A group of Boston area graduate students from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) founded this nonprofit,…More non-governmental organization in 1997 to bring about positive change in the MENA region via education.
They work to create "inclusive and egalitarian classrooms in secondary schools across the Middle East and North Africa." Their approach is based on the idea that by equipping "teachers with the skills and knowledge to broaden young peoples' perspectives and horizons" that UME alumni will pave "a sustainable path for growth and stability in the MENA region."
They train teachers from the MENA region, who then reach approximately 4,500 new students per year with schooling that emphasizes "critical and creative thinking, constructive dialogue and cross-cultural perspectives." Equally important to their mission, the students they serve are not discriminated against based on nationality, gender, ethnicity or religion. Additional programs teach civic engagement. They operate out of an office at the Somerville Armory and another in Madrid, Spain.
This Winter Hill synagogue opens its doors to members of all branches of Judaism. Self-described as "an independent…More egalitarian congregation with historical roots in the Conservative movement," they add, "Our membership reflects the wide variety of choices people make in living Jewish lives, and we are respectful of those differences." Their children's school program also reflects their "commitment to a traditional Judaism informed by progressive thought."
Though built in 1922, the temple's hand-carved mahogany ark (an ornate cabinet where the Torah scriptures are stored) is even older. It hails from the former North End synagogue, Beth Israel Congregation, founded in 1887, which makes it one of the oldest arks in New England.
Weekly Friday and Saturday services are held, as are holiday services. A small but active congregation, they also hold Shabbat dinners, organize lectures and events focused on a broad range of social issues and offer occasional courses for adults (such as a survey of world religions or a class on Israeli poetry). A "Tea and Torah" study group is hosted as well. To help provide groceries for those in need, the temple is partnered with kosher food pantry Family Table.
Currently the temple is not wheelchair accessible, but plans are in development to create access and build an addition with elevator.