About Us

Congregation Gan Eden was a joyous home for Jewish life and celebration created by Rabbi Nessa Bush Chamberlain of Blessed Memory, and supported by her parents, Norman and Arlene Bush of Blessed Memory. Rabbi Nessa founded Gan Eden in 1993 when she was in training for her rabbinical ordination, with a mission of providing low-cost, joyous, accessible, and participatory services to the Boca-Delray-Boynton area. Many of our members from that first year make up the core of our family, where we started with only 25 members at the Southwinds Golf Club for the price of $54 per ticket.  The following year, 1994, we doubled to 50 members, and we knew we had something special.

We rented the South County Civic Center in 1995 and welcomed 250 congregants for that same ticket price.  The following year, we sold out to 500 seats, and Cantor Bobra Bush joined her sister, Nessa, on the Bima.

On August 3, 2001, Rabbi Nessa Bush Chamberlain, succumbed to Breast Cancer. Under the direction of Cantor Bobra, the Congregation rallied to preserve her memory and legacy, and continued selling out the 500 seats each and every year.  Cantor Bobra continued Nessa’s legacy through her father Norman’s death in 2004, her mother Arlene’s death in 2007, all the way through 2019.  Even when the Pandemic hit in 2020, and continued into 2021, we maintained our original goals and kept the tickets prices at triple-chai – $54. We did this despite the significant decline in attendance and the additional cost associated with the complexity of the hybrid format.

Over the years we celebrated other holidays together including dancing around the Torah on Simchat Torah, lighting the candles and eating latkahs on Chanukah, breaking the matzoh on Passover, and even reading a politically incorrect Megillat Esther on Purim and learning from the Anti-Defamation League (https://www.adl.org/) about current day antisemitism, while nashing on hammantaschen.   All of it joyous, to be together, in community.

Rabbi Nessa and Cantor Bobra created a custom Machzor for the High Holidays and other custom service prayer books in the spirit of Jewish Renewal Judaism, filled with traditional prayers, uplifting song, and earth-based poetry.  Much of what made Gan Eden gatherings special were these custom prayer booklets, as they were designed to be accessible to those who didn’t read Hebrew, but remembered enough of the Hebrew liturgy to sing along and to join in inspiring readings about plants, animals, and our mother earth.  If you would like to purchase a (used) Machzor for $10 each, please email us at events@congregationganeden.org for more details.

On August 21, 2022, (Av 24, 5782), we close our doors with deep sadness, but with abundant gratitude to those of you who supported us for 1 year or 29 years, and kept Rabbi Nessa’s legacy alive.  May that legacy continue to live in your hearts.  L’hitra-ot (farewell) for now.