Our History and Growth
The JCA's growth in recent years belies its humble beginnings.
Amherst's first Jewish residents arrived in the early 1900's. They were few in number,
and it was not until the 1950's that the Amherst Jewish Community was established
to promote social and cultural events. In 1966, the Amherst Jewish Education Committee
was established to teach Hebrew and Jewish studies to the youngest members of the
community. Three years later the two groups merged to create the Jewish Community of
Amherst, and in 1976 the JCA purchased two buildings from the Second Congregational
Church to establish a permanent home. Today, the JCA has approximately 300 member
groupings-families, couples, individuals-and is still growing.
Our Historic Buildings
The founders of Amherst's Second Congregational Parish left the First Church
because of the Tory sentiments of its minister. They built their first meeting
house where the Fort River School now stands. Their Greek-Revival style second
meetinghouse, which is now the JCA Sanctuary, was completed in 1839.
The JCA's beautiful sanctuary has an organ, decorated ceilings,
and lovely stained glass windows, all of which date from an 1894 remodeling.
The lower level of the sanctuary houses our religious school classrooms.
Next to the Sanctuary is the JCA Library, built as the Parish House in 1859.
Its architecture is patterned after that of the main building. Recently redecorated,
it houses the offices of the Rabbi and Education Director, the library and resource
In the fall of 2001 the JCA completed a major building and renovation project which included construction of a new social hall, kitchen, small sanctuary, main offices and lobby. In addition, the main sanctuary and school classrooms underwent extensive renovation.