Featured Stories & Updates


Four Jewish Connections to the Fourth of July

Jul 01, 2019
It’s that time of the year again: the day when the world turns shades of red, white and blue, and the smell of hot dogs — kosher ones, of course — fills the air. For Jews, the Fourth of July symbolizes the trials and tribulations of the many immigrants who fought (in some cases literally) to make this country their own.
So as you turn the heat up on your grill, trot out the watermelon or glance up at the fireworks this Independence Day, here are a few Jewish things to think about:
Francis Salvador

Get to Know: Andy Shankman

Jun 28, 2019

Beth El recently hired Andy Shankman to serve as Religious School Manager and Bnai Mitzvah Coordinator. In his new role, Mr. Shankman will work closely with families to ensure students get the most out of their education, support teachers with their various needs, and oversee the Bnai Mitzvah tutoring program. 

Andy took an inspired yet unconventional path to Beth El Religious School. 


The Journey Begins

Jun 26, 2019
By: Rabbi Steve Schwartz 

After two days in Warsaw, our group of 60 plus travelers is making its way to Krakow by bus, a ride of some three hours. Congregational trips are wonderful. Bonds are immediately formed, new friendships ignited, and old relationships renewed. Together we learn and discover, understanding the past so that our sense of the present is altered. At the same time, we deepen our own identities, developing a new sense of origin, of where we’ve come from, how far we’ve come, and how we were formed.

The Creative Process

Jun 19, 2019

By: Rabbi Steve Schwartz

People often ask how sermons are constructed, wondering where I find ideas of what to talk about, why I choose certain references, and what my creative process is. Here are a few thoughts about the sermon I gave on June 1st that might give a bit of insight into how a sermon comes together (at least for me).  


Am Yisrael Chai: Beth El Travels to Eastern Europe

Jun 11, 2019

By: Brandon Chiat, Digital Media Manager

On June 24th, 65 Beth El members - accompanied by Rabbi Steve Schwartz, Cantor Thom King, and Dr. Eyal Bor - will arrive in Warsaw, Poland to begin the congregation's trip through Eastern Europe. While the synagogue has led numerous trips to Israel, this is only the second time in 20 years that Beth El has traveled to Europe.


Rabbi's Reflection: Same as it Ever Was

May 29, 2019
In the fall of 1980, the Talking Heads released their fourth studio album, entitled ‘Remain in Light.’  Jimmy Carter’s presidency was winding down, and in November, a month after the record was released, the country would elect Ronald Reagan to be its 40th president.  The signature song of Remain in Light would become Once in a Lifetime, a charged blending of funk and world music beats overlaid with David Bryne’s surrealistic ravings delivered in a series of preacher-like cadences.  Here are the lyrics of the memorable first verse:

Rabbi Schwartz's Summer 2019 Reading List

May 24, 2019
How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – With the recent popularity of meditation and yoga as spiritual pursuits, Pollan explores an alternative, once frowned upon, method of opening the mind, staying present, and finding meaning – hallucinogenics.  A blend of travelogue, scientific research, medical history, and memoir, the author ponders one of the oldest and most significant human questions:  How can we find meaning in our lives? (460 pages)