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



 Shabbat, a holy day that occurs weekly from sundown on Friday until an hour after sundown on Saturday, is the pinnacle of the Jewish rhythm of time. The Torah sets the Sabbath apart as a day of rest, and we encourage our members to take full advantage of this island of time for the rejuvenation of the soul and body. Through communal worship, Torah study, and social and recreational programs, we dedicate our efforts to the strengthening of the individual, the family, and the community.


The Holiday Cycle at Temple Beth El

The Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah begins the period of the Jewish year specifically set aside to focus on personal repentance and forgiveness. It occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Special Temple Beth El celebrations include: a congregational “Hineini” prayer, when the congregation inaugurates the holiday season with the last call of the Shofar of the month of Elul, followed by a congregational recognition that the worship of atonement must involve everyone in the sanctuary; A walk down to Lake Wingra, half a block away from the synagogue, to participate in Taschlich, as we ceremonially throw our sins into the water; as well as a wonderful Oneg Rosh Hashanah which follows Taschlich.


The Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central theme is personal repentance and commitment toward the improvement of our lives. We traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast and intensive prayer. This day falls on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Observances unique to our synagogue include Kol Nidre services with musical instrumentation by faculty from the University of Wisconsin; A Yom Kippur afternoon study session led by our Education Director; and a joyous Ne’ilah (closing) service and break-the-fast reception.


The Pilgrim Festivals – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot

The three Pilgrim Festivals – Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks, or Pentacost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles) – are major celebrations of Jewish life. Israelites living in ancient Israel would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for these holy days, as commanded by the Torah, to offer up sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple.


Pesach (Passover) celebrates our ancient liberation from Egyptian bondage. According to the Torah, the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years. God’s freeing us from the grip of a tyrant establishes a paradigm for Jews to bring liberation to all enslaved peoples of the world.  We traditionally hold a congregational Second Night Seder which is open to the entire community, to try and ensure that all who wish to participate in a Passover Seder have a chance to do so. All those dining with us participate in reading parts for the seder. We also hold our Yizkor memorial service at the conclusion of the holiday.
Shavuot celebrates the moment of God’s giving us the Torah as a heritage of life. We recall the revelation at Sinai, and rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and education. We hold our Yizkor memorial service at the onset of the holiday, followed by a congregational study session in honor of Jewish learning and living.
Sukkot celebrates the gratitude that we should demonstrate to God for the bounty of a good harvest. Everyone in the Temple– young and old– comes to help decorate our Sukkah, which was donated to Temple by our Men’s Club, who enjoys putting up and taking down the structure each year. We hold Social Action programming along with our holiday worship services in the Sukkah.


The Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah

Hanukkah, known as the “Festival of Lights,” is an eight-day festival commemorating the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the Maccabean revolt of the Second century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight days, starting on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Our Hanukkah celebrations include a joyous congregational dinner. On alternate years, we celebrate our Adult B’nai Mitzvah class’ completion of their course of study in a celebratory Shabbat service on the Shabbat of Hanukkah.

Download Hanukkah Blessings Here



Purim (literally “lots” or lottery) is a wintertime festival that commemorates the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire and from the plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the biblical book of Esther. According to the story, Haman – the Grand Vizier of Persia – casts lots to determine the day upon which the extermination of the Jews would take place. We celebrate Purim with all ages: a community Purim carnival for youngsters, and a Purim schpiel and party for adults.


Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day – Yom HaShoah v’Hag’vurah

Yom HaShoah v’Hag’vurah is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration of the six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. It also recalls the numerous acts of heroism that came about against the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accomplices. In Israel, this is a national memorial day and public holiday. It is held on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. We observe this solemn occasion by joining with all Jews in Madison in commemoration and learning.


Israel’s Independence Day – Yom Ha’atz-ma’ut

Yom Ha’atz-ma’ut (literally “day of independence”) is the national independence day for Israel, commemorating its declaration of independence promulgated in 1948. Celebrated annually on 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, it centers around the establishment of the state of Israel by David Ben Gurion on a late Friday afternoon, May 14, 1948. It also signifies the end of the British mandatory rule over Palestine. It is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day to remember soldiers who have fallen throughout the many wars Israel has fought. Our synagogue often hosts a “Taste of Israel” program, put on by our Kesher committee, and we also participate with all Jews in Madison in community-wide programming.

Life Cycle Events

Life Cycle Events

Welcoming a Child into the Jewish Community
Shortly after birth, we formally welcome a new child into the Jewish community by conferring upon him or her a Hebrew name. We joyfully welcome these new Temple Beth El members at Friday evening services or in home ceremonies at other times. We also invite non-members to celebrate this occasion with us and their families during our Friday evening services. Please contact Rabbi Biatch for further information on this exciting moment in the life of a young family.



It is a very happy moment in the life of a family when their child begins formal religious education in our Religious School program. Every year, on the eve of holiday of Simchat Torah, we formally welcome a new kindergarten class to our school. The class comes before the congregation, stands under a tallit, and receives miniature Torah scrolls for their personal library and use. Then our young people participate in the Torah procession with the Torah scrolls of our congregation, as we prepare to conclude the annual reading cycle of the Torah and begin that cycle once again.


Bar/Bat Mitzvah
At age 13, our girls and boys become B’nai Mitzvah (plural of Bar/Bat Mitzvah) during our Saturday morning services. Our students lead worship, chant from the Torah scroll, offer a haftarah (a chanted selection from the Prophetic books of the Hebrew bible), and offer a D’var Torah (mini-sermon) on one aspect of the Torah portion of that week. We take pride in our 13-year-olds, who display maturity, excitement, and competency as they come to the Bimah to celebrate this important life cycle event.


During our students’ 10th grade year, they take a special class with Rabbi Biatch and participate in the service of Confirmation. This service, taking place on the Friday evening prior to the holiday of Shavuot, represents the students’ decision to commit themselves to Jewish learning and a Jewish way of life. Beginning at this age, students’ God beliefs and connections to the Jewish community are in formation, and we celebrate the maturity of thinking that will eventually lead to our students’ identification with the Jewish community.


It is the height of exultation to welcome two people to celebrate their new marriage with us. Young or older, straight or LGBT*, they come under the huppah, partake of the wine, exchange vows and rings, break the glass, and join their lives in marriage. For more information, please contact Rabbi Biatch.
(*Same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Wisconsin, but for those couples who have been married in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal, we warmly welcome them to our community for any and all life-cycle events.)


End of Life
As part of the Jewish life cycle, we venerate those who have imbued our lives with meaning and purpose. When our loved ones pass away, we respect their memories by calling together a congregation, offering eulogies on their behalf, standing by the mourners, and helping them move toward the resolution of their grief. Our funerals and memorial services offer solace to the bereaved, and provide our community with a comforting transition to a new era in their lives. Madison has a number of different burial options for members of the Jewish community, and through Temple Beth El its members can avail themselves of public or private funerals, shivah minyans, and memorial services for their loved ones. For more information, please contact Rabbi Biatch.

Worship Schedule