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.

FacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagram @bethemetevanston

detained immigrant for pdat

Beth Emet launched the Post-Detention Accompaniment Team (P-DAT) in June 2018. The team of Beth Emet volunteers provides direct, high-impact, person-to-person, short-term assistance to asylum seekers upon release from detention. In 2018-19, P-DAT trained 26 volunteers and provided assistance to over 100 asylum seekers from 17 countries, enabling asylum seekers to pursue a new life in America. P-DAT is a partner of the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants (ICDI), a “non-profit, faith-based organization of staff and volunteers called to respond actively and publicly to the suffering of all individuals and communities affected by immigration detention, deportation, and post-detention.”

P-DAT assists asylum seekers during the first and third full weeks of each month (10 days per month) by responding to calls made to the ICDI hotline. When a call comes in -- usually from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer, immigration attorney, or a family member of the asylum-seeker -- a team of two trained volunteers goes to the ICE office in Chicago to greet the asylum-seeker and provide assistance for them to continue their journey to establish a new life in America.

Many asylees were arrested at the border or port of entry when they filed their request for asylum and were brought to detention facilities in the Chicago area. Upon release they find themselves on the unfamiliar streets of Chicago, wearing the clothes they had on when detained, having no cell service, and, in many cases, speaking little English. Many feel vulnerable and alone; they need resources and assistance with logistics to reunite with family and friends who are living in the United States.

P-DAT volunteers greet the asylees, determine the best plan for continuing their journey, give them use of the volunteer’s cell phone, and provide a backpack of weather-appropriate clothing, basic toiletries, and snacks. P-DAT volunteers then take the asylee to the Greyhound bus station, purchase a ticket to their destination, furnish them a decent meal, give them money to buy food and drinks during their travels, and stay with them until their bus departs. Although the asylee and volunteers spend just a few hours together, often hindered by language barriers, when good-byes are said there are hugs and even a few tears shed while wishing them a safe journey and good life.

The Torah instructs us 36 times to care for the stranger -- far more than it commands us to observe the Sabbath or any other mitzvot. The P-DAT program delivers a very literal interpretation of “welcoming the stranger” and has a profound impact on both the asylee and the volunteer.

Learn more about how you can support this program.



  • 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...




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.

Video 1 640 x 480

video bethemet capital.campaign

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