Worship is the heart of Congregation Beth El. Our weekly Shabbat services begin at 7:00 p.m. (except for our 6:00pm services in the summer.) A few times a year, we have special Shabbat services times, so please visit our calendar page to double check the service times.
The music at Congregation Beth El is a mix of classical and contemporary. Our soloist is Mrs. Megan Pierce, and she is accompanied by Mr. Jeffrey Ford on the organ. They offer classical/cantorial music at services roughly twice a month, and Rabbi Katz offers contemporary melodies on guitar on the other weeks.
Throughout the year, our congregation celebrates the full calendar of Jewish holidays - through worship, study, and celebration. Please check our calendar page to see the upcoming holidays.
MAY I ATTEND A SERVICE?
We get this question quite a lot - and the answer is yes! Our community has a proud history of welcoming visitors to our worship services. And since Jews do not proselytize - it is a no-pressure visit - just come and enjoy. Our services are a mixture of Hebrew and English (mostly English), and the service format is very comfortable for visitors. We regularly welcome visiting groups from colleges and churches to our Shabbat services - and afterward Rabbi Katz offers a talk which includes a look at our Torah scrolls.
Many people ask about what to wear if you visit. We often say nice casual (no jeans or shorts). We look forward to having you visit with us.
If you want to know what to expect at a service, Rabbi Wendy Geffen - from North Shore Congregation in Glencoe, IL - has written a wonderful article on this very topic. Click here to read.
Throughout the year, we have developed a number of important musical programs at Beth El, in addition to our Shabbat worship music.
HIGH HOLY DAY CHOIR
This talented four-part ensemble is with the congregation during all of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Each year, in late January or early February, Beth El celebrates the Torah portion of B'shelach, where we read Shirat Ha-yam "The Song of the Sea" as the Israelites crossed through the Sea of Reeds in Exodus 15. We celebrate this special Torah reading with a musical service - often led by the Beth El Band (an ensemble of local musicians) - or we may have a more traditional offering - to celebrate this special musical-themed Shabbat. In 2017, our Shabbat Shirah was uplifted by a new four-part choir sharing beautiful arrangements of Shabbat liturgy.
SIMCHAT TORAH / KLEZMER CELEBRATION
On the Erev Shabbat closest to Simchat Torah, usually in October, the Beth El Band is enlarged to include three more musicians making a full klezmer band, with trumpet, trombone, and clarinet. At this special service, the Klezmer Band plays a mix of classic klezmer songs and chasidic melodies.
On the Shabbat during Chanukah (jokingly referred to as Sha-banukah), Beth El fills up with members and guests to celebrate the Festival of Lights. At this service, Rabbi Katz invites members of the congregation to share their musical talents.
Because the Beth El Klezmer band has become so popular, we now offer a community-wide klezmer concert during the Chanukah season. The band plays a mix of Chanukah standards, klezmer melodies, and some of Rabbi Katz's original songs.