Jewish worshipers in the East Valley no longer have to hunt around to find resources online. East Valley Jewish Community Center has launched a one-stop shop at shalomeastvalley.org.

Rabbi Michael Beyo, CEO of the EVJCC in Chandler, made the push to give Jews a simpler way to access services and information.

Beyo said the EVJCC had for years talked about pulling all available resources into one site.

“In many other cities across the country, the Jewish organizations have pulled together to create a website where you can access a lot of resources,” he said.

“I decided, enough talk, let’s do it.”

With a quick click at shalomeastvalley.org, different synagogues, schools, camps and organizations can be accessed.

“The original target for this website is the Jewish organizations in the East Valley,” Beyo explained. “I reached out to all of them, and they all want to be part of it, at no cost. The second step will be non-East Valley Jewish organizations who want to advertise.”

Beyo said he wants to broaden the website further.

“I want to open it up to anybody – Jewish organizations, non-Jewish organizations – who want to reach this demographic.”

Beyo feels the site can connect to a vibrant and growing Jewish community in the East Valley.

“My understanding is that the Jewish community is growing at pace with the rest of the East Valley community in general,” Beyo said.

He feels that opens up a great opportunity to be part of the community.

“Especially in Phoenix and the East Valley, we are completely part of the non-Jewish community,” he said. “It’s not like Brooklyn, for example, where Jews live in segregated communities. We’re not in Brooklyn, not in L.A., the Pico-Robertson area. We’re all integrated in everything we do.”

That integration goes both ways.

“My members in the East Valley JCC are majority non-Jewish,” he said.

Beyo is originally from Italy, spent 17 years in Israel and has lived in Atlanta and Boston. He moved to Chandler almost two years ago. He says the East Valley is welcoming to Jews, with few incidents.

“My experience, and what I’ve heard, there have been no problems at all,” he said.

“There was one incident this past winter where they found out some teenagers destroyed a hanukkiah (candelabrum) outside the house of a Jewish family. But they didn’t know any better, and it was pure vandalism.

“As terrible as it is, I don’t think there was a lot of thought behind what they did.”

The incident didn’t shake Beyo and his faith in his neighbors.

“I didn’t feel worried. The amount of support that the JCC receives all the time, from our community, is such that I feel very comfortable in the East Valley.

“Arizonans are very welcoming, and the East Valley, more so.”

Even with racial and ethnic violence seemingly on the rise across the nation, Beyo feels Americans are fortunate.

“The truth is, I do believe the overwhelming majority of Americans are good, awesome people. This is an amazing country, a one-in-a-thousand-years country.

“From one that has lived in many countries, Americans don’t realize how awesome a country this is.”

He says Jews have been allowed to thrive here.

“America has been a blessing for the Jewish people,” Beyo said. “America has allowed the Jewish communities to thrive, has allowed people of the Jewish faith to integrate in every aspect of society and to do well for themselves and their community.

“There is nowhere that I go in America that I’m afraid because I’m clearly seen as a Jew in the way I dress. There is nowhere I’ve been that I have felt threatened.”

As for the website, Beyo has even bigger plans.

“I would like to open it up to also beyond the East Valley, but we’ll see as time progresses,” he said. “I want to make sure it’s, first of all, a good resource for the East Valley.

“The good thing about this website, it’s the only thing that’s brought Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed and secular Jews all together. It’s very difficult to get all Jews together on one thing!”

– Contact Ralph Zubiate at 480-898-6825 or rzubiate@timespublications.com.

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