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.

Phil Cohen
August 2007

 

THIS IS BETH EL

CHERRY HILL, NEW JERSEY

CONTENTS

               History

               Philosophy

               Facilities

               Prayer

          11   Study

          17   Assembly

          27   Communications

          28   Glossary

Editor: Tilly Spetgang Co-ordinator: Donald Bleznak Published 5727- 1967


. 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

Immediately 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.

The 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.

It 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.

Between 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.

The 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.

The 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.

We have never been a neighborhood synagogue.

Today 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."

PHILOSOPHY

Beth EI belongs to the Conservative Movement. What is Conservative Judaism?

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.

It 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.

Reform 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.

Thus, 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 a change.

Beth EI is genuinely conscious of our noble tradition and the sacred trust that countless gen­erations before us have transmitted to us and to our children.

FACILITIES

The 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.

Beth 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.

Entrance

A 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 beyond.

The Sanctuary

The 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.

Located 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

The 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 storage space.

Our 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.

Chapel

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. 

A 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

The 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

The 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.

Memorial Room

Off the main lobby of the Sanctuary, Beth El has a Memorial Room which is possibly unique among the congregations of our country.

The 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."

We 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.

Beth 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 and suffering.

When 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.

Elsewhere 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.

School System

Each 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.

The 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.

The 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.

School administration is conducted from the administrative suite where the principal's office, faculty room, and principal's secretary are located.

Administrative Suite

The working offices of the congregation are housed in the administrative suite.

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.

General

A one-bedroom apartment within the complex is provided for the use of the janitor, so that some; one is present on the property at all times.

The entire building is air-conditioned and park­ing is available for approximately 365 cars.


PRAYER SCHEDULE

We 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 need.

Minyan

For 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

for 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.


High Holy Days

On 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 Garden. Using

all these facilities, we are able to accommodate almost 3,000 congregants.

All three services are conducted by a rotating staff of three Rabbis, Cantors and Torah Readers.

Junior Services

Two 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).

One 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.

During 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.

Confirmation Service

Confirmation rites take place on the first day of Shavuos during the course of the regular morning festival worship.

At 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.

Memorial Services

During 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.  

Shiva Services

The 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.           

On 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.'

SIMCHOS

Life 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”.

Aufruf

Aufruf 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 Holy Torah.

At 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.

Weddings

Beth 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.

A 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.

We encourage the use of our organ for Sanc­tuary weddings, and a charming, small wedding can be arranged for in the Chapel.

Baby Naming

Every 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.

Female 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.

Male children are, of course, named at the circumcision rite.

STUDY

BETH El ACADEMY

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Our 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 school.

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.

This group is governed by a constitution and is a member of the National Association of Solomon Schecter Day Schools.

 

RELIGIOUS SCHOOL

The Beth El 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.

Because Beth 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.

The Beth El 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 creative dancing.

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 School.

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.

The 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 children.  

BAR MITZVAH

Bar 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.

Preparation 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 religious service.

Each 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 8 a.m.

ADULT JEWISH STUDI ES

More 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.

Home Study Courses

Home 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 Institute bulletin.

Holiday Workshops

Shortly 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 the holiday.

Library

Beth 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.

In 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' learning situa­tion.

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. 

ASSEMBLY

ADULT SOCIAL EVENTS

It 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.

The 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.

One 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.

In 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.

By 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.

For 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.

In 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" evening.

The 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.

Immediately 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 groups.

BETH EL SISTERH00D

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 complete edition of the Daily Prayer book. At his Bar Mitzvah, each boy is presented with a Bible.

Our efforts also permit us to offer substantial scholarships to Beth El Academy students, to Camp Ramah, and to our United Synagogue Youth.

We serve 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 are sold.

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 lecturers.

For those who enjoy athletics, Sisterhood sponsors a bowling league, which meets weekly.

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.

While Beth El's Sisterhood has grown into a large organization, it has retained through the years the warmth and intimacy that we have always enjoyed.

MEN'S CLUB

Beth 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.

Much 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.

The 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.

 So 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 Bank.

The 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. 

MUSIC

Beth 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.

We 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.

In 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 seasons.

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. 

YOUNG ASSOCIATES

Prior 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.

Beth 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.

Within 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

The 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.

Our program is divided into four areas: reli­gious, cultural, social and athletic.

Religious

U.S.Y. 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 of life.

Cultural

Social action plays an important part in U.S.Y.

Newsletters 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 good paper.

Social

Each 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.

Within 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.

Athletic

Our 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.

A program of outdoor games and sports is usually arranged for Lag B'Omer (weather permitting).

Kinnusim (Conventions)

The 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. 

SCOUTING

Scouting 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.

The 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.

Our 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.

A further development of scouting planned by the Men's Club is an Explorer Post, an expansion of the scouting program for teen age boys.

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 diversified sub­jects.

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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