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Introducing Temple Beth El’s Code of Ethical Conduct

02/08/2024 03:31:59 PM


Rabbi Biatch’s Book Sale to Benefit Giller Library Fund

02/06/2024 12:27:52 PM


As Rabbi Jonathan Biatch goes through his office library, he wants to share some of his favorite titles with the community by offering them in a book sale. You're invited to come and browse the books in this donation-based sale. The book sale cart is typically located in the Weinstein Community Court. 
All donations from the book sale will go to the Giller Library Fund for enhancements to our library-management system and for the purchase of new books. Enjoy this opportunity to add to your own library while helping TBE’s! Thank you, Rabbi Biatch.

A Wonderful Weekend with Dan Nichols

02/06/2024 12:09:29 PM


Dan Nichols was TBE’s artist-in-residence on January 12–13. He warmed our hearts and our souls over the course of a very snowy and cold weekend. We were so grateful for his flexibility in leading music with Cantor Jacob Niemi for our MLK Shabbat from an event room in his hotel, while we watched from the safety of our homes. Fortunately, we could join him in person on Saturday morning, as he got on the floor with our youngest members as they sang along and danced to his music. Later, he led over 100 of us in a beautiful and fun concert that followed Havdalah on Saturday night. His impact on our community will be remembered for a long time. 

This event used a new flexible ticket pricing structure. The goal of this model was to encourage everyone to attend at a ticket level that was comfortable for them. Many TBE members chose to purchase at a higher level to help others attend. Thank you to all who attended and to those who donated an additional amount to the Music Fund to help support future TBE music programs. 

We are so grateful to Madison Top for donating funds that helped support this special event for the community. Their generosity, in addition to funds from the Blotner Family Music Fund, the Cantor’s Discretionary Fund, and the Music Fund, made this wonderful weekend possible.

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch Fund to Help TBE Members in Need

02/06/2024 12:03:50 PM


Tim and Kathy Mazur, along with their daughter, Lauren, have been members of TBE since 2007. Their membership is due, in large part, to a special friendship. Rabbi Jonathan Biatch met the Mazurs through their children when they were all in school together. Through the years, Tim and Kathy became close friends with Rabbi Biatch and Rabbi Bonnie Margulis. Both rabbis had honors during Lauren’s wedding this summer. 

Rabbi Biatch and the Mazurs share a passion for helping those in need. That is why Tim and Kathy established the Rabbi Jonathan Biatch Endowment Fund, which will help Temple Beth El members needing assistance. It is a fitting tribute to Rabbi Biatch that will continue his dedication to ensuring the well-being of the TBE community.
Thank you, Tim and Kathy Mazur, for this wonderful legacy to Rabbi Biatch.

Photo by Loan Dang |

A Strong Commitment to Our Spiritual Leadership

02/06/2024 11:56:39 AM


by Stefanie Kushner, executive director

In July 2023, we were fortunate to have a generous donor come forward to match $100,000 of donations and pledges made to the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership by December 31, 2023. I am proud to say that our community accepted the challenge and committed over $100,000, adding $200,000 to the fund in the last six months of the year. 

Thank you to all who pledged and donated during this match period, including some members who contributed for a second time, wanting to be part of the match.
The Endowment for Spiritual Leadership total has reached $4,983,723. Now, we are just over $16,000 away from our first goal of $5 million. If you have not yet donated to the endowment, or if you’d like to make an additional contribution, please consider a gift that will help us reach this first goal. 

Thank You for Your Annual Contributions for 2024!

02/06/2024 11:48:42 AM


by Stefanie Kushner, executive director

I am so grateful to the more than 580 Temple Beth El households that have renewed their membership for 2024. This year, 65% of TBE households that renewed by January 1 increased their contribution from last year, with an average increase of 8% from those households that increased their contribution. Overall, the total increase in contributions from our entire community is 3%.

Thank you for the time and reflection you put into considering your financial commitment to TBE. Thank you, too, for understanding that membership contributions represent 75% of the total revenue used to run our programs and services, compensate staff, and keep the lights on in our building! 

Save the Date: A Toast to Rabbi Biatch!

01/29/2024 02:58:29 PM


Black History Month Opportunities

01/26/2024 08:52:19 AM


TBE Racial Justice Action Team

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of African Americans' achievements, with many opportunities to honor the central role of Black Americans throughout history and today. Temple Beth El’s Racial Justice Action Team suggests the following:

  • Check out the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and the Black Business Hub, scheduled to open soon.
  •  Extraordinary and innovative artists will be featured in “Restoring the Black Woman” at Madison College's Dzigbodi Akyea Art Exhibit on February 1, hosted by the Black Women’s Affinity Group at Madison College. 
  • Also at Madison College is a production of “The Meeting,” a 1987 play by Jeff Stetson that imagines a meeting between civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The Nobleman Theater Troupe is bringing the show to Madison College on Saturday, February 10. 
  • Most Madison public libraries are hosting movie nights that explore the African American experience. A list of books, events, and resources is located on the Madison Public Library website.

TBE Sisterhood and the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) Heartland District

01/23/2024 03:31:36 PM


By Rozan Anderson, WRJ Heartland District president, WRJ North American Board member, and TBE past president

TBE Sisterhood, as you may know, is part of a vast network of Reform congregational women’s groups and individual members around the world. Coming together as Women of Reform Judaism, our impact is substantial, as we work to empower women and communities through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice.


The North American affiliates are grouped into seven geographic regions called Districts, and we in Madison are part of the Heartland District. Heartland was formed in early 2023 from a consolidation of our eight-state Midwest District with the six-state Central District. We now serve all or parts of 14 states from Ohio to Nebraska and the Dakotas to Tennessee, with some 50 women’s groups, plus individual members. That’s a lot of woman power!

So, why does any of this matter to us at TBE?

The Heartland District brings many of the benefits of being part of WRJ even closer to home, so that more of us can easily and affordably participate. The District assists our local sisterhoods, helping with organizational growth, new leadership cultivation, and development, and connecting us with WRJ programs and projects on a more regional level. We hold various events throughout the year, giving women a chance to socialize, learn, worship, and collaborate in a broader community.

I know from my own TBE Sisterhood presidency how helpful it is for our Sisterhood leaders to speak with others in similar and relatively nearby congregations about our successes and challenges. With the District and WRJ, I found many like-minded women who were working toward the same goals as me, organizationally, professionally, and personally. Through my participation at District events, I have been able to grow as a leader. And, one certainly doesn’t need to have a leadership position or aspiration to come join in the fun. There’s always something for everyone at a District event!

I have the honor of serving as president of the Heartland District for the next couple of years. I hope you’ll consider joining me in New Orleans, May 30–June 2, 2024, for the WRJ Fried Women’s Conference. This will be quite a special event, bringing hundreds of women together from all over North America for learning, worshiping, singing, dancing, eating, and inspiring community. Registration will open soon.

I am always happy for a conversation about the value of TBE Sisterhood, the Heartland District, and WRJ and the impact—and fun—we can have together!

An Enjoyable and Delicious Event: Kosher Charcuterie Boards

01/23/2024 03:17:01 PM


In November, TBE Sisterhood had a great evening as Suzanne Wolf shared her kosher charcuterie board building knowledge with us. Event attendees brought their own boards to build on and got to take home a beautiful arrangement of delicious snacks. 

Food-A-Rama Update

01/23/2024 03:09:23 PM


The 57th Annual Food-A-Rama had another successful year in November, with in-person dining and bakery returning for the first time since the pandemic began. Thank you to all who volunteered, ordered food, and spread the word about our annual event. Thanks also to TBE staff for their support, and to our marvelous Food-A-Rama co-chairs David Bookstaff and Sharon and Brad Kahn, who organized this amazing event for the last three years. 

We are looking for a few folks to step up and help plan and organize next year’s Food-A-Rama as well, so please email or talk to the Sisterhood co-presidents, Rachel Geissler and Casey Becker, if you’re interested!

In Memory of Marjorie Tobias

01/23/2024 03:01:42 PM


One of our Temple Beth El matriarchs, Marjorie Tobias, passed away on November 27, 2023. She was a driving force at Temple, and well beyond, for more than seven decades, and we have much for which to be grateful, as we honor her many contributions.

A native of Chicago, in 1949, Marj married Harry Tobias, whose parents were founding members of TBE. Marj followed her father-in-law and husband in Temple leadership and her mother-in-law as Sisterhood president. Even with four very young daughters at home, Marj herself became Sisterhood president from 1961 to 1963. Later when asked to be secretary of the Temple, she said she’d rather be the president and served from 1974 to 1976—the first woman to lead a congregation in the Midwest!

Beyond Temple Beth El, Marj went on to serve as the president of District 18 of the Midwest Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, part of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now known as Women of Reform Judaism) from 1976 to 1978. In this role, she also sat on the national board for many years, with annual meetings in New York.

Marj led an extraordinary life. She was vivacious and intrepid. She was devoted to TBE and the Madison community. As part of her legacy, Marj taught her family (four daughters, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren and their significant others) the value of service.

A point of pride for Marj was that all of her children belong to URJ congregations. Daughter Amy Fields has served as president of both TBE and TBE Sisterhood (twice!) and remains very actively involved in the leadership of both. Granddaughter Molly Fields is following admirably in the large footsteps of both Marj and Amy, and we are all the better for Marj and her family!

May Marj’s good deeds and our memories of her always be a blessing.

An Upcoming Discussion-as-Sermon Series: “The Way of Humanity” by Jewish philosopher Martin Buber

01/16/2024 12:36:45 PM


Join us for these discussion-sermons during Shabbat worship on January 19, February 9, March 22, April 12, May 17, and June 14.

“God wishes to come to the world but wishes to do so through humans. The mystery of our existence is that humankind does have this superhuman potential.” So offers Martin Buber, one of the most influential Jewish philosophers of the 20th century, in “The Way of Humanity According to Chasidic Teaching.”

Buber presented a six-part lecture series, first to a radio audience in Palestine in 1945, then again to a Dutch socialist workers organization in 1947. He shared six Chasidic tales that compelled people—in the shadow of the Holocaust and on the brink of the creation of the state of Israel—to examine how to bring the best of human spirit to any given moment of need, and how those acts would bring God into personal relationships.

On the Friday evenings listed above, during in-person and online worship, I will offer learning about this thinker, the Chasidic tales he studied, and the lessons that we can learn today from his midrashim, almost 60 years after Buber’s death and almost 80 years after his original observations. He presents each tale as an opportunity to learn from tradition and to apply those lessons to our lives. It is a message worth examining today. 

Buber is neither a messianist nor a guru. Rather, he encourages us to search for a way where humanity can connect with one another, the result being deeper relationship with others and a possible connection with God. Buber’s God is found in relationship: a god who accompanies us through our lives, and a god who pushes us to be involved and engaged with the world.

Volunteer Opportunities

01/02/2024 01:57:20 PM


Looking to volunteer? Need a b’nai mitzvah project? Here are ways to help people in our community. 

TBE Caring Committee 

In keeping with the Jewish principle of providing hesed (lovingkindness) to those in need, Temple Beth El has a Caring Committee to offer support and help to fellow congregants.  

Any TBE member can ask for assistance, and any member may suggest to TBE clergy, staff, or leadership that someone might need help. Once a request is made, the chair of the Caring Committee will follow up to determine the need and, where appropriate, assign the request to volunteers. You can use our online form to request care or suggest it for others, or contact the TBE office 608-238-3123.

You can also volunteer to offer care, including calls, cards, visits, meal preparation and delivery, and shopping and transportation. These tasks may be ongoing or short-term, and volunteers can be reimbursed for expenses. Use our online volunteer signup form, or call the TBE office.

. For questions, contact Caring Committee chair Eve Siegel or Rabbi Jonathan Biatch.

Serving Meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center 

If you are looking for a fun, easy opportunity to help the community and spend quality time as a team, you can help serve a meal at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC). CMC provides free meals to community members on Madison's south side and people experiencing homelessness. Our volunteers set out and serve the food, join the meal, and then do the dishes and clean up. The Catholic Multicultural Center is located at 1862 Beld Street, Madison, WI 53713. 

Our TBE team is signed up to help on the third Tuesday of each month from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. If you’re interested in engaging with other TBE members to meet this critical community need, click the sign-up link. Contact Sue Levy if you have questions.

Court Observers for Criminal and Eviction Court

Several Temple Beth El members act as court observers under a program run by the Nehemiah Center for Urban Development, watching and reporting on criminal and/or eviction court hearings. Observers make their own schedules and are expected to observe about four hours each month. For more information, you can contact any of those currently involved: Betsy Abramson, Lynn Silverman, or Cari DiTullio.

Middle School Literacy and Math Tutors

The Racial Justice Action Team partners with the Urban League of Greater Madison to recruit adults as literacy or math tutors in Madison’s middle schools. Volunteers complete online trainings and then select the middle school of their choice to commit to at least one hour each week working with individual students. You can begin to explore this opportunity by completing the volunteer tutor application. To learn more about it, contact Betsy Abramson (608-332-7867), who tutored in algebra twice a week at O’Keeffe Middle School. She learned a lot of algebra herself and reports great satisfaction in helping a 7th grader catch up in this critical skill.

Setting Up Apartments for Newly Arriving Refugees

Temple Beth El works with Jewish Social Services as they help refugees from all over the world resettle in the Madison area. JSS provides case management, job help, and housing for newly arrived refugee families. TBE volunteers work to set up apartments with furniture, and food, and provide tutoring and mentoring as needed. Contact Sherie Sondel for more information.

Volunteering through Jewish Social Services 

Jewish Social Services (JSS) volunteers serve as drivers, friendly visitors, events supporters, language tutors, shoppers, mentors, apartment set-up helpers, and so much more. Read about JSS volunteer opportunities, or contact Paul Borowsky via email or call him at 608-442-4083. 

Volunteer Drivers for Immigration Appointments 

The Dane Sanctuary Coalition provide rides for immigrants to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices in Milwaukee, Waukegan, IL, and Chicago, as well as the United States Immigration Court in Chicago. We also offer local rides to immigrants who need to meet with immigration attorneys but who live in parts of Dane County without much public transportation. Volunteer drivers only commit to a specific ride based on their availability. For the longer trips, partial compensation for mileage and parking is available. If you’re interested, there is a virtual training session about the role and responsibilities of a volunteer driver, USCIS processes, etc. Contact Dan Zimmerman via email or call him at (608) 241-1158. 

Shoe Boxes That Keep on Giving!

01/02/2024 01:50:20 PM


By Betsy Abramson and Marsha Mansfield, Co-Chairs, Racial Justice Action Team

In December, Temple’s Racial Justice Action Team partnered with Nehemiah and F.O.S.T.E.R of Dane County to prepare holiday gift boxes for children and adult clients of their agencies who might not receive any other gifts this year. We asked you to help fill shoe boxes with essential or fun items, and you delivered!

Our modest goal for this project was 25 shoe boxes. But by the end of week 2, when boxes started trickling in, we cautiously thought, maybe ... 50? And then the Religious School families started returning their filled boxes the following Sunday, and we were at 73 boxes ... and then as we drove to Temple for the Tuesday evening deadline, we dared to imagine that there would be 27 more to make it 100. 

We needn't have worried, because the TBE community so rocks. Another 29 shoe boxes were waiting for us, bringing our grand total to ...

102 boxes!!!

Because of you, Temple Beth El donated 102 shoeboxes full of gifts for children, teens, and adults who might not otherwise be receiving any gifts this month!  

Because of you, hundreds of our Madison neighbors opened gift boxes to find fresh toiletries, warm socks, jackets (!), slippers, games, toys, treats, puzzles, coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, stuffies, and so much more!  

Because of you, all of these boxes were clearly filled with both the above kinds of items and so much love and caring!

Because of you, our neighbors know that Temple Beth El cares about our greater community and is a partner in sharing their good fortune to bring tangible joy into the lives of others.

We are so fortunate to be members of this incredibly caring congregation.

Our volunteers filled the cars of David Seligman, Marsha Mansfield, and Catherine Copp, to the joy of Jackie Hunt, F.O.S.T.E.R. director. Special thanks to Catherine for helping to organize and pack dozens of the boxes.

Yasher koach (job well done) to all, and a giant todah rabah—thank you very much!

A Huge Turnout for Afghan Cuisine at “Tables Across Borders”

01/02/2024 01:26:32 PM


By Erica Serlin and Lynn Silverman

On Sunday, October 1, 96 Temple Beth El congregants and community members gathered at TBE to feast and learn at Tables Across Borders, the second in a series of multicultural community dinners highlighting the cuisines and cultures of local chefs who are refugees or seeking asylum. Tables Across Borders was initiated by Kai Gardner Mishlove, executive director of Jewish Social Services, based on a similar successful program in Milwaukee. This latest dinner was co-sponsored by TBE with help from our Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team and generously supported by the Cheryl Rosen Weston fund of the Jewish Federation of Madison.  

In the words of Kai Gardner Mishlove, the objectives of the Tables Across Borders dinners have been to “raise awareness and increase advocacy regarding the contributions of our refugee communities via a cultural exploration of the cuisines of local refugee chefs, to serve as an incubator for refugees interested in pursuing culinary arts and establishing food businesses, to build bridges between communities and combat antisemitism, bigotry, racism, and anti-immigrant sentiment, and to eat delicious food with new friends!”

The October 1 dinner featured chef Bahkt Mohammad, a refugee from Afghanistan who was resettled by JSS and is now being supported in his dream to open an Afghan restaurant in Madison. Prior to coming to the U.S., the chef owned and operated a wonderful restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he had quite a following due to his delicious cuisine!

We had the privilege of sampling his wonderful dishes with a menu that included chicken prepared several ways, fried fish, meatballs, a complex and savory bean dish, rice pilaf with carrots and raisins, potato samosas, an assorted fresh vegetable salad, a mixed spinach dish, custard, and sweet milk tea with spices. There was plenty of variety—even for the vegetarians among us!

TBE was excited to be a part of this wonderful celebration and, as a bonus, to have it incorporate Sukkot. Rabbi Jonathan Biatch welcomed people to the TBE sukkah and explained the meaning of the actual structure and the rituals associated with this holiday. We were also fortunate during dinner to be able to meet new JSS staff, including the refugee resettlement director, Sunday Nzitatira.  

In summary, the food was superb and people were excited to gather as a community, to see old friends and meet new people at such a joyous occasion. To learn more about chef Bhakt Mohammad’s catering business, which currently operates out of FEED Kitchens, please visit

Join Our Racial Justice Action Team

01/02/2024 01:15:40 PM


If you are interested in helping promote racial justice in our community, we would love to have you as part of Temple Beth El’s Racial Justice Action Team. We are a very informal group, but we try to keep the congregation informed of ways to be involved. 

Join us for a special Shabbat in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 12, and watch for our service projects on Mitzvah Day, April 14. We also highlight service and advocacy opportunities in the Weekly Happenings email each Wednesday. 

Contact the team chairs, Betsy Abramson or Marsha Mansfield, if you’d like to be involved.

Recently the Racial Justice Action Team took a fascinating trip to the Milton House Museum, Wisconsin’s only certified underground railroad site (photos from Erica Serlin).

Thanks for Another Successful High Holy Day Food Drive

01/02/2024 01:06:22 PM


Our TBE community once again gave generously to the High Holy Day Food Drive, honoring our tradition of fasting by making monetary contributions for hunger relief. This year the drive raised a total of $15,323. The Social Action Committee agreed to distribute the money as follows:

  • $10,00 to Second Harvest Foodbank, maintaining our bronze level sponsorship for the NBC-15 Share Your Holidays Drive
  • $500 each to Catholic Multicultural Center, Porchlight, Centro Hispano, The Road Home, and Mount Zion Baptist Church food pantry for client food needs
  • $1,000 to Jewish Social Services of Madison for client food needs
  • $1,000 to meet the costs of Mitzvah Day food projects 
  • $823 to be allocated for needs arising later in the year

We extend our thanks to all who donated.

In November, our Religious School students and families collected hundreds of food items for the Goodman Community Center Thanksgiving Basket program, helping the center feed over 4,000 families for the holiday. Thanks to all who participated or made monetary contributions. The 3rd grade class won the competition for most items donated, with 81 cans of vegetables.

Are you new to Temple, or looking for a way to become more involved? Working on hunger relief is a great way to meet people and get to know the community. Our volunteers serve free meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center once a month and cook meals four times a year for Healing House, a respite center where homeless families can safely recuperate from illness or childbirth. We also volunteer for the Thoreau School Food Program, packing and delivering food for the families of elementary school children. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Aleeza Hoffert.

Endowment for Spiritual Leadership: Join the Match!

12/05/2023 10:31:58 AM


During these final weeks of the match for the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership, please remember that your donation will have extra impact. All pledges, donations, and additional donations received before December 31 are doubled as part of this match, thanks to a generous TBE member.
Help us secure the financial future of our spiritual leaders by making your pledge or giving your donation today. If you have any questions, please contact Executive Director Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or

Thank You to Sisterhood!

12/05/2023 10:13:09 AM


We are so grateful for the generosity of TBE Sisterhood for replacing the island in the Temple kitchen. This new stainless-steel island replaces the wood butcher-block island that had served us well through many congregational dinners, Food-A-Rama prep sessions, cooking lessons for our Religious School students, and more.

Sisterhood’s generous donation will provide us with many more years of food preparation, feeding our bodies and souls. Thank you, TBE Sisterhood!

Renew Your Membership, Keep TBE Strong

12/05/2023 10:05:57 AM


Your 2024 membership renewal materials should be arriving in your mailbox around now. 
The annual contribution you make through the Temple Community Contribution program has a significant impact on our entire community, allowing TBE to thrive and grow. We hope you will consider increasing your support this year to help us meet rising costs. We are grateful that many TBE members have recognized our increasing expenses and adjusted their contributions to help us meet these costs. 

“Temple Beth El has come to mean so much to me and my family. There are countless opportunities for young families. I’ve been able to attend conversations with the rabbi and community members about Israel and eagerly look forward to starting adult b’nai mitzvah classes. Our son feels so much joy when he leaves Sunday school having learned more about Judaism, built his own dreidel, and even gotten some fresh challah!” 
—Jake Hajdu, TBE member since 2023

You can actively renew your membership, choosing your level of giving, by returning the renewal form or by managing your contribution online by December 31, 2023. If you do not submit your renewal information, your membership will automatically renew at the beginning of 2024, with a 5% increase. Please see the renewal materials you received in the mail for more information about how to contribute.
As in previous years, we ask you to provide an additional security contribution of $100/household that is used for measures including police officers to be present at TBE for our safety as we worship, learn, and gather for programs. Providing this protection is necessary as we adapt to current events.
If you have any questions about your membership renewal, please contact Executive Director Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or, or plan to join our Membership Renewal Information Session, via Zoom, on December 13 at 7:00 pm.
Every contribution is truly appreciated. We thank you, and we look forward to the meaningful connections that make our TBE community so special.

On the Sixth Night: The Candle of Righteousness

12/05/2023 09:58:24 AM


Hanukkah is a time of rededication, when we recommit to our Jewish way of life and to upholding what is most important to us. Tikkun olam is a central principle in Judaism and a value that drives so many activities at TBE. Hanukkah offers the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to helping others. 
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) encourages us to observe the sixth night of Hanukkah as Ner Shel Tzedakah, Candle of Righteousness, by performing acts of giving and reciting a special blessing. This project invites us to donate to those less fortunate in the place of gifts that might be exchanged that night. 

This year, the sixth night is Tuesday, December 12. On this night, consider donating to TBE or to any charity that you are passionate about. May we all find light and meaning during this season. 

Code of Ethical Conduct Being Developed

11/30/2023 06:01:50 PM


As you’ve heard, Temple Beth El is in the process of developing a Code of Ethical Conduct for our congregation.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has strongly encouraged North American congregations to establish ethics codes to encourage appropriate behavior. The URJ’s initiative is in response to a 2021 investigation of past misconduct in URJ movement spaces that included a recommendation to strengthen ethics accountability efforts.

To be clear, no ethical violations have been reported at Temple Beth El; we are developing our ethics code in line with the URJ’s movement-wide initiative.

We look forward to joining the 70+ congregations on the fast-growing list of congregations that have completed their ethics code.

The process of developing the code is almost complete, and you can expect to hear more about this in early 2024.

We thank the task force members for their work in developing the code for our congregation and the Board of Trustees for their feedback in the process.

Please contact Leslie Coff, president, or Stefanie Kushner, executive director, with any questions. 

Holiday Mitzvah Opportunity

11/27/2023 02:12:00 PM


Temple Beth El’s Racial Justice Action Team is partnering with Nehemiah and F.O.S.T.E.R. of Dane County to prepare holiday gift boxes for children and adult clients of the agencies who might not receive any other gifts this year. Can you help? Check out the kinds of items needed below, recommended by the agencies.

Decide whether you’d like to shop for children or adults and then fill out this form to let us know what you plan to do, including whether you need us to provide a shoebox, provide wrapping, and/or even pick up the box at your house. Then head off to a Dollar Store or anywhere you’d like and purchase items that will fill a large shoebox. You should anticipate spending about $15–$20 per box.

Boxes that are not being picked up should be dropped off in the coatroom at Temple Beth El by 5:00 pm on December 12, 2023.

You are welcome to share this with friends who are not Temple members. Much appreciated!

Questions? Contact: or 608-332-7867.

Ideas for men:

  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Shaving cream
  • Cologne
  • Warms socks
  • Candy or gum
  • Nail file
  • Winter headband
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Small laundry detergent
  • Pocket tissues
  • Chapstick
  • Gas or grocery store gift cards

Ideas for women:

  • Shampoo
  • Lotions
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Warm socks
  • Nail file
  • Nail polish
  • Lipsticks / lip gloss / chapstick
  • Scarf – stylish or outerwear
  • Winter headband
  • Tampons
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Small laundry detergent
  • Pocket Tissues
  • Candy or gum
  • Gas or grocery store gift cards

Ideas for kids:

  • Warm socks
  • Lotions
  • Shampoo
  • Card games
  • Puzzles
  • Coloring or activity book
  • Crayons or markers
  • Toys
  • Small stuffed animal
  • Candy
  • Gum
  • Hat
  • Mittens
  • Pocket tissues
  • Chapstick

Book of Remembrance and High Holy Day Donations

10/05/2023 02:40:31 PM


Thank you to all who contributed to the Book of Remembrance and donated when registering a non-TBE member (such as a relative or a friend) to attend High Holy Day worship. The revenue generated from these donations contributes to our operating revenue and is used to support Temple Beth El’s programs and services throughout the year. 

The Book of Remembrance donations totaled over $5,000. The High Holy Day donations for nonmember registrations to attend High Holy Day worship totaled over $6,000. Thank you, donors! Your support, totaling over $11,000, will help sustain us. 

Membership Renewal: Your Contribution Is Crucial

10/05/2023 02:26:05 PM


In early December, all TBE households will receive a membership renewal packet in the mail. Each year we ask you to designate your annual contribution through the Temple Community Contribution program. This annual contribution is crucial to funding our yearly activities, personnel compensation, and building expenses. We are grateful for the many TBE members who recognize our increasing expenses and adjust their contributions to help us meet these costs. 

You can actively renew your membership, choosing your level of giving, by returning the renewal form or managing your contribution online by December 31, 2023. If you do not submit your renewal information, your membership will automatically renew at the beginning of 2024, with a 5% increase. Please see the renewal materials you will receive in the mail for more information about how to contribute. 

If you have any questions about your membership renewal, please contact Executive Director Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or, or plan to join our Membership Renewal Information Session via Zoom, on December 13 at 7:00 pm.

Every contribution is truly appreciated. We thank you, and we look forward to all the possibilities ahead.

Bequest from Janice Kaplan

10/05/2023 02:21:22 PM


Janice Kaplan (z''l) was a member of Temple Beth El for almost 20 years. She enjoyed seeing her friends at Shabbat and at Temple Beth El dinners and events. She was always quick to greet people and offer everyone her bright and friendly smile.
Temple Beth El was a place where Janice felt a sense of belonging and enjoyed sharing Jewish experiences with her friends. As a member of our Dorot Society, she included Temple Beth El in her estate plan—demonstrating her wishes to provide for Temple’s future. We are grateful for Janice’s generous bequest. Her legacy of kindness, and the benefits of her giving, will be felt by all of us. 

If you are interested in more information about planned giving and Temple Beth El’s Dorot Society, please contact Executive Director Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or

Endowment for Spiritual Leadership: Join the Match!

10/05/2023 01:50:52 PM


Your participation means twice as much as before! A generous member is helping us reach 100% participation in the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership with a match of $100,000 for new or additional donations made through December 31, 2023. As of September 15, over 20 households have made a donation since the match was announced, totaling over $30,000. With a match on these donations, we are $60,000 closer to our goal.

We gratefully acknowledged our generous donors in the High Holy Day program. It is exciting to see the list continue to grow. Now is the time to add your name to the list and donate to the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership to have your donation doubled. With this match, your support has more impact than ever. Please consider a donation of an amount that is comfortable for you.

You can read more and pledge or donate at the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership web page. If you have any questions about the endowment or ways to donate, please contact Executive Director Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or

Why? Because Israel Matters Resources

09/29/2023 02:36:50 PM


Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

“WHY? Because Israel Matters” is Temple Beth El’s forum for learning about Israel’s precarious situation in real time. Taking place this year on four Thursday evenings, we hope to study, discuss, debate, and take away both information about Israel and appreciation for the attitudes and opinions of our TBE members. So come with an open mind. 

ON THIS PAGE below you will find links to resources for our four sessions, which should be available within two weeks of the session date. All should be available without a paywall. Plus, if you will attend and have other resources to share, please click here to contact Rabbi Jonathan so that we can add to the list. Please take an opportunity to read them before coming to discuss with your fellow congregants. 

ALL SESSIONS will be at Temple Beth El, with Zoom available: 

Thursday, October 19, 2023 
Thursday, December 21, 2023 
Thursday, April 18, 2024 
Thursday, June 20, 2024 
Click here to register for Why? Because Israel Matters!

October 19 Session I: “The Wars Between the Jews: Do Israelis Listen To One Another?” 

1. “Dizengoff Square on Yom Kippur eve: A stain on Tel Aviv: They screamed at my pregnant wife and pushed me as I held my toddler – and it had nothing to do with gender separation." 

2. “The state of our brokenness: Something elemental has been desecrated in our shared Israeliness, and Yom Kippur has again forced us to face ourselves."  

3. “Dizengoff Erev Yom Kippur: There was magic too: Yom Kippur, Tel Aviv, 5784. In Habima Square, hundreds joined a hastily organized Ne’ila prayer service with no divisions, just astonishment ." 

4. “Yom Kippur and the fight for Israel’s soul: Israelis have been content for too long to let Orthodox Judaism define what is considered legitimate Jewish practice."  

Save the Date: Joel Pedersen Lecture to Welcome Professor Jo Handelsman 

09/22/2023 10:15:04 AM


On Sunday morning, February 25, 2024, Professor Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will be our 2024 Joel Pedersen Lecturer in Tikkun Olam and the Environment. This annual lecture is sponsored by the Torah Study Group and the Environment and Climate Change Action Team.

In preparation for her talk, on January 22, 2024, we will lead a book discussion of Dr. Handelsman’s book A World Without Soil. The book, a manifesto on environmental action published in 2021, is available at local public libraries and for purchase at bookstores and online
We invite you to join us on Zoom for lively conversations on the fascinating and precarious world beneath our feet.

Yale University Press describes the book as follows:

This book by celebrated biologist Jo Handelsman lays bare the complex connections among climate change, soil erosion, food and water security, and drug discovery.
Humans depend on soil for 95 percent of global food production, yet let it erode at unsustainable rates. In the United States, China, and India, vast tracts of farmland will be barren of topsoil within this century. The combination of intensifying erosion caused by climate change and the increasing food needs of a growing world population is creating a desperate need for solutions to this crisis.
Writing for a nonspecialist audience, Jo Handelsman celebrates the capacities of soil and explores the soil-related challenges of the near future. She begins by telling soil’s origin story, explains how it erodes and the subsequent repercussions worldwide, and offers solutions. She considers lessons learned from indigenous people who have sustainably farmed the same land for thousands of years, practices developed for large-scale agriculture, and proposals using technology and policy initiatives.

Save the date for this important lecture, and begin reading the book soon! Sign up for the Zoom book discussion here

February 27, 2024 18 Adar I 5784