Beth El Congregation
In 1948, a small group of nine laymen, then all leaders of Beth Tfiloh Congregation, did not want to leave their synagogue but sought some changes in the style of the religious service. Primarily, they wanted to move toward an egalitarian synagogue by modifying the principle of separate seating by gender during worship services and an expansion in bat mitzvah rituals. They assumed that, since their rabbi studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the bastion of Conservative Judaism, they would be able to move the Congregation in their direction. These hopes were not destined to be fulfilled. Therefore, they determined to create a new synagogue congregation whose ideology would provide a basis from which to create the kind of synagogue they envisioned.
To achieve these goals our founders determined to create shared ideological understanding and consensus as to their mission. In that pursuit, they brought to Baltimore a series of distinguished leaders of the Conservative Movement who helped educate them as to Conservatism's message and ideology. Rabbi Artz, Solomon Goldman, Israel Kazis, and Solomon Grayzel addressed the new synagogue's leaders on such issues as Conservative view of Mitzvah and Jewish law, the evolving role of women, and modern views of worship.
The founders of Beth El laid the foundations for a synagogue whose message they envisioned would take root in the lives of their children. The founders hoped to preserve traditional Jewish values and life while confronting the challenges of modernity. They could not have imagined that the work of their hearts and hands would generate a loyalty from literally thousands of families who became The Beth El Congregation.