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.

Syrian Refugees for web
In the face of a deepening humanitarian crisis, Beth Emet volunteers strengthen efforts to support Syrian refugee family’s resettlement in Evanston

The gut-wrenching images of a chemical weapons attack in Syria that left dozens of civilians dead and sickened hundreds of others triggered painful memories for a Syrian refugee family that has resettled in Evanston and redoubled the resolve of Beth Emet volunteers helping the family.

Huda Hidar, 45, who fled the civil war with four sons and her daughter, lost her husband and her eldest son in an August 2013 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that American intelligence attributed to the Syrian military.

"She told us it was a hot day. Her children were sleeping up on the roof, but her husband was killed immediately. Her son was killed trying to help other people," explained Debbie Render, who is one of the Beth Emet volunteers assisting Huda and children.

After years of hardship, Huda and her surviving children – Mohammed, now 19; Ahmad, 17; Yara, 14; Abdalrahman, 12; and Khaled, 8 – arrived in Chicago last summer, hoping to rebuild their lives. Of the five million Syrian refugees who have sought safety in other countries, only 18,000 registered refugees have been resettled in the United States, including 1,197 in Illinois.

Through the Syrian Community Network – a not-for-profit, refugee support organization – the Beth Emet volunteers and the family connected. The volunteers learned, in very personal terms, how the conflict in Syria continues to unfold as one of the world’s most tragic, modern-day, humanitarian crises.

"We felt we couldn't just stand back and watch this happen...being Jewish, our families were immigrants (who) made lives here. People helped them. It's our turn," said Render in a local TV news interviewlocal TV news interview.

Other Beth Emet volunteers include Debbie’s husband Bob; Susan Fisher and Jonathan Yenkin; Terri, Gary, and Annie Michaels; Susan Laws, and Kathy Kaberon. The volunteers have extended a helping hand – from finding employment for Huda and to tutoring the family in English – and a hand in friendship – visiting the zoo, going bowling, and sharing other activities together.

The greater Beth Emet community has played a vital role in the refugee support initiative. Rabbi Andrea London has encouraged the volunteers and forged a link between Beth Emet and the Syrian Community Network leadership. The Beth Emet Klei Kodesh and dozens of the Beth Emet community members have provided clothing and household supplies for the family.

Huda and her children – all of whom attend Evanston schools – live in a two-bedroom apartment. “Like other refugee families, Huda initially received a sum of public and private money to help her get settled,” noted Beth Emet volunteer Jonathan Yenkin.” But much of it has run out, and it's been a struggle to pay the monthly rent. She just got hired at a minimum-wage job, but even with that, we estimate she needs about $500 a month to help cover gaps in rent, utilities, and other expenses.”

To help fill the gap as the family works to become self-sufficient, the Beth Emet volunteers started an online fundraising drive

Beth Emet’s volunteers have also reached out to other area congregations working with refugees to share advice and practical support. When Congregation Beth Am of Buffalo Grove needed to provide furnishings for a refugee family settling in Skokie, Beth Emet volunteers knew where to find the goods: from Rabbi London’s parents. As a result, Rabbi London’s childhood desk is now in the Skokie residence of a Syrian refugee family with four young children.

“The horrifying images of Syrians suffering in the wake of a chemical attack reminds us that we must strengthen our resolve to address the humanitarian tragedy that continues to unfold in Syria and do our utmost to help refugees in the U.S. When we see the enormous humanitarian disaster in Syria, we can feel powerless to make a difference, but helping one family who has suffered so much, including the tragic deaths of family members, does have a profound impact. I’m proud that Beth Emet is playing a vital role by helping a Syrian family resettle in Evanston,” said Rabbi Andrea London.

Also, for our Syrian refugee family, we seek the donation of two bicycles in good condition:
1) a boy's 24-inch bicycle
2) a woman's bicycle
Please contact Susan Fisher or 847-920-9427 to make the donation.

Please click here to make a monetary contribution. 

Huda Hidar (center, second row) and her children (whose last name is Qatan) enjoy a visit to Lincoln Park Zoo.
First row: Mohammed and Khaled Qatan next to Beth Emet volunteers Susan Fisher and Debbie Render. Second row: Community volunteer Hala Nimeh, next to Yara and Ahmad Qatan, followed by Huda Hidar and Abdalrahman Quatan; with Beth Emet volunteers Jonathan Yenkin and Bob Render on the right.

FacebookTwitterYoutube@bethemetevanstonListen Live




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.

  • Shabbat, April 27 at 9:30 a.m

    Children ages three to eleven are encouraged to attend to Beth Emet’s Shabbat morning Kahal service with their adult family members to participate in a musical prayer service. During...

  • YWCA Stand Against Racsim

    Wednesday, April 24
    Vigil/Stand at 1:30-1:50 p.m. on Ridge and Dempster
    Discussion: 2:00-3:00 p.m. at Unitarian Church of Evanston (1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston)

    As civil and human rights continue to be eroded for imm...

  • Sundays, April 28 and May 5 | 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
    with Rabbi Andrea London and Marci Dickman

    Anyone who is a parent knows that parenting is simultaneously stressful and fulfilling, exhausting and invigorating, frus...

  • 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...

  • Avodah to honor Rabbi Andrea London as Partner in Justice 2019

    Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Cafe Brauer (2021 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago)
    Join Avodah in honoring their 2019 Partners in Justice honoring the accomplishments of David Axelrod, Rabbi Andrea London, and Jessica ...

  • Parent-Child Book Group: Anything is Possible

    A Parent-Child Book Group on Anything is Possible: A Child’s Journey to America and Hope - a young reader's historical novel by Barbara Stock
    Thursday, May 23 | 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    For children in grades 4 and 5 w...

  • Israel Trip with Beth Emet, Second Baptist Church, and Grace Lutheran Church

    Beth Emet Synagogue, Second Baptist Church, and Grace Lutheran Church are taking an interfaith, dual narrative (Palestinian and Jewish guide) to Israel and the West Bank. Travel with Rabbi London and Pastors Nabors ...

  • New course just added!
    with Eli Rosenblatt, PhD
    Tuesday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m.

    How have Jews interacted with and responded to the color line? How did Jewish radicals, reformers, rabbis, and laypeople think about racial concepts ...

  • 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 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...

  • with David Zarefsky

    Tuesday, June 4 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Sessions will focus on the place of the United States in the world, including relationships with Israel, the nature of the social contract, and the principles of fed...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    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 an uplifting break fr...

  • with Lindy Rubin and Hyma Levin
    Monday, May 6, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Lindy and Hyma will collaborate to explore the story of King David, first as text and then as interpreted and portrayed by renowned artists throughout the ages. We...

  • with Claire Sufrin
    Fridays, May 3 and 10, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    This course will explore different aspects of the relationship between religion and literature. We’ll begin with the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac and c...

  • with Hyma Levin
    Wednesdays, May 22 and 29, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Enjoy the story of Ruth as we explore the relationship of an older woman and a younger woman seeking to preserve themselves in ancient Israel. Is this story a cute fol...

  • 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...

  • with Ben Frommer
    Fridays, May 17 and 24, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The Nuremberg Tribunal and other courts punished many architects of the so-called Final Solution, while thousands of other Holocaust supporters escaped punishment...

Video 1 640 x 480

video bethemet capital.campaign

{modal url="" width="853" height="480" title="Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue"}