Not at all! Everyone is welcome in our community regardless of their membership status or background. Beth El is home to many interfaith families and converts as well as people who grew up in more traditionally observant homes. We thrive on building relationships that help us see the world from many perspectives. Learn more about membership, or start by signing up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Absolutely. Beth El includes many interfaith families, and the non-Jewish members are welcome to participate in almost every part of the service, as well as our religious school and programs. While parts of our services are in Hebrew, Beth El’s gender-neutral prayer book Vetaher Libenu (written by our congregation) has English translations and transliterations. Our service leaders (both clergy and laity) make a point of sharing page numbers to make sure that we remain together as we pray.
There’s something for everyone…
Services are held in person and live-streamed, with some special events also broadcast via Zoom. Masks are now optional and attendees are asked to sign in when they enter. The Events section on our home page lists special events with registration and Zoom links. Weekly service/study schedules, remote viewing links and study materials can be found here.
What if I need physical accommodations?
We are committed to full accessibility at Beth El (see details on our Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility page). This has meant making improvements to our building, expanding our prayer life, and designing accessible programming. Our building and garden are fully wheelchair accessible. We also have large-print prayer books, hearing assistance devices, and a fragrance-free section during services.
How do I get involved and meet other people or join Beth El?
Just show up!
How would you describe Beth El’s religious practices?
Congregants at Beth El (a Reform-affiliated synagogue) practice many different levels of Jewish observance. Social justice and discussing the meaning of texts are just as important as ritual observance. Members come from all backgrounds ranging from non-observant/non-Jewish to those who grew up in a more religious atmosphere.
Many of our members neither read nor speak Hebrew, and that’s OK. Our services feature a mix of Hebrew and English, and our siddur (prayer book) has recently been transliterated so those who don’t read Hebrew can fully participate. Beginning Hebrew classes are offered often. Our services also have lots of participatory music and spirit, which transcend language!
People wear a variety of clothes to services Some people wear everyday clothes, other wear their work clothes, and some dress up (more so at High Holiday services and lifecycle events). Tallitot (prayer shawls) and kippot (yarmulkes) are optional and we have extras. As a general rule, we encourage comfort and authenticity over formality.
We follow kashrut (ritual laws regarding food) in our building. We do not consume meat or shellfish at our events, and members are asked to ensure all food that’s brought in is kosher. According to our standards, this means that it does not contain lard or other ingredients that do not meet the standards of kashrut. If you have any questions about this aspect of our community’s life, please contact our temple administrator at email@example.com.
What is Beth El’s bar/bat mitzvah process like?
About 18 months prior to turning 13, our students are assigned a bar/bat mitzvah date as close as possible to their birthday. They and their families study with Rabbi Breindel in our Torah Class, culminating in a weekend Shabbat retreat. Together they explore questions of Jewish identity in the 21st century, role-play issues in Jewish ethics, and draw together in friendship and support. Under the guidance of our clergy, our students learn to chant verses from Torah and from the Prophets (haftarah). They also prepare a d’var Torah (sermon) in which they share their unique insights into their Torah portion and their relationship to their Jewish heritage. Additionally, the gabbai for the student’s bar/bat mitzvah service provides support and guidance through the process.
Bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies take place as part of our regular Shabbat services on Saturdays. Afterwards, the congregation celebrates together at a kiddush luncheon, where food has traditionally been prepared by congregants as part of our Community Catering program.