Join The Soul Center (The Alvin and Lois Lapidus Center for Healing and Spirituality) and Beth El Congregation as The Shir Joy crew welcomes Shabbat with an immersive, elevated spiritual excursion into prayer and song.

Please mark your calendars for Friday, January 27 at 6:00 p.m.

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for Beth El Congregation’s summer program! We offer water play, arts, sports, cooking, nature, and many more activities. Early drop off and late stay options are also available.

For more information, please contact Mandy Barish, Director of Pauline Mash School for Early Childhood Education, at 410-602-2245 or

We are excited to announce that Beth El is visiting Florida! On Tuesday, February 14, Dr. Ed and Ann Mishner will host a lunch at Club Ibis in West Palm Beach.

For our members who are spending time in Florida this winter, please make sure you share your Florida addresses with us via email at so we can include you. A formal invitation will then be forwarded to you.

Please feel free to share this information with other members in Florida who might not be following us on social media or let us know and we would be happy to reach out to them.

Members of the Beth El Congregation clergy will join faith leaders for the 30th annual New Year’s Eve interfaith prayer service at St. Ignatius church in Mount Vernon.

Rabbi Naomi Zaslow and Cantor Thom King will join Archbishop William E. Lori, along with other leaders from the faith based community. Several local politicians and dignitaries are also expected to attend. 

More than 600 people from Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist faiths are expected to take part in the service. Participants will gather to celebrate the diverse religions that make up Baltimore, while offering prayers for the community and giving thanks for the blessings of the previous year.

“While retaining our own unique faith traditions, it is humbling to be able to come together in prayer,” said Rabbi Zaslow. “As a community, we dream brightly together for a new year.”

“I’m honored to be included, along with Rabbi Zaslow, in this significant interfaith event,” said Cantor Thom King. “Through the universal language of music, we can speak to one another’s hearts and souls in a way that mere words cannot.” 

The prayer service begins on  December 31, at 8:30 p.m. and is preceded by a musical prelude at 8:00 p.m. The service will also be live­streamed on the parish’s webpage at

Rabbi Naomi Zaslow and Cantor Thom King (2022)

The weather forecast for the next few days looks to be bringing a little bit of everything to the Baltimore area, including snow, rain, wind, ice, and sunshine.

Over the next 24-36 hours we will be monitoring the weather, salting the parking lot, and keeping the building warm in anticipation of Shabbat services on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

If there is a change in our schedule due to weather, we will get the word out through email, social media, our website, and our weather phone hotline which can be reached at 410-580-5080.

I would also like to take this moment to remind our membership that the building will be closed on the following days:

Wishing you a Shabbat shalom, Happy Chanukah, and Happy New Year.


Ben Wachstein

Executive Director

Join Beth El and Chizuk Amuno Congregations for our joint
annual Hanukkah Lights Up the Sky event.

Enjoy a dairy dinner (served indoors with available outdoor seating options), activities for kids of all ages, hanukkiah lighting and our spectacular fireworks!

The evening will include a special live concert by the incredible a-cappella group, Six13. Learn more about Six13 and watch their videos here.

In addition to all the fun, Beth El’s Social Action Committee will be
collecting books for elementary age kids to benefit the ESOL students
of Woodholme Elementary School.

Cost: $10/person. Children 2 and under: FREE
Registration required

The Beth El Congregation Social Action Committee, with help from the Beth El Sisterhood, continues to collect coats for men, women and children. The coats will be donated to the Community Crisis Center and distributed to families in need.

Check out this video with Marcia Boonshaft, Anita goldsmith, and Randy Melnick:

By Rabbi Steven Schwartz

The story of Hanukkah is really two stories, the first a tale of human courage, strength, resistance, resilience, and the human determination to push back the darkness and bring light into the world. And that is the story of the Maccabees, a group of Jews who lived more than a thousand years ago at a time when their homeland, the land of Israel, was controlled by a foreign power. The Maccabees by and large were a rag tag band of rebels and they were standing against what at the time was the greatest power in the world. It was the weak against the strong, the few fighting against the many, but the few were fighting for their own country, for their own families, and for their faith and their freedom, and in the end, it was the immeasurable quality of the human spirit that prevailed, and the Jews regained control of their homeland and their destiny. And during the darkest time of the year, when night falls, we light the menorah as a way of remembering their courage and the gifts that they gave us that we still are blessed with to this day.

The other story of Hanukkah is the story of a miracle. When the Maccabees recaptured the sacred city of Jerusalem they went to the ancient Temple, the center of their religious lives, that had been desecrated. They worked day and night so that the Temple would once again be ready to receive God’s presence, so that it would once again be a place of holiness, and all was made ready. But there was one detail, one small but crucial thing that was missing. The special oil that was required for the lighting of the Temple menorah. They searched and searched, and finally they found one can of the oil, but it was only enough to burn for a single day. Nevertheless they lit the menorah and that single portion of oil burned for 8 days, enough time for them to make more of the oil and bring it to Jerusalem. And so, we light the menorah for 8 nights of Hanukkah, to remember the miracle of the burning menorah in ancient times, and to reflect upon the idea that the brightest light of this world comes from God.

When the two stories of Hanukkah are considered together, we are reminded each year that it is through a partnership between God and humankind that light comes into the world, that darkness can be banished, and that the world can become the kind of place that we want it to be, and that God intends it to be. In the words of the prophet Zachariah, read in the haftara chanted on the first Shabbat of Hanukkah: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” (Zachariah 4:6) The lights of the menorah symbolize the sacred moments when our spirits can join with God’s, and when the Divine and Holy light of God’s presence is truly felt in the human heart and soul. חמש םירוא גח – Happy Hanukkah!

As congregants entered Beth El this past Shabbat morning, they were greeted at the door by David Harrison, President of Beth El Congregation. Once inside the lobby, several past presidents and other volunteers handed out commemorative 75th anniversary kippot. 

Hundreds of attendees filled the Berman—Rubin sanctuary, while others watched online. The service began as any typical Shabbat morning, but there was nothing typical about this day. 

Generations of congregants gathered during Founders Shabbat to honor the founding families and current members of Beth El. During special aliyot, members were called to the bimah based on the year their families joined Beth El. As Rabbi Dana Saroken recalled her earliest memories of Beth El, she asked each of us to reflect on our first experience at Beth El. For some it may have been decades ago and for others, only a few months. 

During his sermon, Rabbi Schwartz shared the history of our beloved synagogue. Started with a vision and transformed over 75 years into a vibrant congregation with over 1500 families. 

After the Torah portion of the service, several members of the clergy quietly left the bimah. They returned moments later wearing Beth El’s signature blue robes, not seen by many in nearly 16 years. 

The morning service was also an opportunity for our community to honor and thank those who are currently serving and those who have previously served in the military. As the service concluded, Cantor King ensured he included each branch of the military, in a joyous rendition of Adon Olam

Following services, a celebratory kiddush was held in the Offit Auditorium. A delicious spread of food stretched nearly the entire length of the room, courtesy of Lindsay and his incredible team. Hundreds of congregants spent the afternoon sharing stories from the past, while also expressing excitement for the future. 

A special thank you to all the volunteers and members of the Beth El staff who worked tirelessly to ensure this was a Shabbat that will be remembered for years to come. 

75th Anniversary Co-chairs

Denise and Keith Franz

Jill Baldinger and Steve Levin 

Founders Shabbat event chairs

Jerry Janofsky, Dale Kahn, and Gail Willoughby

A link to the Founders Shabbat service can be found here:

Cantor Melanie Blatt joins The Wafflers on stage

It was an amazing night filled with live music and dancing as The Wafflers took the stage Saturday night at Beth El Congregation. Cantor Melanie Blatt surprised the crowd and performed several sets with the band. Thank you to the members of our Empty Nesters Club for organizing such an incredible evening. 


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