Synagogue Life Committee .

The Synagogue Life Committee provides special services and programming to the Beth El community.

Past programs and projects include the Beth El Member Photo Directory, Organizing of Chavurot, Cards & Care Packages for our young members as they start college, Movie nights, Holiday Meal coordination, High Holiday Community Card, Sukkah Open House tour and the Torat Kehillateinu/Teachings from "Our Community" (formally called Torat Z'kenim/Torah of the Elders).

For more information on any of these programs, or to get involved, contact Lois Price at loisprice123@gmail.com.

See these links for information:

Send New Year Greetings to your Beth El Friends.

Help Send a Kid to Camp.

This year’s Community New Year’s Card will benefit the
Eric Pas Jewish Camp Scholarship Fund!

Here’s how you can help:
Decide how much you would spend for New Year’s cards and postage. Add something for your time.
Send that amount to Beth El (payable to Beth El, with “Community Card” in the memo line).

Your name will be added to the Community New Year’s card, which will be displayed in the synagogue lobby throughout the fall holidays.

The time is right…the cause is important…Please Be Generous!

The New Year’s Card is a project of the
Beth El Synagogue Life Committee.
For more information,
contact Mardi Zeiger at 919-932-5663 or meiger@nc.rr.com


with Pilar Rocha-Goldberg
Second Tuesday* of each month
beginning October 14, 2014
7-8:15PM in the Beth El Freedman Center

This program is open to everyone for no charge.
Donations to Beth El in honor of your workout
are welcome & appreciated.
No prior experience needed.
Be sure to wear your gym shoes & comfortable clothes.

October 14, 2014
November 11, 2014
December 9, 2014
January 13, 2015
February 17, 2015 (note change)
March 10, 2015
April 14, 2015 (tentative)
May 12, 2015
June 9, 2015

“Got Shabbat?”
March 20th!
Please particpate by either
1) hosting people from Beth El for Shabbat dinner
2) or attending Shabbat dinner at someone's home from Beth El!

Click here to register your dinner.

Join the Synagogue Life Committee as we promote our new Beth El initiative, Got Shabbat?
Our goal is simple:
promote friendship in our community through Shabbat dinners.

No Rules!
Everyone does Shabbat differently, and that's absolutely OK. However you decide to celebrate Shabbat is up to you. We'd like for you to light candles, make Kiddush and say Motzi.

Think Outside Your Comfort Zone.
Please think beyond your immediate circle of friends and invite at least one person you'd like to know better. When you register, please let us know if you'd like to host a new Beth El member or family.

How'd It Go?
After you host a Got Shabbat? event please contact Lois Price at loisprice123@gmail.com and let her know how much fun you had! You can even take a photo of your guests (before Shabbat starts, please) and send it to Lois. We might just feature your Got Shabbat? gathering as part of the next Got Shabbat? campaign!

Remember, even if you do not officially register your Shabbat dinner, please take photos before candle lighting & send them to loisprice123@gmail.com after Havdalah, so we can have all have a peek into the wonderful celebrations taking place throughout our community.


Community Shabbat Dinners
We’ll be putting a new twist on this Beth El tradition. Dinner will follow services on our two Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat 25 weekends (approx. 7pm) in the Social Hall.
November 21, 2014 & January 30, 2015

Israeli Cooking Lesson & Brunch

The Synagogue Life Committee sponsored a very successful Israeli Cooking Demonstration and Brunch on May 5, 2013. About 25 people learned how to prepare typical Israeli dishes, including burekas & a variety of salads. Of course, the highlight of the morning was sampling the results! The session was led by Perri Liberty, an Israeli-born member of Beth El, who shared some of her favorite recipes. Participants included Beth El members of all ages, from students to retirees, and all had a wonderful time asking questions, cooking, eating, and socializing. The recipes are available here:

Perri's Israeli Recipes

Torat Kehillateinu/Teachings from "Our Community"
honoring Eric & Carol Meyers
February 22, 2015
2-4 in the Freedman Center


Check out this interview with the Meyers.

The Beth El Synagogue Life Committee will honor Duke University Professors Carol and Eric Meyers at the next Torat Kehillateinu: Teachings from "Our Community" (formerly Torah of the Elders) event, February 22nd, 2-4 p.m. in the Freedman Center. Please join us as we listen to these illustrious members of the Beth El community share stories about their experiences. Both are renowned archaeologists and biblical scholars whose careers have spanned more than 40 years. Their discoveries in Israel have advanced our knowledge of Middle Eastern history, earning worldwide acclaim. Professor Carol Meyers has also published widely on women in biblical times. Both are active in local volunteer initiatives, and are members of the Triangle Jewish Chorale. Professor Eric Meyers has been President of the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina since 2011. In addition to his other endeavors, he has enriched our congregation for many years as our chief cantor during the High Holiday services.

Torat Kehillateinu/Teachings from "Our Community" (formally called Torat Z'kenim/Torah of the Elders)

A Purpose and A Program

In his work, The Force of Character, James Hillman makes a claim on behalf of old age.  There is a reason why we live so far beyond our capacity to reproduce, past the height of our physical powers - in short, past “usefulness.  Old age is the time for the presentation of character.  We do not develop character in the sense of creating something new.  Rather, we lay bare that character that is etched (the Greek word for “character” means “etched) into us from the very beginning.

It is how we think about our lives that is important:  “… we need imaginative ideas that can grace aging and speak to it with the intelligence that it deserves. (p.xiii).  We need to make a metaphor of biology.  The making of metaphor- better, the summoning of metaphor is a function of soul for Hillman.  Meaning making and soul making are the overlapping activities that characterize our most reflective postures, our most insightful moments.

Soul functions at its highest and best, Hillman teaches elsewhere, against a backdrop of mortality.  Is it possible that the old or, the old souls, or, those with shortened life expectancies have a greater capacity for soul making?  Is it possible that the old among us-by virtue of their steady presence among us - are the lightning rods that draws down soul meaning among us?  How can we fail to realize that Torat Z'kenim, the Torah of our elders is a treasure not to be overlooked?

The two rabbinic texts that follow point us towards the special importance of Torat Z'kenim/Torah of the Elders:

If there are no little ones then there are no grown-ups.  If there are no grown-ups there are no students.  If there are no students there are no sages.  If there are no sages there are no elders.  If there are no elders there is no Torah …(Im einn z'keinim, ein Torah)

(Esther Rabbah Petihta #11)

When the Blessed Holy One revealed himself on Mt. Sinai to give the Torah to Israel He appeared to them as none other than an elder.  What is the reasoning behind this?  It is written,  -in the elderly resides wisdom and discernment in the long-lived (Job 12:12).

(Pesikta Rabbati 21:4)

If there are no sages there are no elders.  If there are no elders/z’keinim there is no Torah.   In the developmental stages of living and learning,  elders take their place after the sages.  Certainly, the sages are the custodians of Torah!  What is the critical difference between the Torah of the sages and the Torah of the elders?  Perhaps we could say that the Torah of the elders is the lived, enacted, embodied Torah that requires transmission through the seasoned and experienced among us.  The Torah of the Elders/Torat Z'keinim, is a Torah of long-lived presence; a Torah of witness, of continuity, of lasting:  In the elderly resides wisdom; and discernment in the long-lived”That is to say, her very presence embodies the wisdom of traditions.  His life teaches of endurance, of constancy in good times and in bad.  They, in the years that stretch beyond rearing and careering,” reveal a most important a Torah: Career is not a life's work.  Life is a life's work.

We need elders and their Torah,  heroes of aging because actuarial tables, insurance company and health club indices inform but do not inspire us; they speak of restrictions and say nothing of expansiveness.  They warn but do not warm us concerning the life that might be ours if we are fortunate enough to live long enough.

James Hillman, in The Force of Character, points out that “elder/old means “nourished”.  It is to this state of being that we aspire, against which we measure ourselves throughout life:  “How old is the baby?” How much “oldne how much world nourishment is in this one?  We need elders, nourished ones” whose lives nourish the community.  Without them there is no hope for a future generation of elders.  Regardless of how many sages we have, without the elders there is a lack of Torah.


Torat Z'kenim is a project to shape community around the elders in our midst.  We hope to draw together those eager to learn the particular skills, insights, stories and wisdom of our elders.

We plan to consult with elders of our community in order to find the particular Torah that she, or he, has to offer to the community.  We then construct a program best suited to the teaching of that Torah.  Often an event may involve a special circle of “youngers” who share the same interest, skill, etc.  In this way, we hope to bridge generations, honor a Torah that can best be taught by living it.  We hope to give our elders their rightful place as leaders and teachers among us.


On December 2, 2012 we honored long-time members
Hudi and Sam Gross

Video footage from this event
can be found online courtesy of
Sheldon Becker and Jewish Sparks:

     Long-time members of Beth El, Hudi and Sam have been a major presence for many years, helping both Beth El and the local Jewish community to grow and prosper. Hudi is best known for her contributions to Hebrew education through our Religious School, and Sam has been especially prominent in Zionist activities. We look forward to learning from the wisdom that Hudi and Sam Gross have accumulated through their rich experiences traveling a Jewish world, from a religious community in New York to Israel and then to Durham.

        Anyone wishing to make a donation in honor of the Grosses & this program are asked to direct these to the Eric Pas Jewish Camp Scholarship Fund and/or the Earl & Gladys Siegel Endowment Fund.


We honored long-time member,
Monice Arnold (Z"L),
on Sunday, November 6, 2011

Monice Arnold was a resident of Durham for over 60 years.  She discussed her affiliation with Beth El and shared interesting stories about her decades in the community. 

You can view highlights online at:
(split into two 15 minute segments)



The fourth installment of our Torah of the Elders/Torat Z'kenim program honored longtime Beth El member
Dr. Albrecht Strauss on October 31, 2010

The program included a pre-filmed video presentation available on the Jewish Sparks website: http://www.jewishsparks.net/Albrecht%20Strauss/Strauss-Index.htm

Dr. Strauss, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at
UNC-CH, shared interesting stories from his life,
beginning with pre-WWII Berlin; through his teenage years in
England; his coming to America; college, military, and
profesional life; and other observations from his five
decades in Chapel Hill.


We honored longtime Beth El member
Sidney David Markman (Z"L) on May 31, 2007.
An archeologist and architectural historian, Dr. Markman showed slides of Spain's vanquished Jewish community, and shared stories of his life in the Old World and the New — his forays into Central America and his lifelong commitment to Judaism.