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.

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Lawn Sign JPG smallWe appreciate those who have reached out to learn what Beth Emet is doing during these times and thought it would be helpful to share some of the most common questions, along with responses.  If you have additional questions, please submit them online.

 

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The Central Conference of American Rabbis (the Reform Movement’s rabbinic organization) offers values that are also guiding our thinking about how to operate our synagogues during the Coronavirus pandemic:

  • Minyan—Jews worship in community—traditionally, in a quorum of no fewer than ten Jewish adults. During this time of social distancing, however, Reform Jewish communities have combated social isolation and loneliness by assembling virtually for services, prayer, and mutual support. Although far from the ideal of being together in person, we emphasize the continued importance of virtual gatherings as long as is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of our respective communities and citizens.
  • Pikuach Nefesh—Saving human life is Judaism’s highest mitzvah, superseding even the commandments concerning the observance of Shabbat. According to tradition, it was permissible to interrupt the ancient Temple sacrifices when necessary to save a life. If continuing to shelter in place will help to save lives, then communities should refrain from in-person religious activities or gatherings.
  • Aseih l’cha Rav—We read in Pirkei Avot 1:6, “Find yourself a rabbi.” Though often translated as “teacher,” the term “rabbi” in this phrase, in fact, suggests expertise. In our Jewish lives, we rely upon the knowledge and guidance of our rabbis, cantors, and educators. As we confront a public health crisis, though, it is the expertise of public health authorities, specialists in infectious disease, and epidemiologists to which we must look for guidance concerning the best decisions for our communities.
  • Mipnei seivah takum—“You shall rise before the aged” (Leviticus 19:32). We celebrate the multi-generational character of communities throughout our Movement, including the synagogue and Jewish professionals of every adult demographic who lead them. We must not take actions within our respective communities that would either stigmatize or compromise the health and well-being of the elderly and individuals with preexisting conditions who are considered most vulnerable to Covid-19.
  • Dina d’malchuta dina—“The law of the land is the law” (Shulchan Aruch). The Reform Movement is a fierce protector of religious freedom and the separation of religion and state, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism was instrumental to the adoption of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under RFRA, neither federal nor state governments may restrict religious freedom unless there is a compelling reason for doing so; preventing the spread of a deadly disease is assuredly such a reason. Reform Jewish institutions and communities have readily and responsibly honored government restrictions on public gatherings throughout this pandemic, despite the resulting limitations on religious activity.

 

 

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  • 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...

  • Maia Volk

    Maia Volk joined Beth Emet in July 2018 as the Director of Youth Programs, overseeing the formal and informal education of Beth Emet youth.  Maia grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her summers as a camper and staff at...

  • Marla Topp

     

    Beth Emet Administrator, Marla Topp, has many years of experience in congregational life. She was the administrator at Temple Judea Mizpah for eight years and was also the Director of Education since 2015. During that time...

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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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