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.




  • Virtual Beth Emet


    Coming Soon

    Bedtime meditation Wednesday and Thursday nights with Rabbi London and Sarina Elenbogen-Siegel. Watch Facebook and the website for forthcoming details. 
    Beth Emet Annual Meeting

  • Service of prayer, music and reflection

    On March 14th, Rabbi Andrea London (Beth Emet), Reverend Michael Kirby (Northminster Presbyterian Church), Pastor Daniel Ruen (Grace Lutheran Church), Pastor Jessica Gregory (Northminster Presbyterian Church), L...


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.

  • Sneak Preview
    Wednesday, April 1, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Beth Emet
    “We Cried Power,” a compelling documentary by filmmaker Dara Kell, tells the story of a bold new social movement to end poverty in the United States. Insp...

  • CANCELED Wednesday, March 18 at 1:00 p.m.
    Join the discussion at our monthly book club! The next book is Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Books are available for pick up at Beth Emet. No need to RSVP.

    No fee or advan...

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, through June 12 | 9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m. (No class April 10, and May 15)
    Friday, March 27 via Zoom (or call 312-626- 6799 Meeting ID: 657 819 679)

    There are many ways to interpret Torah and th...

  • 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 David Zarefsky
    On March 18, watch via Zoom (click link)

    Wednesdays, March 18 and May 20 | 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
    A continuing lecture-discussion class on contemporary public issues of interest to Jews as citizens. We will focus...

  • CANCELED Sunday, March 29 | 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    Join us at the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a customized tour that will complement the panel discussion at Beth Emet on March 11. (Attendance at the March 11 program is not r...

  • with Jesse Rosenberg
    Mondays, April 13 and 27 | 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Viz Zoom (or call 312-626-6799 Meeting ID: 214 583 753)
    The persecution and mass murder of the Jewish population of Europe by the government of the Third Reich h...

  • with Rabbi Michael Balinsky
    Friday, April 3 | 9:45 – 11:15 a.m. via Zoom 
    (or call 312-626-6799 Meeting ID: 454 365 822)

    Although the Reform movement is steeped in ritual/mitzvah expressions, it does not define itself as a hal...

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