Beth Am Synagogue was founded on Shabbat Chanukah in 1974. Prior to 1974, our building served its original owners, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, who built it in 1922 but moved to its present location on Stevenson Road in 1962 at a time when many congregations were following their members from the city out to the suburbs. A founding principle of Beth Am is to remain in Baltimore City and to be a vital and stabilizing anchor in its Reservoir Hill neighborhood.
When Chizuk Amuno put the building up for sale in 1974, members who had been worshipping at the old building hastily formed a congregation and purchased it. Dr. Louis Kaplan, the retired president of Baltimore Hebrew University, served as the first rebbe. His wife, Etta Kaplan, suggested the name “Beth Am,” which means “House of the People.”
In early 2019 we temporarily “moved out” of our building to interim worship and meeting space to facilitate a major renovation. An accessible and attractive street level entrance was added on Chauncey Avenue, as well as a new elevator. The lower level was totally rebuilt to accommodate flexible activity and classroom space, updated HVAC, and other amenities. The sanctuary bimah was reconfigured to create better interaction between worship leaders and participants, and the space was retrofitted with air conditioning. The floors of the building are now connected by a grand staircase with a unique artistic bannister designed by sculptor David Hess that depicts the diversity of our community and neighborhood, using balusters reflecting the historic nature of our Reservoir Hill neighborhood. The award-winning renovation received much publicity as we returned in time for High Holidays in September 2019.
We will celebrate the centennial of our building in 2022.