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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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  • Kol Emet Shabbat & Honoring Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman

    Friday, May 4
    Hearty Oneg Shabbat at 6:45 p.m.
    Shabbat Service at 7:30 p.m. (Please note special time)
    During Kol Emet Shabbat, we will be honoring our musical leader, Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman to and wish her well...

  • BESSY Kabbalat Shabbat Service & Honoring Abby Backer


    Friday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.
    (5:45 p.m. Shabbat Oneg)
    Beth Emet's Senior Synagoge Youth Group (BESSY), our peer-led school youth group, hosts a special service filled with music and reflections. During this annual ser...

  • Travel to Israel with Beth Emet & Second Baptist Church

    Members from both Second Baptist Church and Beth Emet Synagogue will travel together to Israel and the West Bank November 18-30, 2018. Palestinian and Jewish guides will introduce us to the complex narratives and ...

  • Sanctuary - 5778

    In Exodus 25:8, God says to Moses, “Create for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.” These words set the building of the Tabernacle into motion. But the verse’s ending has an interesting grammatical anomal...

 

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 Project of the Religious Action Center (RAC)
    Wednesday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. at Chicago Sinai Congregation (15 W. Delaware Place, Chicago) featuring Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of RAC

    Reform IL, a project of the...

  • Stand with Beth Emet


    Friday, April 27 

    2:00-2:25 p.m.

    Participate with Beth Emet at the annual YWCA Stand Against Racism. We'll gather along Ridge Avenue from 2:00 to 2:25 pm to take our place as we stand along the corner of Dempster an...

  • Kol Emet Shabbat & Honoring Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman

    Friday, May 4
    Hearty Oneg Shabbat at 6:45 p.m.
    Shabbat Service at 7:30 p.m. (Please note special time)
    During Kol Emet Shabbat, we will be honoring our musical leader, Cantor Susan Lewis Friedman to and wish her well...

  • Explorations of Our Changing Selves

    Monday, May 7 at 3:00 p.m.

    Audrey Thompson, Ombudsman for the City of Evanston, will facilitate a discussion on the nuts and bolts of aging.  Audrey is approachable and knowledgeable about the services available ...

  • DATE CHANGE!
    Wednesday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Reception at 7:00 p.m. (please note the date has changed from Monday, March 26)

    Learn more about the state of the congregation from Rabbi London, President Ross Bricker, a...

  • BESSY Kabbalat Shabbat Service & Honoring Abby Backer


    Friday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.
    (5:45 p.m. Shabbat Oneg)
    Beth Emet's Senior Synagoge Youth Group (BESSY), our peer-led school youth group, hosts a special service filled with music and reflections. During this annual ser...

  • Groundbreaking Ceremony & Kabbalat Shabbat Service

    Friday, May 18
    5:00 p.m. - Savory Hors d'oeuvres, Delicious Desserts and Festive Beverages
    6:00 p.m. - Groundbreaking Ceremony and Lighting of Shabbat Candles
    6:30 p.m. - Kabbalat Shabbat Service followed by Kiddush ...

  • Travel to Israel with Beth Emet & Second Baptist Church

    Members from both Second Baptist Church and Beth Emet Synagogue will travel together to Israel and the West Bank November 18-30, 2018. Palestinian and Jewish guides will introduce us to the complex narratives and ...

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, October 20- June 8 (No class 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 that are often o...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat, March 10, 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's home, explore Jewish spiritual practices that combine praye...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Wednesdays, April 18 and June 20 and Monday, May 14

    7:30 - 9:00 p.m.

    How would it feel to take a break from the regimen and “noise” of everyday life and instead focus on renewal of mind, body, and spir...

  • with Claire Sufrin
    Fridays, April 27, May 4 and 11, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The Holocaust left many Jews with serious theological questions: Where was God while the Nazis tortured and murdered millions of Jews? Should (or could...

  • The Chosen People (Film and Discussion)

    with Marci Dickman
    Monday, April 30, 7:00 p.m.
    This wonderfully provocative film illuminates the complexities of Jewish identitytoday and probes the question of the chosen people as seen through the eyes ofJews and Christians...

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