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The spiritual journey we take together is at the heart of Temple Beth El. We value the power of community, the sound of our voices lifted in prayer, the warmth of finding closeness in familiar melodies and liturgy. We realize that no single style of prayer works for everyone, and we are committed to evolving new modes of connection and spirituality that bring us closer to God and to one another. From weekly celebrations of Shabbat to uplifting High Holy Days, through life’s joyous peaks and its times of transition, you will discover that acceptance and warmth are at the heart of who we are. 

Join us for in-person worship, or find us on YouTube.


Spend Shabbat in our community! Shabbat, a holy day that occurs weekly from sundown on Friday until an hour after sundown on Saturday, is key to the Jewish rhythm of time, and is the pinnacle of joy after a hectic week. Temple Beth El provides worship opportunities in person and live streamed every Friday evening for Shabbat.

Additionally, Saturday morning worship in the sanctuary occurs for b’nai mitzvah services and other congregational worship opportunities. Check the calendar for dates and times.

Through communal worship, Torah study, and social, cultural, and recreational programs, we dedicate our efforts to the strengthening of the individual, the family, and the community. For additional information and resources, visit


The Holiday Cycle at Temple Beth El

The Jewish New Year—Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah begins the period of the Jewish year specifically set aside to focus on personal repentance and forgiveness. It occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Special Temple Beth El celebrations include a congregational Hineini prayer, when the congregation inaugurates the holiday season with the last call of the shofar of the month of Elul, followed by a congregational recognition that the worship of atonement must involve everyone in the sanctuary; a walk down to Lake Wingra, half a block away from the synagogue, to participate in Tashlich, as we ceremonially throw our sins into the water; and a wonderful Oneg Rosh Hashanah that follows TashlichFor additional information and resources, visit

The Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central theme is personal repentance and commitment toward the improvement of our lives. We traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast and intensive prayer. This day falls on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Observances unique to our synagogue include Kol Nidrei services with musical instrumentation by faculty from the University of Wisconsin; a Yom Kippur afternoon study session led by our director of lifelong learning; and a joyous N’ilah (closing) service and break-the-fast reception. For more information and resources, visit

The Pilgrimage Festivals—Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot

The three Pilgrimage Festivals—Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks, or Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles)—are major celebrations of Jewish life. Israelites living in ancient Israel would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for these holy days, as commanded by the Torah, to offer up sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple.

Pesach (Passover) celebrates our ancient liberation from Egyptian bondage. According to the Torah, the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years. God’s freeing us from the grip of a tyrant establishes a paradigm for Jews to bring liberation to all enslaved peoples of the world. We traditionally hold a congregational second night seder which is open to the entire community, to try and ensure that all who wish to participate in a Passover seder have a chance to do so. All those dining with us participate in reading parts for the seder. We also hold a Yizkor memorial service at the conclusion of the holiday. For more information and resources, visit

Shavuot celebrates the moment of God’s giving us the Torah as a heritage of life. We recall the revelation at Sinai, and rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and education. We hold a Yizkor memorial service at the onset of the holiday, followed by a congregational study session in honor of Jewish learning and living. For more information and resources, visit

Sukkot celebrates the gratitude that we should demonstrate to God for the bounty of a good harvest. Everyone in the Temple—young and old—comes to help decorate our sukkah, which was donated to Temple by our Men’s Club, who enjoys putting up and taking down the structure each year. We hold social action programming along with our holiday worship services in the sukkah. For more information and resources, visit

The Feast of Dedication—Hanukkah

Hanukkah, known as the “Festival of Lights,” is an eight-day festival commemorating the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the Maccabean revolt of the second century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight days, starting on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Our Hanukkah celebrations often include a joyous congregational dinner. For more information and resources, visit


Purim (literally “lots” or lottery) is a wintertime festival that commemorates the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian empire from the plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the biblical book of Esther. According to the story, Haman—the grand vizier of Persia—casts lots to determine the day upon which the extermination of the Jews would take place. We celebrate Purim with all ages: a community Purim carnival for youngsters, and a Purim shpiel and party for adults. For more information and resources, visit

Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day—Yom Hashoah V’hag’vurah

Yom Hashoah V’hag’vurah is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration of the six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. It also recalls the numerous acts of heroism that came about against the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accomplices. In Israel, this is a national memorial day and public holiday. It is held on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. We observe this solemn occasion by joining with all Jews in Madison in commemoration and learning. For more information and resources, visit

Israel’s Independence Day—Yom Ha’atzmaut

Yom Ha’atzmaut (literally “day of independence”) is the national independence day for Israel, commemorating its declaration of independence promulgated in 1948. Celebrated annually on 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, it centers around the establishment of the state of Israel by David Ben Gurion on a late Friday afternoon, May 14, 1948. Signifying the end of the British mandatory rule over Palestine, this holiday is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day to remember soldiers who have fallen throughout the many wars Israel has fought. Our synagogue celebrates by participating in community-wide programming. For more information and resources, visit


April 16, 2024 8 Nisan 5784