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A BRIEF HISTORY OF CONGREGATION BETH EL

העבר הוא מבוא
He-avar hu ma-vo
The past is prologue

Congregation Beth El was founded during the 1940’s at a time when being Jewish in Berkeley meant having limited choices. The only Reform synagogues were in San Francisco and Oakland. Two Jewish organizations existed in Berkeley; the B’nai B’rith Lodge and the Hebrew Center, started by a small group of Orthodox men who played poker together. Whenever a sufficient number of players showed up to form a minyan, the group held services. The Berkeley Jewish community expanded dramatically after World War II with an influx of European émigrés.

IN THE BEGINNING

RABBINIC LEADERSHIP

THE GIFT SHOP

OUR NEW HOME

HISTORY OF THE OXFORD STREET SITE

CONGREGATION BETH EL LEADERSHIP THROUGH TIME
 

Historical records compiled in 2010 by Susan Austin, with assistance from Robinn Magid and Rabbi Yoel Kahn, using the following sources:

  • original documents (early Builders, dedication programs booklets, board minutes)
  • interviews with founders Robert Fisher, Odette Blachman, past presidents (Frances Alexander & Lois Marcus), former Beth El program directors of Kee Tov and Nursery School
  • extensive research on the synagogue from the files of Robinn Magid
  • material on the construction of the Oxford site provided by Alex Bergtraun
Mon, November 28 2022 4 Kislev 5783