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.

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Every Wednesday evening since 2002, Beth Emet has opened its doors to members of our community in need of a nutritious dinner. Guests sit at linen-covered tables with fresh flowers, listen to live music, and enjoy a bountiful meal in a welcoming atmosphere of warmth, safety, and dignity. Guests are also given a sack lunch so they have a meal to eat the following day. The meals are prepared onsite and served by a team of volunteers from our congregation or one of our community partners.  On a typical night, the Soup Kitchen serves over 100 guests.

Covid-19 Update:  The Soup Kitchen has continued providing weekly meals throughout the pandemic; however, we have made important operational changes in order to safeguard the health of our guests, volunteers, and staff.  A small team of volunteers now packages dinners purchased from local restaurants/caterers into individual portions, adding salads, desserts, and lunches prepared by volunteers at their home kitchens, for take-away by our guests.   This model allows us to consistently provide meals to our guests while keeping everyone safe from exposure to Covid-19. We look forward to the day when we can have a crowded kitchen with a full crew of volunteers and a dining room that is buzzing with energy as our guests enjoy a communal meal again!




We currently offer the following opportunities for Soup Kitchen volunteers.  Please e-mail the volunteer coordinator, Susan Melczer, for more details and available dates. 

Onsite: Come to Beth Emet from 4:30-6:00 p.m. and be part of a small team of 4-5 adults, wearing masks and gloves, and observing social distancing.  Prepared meals are packaged into individual portions, which guests pick-up at the door; volunteers have no contact with the guests.  

At-home lunch makers: Shop for groceries and make 20-60 sack lunches, using instructions provided upon sign-up, and deliver them to Beth Emet on the scheduled date. 

At-home salad makers: Shop for groceries, and make one or more large salads according to instructions provided upon sign-up, and deliver it to Beth Emet on the scheduled date. 

Group Coordinator:   There are limited dates available if you have a group of friends, family, or colleagues who would like to “sponsor” a night at the Soup Kitchen? Sign up as a group coordinator, assemble your team, and dole out assignments for the onsite and at-home tasks mentioned above! Groups also contribute to the purchase of the bulk of the meal by donating $350 to the soup kitchen.  


Donations of the items below keep the Soup Kitchen pantry stocked with essential supplies and help to defray operational costs. Items may be dropped off at Beth Emet during business hours. 

  • Salad dressing (Italian or Balsamic)
  • Large cans of coffee (ground)
  • Large containers of non-dairy creamer
  • Pourable sugar
  • Napkins
  • Quart and gallon size ziplock bags
  • Hefty Earthchoice 3 compartment containers (9x8.8x3)
  • Bottled, aluminum cans or boxed water
  • Individual hot chocolate packets
  • Easy-open cans or pouches of tuna fish
  • 8 - 12 oz. hot cups with lids (not styrofoam)



The unplanned-expense of adapting Soup Kitchen operations during the pandemic has strained the Soup Kitchen budget. We welcome donations of any amount to help us purchase meals from restaurants and caterers. 

Beth Emet members may donate online through the member portal.  Others may make donations online on Beth Emet’s Website.

Donations may also be made by checks made payable to Beth Emet The Free Synagogue. Please indicate “Soup Kitchen” in the check memo and mail to:

Beth Emet Synagogue
1224 Dempster Street
Evanston, IL 60202

Thank you for supporting the Beth Emet Soup Kitchen!


The Soup Kitchen has been a “bridge of understanding” between the Beth Emet community and the many guests who dine with us each week. The Soup Kitchen truly brings to life the Jewish value of tikkun olam -- repair of the world.

The Soup Kitchen is also supported by a number of area synagogues and community organizations, which sponsor several Wednesday nights during the year. These community partners help defray our weekly meal costs and provide important volunteer support. Of particular note is the Unitarian Church of Evanston, which has been a tried and true friend for many years, stepping up to host the Soup Kitchen when Beth Emet is closed for Jewish Holidays. 

In addition, the Soup Kitchen is honored to receive generous donations and discounts from many local-area businesses, including AOK Gourmet, Beth’s Little Bake Shop, Dave’s New Italian Kitchen, Dengeo’s, Hewn Bakery, and others. 




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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.

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