beth emet new 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.

 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.

FacebookTwitterYoutubeListen Live

be-slide-simchat-torah

 

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.

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, October 20- June 8 (No class November 24, December 8, 22, & 29, January 12 & 26, March 30, April 6)
    9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m.
    There are many ways to interpret Torah and the nuances of meaning tha...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat,  November 11, December 16, January 20, February 3, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 9
    3:30–5:30 pm This class meets at Rabbi London's home.

    Once a month on Shabbat afternoon at Rabbi London'...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Tuesday,  January 9 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 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 prin...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Thursdays, November 30 and December 7, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
    Would you like to enhance your worship experience through greater understanding of its content and form? This two-session class designed for
    beginners w...

  • with Esther Fox
    Friday, December 8, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
    Longtime congregants Ada Golbus and Esther Fox are familiar faces at Beth Emet programs, classes, and events. Join us as Esther shares the world of untold changes that occur...

  • 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...

  • One Jewish Evanston Rosh Chodesh Kislev


    Sunday, November 19 at 10:00 a.m. at JRC (303 Dodge, Evanston)

    The program will feature both liberal and traditional Rosh Chodesh morning services, some great learning, and a delicious catered kosher brunch. Special guest ...

  • with Rabbi Peter Knobel

    Fridays October 20 - April 13 | 8:00 – 9:00 a.m (No class, November 24, December 29, January 5, March 30, & April 6)

    This year we will continue reading Tractate Avodah Zarah, which deals with idolatr...

  • with Barry Scott Wimpfheimer
    Fridays, December 8 and 15, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The Talmud began as an oral text, the byproduct of ancient rabbinic learning practices. By choice it remained oral, long after writing technology ...

  • with Sam Polsky
    Tuesday, November 28, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    A flavorful and elegant terrine of (gefilte) fish, a succulent brisket preparation using the professional sous vide cooking method, and an
    oven baked chicken that tastes lik...

  • with Rabbi Herbert Bronstein
    Fridays, November 17 and December 1, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    For ages, stories about the prophets Elijah and Nathan have figured in Jewish observance and their deeds have inspired and formed Jewish ...

  • with Rabbi Daniel Azulay
    Tuesdays, October 24 through December 12, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
    We will engage in conversational Yiddish, the language that was spoken in the home. On occasion we will refer to written material as well. The...

Video 1 640 x 480

video bethemet capital.campaign

{modal url="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZnW3hbpgOdQ?rel=0&showinfo=0" width="853" height="480" title="Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue"}