CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
Congregation Beth El
Chapel Avenue, Cherry Hill NJ
Here you will find reproduced a booklet about Congregation Beth El, published shortly after the synagogue moved from Camden to its then-new building in Cherry Hill.
There are a lot of familiar faces in this booklet from Beth El's Camden years, as well of course to those who would have first come to the new building in the late 60s and early 70s. The booklet comes through the generosity of Rabbi David Herman, of Baltimore MD, whose father Cantor Louis Herman served Beth El for many years, as did his mother Mrs. Yetta Herman, who taught at the Hebrew School over the same period.
THIS IS BETH EL
CHERRY HILL, NEW JERSEY
Tilly Spetgang Co-ordinator: Donald Bleznak Published
after his first encounter with a divine vision it was said of
Jacob, and he called the name of that place Beth El.
(Genesis, Chapter 28, Verse 19)
HISTORY OF BETH EL
after the close of World War I, Camden Jewry, under the
leadership of a few farsighted men, recognized the serious
religious needs of an intellectually and spiritually troubled
generation, so they created Beth El. It was not just another
synagogue. It was a new kind of synagogue in which the Bible could
be critically defined, yet one in which Jewish tradition, hallowed
through the centuries, would be preserved and where prayers might be
offered in an atmosphere of dignity and beauty.
name for this first Conservative Congregation in South Jersey
reflects the first piece of ground identified with God, mentioned in
the Bible as Beth El.
would be expected that the first synagogue in any area would, by its
very existence, lead the way. Beth El was the first to have a
full-time Cantor and professional choir. Beth El organized a
religious school, an Academy (Day School), had a Jewish Boy Scout
troop and pioneered in a spectrum of fields. As time moved on, our
synagogue bustled and bloomed. Thus Beth El was the first to create
a Hebrew High School and only a few years ago we received the
National Solomon Schecter Award for the highest percentage of
retention in high school in the United States.
the wars, Beth El grew in its membership and in its activities.
Its leadership recognized that there were many in the community who
could not afford to belong to a synagogue, but should be given the
opportunity to join in public worship during the High Holy Days. For
several years before our own membership exceeded our existing
facilities, we supplied a Rabbi, a Cantor, and a professional choir
for a parallel service designed not only for our own members, but
for any others who wished to spend the Holy Season in prayer.
measure of a synagogue is the influence it exerts, not only upon its
members, but through them on the entire Jewish Community. It is not
an accident that the leadership of the entire area in philanthropy
and in culture often derives from Beth El. During these past years
when it has be· come customary to select outstanding personalities
to be honored by the Allied Jewish Appeal, by the Bonds of Israel,
by Jewish National Fund, or by the community at large, in almost
every instance the man chosen was one of our members.
high points in our synagogue's history are remembered with pride,
but it is the day-by-day work that represents our genuine goal.
Each day Beth El strives to bring comfort, courage, intellectual
stimulation and spiritual strength to all of its people.
have never been a neighborhood synagogue.
our membership is drawn from families near us and from far away. Yet
we have retained so intimate a relationship that we spontaneously
refer to ourselves as the "Beth El Family."
EI belongs to the Conservative Movement. What is Conservative
Judaism believes that our reli·gious practices, which can be traced
back to Biblical injunction and in Rabbinic teaching, have been
hallowed through centuries of usage. At the same time, Conservative
Judaism appreciates the need to encourage the creation of new forms
that embody the spirit of our ancient heritage.
emphasizes intensive Jewish education, knowledge of the Hebrew
language, and the glories of our history. It holds that religious
practice in Jewish life is guided by Halacha (The Law), but that
the law is not frozen; that it grows to meet new situations.
Conservative Judaism beIieves that the law is of divine origin, but
that it is adaptable to the age in which we live.
Judaism regards Halacha as having no binding authority, whereas
Orthodox Judaism, generally speaking, pursues an almost literal approach
to Halacha. Someone suggested this definition: "Conservative
Judaism is identified with the past, while Orthodoxy seeks to be
identical to the past."
Conservative Judaism, to paraphrase a famous comment about the Sabbath, holds that the law was made for the Jew, and not the Jew for the law. The Conservative Movement is based upon a religious platform that emphasizes the importance of tradition, and is committed to the principle that if changes are made, they must be made within the framework of the law. If a change is made, it is not to alleviate the burden of religious observance, but rather to deepen our appreciation and loyalty to Judaism.
the unpopularity of a religious practice and its widespread violation
would not be sufficient cause for change. It has been said,
"The 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was repealed not because
lawbreakers or bootleggers violated it, but because many law-abiding
citizens came to disregard it." Similarly, when recognized authorities
who are genuinely concerned with Halacha and tradition believe that
modification is in the best interest of Jewish life, they may advocate
EI is genuinely conscious of our noble tradition and the sacred trust
that countless generations before us have transmitted to us and to
new Beth El was designed "from the inside out." The major
challenge was the creation of a building which would accommodate both
a nominal group of weekly worshippers as well as the great numbers
who attend the High Holy Day Services several times a year. Many
synagogues have solved this problem by locating the Sanctuary and
social spaces on either side of a common entrance lobby. By means of
folding partitions all three spaces are made into one. This is an
acceptable solution, but far from ideal, for it creates the
confusion of attaining a worshipful attitude in a space which had been
used the previous evening for party purposes.
El has ten separate but inter-related entities-an entrance lobby,
the Sanctuary, an auditorium, Chapel, Colonnade Garden, the lounge,
a Memorial room, educational facilities, an administrative suite,
and general area.
landscaped garden flanks both sides of the entrance walk. Once inside
the lobby, the view of the outside is maintained by the generous use
of glass. The major view upon entering is that of the Colonnade Garden
Sanctuary is designed as "flexible" space by dividing it
into a large, high ceilinged central area, surrounded by four smaller
areas. The central area is to be used for general worship services;
the surrounding areas will be added on the High Holy Days. Lower areas
are separated from the center Sanctuary by means of movable walls
which are suspended from overhead tracks. When in place, these walls
give an appearance of permanency; when retracted their presence is
not observable. Thus flexible space uses are created: areas which
provide Sanctuary seating on the High Holy Days become lecture rooms
for the balance of the year.
at the geographic east of the Sanctuary is the Bima, completely
encompassed by wide marble steps. The Ark is in the form of a menorah
which rises to the ceiling high above the Bima. The great faceted
glass window-sculpture behind the Ark literally disappears skyward to
suggest the infinity of God.
auditorium is designed to accommodate social activities of the
congregation. Tables can be set to provide for 500 diners. The
adjacent kitchen and serving facilities can accommodate either meat or
dairy menus, with meal preparation done by the women of the
congregation or by hired personnel. The kitchen contains a full
complement of equipment including a walk-in refrigerator, a commercial
dish washer, a freezer, separate meat and dairy sinks and plenty of
auditorium's natural hardwood floor is an invitation for dancing. The
stage is served by two dressing rooms and a wing space and is hidden
from view when not in use by means of a floor-to-ceiling drapery.
When the stage is in use for dramatic or musical presentations, or for an overflow service, the auditorium can be set up to accommodate 700 persons in movable seating.
The Chapel, located at the south end of the building, has seating for 94 persons. Its main feature is an Ark which can be used from the Chapel side or from the Colonnade Garden. A "turn-table" arrangement within the Ark itself permits the Torahs to face either the Chapel or the outdoor pulpit in the garden. This is a small space and provides a certain intimacy to those worshipping within it.
new synagogue for Congregation Beth El, located on Chapel Avenue
in Cherry Hill, opened its doors in the winter of 1967. It was
designed by Harold E. Wagoner, AIA Architect, and Kolosky and
lanniccari, Associated Architects.
Colonnade Garden, a delightful space completely surrounded by
the rest of the building, is open to the sky. Movable seating can
be arranged to provide an outdoor setting for weddings or worship
services. The outdoor platform and reading desk are located
adjacent to the Chapel.
lounge is located in such a way that it is accessible from the
main lobby, the auditorium, a corridor, and the kitchen. It is
strategically placed so that it is used for pre-reception
socializing, committee dinner meetings, and for other occasions
which call for an informal dining space for about 50. Chairs can
be set up for approximately 75 persons for a lecture type
experience. A bar is located at the south end in order that
refreshments might be served. In a situation where people will
stand, the lounge will accommodate about 125.
the main lobby of the Sanctuary, Beth El has a Memorial Room which
is possibly unique among the congregations of our country.
principal Rothschild town mansion in London has an unfinished
cornice to commemorate the destruction of our Temple in the year
70 C.E. The significance of this feature is to remind the family
and all those who visit them that what happened almost 2,000
years ago makes a difference. As a result of that event our
ancestors were rendered homeless, and became identified as
"The Wandering Jews."
have just emerged from an era which saw the destruction of one
third of our entire Jewish population-an era in which death and
destruction to our people became a respectable insanity. The
holocaust was more cruel and absurd than the burning of the Temple
or any tragedy thereafter.
El has set aside a Memorial Room to honor the memory of our six
million martyrs. This is our way of saying that what happened
makes a difference. We have dedicated this room not only to
remember the past, but to convince us that we must constantly
enlarge our passion for freedom and justice in the midst of agony
we walk into this room, we do so not with bitterness in our
hearts, but with the determination to keep the spirit of truth
alive under the most dehumanizing events. Within this room is an
Eternal Light, symbolizing eternal memory as well as eternal hope.
A Bible and a prayer book are on hand to allow anyone who seeks
the comfort of solitude the opportunity to sit and meditate.
in the room are the names of those men and women who have died and
whose memories have been consecrated by members of the Beth El
Family and their friends.
classroom is so designed that natural light can enter and a view
of the out-of-doors is available. The school facilities include
thirteen classrooms, a library, and an all-purpose room in which
the children eat their lunches.
nursery and kindergarten rooms are equipped with private toilet
facilities, coat hanging rooms, storage space for sleeping cots,
and toy cabinets. Typical classrooms have coat and material
storage space within the rooms.
library is designed to provide shelf space for 2700 volumes. There
is a permanent pull-down projection screen at one end which
permits the use of visual aids.
administration is conducted from the administrative suite where
the principal's office, faculty room, and principal's secretary
working offices of the congregation are housed in the
general office provides space for the receptionist and
principal's secretary, as well as a waiting area for those
desiring to see certain individuals. Our Rabbi's study has an
adjacent room for the storage of reference books. Private offices
are provided for the principal, executive director, and
bookkeeper. A separate work room serves the general office wherein
graphing and mailing activities are handled.
one-bedroom apartment within the complex is provided for the use
of the janitor, so that some; one is present on the property at
entire building is air-conditioned and parking is available for
approximately 365 cars.
attend services at a synagogue in order to pray alongside our
friends, and to share a spiritual experience under the
leadership of our Rabbi. Beth El has, in addition to its regular
daily and High Holy Day services, others for various purposes
and we hope all services are accommodating for whatever the
more than 45 years, Beth El unfailingly has had a Minyan (the
necessary number of ten men for public worship) every morning and
evening. Those who join us in prayer, or to say Kaddish
a loved one, meet for morning services at 7:30 a.m. each weekday
morning; on Saturday at 9 a.m. and on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. The time
for daily evening services is set immediately before sunset,
varying with the season.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Beth El conducts three separate services for men and women. They are
held in the Sanctuary, in the auditorium and in the Colonnade
these facilities, we are able to accommodate almost 3,000
three services are conducted by a rotating staff of three Rabbis,
Cantors and Torah Readers.
junior services are conducted simultaneously each Sabbath and
holiday morning. (On Yom Kippur, we also have an afternoon service
for our older boys and girls).
service is intended for all children up to and including the third
grade of the religious school. The other junior service is meant for
our youngsters up to and including their thirteenth year. All boys
and girls beyond that age may join the adults at their services.
this worship, in both junior services, a child is expected during
the course of the year to serve as either Cantor or Rabbi. He will
be called to the Torah to offer the traditional blessings and will
knowledgeably participate in the worship. Attendance at these
religious services is regarded not only as a religious experience,
but as part of the educational process. Services begin for both
groups at 10 a.m. and conclude at 11:30 a.m.
rites take place on the first day of Shavuos during the course of
the regular morning festival worship.
Beth El, Confirmation is not merely a religious service. It
is tantamount to high school graduation and only those young men and
women who have successfully completed the three year curriculum of
our Hebrew High School are eligible for confirmation The most
important features o, f that service are conducted by
our graduates, who are also our confirmands.
the course of the year memorial services, or Yiskor, are conducted
four times; Yom Kippur, Sh'mini Azeres, or the last day of Passover,
and on the second day of Shavuos.
Through the years Beth El has offered its facilities to non-members on these days for this religious service. We welcome those who join us for Yiskor. Services are conducted by the Rabbi, the Cantor and choir.
seven day mourning following the burial of a father, mother,
brother, sister, son, daughter, wife or husband is spent at home. It
is traditional, especially if there is a surviving son, to say
Kaddish every morning and evening during this, period at a religious service conducted
in the home. Beth El provides the personnel to lead these services,
as ell as the prayer books, the taleisim, yarmulkas and tefillin.
the occasion of a Yahrzeit, Beth EI provides a special prayer, on
the morning when the Torah is read) in the name of the deceased.'
is both sad and gay, serious and light, and our synagogue reflects
all phases of life. So it is we conduct, in addition to the more
expected rites, the ceremonies surrounding "simchos”.
is the term applied to the mitzvah given to the groom upon being
called to the Torah, usually on the Sabbath prior to his wedding. At
the Aufruf, the coming marriage is blessed in the presence of the
Beth El we welcome the opportunity to serve our families in this
hour, and a telephone call to the office will be sufficient to have
us help you make all the arrangements.
El has varied facilities for weddings. Our Sanctuary can accommodate
almost 1,000 people and yet can be made to look intimate for a considerably smaller
number of guests. The Colonnade Garden, accommodating many
hundreds of people, can be used for an unforgettable outdoor
wedding. Such a wedding, in case of inclement weather, can be moved
directly to the Sanctuary. The auditorium and kitchen are
efficiently equipped to meet any demands.
bridal room close to both the Sanctuary and Colonnade Garden, where
the bride and her party may relax, take pictures and put on their
finishing touches, helps keep pre-wedding moments quiet and private.
encourage the use of our organ for Sanctuary weddings, and a
charming, small wedding can be arranged for in the Chapel.
child born into the household of Israel must have a Hebrew name.
According to one tradition, our ancestors merited emancipation
from Egyptian bondage because they never forgot their Hebrew names
during all the years they were in that land.
children are to be named in the Synagogue on any day following
birth on which the Torah is read. The Torah is read on Monday,
Thursday and Saturday mornings, in addition to holiday mornings. An
additional reading takes place on Saturday afternoons.
children are, of course, named at the circumcision rite.
BETH El ACADEMY
Beth El Academy offers a complete spectrum of elementary education
from nursery school through the sixth grade. It maintains the
highest standards of general education and a thorough curriculum of
Hebraic studies, both being taught during the regular school day.
small classes; experienced, State licensed staff; and expert
knowledge and use of current developments in the field of education,
challenge each student to his utmost potential. We also endeavor to
mold the total youngster, providing him with wholesome and
satisfying educational experiences.
Academy enriches the character and personality of the student by
exposing him to the significant elements of his American and Jewish
heritage on his particular level of development. The school also
endeavors to arouse in the student an interest in study and a
desire to continue his education at his optimum ability.
graduates may continue their education in day schools of our nature
or transfer to their local public school and continue their Hebrew
education in a specially designed program within our religious
The Parent-Teacher Group of Beth El Academy is an association in which the parent and teacher work together for the best interests of the students and the school. Regular meetings are arranged by the group at which all matters pertaining to child growth and development and the youngster's school work are considered. Experts in particular facets of education address the group periodically.
The Parent-Teacher Group sponsors social and cultural events to entertain, educate and bring its members closer together. Projects such as the hot lunch program, field trips, and holiday workshops are among its activities.
group is governed by a constitution and is a member of the National
Association of Solomon Schecter Day Schools.
Religious School, which has been serving the Jewish
community of Camden County some 40 years, and which has presently
among its constantly growing student body children whose
grandparents were confirmed in Beth El, is dedicated to prepare
our future generations for Jewish living.
El is a child centered
institution, our physical facilities were designed to meet every
need of our youngsters' safety and well being, in
pleasant surroundings conducive to
learning. The staff is excellently trained and the curriculum
changes to adapt to ever changing times and methods.
School was the recipient of the coveted Solomon
Schecter National award, given by the United Synagogue Commission
on Jewish Education, in recognition of the highest retention of
post-Bar Mitzvah students into the High School Department.
Policy is determined by the School
Board, which meets monthly. Board members, together with the Rabbi
and the educational director, supervise the school's curriculum.
Three departments comprise the school.
First we have the Pre-Hebrew, for youngsters five, six and seven
years of age. It meets once a week on Sunday mornings for two to
four hours, according to the age and learning ability of the
child. This department is not a separate entity. It is designed to
prepare the child for our Elementary Department. The curriculum
includes Bible stories, highlights of Synagogue worship and
symbols, simple benedictions and prayers, readiness for the Hebrew
language, insight into holidays and festivals, and songs and
The students of our Elementary
Department attend a minimum of six hours per week. Included in the curriculum is the study of the
Hebrew language- comprehensive reading, grammar, Hebrew speaking
(taught by the audio-lingual method); the Bible- taught in Hebrew
with emphasis on character study of our sages; moral and ethical
precepts and ritual observances; prayer through familiarity with
daily, sabbath and holiday prayer books and the ability to conduct
services wherever possible; Jewish history- a complete survey of
the history of our people with emphasis on the great men and women
who exerted an influence on Judaism and on the world.
We are exceptionally proud of our High
It offers intensive and extensive
courses that lead to graduation and confirmation. The High School
meets for six hours per week for three years. In addition to
continuing in depth the courses taught in the Elementary Department,
courses in study of the Bible in English, Modern Jewish Problems,
The Jewish Community, and Comparative Religion are offered.
The program is further enriched by the
addition of such extracurricular activities as the choir, under the
direction of the Cantor; a newspaper, edited and published by the
students under direction of a faculty member; Student Council, where
the youngsters receive practical experience in self government; and
Torah Reading. A large proportion of our boys become proficient
Synagogue Torah readers through this training.
Parent-Teacher Group of Beth El's
Religious School is an arm of the Beth El School Board. Its purpose
is to bring the school and home closer together.
Periodic meetings are held to brief
parents on the curriculum of the school, its nature and function,
and to enlighten parents of the aims and purposes of the particular
grade their youngster attends. Parents also have the opportunity to
discuss individual problems and learn about the progress of their
Mitzvah at Beth EI is not simply a ceremony marking the religious
maturity of a boy. It is part of his educational schedule. Any boy
living in our community must attend religious school for at least
six years prior to his Bar Mitzvah service. Most of our boys, in
addition to having the required knowledge of chanting any Haftorah,
have learned by the time of their thirteenth birthday how to read
from the Torah itself, and a commendable number each year are able
to chant the entire Torah reading.
for the Bar Mitzvah service is given outside regular school hours,
and at Beth EI a candidate for Bar Mitzvah enters the Bar Mitzvah
class when he is 11 years old. If he attends religious classes on
Mondays and Wednesdays, he will study for his Bar Mitzvah on
Tuesdays. If his classes normally are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he
will take his Bar Mitzvah work on Monday. During these extra hours,
he is also taught how to put on his Tefillin and how to conduct a
Sunday morning during the school year, Beth EI sponsors a Bar
Mitzvah Club Breakfast known as the Tallit and Tefillin group.
Immediately prior to the breakfast, our youngsters participate in
a worship service and then they have their breakfast with its
appropriate prayers before and after the meal. On occasion, fathers
of our youngsters join them in prayer. Worship begins at
JEWISH STUDI ES
than a few random courses in adult education, the Beth El
Institute for Adult Jewish Studies offers an integrated program
encompassing Hebrew, history and the Bible. Students who complete
the course of studies are awarded a Certificate of Achievement.
However, all courses are open to everyone, whether or not he chooses
to work toward certification. A bulletin of the subjects offered is
mailed to the congregation early in the academic year.
study courses, with credit toward certification, provide an
opportunity for groups of friends and neighbors to study together
under the leadership of an Institute instructor. Couples are able
to explore areas of interest at a time and place convenient to them,
in an intellectually stimulating, though informal, atmosphere.
Information about forming home study groups is included in the
before the High Holy Days and again at Passover, the Rabbi conducts
workshops for adult members of the congregation, explaining the
prayers, the traditional customs and ceremonies, and the
philosophical meaning of the holiday. Lively with songs and stories,
these sessions add extra dimension to the individual's observance of
EI's library is designed for the purpose of· study, research and
general reading enjoyment. Books are available in three languages,
English, Hebrew and Yiddish. Our collection of Hebraica and Judaica
contains many works of outstanding authors. Library shelves also
include volumes of fiction and non·fiction by contemporary Jewish
authors as well as volumes dealing with the contemporary American
Jewish scene by non-Jewish authors.
addition to the adult library, we have available a fine selection
of graded readers, fiction and non-fiction, covering all
educational, fields, to supplement and enrich our youngsters'
The growth of our library is due in great measure to gifts donated by our members in honor or in memory of an individual. Special funds are designated by the synagogue for the purchase of new books as they are published in all fields pertaining to Hebrew letters.
is necessary for a synagogue to have many facets in order to cater
to the needs of all its members. One of the salient characteristics
of Beth El is its ability to offer a varied social life for those
who choose to participate.
social season begins with the pre-High Holiday S'lichot Breakfast
which is a dignified and happy affair that our Sisterhood prepares
for everyone who worships at the midnight S'lichot service.
of the most festive holidays we celebrate is Chanukah and there is a
synagogue celebration every year with singing, dancing,
entertainment and the traditional latkes to eat.
January it is the custom at Beth El for all those men who are able,
to attend a dinner tendered in honor of our esteemed Rabbi.
the time the winter doldrums set in, individuals find that they
want a respite from everyday work, pressures and hurry. What
better way to get away from it all then to spend a few days in
Lakewood with congregation friends, skating, swimming, walking or
just sitting and chatting? The Men's Club Winter Holiday has become
a yearly work break on the Beth El calendar, low cost, high fun.
music devotees, there are two impressive and enjoyable cultural
events, sponsored by the synagogue; the Cantor's Concert and the
Academy Concert. Both include standard and liturgical music and are
a delight to the trained or untrained musical ear.
the spring comes the holiday of Purim. In order to celebrate the
salvation of the Jews, Beth EI has an annual Purim Ball. Each year
this dance totes up warm and wonderful memories of a truly "frelach"
final and most elegant social affair of the year is the annual Beth
El Ball. The dinner dance has come to b~ one of the outstanding
social events in all of Camden County. It is given to honor the
Confirmation Class of Beth El and is open to everyone who wishes to
attend. It includes a cocktail hour, gourmet dinner and dancing.
after services each Friday evening during the fall and winter
seasons, we have an Oneg Shabbat, a social gathering in the
auditorium where friends may meet after prayers for tea and cake.
This period sometimes includes a program by one of our constituent
Not long after the establishment of the synagogue, Beth
El Sisterhood was created. Today our Sisterhood is one of the largest in the
state, and is looked to as an example by the National Women’s
League, which is the largest synagogue organization in the world.
Sisterhood is not basically a fund-raising organization, although, in order
to perform its many functions, some money is necessary. Sisterhood
instead seeks to create a wide avenue for the self fulfillment of
our women, and it serves as a medium through which the warmest and
closest friendships may be established.
The women of our Sisterhood are active and we are confident that almost
every Jewish woman can, find within our program some area that
will be gratifying to her special interests.
Our most prized treasure, of course, is our children, and for them we have
set our most important sights. Sisterhood distributes gifts to our
youngsters upon graduation from elementary school, as well as on
Chanukah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. We prepare
a model seder for our school children prior to Passover. At Confirmation
time we present our girls with Bibles and our boys with a
edition of the Daily Prayer book. At his Bar Mitzvah, each boy is
presented with a Bible.
efforts also permit us to offer substantial
scholarships to Beth El Academy students, to Camp Ramah, and to our United
refreshments at the Parent-Teacher Group meetings which are held
several times during the school year.
The work of our women is clearly visible in the life of our synagogue. The
elaborate breakfast our· congregation enjoys after the midnight
service of S'lichot is prepared by Sisterhood. Onegim are provided
on Friday evenings when they are not otherwise sponsored by a
family or group.
Within the school building,
Sisterhood maintains a gift shop where Jewish ceremonial objects
There are three luncheons held during the year, and Sisterhood sponsors a
gala Donor Dinner featuring a guest entertainer of national renown.
We conduct an educational program entitled "Sisterhood Wants
to Know," attracting informed personalities to serve as
For those who enjoy athletics, Sisterhood
sponsors a bowling league, which
We meet every second Tuesday of the month, unless that day coincides with a
holiday, and at each meeting we serve a dessert luncheon. A cultural
program is planned and a babysitter is provided. Our board meetings
are held the fourth Thursday of each month in the home of a member.
Our Sisterhood has contributed substantially
toward the erection of the
Matilda Schecter Residence Hall for women students at the Jewish
Theological Seminary. The campaign has been combined with the Torah
Fund, which offers scholarships to future rabbis, cantors and
teachers, and is now called the Combined Campaign.
El's Sisterhood has grown into a large organization, it has
retained through the years the warmth and intimacy that we have
El Men's Club, an affiliate of the National federation of Jewish
Men's Clubs, is the service arm of the synagogue. It furthers and
advances the aims and purposes of traditional Judaism and of Beth
El. All Men's Club sponsored events are designed to help mold and
keep our congregants close together.
of the social life of our synagogue revolves around the Men's Club
and in this area the group sponsors a Winter Holiday (at a prominent
resort), baseball outings, the Purim Ball, a theatre party and a
bowling league. Sensitive to the cultural needs of our men, we
provide a series of Sunday Morning Breakfasts. These breakfasts,
replete with bagels, lox, danish and coffee, feature outstanding
speakers who precede question and answer periods. Frequently a
significant film of Jewish content is shown.
Men's Club assumes responsibility at religious services to provide
ushers and to otherwise help the worshipper enjoy the dignity and
decor of a House of God. On the occasion where there is no formal
Kiddush provided by the parents of a Bar Mitzvah, our group provides
the Kiddush for the worshippers.
that at no cost Beth El's "family" may be assured of an
adequate blood supply, Men's Club has organized the Beth El Blood
Men's Club recognizes the value of education toward the
preservation of our heritage, so an annual scholarship to the Beth El
Academy is provided. We also sponsor Boy Scout and Cub Scout Troops.
Representatives of the Men's Club are on the Beth El Board of Directors where the policies that direct the operation of the entire synagogue are decided.
El offers a varied program that invites the participation of every
member from our youngest child to our most mature man or woman. Our
services, being traditional, have much congregational singing, and
frequent exposure to the religious worship will acquaint anyone
with our melodies.
employ a professional choir which sings more intricate selections,
but in the main its responsibility is to lead in congregational
singing. This choir sings every Friday evening at our late service,
on the Sabbath morning for special occasions, and on all holidays.
The choir is under the direction of a trained conductor, but every
musical phase is under the supervision of our Cantor.
addition to the professional choir, we have an adult group of music
lovers composed of members of our congregation. This is known as the
Beth El Choral Group, open to any member of the congregation who
just likes to sing. Several years ago this group was invited to
participate in the "limriah" (Music festival) in Israel.
In addition, the Choral group has appeared in concerts before many
audiences in the Philadelphia-Camden area. It also takes part in
special services and functions of the synagogue throughout the year.
The choral group meets once a week during the fall and winter
Beth El also has a school choir composed of boys and girls from our religious school and from the Beth EI Academy. The school choir meets once weekly during the school season. We are pleased to say that this is the only Jewish youth choir in the entire South Jersey area that has annually been invited to participate in the Board of Jewish Education Choir festival, and in the Inter-School Jewish Music festival, sponsored by Gratz College of Philadelphia. On several occasions during the year, the choir may be heard at special events in the synagogue. Prior to all holidays, all our boys and girls meet for several assemblies to be taught the appropriate melodies.
to the High Holy Days of 1960, the Young Associates of Beth El was
formed. Its primary purpose is to encourage young people,
unaffiliated with a synagogue, to partake of spiritual experience
and come under religious leadership.
El, understanding that financial hardships are most prevalent when
people are young and just starting out with marriage, children and
home, offered membership to those under thirty years of age at a
reduced rate. The new members are invited to participate in all
phases of synagogue life.
the framework of the Beth El Synagogue, the Young Associates attend
services, social functions, adult education classes and other
events. As an individual group, we print a yearly calendar, sponsor
Onegim, and have social functions of our own, including swim
parties, hayrides, barbecues and cocktail parties.
The Young Associates has its own Board of Directors and officers. Membership is determined by age alone, and all new members of the synagogue who are in this age category will automatically belong to the Young Associates.
UNITED SYNAGOGUE YOUTH
United Synagogue Youth (U.S.Y.) caters to the needs and interests of
our teenagers from thirteen to seventeen years of age. The program
strengthens the teenager's identification with Judaism and the
synagogue. Our chapter is a member of the HaEmek Region which is a
part of the Central body of United Synagogue Youth.
program is divided into four areas: religious, cultural, social
conducts its own services and also participates actively in the
adult congregation in many ways. Boys are encouraged to learn to conduct
all religious services and are given many opportunities to do so.
Our Study Group meets for one hour every Friday night after services
to discuss ideals and ethics of Judaism related to our American way
action plays an important part in U.S.Y.
on various current problems, and programs at many of the meetings
are geared to specific timely issues. A newspaper, "Rishoim"
is published quarterly in which we try to include the four aspects
of U.S.Y., plus the humor and gossip that goes into the making of a
chapter in the Region sponsors at least two dances during the year
to which all USYers are invited. Thus, at least twice a month,
busloads of teenagers travel to attend these dances, and to meet
with their friends from other chapters.
the chapter, one of the two meetings held each month is a
"fun" program. Again we have found that even a fun program
can be a learning experience. We play Charades with quotes from the
Bible, or we have a "Singdown" with Hebrew songs and
melodies and meetings are concluded with "Rod HaYom" and
a linking of the arms in fun and friendship.
chapter participates in various Jewish Com· munity Center sports
activities, along with other chapters in Camden County, and each
chapter is encouraged to arrange sporting events with other chapters
in the region.
program of outdoor games and sports is usually arranged for Lag
B'Omer (weather permitting).
highlights of each season are the Kinnusim, of which there are
four, and Camp U.S.Y. in the summer. Chapter standards are set, and
delegates to all except the Inter-Chapter Kinus are chosen on the
basis of these standards. Inter· chapter is open to all members.
Some of these Kinnusim involve home hospitality, and some hotel
accommodations, but all have what has become a key word in the life
of all USYers ... "RUACH".
The Regional U.S.Y. Encampment is usually open to all USYers. This is a week of living as a Jew in every sense of the word; religiously, culturally, socially, with athletics thrown in for good measure.
at Beth El has become an integral part of our Jewish Youth Program.
Under the sponsorship of the Men's Club, boys ranging in age from
eight to eleven have the opportunity to share experiences of
craftsmanship, hiking, citizenship, etc., as Cub Scouts. A volunteer
acts as a Den Mother and holds weekly meetings in her home. The boys
prepare for the monthly pack meeting held at the synagogue, and
display hand crafts before their parents and friends.
Cub Scout program includes a Pine Wood Derby, Blue-Gold Dinner,
trips to local points of interest, hiking, boxing instruction and
many other interesting projects. As the boys reach their eleventh
birthday, they advance into Boy Scouting.
Boy Scout Troop (also sponsored by the Men's Club), meets weekly at
the synagogue. These boys take on more responsibility than the Cubs,
go on overnight hikes and attend summer camp. Boy Scouts learn First
Aid, swimming, life saving, cooking, nature study, etc. A principal
aspect of development in both Cub and Boy Scouting is reverence to
God. As a synagogue-sponsored program, scouting at Beth El
finds its way into our daily program of events.
further development of scouting planned by the Men's Club is an
Explorer Post, an expansion of the scouting program for teen age
Beth El Sisterhood sponsors a Brownie Troop with meetings held at the school building. Due to the enthusiasm this program has met, we hope to extend the program through further scouting programs for girls.
BETH EL NEWS
The Beth El News is a professionally printed publication
sent out semi-monthly (from September through June) to an members.
It contains all service schedules, notices of activities of the
synagogue and its affiliate branches, including Young Associates,
Sisterhood, Men's Club, United Synagogue Youth, Scout troops,
etc., as well as all pertinent Beth El Academy and Religious School
news. In the "Beth El Family" column, one can keep
abreast, of all personal items of interest among our congregants:
engagements, marriages, births, special anniversaries, unusual
congratulatory items, hospitalizations, notices of unveilings and
condolences. Upon occasion our issue will carry national news items
of interest to our people, as well as 'capsule' witticisms on
Not its least important feature, the News also carries a complete list of all donations' (unless anonymity is requested) to any of the various charity funds of both the Congregation and Sisterhood's "Torah Fund", whether they be for purposes of congratulations, get well, in memory of, for Yahrzeits, in honor of, etc. These items are printed as "news", not in lieu of appropriate printed cards which. are automatically mailed, whenever the occasion) demands, to the recipients.
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