beth emet banner logo 72res 450

Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.


Beth Emet began on a cold night in January 1950 when founding Rabbi David S. Polish, z"l, was told that he could not lead services at his Reform congregation. A fervent Zionist, Rabbi Polish's support of the State of Israel did not please some of his congregants. With a broken contract, Rabbi Polish, his wife Aviva, and two children, joined with forty other families to establish the first Reform congregation in Evanston. Our full name, Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, refers to freedom of speech from the pulpit, a right Rabbi Polish was denied by his former synagogue.

On August 1, 1950, Beth Emet purchased an eleven room mansion on the corner of Dempster and Ridge. In keeping with the Congregation's commitment to freedom and liberty for all, several champions of progressive ideas have found a welcome dais for their programs on Beth Emet's bimah, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1958.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1958.

Education was and is a primary focus at Beth Emet. Shortly after the first weeks, Hebrew classes were organized, and a nursery school and adult education program were established within the first year.

When Rabbi Polish announced in 1979 that he would retire the following year, a search and screen committee was formed to select his successor. In June 1980, Rabbi Emeritus Peter S. Knobel became our second Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Knobel made significant contributions to the Beth Emet community and the Reform Judaism community-at-large. Among his many accomplishments, Rabbi Knobel chaired the editorial committee for the movement's current prayerbook, Mishkan T'filah, and is also a former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).

In July 1993, Rabbi Eleanor Smith joined Beth Emet as Assistant and then Associate Rabbi. Upon her resignation in 2000, Rabbi Andrea London joined the congregation, and in 2010, upon the retirement of Rabbi Knobel, became Beth Emet's third Senior Rabbi. Rabbi London is deeply engaged in all aspects of congregational life, including worship, lifecycle events, counseling and support, adult education, youth education and programming, social action, and interfaith relations. 

In 1982, Beth Emet's first full-time Cantor, Jeffrey Klepper, joined the congregation. Cantor Klepper played a large role in forming the Beth Emet choir, and his enthusiasm and energy did much to enhance our worship experience. When he announced his departure in 2001, Cantor Gershon Silins was selected to succeed him and served until 2003. From 2004-2009, Cantor Erin Frankel was Beth Emet's third invested cantor. Cantor Arik Luck joined our team of clergy in 2009 and brought many innovative and traditional musical arrangements to the pulpit during his time at Beth Emet. In the summer of 2015, Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman was welcomed as Beth Emet's fifth Cantor. Cantor Friedman's vitality and classical training greatly complements Beth Emet's worship services. 

In 2002, Beth Emet's weekly soup kitchen opened its doors for the first time and still feeds approximately 100 diners a nutritious meal every Wednesday evening. Led by congregants and powered solely by volunteers from both within and outside of the Beth Emet community, our soup kitchen is indicative of Beth Emet's continued commitment to social action and tzedakah.

Today, Beth Emet continues the ideology of its founders. We are a liberal, Reform Jewish congregation; we promote freedom of the pulpit for our clergy, and our membership is encouraged to express its varied intellectual and political views. We are actively engaged in study and worship. We work closely to build bridges within our own community, with other faith based communities, and with social service organizations to bring about opportunities for open dialogues and work towards creating a better community, both locally and around the globe. Our building is filled to the brim with not only spiritual and emotional memories, but also physical artifacts of Beth Emet’s commitment to Judaism, Israel and our community. 

We are proud of our past, and we greet the future eagerly, filled with energy, zeal and commitment.

FacebookTwitterYoutubeListen Live


  • Welcome!

    We are so very glad that you have found your way to Beth Emet!

    We are a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation is spiritually vibrant, socially conscious,...

  • Experience Elul
    The month of Elul encourages reflection, rejuvenation, and renewal, offering us opportunities to prepare ourselves for the High Holidays. Prepare by attending one (or all!) of our special Elul programs. Click on t...
  • High Holidays

    Rosh HaShanah 5777/2016

    Sunday, October 2 - Erev Rosh HaShanah Service 8:00 p.m.
    Monday, October 3 - Rosh HaShanah Chavurah Service 9:00 a.m. | Tashlich 10:30 a.m.
    Traditional Reform Service 11:30 a.m.
    Family Servic...


Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

  • Help Make This Summer a “Tzedakah Summer"
    Volunteer an hour and $18 will be donated to the Tzedakah Fund
    In honor of the Beth Emet Tzedakah Fund’s anniversary on June 1, an anonymous supporter has graciously offered to donate $18 to the Beth Emet Tzed...
  • Sunday, September 11, 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    Families with children five and under will join with our Gan Yom Rishon class to bake honey cakes for Beth Emet Soup Kitchen guests. Participants will also learn new son...

  • Saturday, September 24, 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 pm.
    Join Beth Emet families (geared for those five and over) as they bake honey cakes for Beth Emet Soup Kitchen guests. This social action project will be followed by Pizza ...

  • with Rabbi Andrea London and Rabbi Cindy Enger
    Saturdays, August 20, 27, September 3, 10, 17, 24, October 1, 8 at 9:00-9:25 a.m.
    During the period between Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av) and Rosh Hashanah, we prepare for t...

  • Rhythm of Repentance

    with Linda Schneider and Marci Dickman
    Monday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m.
    Repentance, a focus in the month of Elul, is a process that begins with self-reflection and leads to change. Using texts and drumming, we will engage mi...

  • with Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman
    Wednesday September 21 at 7:30 p.m.
    Cantor Friedman will be joined by pianist Barb Wertico and they will be presenting new settings of familiar prayers such as Avinu Malkeinu and Sh’ma Koleinu, ...

  • with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, September 9, 16, & 23 at 9:30 a.m.
    One of Rabbi London’s favorite ways to prepare for the High Holidays is to read (and reread) Rabbi Alan Lew's book, This is Real and You are Completely Unprep...