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Year in Review 2022–23: Beit Knesset—House of Community

06/01/2023 12:02:33 PM


At Temple Beth El, we gather as a beit knesset, a house of community, finding meaning in Jewish activities, Temple involvement, and social connections.
Highlights of our activities as a beit knesset in 2022–23 included our A Whole Latke Fun Hanukkah party for young families, our senior program with a focus on Ukraine, the Drag Brunch, Bingo, and Drag Education event hosted by Sisterhood and Men’s Club, fun events for people in their 20s and 30s with MJND, and our 56th annual Food-A-Rama for the entire community, among the many other happenings shown below!

Check out the other sections of our Year in Review 2022–23 to read about our worship, study, and social justice activities and accomplishments. 

Young Families & Mishpacha Moments

A Whole Latke Fun was had by the 150 families who celebrated the first night of Hanukkah with crafts, story, song, candles, and food.

We welcomed the end of the Shabbat and start of the new week with pizza and lots of dancing with our glowsticks to light up the night.

We celebrated Tu Bishvat with a tasty, fruity seder together and planted parsley seeds.

We prepared for Passover and learned about the seder in a delicious way at our Chocolate Seder.

Also for young families, our Tots and Tunes program continued to thrive this year as our pre-k kiddos continued to enjoy music, PJ Library stories, and crafts with their families. It also attracted some new families.

Singles Creating Community

Our Singles Creating Community group resumed meeting and enjoyed monthly dinners and breakfast coffees together around town, even celebrating New Year’s Eve together.


As is our tradition we had a colorful June celebrating Pride month at Pride Shabbat and at our Pride in the Park event where we tie-dyed clothing and watched a Mallards game.

Senior Program

With the war in Ukraine raging, our older members gathered on Zoom as we learned about the country’s (Jewish) history, its music, and the current situation from Carole Kantor, from Cantor Niemi, and from Boris Nenide, who had recently returned from helping in the region.

Men’s Club

The Men’s Club had an active year as we increased our activities and our service to the community. During this year we added members to our leadership circle and honored Rabbi Irv Ehrlich as he steps aside to concentrate on our lunch gatherings. Some highlights of this past year were  ushering for the High Holy Days; constructing and taking down the Temple Sukkah; celebrating Men’s Club Shabbat; working with Sisterhood on the well-received Drag Queen Brunch, Bingo, and Drag Education; continuing our service to Beit Olamim by spreading mulch and removing weeds from the burial site on Mineral Point Road; and initiating and growing new adventures including golf outings and card night. 

Spreading mulch fortified by coffee and breakfast items   
Men’s Club retreat in Cross Plains 


MJND (20s & 30s) enjoyed many events this year, including a Lag Ba’omer bonfire, a post-Passover pasta party, an evening at Dave & Buster’s, a Purim costume party, hamantaschen cooking class, bowling, Shabbat potluck dinners, and more! 


The 56th annual Food-A-Rama was a wonderful success! Thanks to all who support this event every year with your lunch orders, volunteer time, and more. Proceeds from Food-A-Rama help fund Sisterhood initiatives such as camper scholarships, support for local agencies like Second Harvest, and giving back to our Temple Beth El community with donations to capital projects like the sanctuary remodel.

Sisterhood co-presidents Rachel Leader and Casey Becker partnered with Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, Cantor Jacob Niemi, and many Sisterhood members in a lay-led service in February. The joyful service included prayers and songs from Jewish women leaders. Tanya Atkinson, president of Planned Parenthood Action of Wisconsin, was the featured speaker and shared her thoughts on how to continue the fight for reproductive rights in Wisconsin.

Over 100 people joined us for the Sisterhood/Men’s Club Drag Brunch, Bingo, and Drag Education event in March. Loretta Love Lee led us in a spirited game of bingo and answered questions from attendees to help us understand more about gender and sexuality, how to be intentional allies with the LGBTQIA+ community, and the history of drag.


The Communications Committee had a busy year as usual, helping the congregation and community learn about all we do at TBE!
Combining staff and volunteer efforts, we produced:

  • 5 Giving Spotlights, 4 Social Justice Spotlights, 1 Young Families Happenings, 1 Kesher Spotlight 
  • Weekly Happenings emails every Wednesday
  • 10 event postcards and numerous event emails, plus other congregational emails
  • 5 Bulletin issues
  • Various website edits, including a new Inclusivity and Accessibility page
  • 2 Endowment for Spiritual Leadership mailings (August and January) 
  • 6 Town Hall and survey emails, plus an email summarizing the findings
  • Membership renewal brochure and emails
  • High Holy Day communications, program, and Book of Remembrance
  • Numerous Instagram and Facebook posts

Behind the scenes, we helped:

  • provide input on communication task transition plans during the midyear staff reorganization 
  • advise on communications related to the new sponsorship program
  • edit and proofread grant applications for security and environmental sustainability project funding
  • plan this new format for the year in review, and more!
December 10, 2023 27 Kislev 5784