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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.

 MLK Jr

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.

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  • This Grateful Heart, a Book Reading and Signing

    with Alden Solovy
    Thursday, March 23, 7:00 p.m.
    Author and long-time Beth Emet member Alden Solovy will read from his latest book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. This private reading and book...

  • RebbeSoul

    Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
    Kol Emet the Jewish Music Project presents American-Israeli singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer RebbeSoul (Bruce Berger) for a one-night only conc...

  • Beth Emet Capital Campaign

    Our goal is to raise at least $6.13 MILLION. A pledge to Beth Emet’s Capital Campaign is an investment that will strengthen our community, advance our mission today and tomorrow, and build a bridge to the next gen...

 

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.

  • Enhancing Your Family’s Passover Seder

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Sunday, April 2, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
    “When do we eat?” shouldn’t be the only question asked at your seder. Participants will gather ideas for creating engaging seders for people of all ages.
    No f...

  • with Rabbi Andrea London and Marci Dickman
    Sunday, April 2, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    Our children often ask us the hardest questions, to which we often do not have an answer. “My teacher said…. Do you think that is tru...

  • Sunday, April 23, 10:00 - 11:30 am

    Perlman Room

    • Learn about Beth Emet’s new Social Justice Resource web page

    • Meet with fellow Beth Emet members who are involved with social action and social justice and those...

  • Dinner After

    Following Kabbalat Shabbat Services

    The next Dinner After will meet March 24 (at Trattoria DOC)
    Dinner After is also schedul...

  • Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Reception at 7:00 p.m.

    Beth Emet is embarking on a campaign to raise at least $6.13 million, of which 65% will allow us to reimagine our facilities; 25% will increase our endowment, ...

  • RebbeSoul

    Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
    Kol Emet the Jewish Music Project presents American-Israeli singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer RebbeSoul (Bruce Berger) for a one-night only conc...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat,  April 1, April 22, May 13, June 17
    3:30–5:30 pm This class meets at Rabbi London's home.

    Once a month on Shabbat afternoon at Rabbi London's home, explore Jewish spiritual practices that co...

  • with Lindy Rubin
    Sunday, April 30, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    Tour the extensive art and architecture of Temple Sholom, the remarkable stained glass of Anshe Emet Synagogue, and the magnificent sanctuary of KAM in Hyde Park. Our bus...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Monday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m.
    Sessions are expected to focus on the place of the United States in the world, including relationships with Israel, the nature of the social contract, and the principles of fede...

  • Enhancing Your Family’s Passover Seder

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Sunday, April 2, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
    “When do we eat?” shouldn’t be the only question asked at your seder. Participants will gather ideas for creating engaging seders for people of all ages.
    No fee (please...

  • with Bluma Stoller

    Wednesdays, March 1 through June 7 (no class April 12), 10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
    Do you want to learn to read Hebrew or improve rusty skills? Not sure of the prayers you learned to recite by rote? This new c...

  • Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

    with the Center for Jewish Mindfulness at Orot
    Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at Beth Emet (please note this class will NOT meet: April 4, April 11, April 18, May 30, and July 4)

    Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, or o...

  • with Rabbi Allan Kensky
    Fridays, March 24 and 31, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Jewish tradition uses Midrash to answer the questions posed by biblical narrative and to fill in the gaps. We will study the Midrash of the Exodus and ex...

  • Nurture The Wow: Parenting as a Spiritual Practice

    with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
    Sunday, March 26, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    The work of parenting, and living in connection with others in general, can be glorious and amazing, and frustrating, crazy making, and mind-numbingly bori...

  • with Hyma Levin
    Thursdays, April 20, 27 and May 4, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
    Psalms touch many of us at one time, or another; they are part of familiar songs, life cycle events, liturgy, and more. The New Testament quotes Psalms more ofte...

  • Pushing the Envelope Farm: Jewish Sustainable Farming

    with Trisha and Rabbi Fred Margulies
    Monday, April 3, 7:30-9:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 21
    Pushing the Envelope Farm was founded in 2008 as a response to a challenge posed at a national food conference sponsored by Hazon, the la...

  • with Rabbi Andrea London and Marci Dickman
    Sunday, April 2, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    Our children often ask us the hardest questions, to which we often do not have an answer. “My teacher said…. Do you think that is true, Dad?” “...

  • with Benjamin Frommer
    Fridays, April 21 and 28, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    In the first session, From Empire to Nation-State, we will trace the growth of the Jewish community of Budapest from 1772 to its golden age, to its struggl...

  • This Grateful Heart, a Book Reading and Signing

    with Alden Solovy
    Thursday, March 23, 7:00 p.m.
    Author and long-time Beth Emet member Alden Solovy will read from his latest book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. This private reading and book signing w...

  • What's so Jewish about Leonard Bernstein?

    with Jesse Rosenberg
    Sunday, March 26, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
    Next year marks the hundredth birthday of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Amid the many facets of his career—directing the New York Philharmonic, creating succe...

Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue Video