Beth El offers both Conservative and Orthodox worship
opportunities. Our conservative worship services are egalitarian
and are conducted mostly in Hebrew with English translation and
transliteration in the siddur (Sim Shalom). In conjunction with
the Rabbi, men
and women act as service leaders, as well as Gabbaim & are welcome
Torah and Haftorah. We especially
encourage youngsters who have completed Bar / Bat Mitzvah to participate
as prayer leaders.
Members of our Orthodox community conduct services
in a sanctuary on the lower level of the main building. The Durham
Orthodox Kehillah sanctuary includes a mechitzah. These are held
weekly & on holidays with regular participation by the
Also, periodically we hold
Chavurah Service which uses an Orthodox Siddur.
We welcome families with children at all worship
services. We welcome even the youngest children and provide a toy
box in the library for those who become restless. Children are
also invited to walk in the Torah procession on Saturday morning.
In addition, services for children (Jr.
Congregation, Alef bet/Jr. Jr. Congregation, and Tot services)
are held on the High Holidays and twice monthly on Shabbat morning
during the school year. Erev Shabbat services for children
are also held monthly as part of Shabbat 25.
See below for:
Want to read Haftarah or Torah on Shabbat?
Even if you've never chanted a Haftarah, it's been a long time,
or you have thought it would be a meaningful way to commemorate
an occasion, you like the sound of the trope, or you would just
like to learn this as a new skill, please contact Randi Smith
If you would like to read a Torah portion, please contact Jeff
Derby - firstname.lastname@example.org
30-February 1, 2015: Scholar-in-Residence weekend with Rabbi
Shabbat 25 represents two important values:
Welcoming and Tradition. By creating many moments throughout
Shabbat to come to Beth El, we hope to welcome
everyone giving as many people as possible a chance to participate
in our community.
Our Shabbat 25 programming
the community a chance to connect with Beth El throughout Shabbat.
We begin with Shabbat
Shirah - a joyous Friday night service led by Rabbi Greyber
using the melodies of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (services
begin at 6:00pm). These services are
followed by a *community Shabbat dinner (details & registration
link below). Our
celebration continues on
Saturday with Shabbat Morning Services which are followed
by a kiddush lunch. Often,
during the winter months, as Shabbat wanes, we return in the
to study, enjoy a seudah sh'lishit, singing, and havdalah
together. When Havdalah comes much later or another special evening
event is planned, our studies are moved
earlier in the afternoon - approx. 1:15pm following kiddush lunch.
*The 1/30/15 Community Shabbat
Dinner hosted by the Synagogue Life Committee with Guest Chef Jared
Resnick at 7:00 p.m. You must RSVP for the dinner by Sunday January
$18 per person 13 and older / $9 per child 7-12 / no charge for
children under 7. Family maximum charge for dinner is $45
For any questions, feel free to call the office: 919-682-1238.
Following dinner, Rabbi Charles Sherman will give
a lecture on "The
Broken and The Whole, Discovering Joy After Heartbreak."
Please mail payment to Beth El Synagogue with the
dinner date & CSD
noted in the memo line or use the Paypal link provided on the registration
form. Any cancellations made after the reservations deadline
need to be paid
for in full. Thank you for your understanding.
Beth El is committed to ensuring that everyone
in our community can participate in all programming, regardless
of financial circumstances. If you would like to help those in
financial need attend dinner, please consider a donation of $18
to "Synaplex Shabbat" at Beth El and find Jewish experiences
that speak to your heart. In addition to our weekly
Mishnah study led by Rabbi Emeritus Steve Sager, our engaging
egalitarian and traditional Orthodox Shabbat morning services
and our children's programming for kids of all ages, Synaplex
options such as a yoga experience based on the morning prayers,
an in-depth Torah discussion with a local scholar, creative
with more gender sensitive language, a learner's minyan, a tefillah
hike, meditation, storytelling and more.
then comes together for a D'var Torah/Commentary or special
On April 18, 2015 we are happy to welcome:
When teacher turned lawyer, Vivian Connell, was diagnosed
with ALS, she wrote on Facebook:
"Help me do THIS: I want to raise about $15k to
take our 32 students at the alternative high school here
in Chapel Hill
to the US. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Many of them have never
even left the area, much less the state, but they are fascinated
when we teach about the Holocaust. Many of them have also
encountered racism and cultural hatred, and a full day at
the USHMM would make a permanent positive impact in their
April 15-16 is Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On Shabbat April 18th Vivian Connell will speak at Beth El and
share her inspiring story to make sure the lessons of the Holocaust
continue to live on for generations to come.
To learn more about about Vivian, visit her blog: https://vivcon.wordpress.com/
are followed by communal
where everyone is invited.
If you're interested in helping us with this exciting initiative,
contact Rabbi Greyber at email@example.com.
Synaplex Shabbat is an inclusive program. In
an effort to ensure that everyone can participate
successfully, buddies will be available through
anyone with special needs.
Please contact the office in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org)
if your family would like to be partnered with a "buddy".
here for a sample of a past Synaplex morning schedule.
Yahrzeit, Birthday and Anniversary Calendar
Enter date (and optionally, name) in the form below to generate a list of Yahrzeit dates, Hebrew Birthdays, or Hebrew Anniversaries for the next several years. After clicking the Compute Calendar button, you will also be able to download the results.
Or visit http://www.hebcal.com/yahrzeit/ to list up to six dates.
Would you like to become a Second Gabbai
at Beth El? The Corps of Gabbai’im
is open to interested members who have a good reading knowledge
of Hebrew and know or can learn the tropes (cantillation marks)
well enough to be able to help the Torah reader. These sessions
focus on the work of the Second Gabbai. Experienced gabbaiim
will help you perfect your ability to read trope and correct pronunciations;
and will familiarize you with the protocols and finer points of
the gabbai's job.
No sessions currently scheduled.
Hagbah and G'lilah Workshops
Have you been wanting to learn how to lift and/or
the Torah at the end of the
Shabbat morning scriptural reading?
No workshop dates are scheduled at this
however, if there is suffient interest in holding
more, we will.
Please let the office know if this is of interest to you.
Beth El Service Leader Resources
Visit above link for a listing of MP3 audio files featuring Shabbat Melodies often used at Beth El.
Included in the document above is a general framework for the timing of Shabbat morning services in the Main Sanctuary at Beth El, general tips on how to lead a group in prayer, thoughts on maintaining the balance between keva & kavannah, and specific choices that can be made for leading each service - Pesukei D'Zimrah, Shacharit, Torah Service and Musaf - with kavannah and
within the time allotted for each service at Beth El.
D'var Torah from Laurie L. Patton, 8/31/13 - Shabbat Nitzavim
Sanctuary Seating Reconfiguration
sent Dec. 21, 2012:
Dear Beth El Chevre,
We write to share with you some developments concerning the sanctuary's seating
As many of you know, Beth El embarked on a trial reconfiguration of the sanctuary
last April. The seating was rearranged into a U-shape, and the Torah table
was brought into the center of the congregation. After a few weeks of experimenting
with that new arrangement - and after a congregational survey revealed both
enthusiasm and lingering apprehension for the new configuration - Beth El's
Board of Trustees voted in June to extend the Trial Period until the December
2012 Board meeting. This meant the community would observe how the layout performed
during the High Holidays,well attended Shabbatot, and other events.
To prepare for the December decision, the Ritual Committee produced a follow-up
survey in November. The results of this survey, in which 172 congregants responded
and offered meaningful comments, continued to demonstrate a mix of opinions
among the congregation. Approximately half of the respondents were positive
about the change, and an equal number were either neutral or negative about
the change. Just over one third of the respondents endorsed returning to the
former configuration (36.1%), slightly fewer (29%)favored the new configuration,
and an additional quarter (24%) preferred the new configuration "with
modifications," though the modifications suggested were not uniform and
often involved complex new designs.
After considering these deeply ambivalent results, the Beth El Board concluded
that there is not a clear mandate to make the current reconfiguration permanent.
Accordingly, the Board voted that the sanctuary be returned to its previous
layout while authorizing the Ritual Committee, in conjunction with the House
Committee, to institute some minor modifications. Nonetheless, the Board recognized-and
the survey results reflected-that the eight-month experiment was effective
in triggering new ideas for the sanctuary and inspiring new conversations regarding
how we want to shape our space for communal prayer.
It is our hope that the community will continue this conversation about near
and long-term possibilities for the sanctuary. Also at the December Board meeting,
the Strategic Planning Committee issued a draft of its report, which is available
at www.betheldurham.org/docs/shlosha_dvarim_BESP.pdf. Among the report's central
recommendations is the creation of a working group charged with creating proposals
for Beth El's physical environment. This working group will continue soliciting
community preferences and assessing physical possibilities for the sanctuary,
as well as implementelements of what we have learned from our recent experiment
and community feedback. We recognize that there are many positive attributes
to each of the alternative configurations we have experienced thus far, but
we also acknowledge that we have not yet achieved an arrangement that enjoys
widespread enthusiasm from the community. We hope that the working group will
lead us through a process that produces a prayer space that is befitting to
our remarkable community.
We appreciate the time that many of you took to respond to the survey. Your
opinions and ideas meaningfully informed the Board's decision, and they will
remain critical for any deliberations going forward. Please do remain engaged
in this process, as there will be ample opportunity to participate in important
community decisions to come.
With best wishes for a restful winter holiday,
Barak Richman, President
Ian Davis, Ritual Committee
Shula Bernard , Ritual Committee
sent on June 15, 2012:
Earlier this week, Beth El's Board of Trustees voted
to extend the Trial Period for the proposed sanctuary reconfiguration
until the December 2012 Board meeting. We received
much excellent feedback via email, the SurveyMonkey survey,
and informal conversations with many of you. Of the
90 or so people who responded to the survey, many expressed
a preference for the new configuration; a smaller percentage
preferred the older configuration, and a significant percentage
expressed a desire to extend the Trial Period to allow
more time to consider options before any sort of permanent
People who expressed a preference for the new configuration
liked its warmth, intimacy, and generally more welcoming
atmosphere. People who preferred the former configuration
missed the ability to focus on the bimah in front and being
able to be "anonymous" either in the back of the sanctuary,
or by not facing others during services. Over the
course of the next few months, we will gain a better sense
of how the configuration works (or doesn't) during "bigger" prayer
moments such as b'nei mitzvah and High Holidays, and how
it works for other events such as our Yiddish concert. All
of that will help us to think through a more permanent
decision. The board also discussed the long term
benefit of sanctuary chairs, or other non-pew sanctuary
furniture options, that might provide more ongoing flexibility
for our prayer space.
Many thanks again for your feedback and participation
as we explore the relationship between prayer and the physical
space of our sanctuary. We will continue to keep
you up to date. In the meantime, please feel free
to continue to share your suggestions and thoughts through
the channels already open.
Rabbi Daniel Greyber
reconfiguration of sanctuary seating, Spring 2012:
Please click the thumbnails below for
larger images of these renderings.
Ritual Committee Ritual Committee
here for a PDF containing all 4 of these illustrations
along with Rabbi Greyber's letter regarding the proposed
Update from Rabbi Greyber, 4/12/12
Last night Beth El's board voted to approve moving forward with a "trial period" during
which we will reconfigure seating in the main sanctuary. Response to
the materials sent out was overall very positive. Even those who raised
concerns about the different configuration expressed openness and support for
trying something different for a few weeks. The most common concern raised
about the sketches was rows of seats directly against the east and west walls,
next to and across from, the memorial board. Based upon that concern,
the configuration for the trial period will shift those seats elsewhere.
As a reminder of what was sent out in the
April bulletin, here is an outline of the process described:
20 - June 10 –the proposed re-configuration will
take place during the week of May 20th following
the final bar/bat mitzvah of the Spring, and a 3-week trial
period (Stage 1) ensues. Congregants can visit
the reconfigured sanctuary through this period –on
Shabbat and during the week. Feedback is sent via email
to Executive Director, Laura Quigley at email@example.com,
via electronic survey, and/or given informally to members
of the Board. Details about the survey will be forthcoming.
30th (Wednesday evening, 7:30 to 8:30pm) & June
10th (Sunday morning 9:30 to 10:30am) –additional
opportunities to meet together, “walk”the sanctuary
with Rabbi Greyber and other members, and to discuss the
12 - Board Meeting during which Board considers decision
regard proceeding with Stage 2 over the summer. Stage
2 to be completed by early August, well-before Bat Mitzvah
in mid-August and the commencement of the Fall season.
I hope as many of us as possible will have the chance
to visit the Main Sanctuary during this period and give valuable
feedback on the proposed reconfiguration.