Toby Rafferty Bar Mitzvah!
Friday 7:30pm and Saturday 10:00AM, with a luncheon to follow.

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).



Upcoming Events!

Men's Club visits the Washington Nationals!
DO YOU LIKE BASEBALL? The men's club is sponsoring a trip to Washington to watch the Washington Nationals take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is sure to be an important game for both teams. The date is Sunday September 17th. Bill Ney is ordering tickets on April 1 - contact him if you would like to go!

Study Biblical Hebrew with Rabbi Joe!
Sundays: 4/30 and 5/14. 4-5:30pm. Location: Temple House of Israel in Staunton.
Join us on eight Sundays this Spring (2017) to talk about Text, and in the process look at Hebrew grammar, roots, meanings, construction, interpretation, and Midrash. We will study one biblical story across multiple weeks, in the process looking at Hebrew Vocabulary, Grammar, Tricks, Techniques, Wordplay, Meaning, and Midrash, all in the footsteps of the Rabbis. [This will be a specifically Jewish reading of the text.] The texts we will begin with this semester are from the Book of Job. 

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! 

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

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.