On This week!
Youth group (Shorty!) Shabbat services, friday march 16, 7:30pm

Our History

Beth El Congregation began in 1859 when four Jewish families settled in Rockingham County.

Eight years later, regularly scheduled religious services began in a rented room. Our first Torah (which is still in use!) was purchased in 1870. Land for the Jewish cemetery was acquired in 1876, and the following year Hebrew Friendship Congregation was chartered. On July 4, 1891, the cornerstone was laid for the first synagogue in the area.

The synagogue in downtown Harrisonburg was our home for more than 70 years, until 1964, when the cornerstone was laid for our present Temple.  The name of the Congregation was changed from Hebrew Friendship to Beth El, House of God.

Our Mission

The purpose of this reform congregation shall be to worship God in accordance with the faith of Judaism; to cultivate a love and understanding of the Jewish heritage; to strengthen the ties within the Jewish community; to strengthen the bonds of loyalty with the Jewish people everywhere; to bring nearer the Dominion of God on earth through an emphasis on the principles of righteousness and harmony in society at large, and to engage in social action projects in pursuit of social justice and Tikkun Olam (repair of both the human and nonhuman components of the world).



in the news

2018 Passover Seder
Friday, March 30 @ 6pm
Adults $30, Kids (7-12) $12, Young kids free. Please send reservations to [Beth El Sisterhood  PO Box 845. Harrisonburg, VA 22803] by March 26. 

Year of Health
The Beth El Sisterhood has installed an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) in the Social Hall. There is a sign near the bathroom indicating where the AED is located. It is our fervent prayer this device will never need to be used, but feel confident, that if it is needed and used, it is safe and YOU just might save a life.

Supporting our Congregation
Please remember to support Beth El with your purchases at Food Lion, Martins, and online at Amazon. More details here.

The URJ has awarded Beth El Congregation "Exemplar Congregation" status for a disability-friendly building and processes (dietary considerations at onegs, disability outreach, and the like). The Board put considerable thought and effort into the application after we had been recommended for the award by Rabbi Lynne Landsburg.

Social Action:
1. Consider a donation to the Suitcase Clinic. The Sisterhood will be collecting items for patients and their families for this vital  organization. Winter hats & gloves for children and adults, diapers, and feminine products are in particularly short supply. There is a bin in the temple foyer. You may also make a monetary donation thru Beth El.

Recent Events

Discussing Hanukkah
Beth El member Frances Flannery, PhD on TV explaining the celebration of the holiday.

Beth El Library
There is a new page on the Temple's website for the Beth El Library. It includes a recently completed catalog for the library. Take a look! 

Rosh Hashanah 5778

A Message from our Rabbi re: flooding in Texas
I have heard from acquaintances and colleagues in the Jewish community in Houston, and elsewhere in Texas. What they have shared is terrible. Beyond the loss of life which is tragic, the number affected, the scale of the event, and the massive impact are all still unknown, but almost unimaginable. The Jewish community of Houston was hit hard, along with so many others. In light of the ongoing disaster and aftermath in Texas, I hope that some will be moved to assist those affected. Here are some ways to do so. 

Jewish Federations of North America (The Federations) JFNA has opened an emergency relief fund to support communities and individuals in Houston, San Antonio, Galveston, Corpus Christi and other areas that have been hammered by Hurricane Harvey.  With record breaking volumes of rain having fallen through the weekend and expected to continue through tomorrow, extensive damage is continuing to mount.

B'nai Brith has also set up a fund to assist. You can call 800-573-9057 to make a credit card donation to the fund, or if you prefer, you can send a check payable to the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund to:
B’nai B’rith Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
1120 20th Street NW, Suite 300N
Washington, DC 20036
The following is an article listing some of the funds to assist Jewish Houston here. Resources from URJ can be found here.

1st Day of 2017-2018 Religious School
Religious School will begin on Sunday, August 27th.  Parents and students will meet in the sanctuary for a meeting which will begin at 9:30am.  We look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Shabbat services (7/7), with K'tonton readings for the little ones.

Jewish Music Performance with Mike Jarvis - graduating JMU senior, Beth El religious school faculty, and future Cantor! April 22, 2017

Religious School Purim!

Lay-Led Shabbat (3/10/17). 
Thank you Moreh Mike!

Congratulations SHORTY (our youth group) on hosting a great ski weekend! Here are a few photos of the teens on the Bema and in our Social Hall.

President Kim Gutterman, "Just a few photos from the awesome Oneg provided by Mona and Zissel (2/3/2017).  Wonderful event!  Thank you to all involved!"

Religious school consecration service Oneg hosted by Mona Wolf and Zissel Duda (12/16).  

Celebrating 13 years with Rabbi Joe!

Kulanu Speaker: Elysha Netsarh and the Jewish Community of Madagascar
Sunday November 6th, 4pm.
All from the community are invited to join us for what promises to be a very interesting presentation. Refreshments will be provided by Margee Greenfield.

Memorial Day
As the country celebrates Memorial Day 2016, Beth El remembers our veterans who fought in The Civil War, The Spanish/ American War, World War I, World War II, and The Korean War. 

Beth El Congregational Meeting
was held on Israeli Independence Day on May 14.  Thanks to the Kramers for a delicious meal, and all attending members for their contributions.

Sisterhood Donation to First Step Women's Shelter.  Twelve baskets of necessity were donated to the Shelter in celebration of Mother's Day, 

Religious School Hanukkah Celebration!

100+ people attended the Beth El Community Awareness Shabbat (November 6, 2015). Special thanks to Sandy Rose for a wonderful Oneg and Rabbi Joe for leading such a successful and popular outreach event.

Kulanu Speaker: Modreck Maeresera.
Zimbabwe's Lemba Jewish Community.

Sunday November 1st. 3pm. 

Modreck Maeresera is a leader of the Lemba Jewish community of Zimbabwe in southern Africa.  Thousands of years ago Jews from Israel migrated to southern Africa to become the Lemba ethnic group, who have a genetic link to Middle Eastern Jews and who have continued to observe many familiar Jewish customs and laws passed down through generations of oral tradition. 

Community Awareness Shabbat Service
Friday, November 6, 2015. 7:30pm
If you are interested in learning about Harrisonburg's Jewish community and wish to celebrate the arrival of the Sabbath with us, please join us for a Rabbi-led Shabbat service. All visitors from the Community are warmly invited. 

Letter to the Congregation from Rabbi Sue.

Community appreciation dinner for our amazing Religious School faculty. 

Men's Club members Andy Kohen Alan Neckowitz presenting a donation of Jewish-themed books to the library at Skyline Middle School in Harrisonburg. The library intends to use the new books as teaching materials, with small groups of students working together on the same books.

Sunday School cookie decorating and Hanukkah celebration!

First-Annual Sisterhood Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser
Sunday, Dec. 7, 1pm

We will stream the Redskin Game, play games, and eat and judge the chili!  Also hotdogs, corn bread, and dessert. byob.

Men's Club preparing Corned Beef sandwiches for the recent Fundraiser

Beth El President Ron Ornstein discussing the Rosh Hashanah holiday on the local news.

Kulanu Speaker: Soshannah Nambi
October 6, 2013
Shoshannah Nambi is a member of the 1,000-person Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda, established in 1919. Shoshannah is a graduate of the Abayudaya-founded Semei Kakungulu High School and the mother of a four-year-old in the Abayudaya pre-school program. With multiple roles in the community, Shoshannah will share personal experiences and down-to-earth knowledge of women's education, health, religion, and family lives. Warm and articulate, Shoshannah will be the first Jewish woman to represent her community on the annual Kulanu-organized tour. A product of the high school that Kulanu helped to create, Shoshannah is among the first Abayudaya women to graduate from university. 

Shoshannah has worked with RAIN-UGANDA. Without regard to religion, RAIN conducts HIV testing and cervical and breast cancer screening, crucial services for hundreds of rural women who previously went undiagnosed. Shoshannah works both as an HIV counselor and as RAIN's accountant. Until recently, she also worked as an administrator at the Tobin Health Center in the nearby city of Mbale, an important resource for the treatment of malaria and other diseases of children and adults among the Abayudaya and their Christian and Muslim neighbors.

This event is co-sponsored by JMU Hillel and Trinity Presbyterian Church.