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.

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.

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  • Lox, Bagels, and Leaders

    Sunday, February 9 at 9:45 a.m. (Please note date change)
    This annual event features our Beth Emet member and neighbor, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Writer and Beth Emet member, Mark Caro; and Jon Marshall, a...

  • 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...

 

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.

  • PJ Party!

    Saturday, February 8 at 4:30 p.m.
    Wear your PJ's for dinner, crafts, Havdalah, songs, and stories from PJ Library.
    Perfect for families with children ages 8 and under. 
    $5 per person or $20 per family by February 6...

  • Lox, Bagels, and Leaders

    Sunday, February 9 at 9:45 a.m. (Please note date change)
    This annual event features our Beth Emet member and neighbor, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Writer and Beth Emet member, Mark Caro; and Jon Marshall, a...

  • Sunday, February 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hilton-Orrington Hotel


    Beth Emet’s Soup Kitchen is a well-oiled machine, weekly feeding 70 to 120 of the area’s working poor and homeless. The Soup Kitchen, under the leaders...

  • with Susan Nussbaum
    Sunday, February 23 at 3:00 p.m.
    Susan Nussbaum, the writer/producer of Code of the Freaks, a soon to be released documentary film, will discuss how Hollywood’s depictions of characters with disabi...

  • 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 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...

  • 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...

  • Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.
    Cantor Kyle Cotler leads a spirit-ual evening and his passion for whiskey, rye, and kombucha by teaching tasting techniques and how best to describe their complex elements. There will ...

  • 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...

  • with Yvette Alt Miller
    Thursday, January 30 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Whether you’re an expert baker or a challah newbie, this evening is for you! Learn how to make and braid challah and explore the meaning and mysticism behind this i...

  • with David Gottlieb
    Fridays, February 14 and 21 | 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Sigmund Freud and Theodor Herzl lived on the same block in Vienna for two years in the early 1900s. Yet these men, so deeply influenced by
    European cultur...

  • Movie and discussion, led by Bekki Kaplan and Shlomit Hoch
    Saturday, February 1 | 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
    Rebecca Abarnabel, a single daughter born into an Orthodox Jewish family, is tired of the lifestyle that her father, Reuven...

  • 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 Allan Kensky
    Fridays, January 24 and 31 | 9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
    This small book of the Bible, written in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, expresses the anguish of the people at the calamity that ...

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