In 1988, three people decided to form a group to meet the needs of Jewish gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the Pittsburgh area. Thus was Bet Tikvah ("House of Hope") created. By 1989, the group had grown and was regularly holding member-led services at a variety of locations in the Pittsburgh area, including a local gay-owned restaurant, the Israel Heritage Room at the University of Pittsburgh, and the homes of members. Since 1994, the congregation has met for worship at Rodef Shalom, a prominent Pittsburgh synagogue. Although Rodef Shalom is a Reform congregation, Bet Tikvah is not affiliated with any particular branch of Judaism. In addition, services and events are open to and regularly attended by interfaith couples, those wishing to explore Judaism, and heterosexual Jews.
Since its beginnings, Bet Tikvah events have addressed both the social and the spiritual needs of its growing community. Religious services are held on the first Friday of every month, with additional services for special holidays. Services continue to be led by members of the congregation, creating a warm, involved, and active atmosphere. At the same time, the group socializes together and celebrates life cycle events (such as conversions and namings) as a congregation. An email distribution list provides information about recent and future events.
Bet Tikvah now counts over 40 memberships, including families of all compositions. In addition to serving the needs of Jewish gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, Bet Tikvah welcomes all who wish to join in worship.
Here are four profiles of Bet Tikvah that were published in local papers:
- “Absolutely and unabashedly welcoming”: How some Pittsburgh faith communities embrace LGBT worshippers (Bet Tikvah is the 4th congregation profiled, published online by Public Source)
- Bet Tikvah celebrating three decades in Pittsburgh (published in the Jewish Chronicle)
- Alternative Synagogue Provides Home for Lesbian and Gay Jews (published in "Out", a gay and lesbian newspaper formerly published in the tri-state area)
- Bet Tikvah offers support to Jewish gays and lesbians (published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)