Temple Beth El With nearly 700 family members, Temple Beth El has a vibrant program of religious, spiritual, educational, social, social action and support activities. Temple Beth El’s two main auxiliaries, the Sisterhood and the Men’s Club, each have an active agenda of programs, services and activities. Temple Beth El is affiliated... Read More
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch


Rabbi Jonathan Biatch


 

Shalom uv’rachah! Greetings and blessings! It is a privilege to serve as the Rabbi of Temple Beth El, a synagogue community where traditional and progressive Jewish ideas entwine, and where we are creating an effervescent fusion of contemporary Judaism. There are three traditions that we especially follow, as our professional staff and our volunteer leaders all serve as exemplars for our members.

One belief states, “All who serve the community, let them work toward truly meaningful ends: The merit of their ancestors sustains them, so that their righteousness endures forever” (Pirkei Avot 2:2). This means that our activities and programs must serve the crucial goal of instilling Jewish identity in open hearts and minds. It also implies that each person serves as a role model for others, displaying the best in personal conduct and ethical behavior.

Another belief states that “When two people meet and words of Torah pass from one to another, the Divine Presence rests between them” (Pirkei Avot 3:2). This means that Jewish education – and the transmission of Jewish values – must be part of every encounter in our community. Torah, truly, is ‘our life and the length of our days,’ and we must learn and transmit modern sensibilities even from an ancient set of texts. And rather than a slavish allegiance to the practices of our ancestors, we – like they – have the sanction to adapt our ancient traditions and practices for thriving in the modern world.

A third belief teaches, “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirkei Avot 2:4). This means that I, along with all members of Temple Beth El, must be present and participate in the ongoing evolution of our synagogue community. At the same time, we must remain active in the larger Jewish community of Madison, the United States, and the world, and recognize our personal responsibilities to oneself and/or one’s family.

Everyone benefits from this mutually beneficial partnership, and we are truly blessed to flourish in this wonderful Jewish community. In these ways and more, the Temple Beth El community enriches all who enter its doors, and who engage Judaism and Jewish identity within its gates. Please call or write with questions, observations, and helpful comments about how we can better serve those who wish to lovingly connect themselves with our community. You can reach me at 608.238.3123 or rabbi@templebethelmadison.org.

Sermons