark project with Sofer Rabbi Shmuel Miller writing a Sefer Torah for the congregation. The Torah became known as the Levy Scroll due to the generous support of Yoram & Helaine Levy.
December 9, 2006
In its 10th Anniversary year, the congregation dedicated the new Education Center on the Alvernon synagogue campus. Read more
December 7, 2009
The clergy and Board of Directors of Congregation Or Chadash formally received Scroll MST-1408, a Holocaust Scroll. The Scroll is on long-term loan from the Czech Memorial Scroll of Westminster, United Kingdom. A special dedication took place on Friday, May 21, 2010. The generosity of Sue and Herb Cohn made the Czech Torah project possible.