Congregation Har Shalom was founded in 1964 as the Seven Locks Jewish Community of Potomac, MD. The few dozen founding families first met in members’ homes and school auditoriums. They used a portable ark and a borrowed Torah, while planning a vibrant egalitarian Jewish life in this growing suburb. The following year, they voted to affiliate with the United Synagogue of America (now the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism).
In 1967, we welcomed our first spiritual leader, Rabbi Morris Gordon, who served as part-time rabbi and advisor for four years. The following year, brought us Cantor Cal Chizever who began as a part-time cantor and became full-time in the early 1980’s as the congregation expanded greatly, and is currently the Cantor Emeritus.
In 1971, with our name recently changed to Congregation Har Shalom, we dedicated our first permanent home. In 1974, we welcomed Rabbi Leonard Cahan, currently Rabbi Emeritus of the congregation. Hazzan Henrique Ozur Bass came to Har Shalom in 1996, a position he still holds. Our Rabbi, Adam J. Raskin assumed our pulpit in July, 2011.
Our building has been enlarged, refurbished and expanded several times, most recently in 2003 with the addition of the magnificent Burke Sanctuary, and this sanctuary-in-the-round has received awards for accessibility as well as for its inspirational design.
Our congregation is home to the wonderful and exciting Sherman Early Childhood Center, headed by Beth Hoch. In 2016, Jennifer Newfeld joined our robust staff as the Director of Education, overseeing our Religious School program (with learning opportunities pre-K through 12th grade). Executive Director, Shelley Engel, FSA, serves as the head of administrative and logistical matters.