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.

Embracing Holiness Small

Yearly Theme 5774

At the midpoint of the Book of Leviticus in Chapter 19, we find not only the exact center point of the Torah, but also the spiritual heart of the Torah. “Kedoshim tihiyu,” God calls to the Jewish people. “You (plural) shall be holy.” In Torah, there’s usually a chain of communication from God through Moses to the People of Israel, but here God calls out to the entire community directly, with no intermediary. Holiness is so central to Judaism that God communicates to everyone, not just the priests and leaders; holiness is incumbent upon each individual. Yet, holiness in our modern, secular age can seem off-putting, even daunting. You may ask, “Why would I want to be holy? Could I possibly be holy even if I wanted to?” This year, we will explore together these questions and the vast Jewish literature on holiness to better understand the concept of holiness and how we might embrace it in our lives. Leviticus 19 contains some very concrete examples of how to lead a holy life (some of which are found in the 10 Commandments). They include how we should care for our own souls and our relationship with Divinity. Equally important, holiness addresses how we treat and interact with other human beings. We will explore both aspects of holiness and how they interconnect and influence each other. For purposes of our annual theme, I have translated kedoshim tihiyu as embracing holiness. God tells us to be holy, but it’s up to each of us to embrace this commandment. We delved into the concept of holiness throughout the year.

Some highlights included our fourth Friday Shabbat speaker series as well as our scholars-in-residence this year:

Rabbi Estelle Frankel  psychotherapist and author of the book Sacred Therapy, worked with us through worship and study to explore the Kabbalistic notion of planes of consciousness with which we relate to God. This weekend was jointly sponsored with JRC.

Embracing Holiness Amidst Diversity: Our Jewish Experience in an Interfaith World with Jodi Bromberg, President of InterfaithFamily.com.

Rabbi Noam Katz composer and performer of Jewish music, led us in worship and taught us how Jewish music and prayer can nurture our holiness.

Rabbi Rachel Cowan, former executive director of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, talked about the curriculum she developed on “Wise Aging” and will guided us in one of the sessions.

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  • One Jewish Evanston Presents: Dr. Daniel Matt Teaches Zohar

    Sunday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m.
    Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation - 303 Dodge Avenue, Evanston
    Most of us have heard of The Zohar, the foundational medieval work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known ...

  • The Kind Words — a Movie about Siblings and Secrets

    Movie and Discussion led by Bekki Kaplan and Shlomit Hoch
    Saturday, March 30, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
    This quirky and wry dramedy follows three Jewish Israeli siblings — Dorona and brothers Netanel and Shai — who, in the w...

  • Passover Food Drive

    Sunday, April 7 - Friday, May 3


    Pre-Passover Food Collection to benefit Connections for the Homeless
    The Tzedakah Fund Committee will be collecting all unopened, non-perishable food items that will be donated to C...

 

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 through June 7 (No class 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 often overlooked. We will continue our learning from ...

  • with Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
    Friday, April 12, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    This session will take a look at the bigger picture and deeper meanings connected to various texts of the Passover story.
    Please bring a Haggadah that inclu...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat, 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, explore Jewish spiritual practices that combine pr...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Monday, April 1 and Wednesday, June 12; 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 spirit to a...

  • with Stacey Lyn Brown
    Tuesday, April 2 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Pairing the psychological views of C.G Jung with biblical stories, this class will reveal how the archetypal figures of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Moshe are amplificatio...

  • with Dara E. Goldman
    Sunday, April 14, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
    Professor Goldman will present a brief overview of the Jewish community in Havana and describe her scholarship on Cuban Jews and Cuban Jewish literature. The presentation...

  • Jewish Vaudeville

    with Alan Teller
    Sunday, March 24, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
    Distinct from Yiddish theater, Jewish vaudeville had its own flavor. Alan Teller grew up with a larger-than-life grandfather in the business — a guy who pulled quarters out...

  • Nadav and Avihu: A Pastoral Study in Bereavement

    with Rabbi Doctor Joseph S. Ozarowski
    Fridays, March 22 and 29, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    In one of the most dramatic narratives from the Torah, Aaron’s two sons lose their lives when they “come too close” during the joyous dedic...

  • One Jewish Evanston Presents: Dr. Daniel Matt Teaches Zohar

    Sunday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m.
    Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation - 303 Dodge Avenue, Evanston
    Most of us have heard of The Zohar, the foundational medieval work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbala...

  • with Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
    Monday, April 8, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
    You may be hosting a seder this Passover, or you may be a guest at someone else’s home. Learn new and traditional commentaries on some stories in the Haggadah, whi...

  • with Rabbi Peter Knobel

    Fridays through June 28 | 8:00 – 9:00 a.m (No class April 19 and 26)

    Meeting in person in October, and through Zoom online thereafter, we will continue reading Tractate Avodah Zarah, which deals with...

  • The Kind Words — a Movie about Siblings and Secrets

    Movie and Discussion led by Bekki Kaplan and Shlomit Hoch
    Saturday, March 30, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
    This quirky and wry dramedy follows three Jewish Israeli siblings — Dorona and brothers Netanel and Shai — who, in the wake of
    thei...

  • with Arthur Feldman
    Sunday, April 7, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
    What stories do family seder plates, commemorative coins, and synagogue memorabilia tell? Judaica expert Arthur Feldman invites us to join him on a journey that explores sn...

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