As a toddler, my oldest daughter, Hilary learned that “Beth El” translates to “house of God.” She referred to shul as God’s house and once asked Rabbi Ken Stern if he was God! I don’t remember his answer but for me, Beth El feels like MY house. Many minor day-to-day happenings and every major life-cycle event have occurred within Beth El’s hallowed halls.
Back in the 70’s the community room served double duty as EVERYTHING from services to socials were held within. I believe even the bima was movable for socials, a dance floor was stored under the stage and chairs were set up for Shabbat services. The brown dividers on wheels (still used today) helped the ritual committee (yes, Sam Balk was involved even back then!) manage traffic flow in and out of services.
My bat-mitzvah January, 1978, amidst a snow-storm, was one of the last to take place in the now called community room as Beth El was undergoing the “1977 Brick by Brick” expansion. Rabbi Steindel and Cantor Weisberg led services and Sam Balk, president, sat with me on the bima. My parents hosted a traditional Kiddush featuring wine challah and cake! The Shabbat Kiddush has increased in sophistication over the past 40 years!
I don’t recall exactly when my parents, Bob & Leah Lampel, started sitting in the first row for High Holidays but I suspect this custom began around the time of my brother’s Bar-Mitzvah, June, 1982.
In the late 80’s I taught religious school under the supervision of Reuven Robbins, again in the late 90’s under Shelly Shapiro and currently teach “hands on Judaism cooking” with Rabbi Amy Greenbaum. I love working with my young students each week and seeing my old students getting married and staying involved in the Jewish Community!
Ann Hallman, Administrator, worked with my mom to ensure every detail for our June, 1994 Wedding at Beth El was perfect! Jesse and I signed our Ketuba in the Balk Chapel and were married under the Chupah that is still used today in the Sufrin Sanctury. As a couple, Jesse and I have met some of our dearest friends volunteering on Synagogue projects, fundraisers and Board Meetings.
Each of our daughters received their Hebrew names in the Sufrin Sanctuary, attended Beth El Nursery School and three out of four were called to the Torah for their Bat-Mitzvahs in the Main Sanctuary. Our multi generational association with Beth El continues as we prepare for Jenna’s Bat-Mitzvah in October 2017, Jesse and I are delighted that our simcha falls within the 100 year window.
Looking back over my past 50 years at Beth El I feel God has blessed our one hundred year old congregational home. I look forward to having front row seats for all the hundred year festivities and beyond!
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We were new members at Beth El, and we went to the family picnic early September. The first people we met were Ralph and Sheila Schmeltz. Ralph was President at the time, and we were introduced to all their four children. Two of them—Lowell and Dina—were the same age as our two kids Allison and…
In the spring of 1997, Rob, Sarah, who was then 3-1/2 years old, and I moved from Phoenix to the South Hills. Shortly after we arrived, I learned of a Scholastic Book Fair being held at Beth El, and wanting to find books for Sarah, we found our way there late afternoon. That was when…
This week’s 100 Reasons blog features Beth El members Robyn Harris and Bruce Waldo. Robyn: I grew up at Beth El. Bruce and I met in California. Bruce: We met in LA, and when we were dating we would come back here to visit her folks, and I loved it. I grew up in a…