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My Two Bat Mitzvahs

Posted on October 16th, 2017
By Koca Wen for mashupamericans.com

Coming of age as a Chinese Jew.

When do we become adults? When we experience our first tragedy? When we adopt adult responsibilities, and accept the weight of cultural expectations? When we undertake a coming of age ritual, like a bar mitzvah? For our Chinese-Jewish Mash-Up Koca Wen it was a mash-up of all of the above.

I became an adult girl when I was 12.

Not a woman. An adult girl.

I didn’t have a bat mitzvah. I wasn’t a Jew at that point. I am Chinese, and it was when I began living wholly by the Confucian philosophy and the essential Chinese value of filial piety that I came of age as a Chinese adult. Filial piety, or xiao shun, according to the Chinese, delineates the correct way to behave towards one’s parents. Love them. Be respectful. Polite. Loyal. Helpful. Dutiful. Obedient.

Continue reading.

Sukkot and Simchat Torah: the Basics

Posted on October 9th, 2017
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


Simchat Torah begins at sundown on Thursday, October 12

Sukkot is the third and final festival that commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt. The escape of Israel from Egypt is remembered at Passover, entering into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai is recalled at Shavuot, and sleeping in a temporary hut or booth ("sukkah" in Hebrew) while wandering in the wilderness is memorialized in the holiday of Sukkot. "Sukkot" is the plural form of sukkah.

Simchat Torah is the last of the fall holidays, arriving at the end of Sukkot. During Simchat Torah we can be filled with joy and love for God, for the Torah and for the Jewish community. The name of this holiday means "Joy of the Torah," and it marks the completion of the year-long cycle of weekly Torah readings (parshiot).

Continue reading.

For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, visit our Sukkot & Simchat Torah Guide.


Adventures of a Rabbi Who Knows Koran

Posted on October 2nd, 2017
BY ARON HIRT-MANHEIMER, for reformjudaism.org 

A Conversation with Rabbi Reuven Firestone

As a scholar of both Judaism and Islam, Professor Reuven Firestone, who teaches at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has become a Jewish ambassador of sorts at scholarly conferences in Egypt, Qatar, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the Muslim world. I caught up with him as he prepared for a trip to Cairo.

ReformJudaism.org: As the only person wearing a kippah (yarmulke) at religious conferences in Muslim countries, you must have had some extraordinary experiences.

I was attending a lecture given by a Saudi cleric in Islamabad, Pakistan, when a guy with a long beard right out of the Taliban playbook leaned over and asked me if I was Jewish. I said, “yes,” and he followed up by asking me if I studied Talmud. I said, “yes,” and he excitedly told me about his friend who teaches Talmud. “You need to meet him,” he insisted. “He’s amazing, and he doesn’t live far from the hotel. Why don’t we get into a taxi and you can meet him?”

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Yom Kippur Blessings

Posted on September 25th, 2017
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 

For those looking for a quick, easy reference to guide them through the home rituals that lead into Yom Kippur, this resource is for you!

Our handy Yom Kippur Blessings, in an easy-to-print PDF format, includes the instructions for the custom of lighting the yahrtzeit candles and then the holiday candles, in Hebrew and transliteration, with traditional and alternative translations as well.

Continue reading & listen.

Rosh Hashanah Blessings

Posted on September 18th, 2017
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 

For more great information, visit our High Holiday Guide. 

For those looking for a quick, easy reference to guide them through the home Rosh Hashanah ritual blessings, this resource is for you!

Our handy Rosh Hashanah Blessings, in an easy-to-print PDF format, includes the customary prayers said before the erev Rosh Hashanah (first evening of Rosh Hashanah) meal, all in Hebrew and transliteration, with traditional and alternative translations as well.

Not sure how to pronounce the Hebrew? Read along, in transliteration or in Hebrew, and listen to each blessing:

Continue to listen.


Did You Know...?

MAJYK 2017 is coming to Beth El?  

The Mid-Atlantic Jr. Youth Kallah will be hosted by Beth El on December 15-17 to experience a taste of NFTY and learn about its traditions and lingo.  In order to make this a success we need to find host families for 150-200 middle schoolers.  Please contact our Youth Advisors, Nori and Marissa, to become a host family!


Beth El is raising funds for a new playground?

With seed money from Cantor Jason Kaufman's concert, the JCCNV was able to start a fund with all proceeds going towards a new playground for the preschool.  If you would like to donate towards this very worthy project, simply send your donations to Beth El Hebrew Congregation and notate "Playground."  If you donate on line, the playground fund is first on the list!


Lifelong Learning

Wednesdays during the school year @ 7:00 PM
See calendar for exact dates and subjects



For more information about ALIVE! go to alive-inc.org.


Beth El House

For more information go to https://www.bethelhebrew.org/community/beth-el-house

Beth El House enables formerly homeless families to work toward self-sufficiency and confidence.


Upcoming Events


Wednesday, October 18

7:00 PM

Life Long Learning

Seth Kibel


Sunday, October 22

10:15 AM

Inclusion Meeting

Tuesday, October 24 & Wednesday, October 25

10:00 AM

Book Sorting


Wednesday, October 25


Book Sorting


Sunday, October 29

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM


Click above for more information


Saturday, December 2

7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Cantor's Concert "Songs to Change the World"

Click above for more information


There are activities, meetings, services and seminars at Beth El each week, ranging from service opportunities to Jewish learning and education, drawing members and guests from throughout the Washington, D.C. area.

the full calendar