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About Us, and Our History

With a thriving membership of more than 600 families, Temple Beth El offers a vibrant Jewish program, encompassing ways to participate in religious, spiritual, social action, educational, and social activities.


Temple Beth El is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism and its Central District, which represents the liberal tradition of Judaism.


the Temple’s progressive voice is heard and respected throughout Madison and beyond. Led by Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, the congregation plays a dynamic part in the religious and civic life of the community.


The role of Temple Beth El as a model of commitment to all congregants, to the greater community, and to the world is directly linked to its rich history. Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky, of blessed memory, was a Holocaust survivor from Berlin. He founded Temple Beth El in 1940, soon after his emigration to the United States. There were 12 members at that time, a number that grew to 400 member families during the 36 years of his tenure. His contributions to improving race relations, the environment, social services, and interfaith connections were renowned in the area and throughout the country. Following Rabbi Swarsensky’s retirement, Temple’s next rabbis (Rabbi Rosenman and Rabbi Brahms) never wavered from these priorities. Today, under Rabbi Biatch’s spiritual leadership, Temple Beth El remains a place where social justice opportunities abound and exist hand-in-hand with building and rejoicing in connections within our own Temple community.



Vision Statement
Our Vision is to create and sustain a vibrant, inclusive, and engaged community that welcomes and connects people from all walks of Reform Jewish life, and fulfills their spiritual, educational, ethical, social, and emotional needs and expectations. – Adopted in 2014


Mission Statement
The purpose of this congregation shall be to worship God in accordance with the faith of Judaism; to cultivate a love and understanding of the Jewish heritage; to foster fellowship in the Jewish community and to strengthen the bonds of loyalty with the Jewish people everywhere; to bring nearer the Sovereignty of God through acts of tikun olam. –Temple Beth El’s Bylaws


January 23, 2018 7 Sh'vat 5778