Beth Emet - The Free Synagogue

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.

FacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagram @bethemetevanston

We are very excited to return to Beth Emet in person! We have worshipped, learned and come together as a community during the pandemic, and we are now at a point where we can begin to return to the building…a true shehecheyanu moment! Here are all the resources you need - check back regularly for more information and details.

We have worked to ensure that members are confident in our health and safety protocols when they return in person. We have created a brit, or covenant, for our congregants which explains our shared responsibilities for a safe and comfortable return in person. We continue to livestream all worship services.  

We are continually evaluating the new guidance from CDC, URJ, American Conference of Cantors, and the changing rules in the State of Illinois.  Judaism places primary importance on the value of Pikuach Nefesh - saving life. As such, our protocols are based on the value of protecting the safety of everyone who comes to Beth Emet.   

For more information, view the July 12 Town Hall about the High Holy Days here and read the Congregation News about High Holy Days plans and process for registration


Frequently Asked Questions - as of August 16, 2021 

If you have additional questions, please submit them online

High Holy Days  

Q: How will High Holy Days worship work this year?

A:Given the rise in the Delta variant and breakthrough infections as well as the need to keep everyone safe, all services that are inside the building will require members to be fully vaccinated. This only changes the plan for Chavurah services. If you have registered for in-person Chavurah and have unvaccinated family members, you should have been contacted to update your service preference. All services will be livestreamed and recorded. We will also continue our new tradition of hearing the shofar at designated locations throughout the area as well as tashlich by Lake Michigan and a few other select locations. Listed below is our current plan for High Holy Days in-person worship and events:

Services in the SanctuaryVaccinated and Mask Required
300 people (about 30% of normal capacity) in the Sanctuary (including Crown Room)

Adult Study- Vacccination and Mask Required
Morning: 30 people in the Weiner Room
Afternoon: 300 people in the Sanctuary (including Crown Room)

Outdoor Services for Young Families- No Vaccination Required
Masks required for anyone over 2 years old
100 people in the parking lost (spaced in groups/pods for families)

Q: Will there be contingency plans should the current health situation change (for example, if the Delta variant changes the current situation)?

A: Yes. Conditions have changed and we have altered our plans by requiring vaccinations for all members who are attending in-person services in the Sanctuary. We continue to evaluate the guidance from the CDC, local and state public health officials, Union for Reform Judaism and the American Conference of Cantors. We appreciate your continued patience as we navigate this together.

Q: For those who choose to join us remotely for Chavurah services, will there be text displayed on the screen as there was last year?

A: We will not be providing text on the screen this year. We are offering two options to obtain the Chavurah machzor (prayer books) for services. 1) Download the PDF Version on the High Holy Days landing page or 2) Pick up a loaner at Beth Emet- See Shlomit in the office and sign out a book (for those who are picking up their tickets in person they can conveniently obtain their Chavurah machzor at the same time). Please return them by November 1, or a late fee will be charged.

Q: Will there be an in-person High Holy Days waitlist for non-members?

A: Yes. Many of our congregants asked us if they could invite non-members (family and friends), should capacity allow, to join us for in-person High Holy Day Worship. To this end, we have created a waitlist to try to accomodate those wanting to joins us in-person for indoor services. If you are interested in adding someone, click here. We will be notifying those on the waitlist in late August, so they can plan accordingly. Please note any people attending in-person services will need to be fully vaccinated. See the High Holy Day schedule for more information.


Shabbat Services

Q: Will I still be able to worship remotely from home?

A: Yes. One positive benefit during the pandemic was the incredible connection we have maintained, and in many ways, grown via remote services. This will not change in the future, and in fact, we’re enhancing our technology to ensure that our members will have a wonderful experience...whether you are online or attending in-person.

Q: I understand reservations are required to attend Shabbat services in the Sanctuary this summer.  How will that work?

A: If you are interested and fully vaccinated, please indicate your preferred dates on the attached form, and we will then confirm which dates we have reserved for you. Given our priority around health and safety, we can not accommodate those who come without a confirmed reservation.

Health and Safety Protocols

Q: What specific health-related protocols will be in place?

A: We continue to require masks at all times while inside Beth Emet.  We have improved the airflow and filters to meet or exceed the guidelines for air exchanges. We will set chairs to comply with the recommended distancing, and capacity.  There will be hand sanitizer stations available throughout the building.  Advanced cleaning regularly occurs.  You will receive instructions on entry and relevant safety protocol a few days in advance of services where you have a reservation. The CDC, state and local guidance continues to evolve, and we will adapt these protocols accordingly. 


Q: How will the logistics work … how will I enter, what do I do? 

A: We will be providing comprehensive instructions in advance - via email, and posted on the Beth Emet website, as well as detailed information that will walk you through what to expect.  There will also be signage in the building and volunteers to guide you.  As so many within our congregation have not yet experienced our new and secure west entrance, instructions will also include how to enter the building safely.

Q: What if I'm not comfortable coming into the Sanctuary?

A: That is totally understandable. We will continue to livestream all worship services live streamed and recorded on demand so you can continue to have a meaningful worship experience.  The links for services will continue to be posted on our online calendar. 


Q: Will I be able to invite my friends and family members to attend services in the Sanctuary who aren’t members of Beth Emet?

A: Not at this time. We will limit in-person Kabbalat Shabbat worship to vaccinated members of the congregation.

Q: How are we handling singing during services? 

A:  Cantor Cotler is singing live on the bima in the Sanctuary, and congregants are permitted to sing, with their masks on.  We anticipate congregants with honors will sing live using 'inside voices' at services where everyone is vaccinated.  For those services where vaccination is not a requirement, the honors are being pre-recorded.  We are closely monitoring guidance related to this area.  


Q: Is the Beth Emet staff vaccinated?

A: Yes. All Beth Emet clergy and staff are fully vaccinated and supportive of our plans. 

Q: Are vaccinations required to come back to Beth Emet in person?

A:Yes. We have made the difficult decision, given the rise in the Delta variant and breakthrough infections as well as the need to keep everyone safe, all services that are inside the Sanctuary will require members to be fully vaccinated. 

Q: How will I be reassured that others attending in person are fully vaccinated?

A:  Congregants who wish to attend in-person worship services (and other opportunities to be in-person) are asked to provide the date of their second vaccination (or only vaccination in the case of J&J) as well as acknowledge a brit, or covenant, or mutual responsibility which describes expectations about safety protocols.






  • Rabbi Andrea C. London

    Rabbi Andrea London is a nationally recognized Jewish leader who has served at Beth Emet since 2000 and was named the congregation’s Senior Rabbi in July 2010. Rabbi London is deeply engaged in all aspects of congregational...

  • Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler

    Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler, D.D. became a rabbi because of her love of Judaism and desire to teach others, share in their spiritual journey and make the world a better place than we found it.

    She joined Beth Emet in the Fall...

  • Cantor Rabbi Kyle Cotler

    Kyle comes from a long line of Jewish music – his great-grandfather was a Chazzan in Russia; his grandfather, Ted, served in Ventura; and his father, Doug, is currently the cantor at Or Ami in Calabasas. Kyle studied at the...

  • Rabbi Peter S. Knobel z"l

    Rabbi Knobel was rabbi emeritus at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois where he served since 1980, following 11 years at Temple Emanu-El in Groton, Connecticut.  He served as the Interim Senior Rabbi of Templ...

  • Bekki Harris Kaplan

    Bekki Harris Kaplan joined Beth Emet's professional team in July 2001 after working as the Associate Executive Director and Membership Director at Temple Sholom of Chicago. In addition to supervising the functioning of Beth...

  • Marci Dickman

    Marci Dickman joined Beth Emet in July, 2009 with more than 25 years of experience in Jewish education. Marci serves as the Director of Lifelong Learning, acting as the Principal of Beit Sefer and overseeing our Early Child...

  • Kathy Kaberon

    Kathy Kaberon is Beth Emet's Director of Young Family Programs. She has been an administrator in Beth Emet's Early Childhood Program for the past 10 years. Her affiliation with the program began in 1988, when she enrolled h...




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.

Video 1 640 x 480

video bethemet capital.campaign

{modal url="" width="853" height="480" title="Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue"}