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.

If you clicked on this link and you've chosen to read this little blurb, then chances are good that you're pretty invested in Beth Emet and that you're familiar with the stories of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. But you've probably never encountered them in the way that Beth Emet congregants had the opportunity to do last week.

Sitting in the pews at Second Baptist Church, Beth Emet congregants gathered with our partners and friends from Second Baptist to witness this story as interpreted by a small group of congregants from the two houses of worship. This small group of congregants have been engaging in Bibliodrama together for the past eight months: they've gathered twice a month to study sacred text by dramatizing it together. And on Sunday, June 23, the group shared some of its work more publicly.

"Abraham, we need to talk," Eliana Chavkin began, kicking off the performance. In role as Sarah, Eliana confronted Abraham (played by Joe Waters, a deacon at Second Baptist); she acknowledged their infertility and advised him to consort with her maidservant. She came to him with a confident, self-congratulatory tone, a tone that showcased Sarah as a practical problem-solver. She almost seemed like an historical forerunner of a 20th or 21st-century business exec – a woman in command, armed with her no-nonsense pragmatism and high-energy confidence.

"Are you sure you're cool with that?" Joe asked her, in role as Abraham, shooting her a look of disbelief.

She insisted she was, but over the next few scenes, we saw her confidence unravel as her circumstances changed. Hagar, once she conceived, seemed to almost float with newfound sense of self-worth. "I once was a slave, but now I'm someone new," Lisa D'Innocenzo said as Hagar, "I'm the mother of a great nation. God has smiled upon me."

"You need to put her in her place," Eliana (as Sarah) commanded Joe (as Abraham), her voice now tense with insecurity. We watched from the pews as stress in the family mounted, and Abraham finally sent Hagar and her son Ishmael away. In a climactic moment of the presentation, Leslie Yamshon took over the role of Hagar and confronted Joe (as Abraham), defiantly accusing him of acting unjustly and begging him to take Ishmael back. It's an encounter that's not mentioned in the Biblical text, but that was envisioned by Bibliodrama participants several months ago, as we studied this story together.

In the final moments of the presentation, we watched as Isaac (played by Beth Emet's Leor Miller) and Ishmael (played by Second Baptist's William Washington) reunited, years later, over Abraham's grave. These two brothers approached each other slowly from opposite sides of Second Baptist's sanctuary, with a mix of distrust and longing surging within them. They hesitated, then embraced, then pulled back. And then they went their own ways, without looking back. It captured a sense of the mixed emotions that are perhaps present whenever estranged people come together, particularly when personal estrangement is exacerbated by an imbalance of power.

The Bibliodrama program was co-facilitated  by Elliot Leffler (on behalf of Beth Emet) and Minister Brian Smith (on behalf of Second Baptist). We are currently working to re-envision the program for next year, when we hope that more members from both institutions will want to get involved.

FacebookTwitterYoutube@bethemetevanston

be-slide-simchat-torah

 

  • Purim Spiel and Megillah Reading 5780


    Monday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m.

    This year’s Purim Spiel, Shmotown, brings a touch of Motown to Shushan for a soulful retelling of the Book of Esther. Come in costume to join in the fun.

    ...
  • Tzedakah and Tzpirits


    Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.
    To Benefit the Annual Mitzvah Campaign

    Cantor Kyle Cotler leads a spirit-ual evening and his passion for whiskey, rye, and kombucha by teaching tasting techniques and how best to descri...

  • Purim Carnival

    Sunday, March 15
    10:00 a.m. – Purim Carnival Open to Families with Members with Special Needs - games and accommodations for children with special needs.
    10:30 a.m. – Purim Celebrations for Families with Young Child...

 

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.

  • Hollywood Imagery of Disabled Characters

    with Susan Nussbaum
    Sunday, February 23 at 3:30 p.m.
    In recognition of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, you won’t want to miss this unique eye-opening opportunity when the Beth Emet Incl...

  • Beth Emet Community Retreat

    February 28-March 1, 2020
    After a five-year hiatus, Beth Emet’s Community Retreat is back and better than ever! Spend a relaxing weekend with friends and family in beautiful Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, celebrating Shabb...

  • with Sara Yael Hirshhorn, David Shyovitz, and Lara Trubowitz
    Tuesday, March 3 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

    Antisemitism in the United States has been rising in dangerous and alarming ways. It comes both from elements of the pol...

  • with Mike Kuhn
    Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. 

    Parent, spend an evening in the kitchen with others learning new tips, tricks, and recipes to make your loved ones breakfast items for dinner. There will be time to enjoy...

  • Purim Spiel and Megillah Reading 5780


    Monday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m.

    This year’s Purim Spiel, Shmotown, brings a touch of Motown to Shushan for a soulful retelling of the Book of Esther. Come in costume to join in the fun.

    ...
  • Through March 11, 2020
    “Vote Reform” in the World Zionist Congress (WZC) Elections. When you go to the American Zionist Movement website, scroll down to watch an informative video about how to vote. You must be a Jew...

  • Tzedakah and Tzpirits


    Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.
    To Benefit the Annual Mitzvah Campaign

    Cantor Kyle Cotler leads a spirit-ual evening and his passion for whiskey, rye, and kombucha by teaching tasting techniques and how best to descri...

  • Purim Carnival

    Sunday, March 15
    10:00 a.m. – Purim Carnival Open to Families with Members with Special Needs - games and accommodations for children with special needs.
    10:30 a.m. – Purim Celebrations for Families with Young Child...

  • Beth Emet's Annual Meeting

    Monday, March 16 
    7:30 p.m. Annual Meeting
    8:30 p.m. Dedication and Reception
    Beth Emet's annual meeting offers the opportunity to bring members together to share knowledge, make decisions, and to celebrate the past ye...

  • Wednesday, February 16 at 1:00 p.m.
    Join the discussion at our monthly book club! The next book is Book of the Unknown Americans” by Christina Henriquez. Books are available for pick up at Beth Emet. No need to RSVP...

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, February 14-June 12 | 9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m. (No class March 6, April 10, and May 15)
    There are many ways to interpret Torah and the nuances of meaning that are often overlooked. We will cont...

  • Thursdays, January 16, February 27, March 19, April 23 | 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

    Participants study as a small group of adults studies to become b’nei mitzvah together at Beth Emet. Requirements for Adult B’nei Mitzvah at Beth Emet...

  • Jewish Vaudeville

    with Alan Teller
    Sunday, February 23, 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 ...

  • with Claire Suffrin
    Fridays, February 28 and March 6 | 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    This course will explore different aspects of the relationship between religion and literature in contemporary novels and poetry. We’ll consider exa...

  • with Rabbi Kenneth Berger
    Fridays, March 20 and 27 | 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Most of us think of the prayers that we recite every day and every Shabbat as prose. But many are beautiful poetic responses to our experience of God ...

  • with Sara Yael Hirshhorn, David Shyovitz, and Lara Trubowitz
    Tuesday, March 3 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

    Antisemitism in the United States has been rising in dangerous and alarming ways. It comes both from elements of the political Rig...

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"}