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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.

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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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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.

  • Celebrating Rabbi London’s 18 years at Beth Emet

    Purchase Tickets Now!

    with Israeli Singer, Maureen Nehedar

    The celebration begins Friday night, December 14 at 6:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. Shabbat Oneg) when Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Rabbi London's dear frien...

  • Beth Emet Blood Drive

    Sunday, January 27 | 8:30-2:30 p.m. in the Crown Room.

    Do a mitzvah and save a life!

    Participating donors will receive a pair of Vitalant socks and a coupon for a cupcake and 10% off any order at North Shore Kos...

  • Got Beer? An Evening of Making and Tasting
    Learn the secrets of brewing beer from a brewmaster and sample various varieties

    Saturday, January 19, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Temperance Brewery (2000 Dempster St., Evanston)
    Dinner catered by Superdawg w...

  • Friday, January 18
    5:45 p.m. Shabbat Oneg
    6:30 p.m. Shabbat Shira
    7:45 p.m. New Member Welcome Shabbat Dinner

    Celebrate and welcome Beth Emet's newest members at Shabbat Shira (musical service) followed by dinner. All m...

  • Lunch, Learn, Love
    A Social Action Committee Program for Kids (kindergarten to grade five)

    Sunday, January 20 | 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Following Beit Sefer, join friends for an afternoon of lunch, learning, and volunteering together...

  • Understanding Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community and Beyond

    with Anita Pildes, Community Education and Outreach Coordinator of Shalva
    Tuesday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m.

    One in four women will experience domestic ...

  • Sommelier Soiree

    Saturday, February 2, 2019 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (*please note new date!)
    at the home of Neal Moglin and Mark Tendam

    Spend a relaxing evening with Beth Emet friends tasting and learning more about wines with an ex...

  • Current Politics: Insight and Discussion
    In-depth analysis of our current national political discourse with a look to the future

    Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    at Office of Jenner & Block LLP (353 N. Clark St., 45th Floor, Chicago)
    Ca...

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays through June 7 (No class November 23, December 7, 21 and 28; January 4 and 25, April 19 and 26)
    9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m.
    There are many ways to interpret Torah and the nuances of meaning that are...

  • Thursdays, Wednesday, December 5; Thursday, January 10; Wednesday, February 6; Thursdays, March 7, April 4, and May 2
    7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

    Participants study as a small group of adults studies to become b’nei mitzvah togethe...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat, December 15, January 19, February 9, March 9, April 6, May 11, and June 1
    3:30–5:30 pm This class meets at Rabbi London's home.

    Once a month on Shabbat afternoon at Rabbi London's home, expl...

  • Current Politics

    with David Zarefsky
    Tuesday, January 8; Monday, March 11; Tuesday, June 4 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Sessions will focus on the place of the United States in the world, including relationships with Israel, the nature of the soci...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Monday, December 10; and Wednesday, February 13; 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.

    Percussion offers hands-on, non-verbal access to the spiritual and emotional while connecting with others. Treat your mind, body, and sp...

  • Hebrew 1

    with Nancy Fink

    Sundays, September 30 - May 12 (No class October 28; November 25; December 23 and 30; January 6; February 17; April 21)
    11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
    Master the Hebrew alphabet and learn how to sound out printed He...

  • Hebrew 2

    with Bluma Stoller
    Sundays, September 30 - May 12 (No class October 28; November 25; December 23 and 30; January 6; February 17; April 21)
    10:30 a.m. -11:50 p.m.

    For learners already able to sound out Hebrew words. Improve y...

  • Hebrew 3

    with Dorit Flatt
    Sundays, September 30 - May 12 (No class October 28; November 25; December 23 and 30; January 6; February 17; April 21)
    11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
    For learners who have completed Hebrew 2 or an equivalent, includin...

  • Mindful Torah: Engaging with Middot

    facilitated by Marci Dickman
    Monthly,  November 19, December 17, January 14, February 4, March 4, April 1, and May 13, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    This Torah study program will guide us to realize our best selves in everyday life. Par...

  • with Rabbi Peter Knobel

    Fridays October 5 - June 28 | 8:00 – 9:00 a.m (No class, November 23, December 21 and December 28, January 4, April 19 and 26)

    Meeting in person in October, and through Zoom online thereafter, we wil...

  • with Rabbi Herbert Bronstein
    Friday, December 14, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Jews claim that the Golden Rule originates in the Hebrew Bible. Some Christians argue that the Jewish version limits “Love your neighbor as yourself” to ...

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