Temple Beth-El: A Proud Tradition of Worship, Education and Community
by Rabbi Emeritis Victor Weissberg, DHL, DD
In ancient times, an Egyptian refugee to the Sinai witnessed a burning bush that transformed his life and the lives of his people. Over 140 years ago, a group of Central European refugees in Chicago witnessed another fire. The earlier fire was in a tiny bush. The modern fire laid waste a major metropolis. Both situations posed the question: What to do?
Moses brought the long-suffering Israelites back to Sinai to teach them the responsibility of freedom that is the service of God and humanity. The few who suffered through Chicago’s conflagration and gathered in the loft of a clothing store on the first Sabbath after that fire gave thanks for their survival … and gave proof of their resolve that the flame of Sinai would not be extinguished by the tragedy of Chicago.
From that beginning in 1871 throughout our peregrination until today, it is the same spirit that animates us: the flame shall not be extinguished. The lessons of Moses, transmitted from Sinai to hundreds of generations, and the service of God and humanity still move us, bringing us together to celebrate and consecrate, to give meaning to our lives, examples to our children, benefits to our community.
Yes, we at Beth-El are a great chapter in the ongoing millennium saga of Jewish life.
May we continue to be inspired by our past and resolve to guarantee a greater future for Beth-El, for our people, and for the high values that Judaism has always embodied.