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Community You Can Believe In

Beth El's History

More than 60 years ago, a group of young couples gathered to create a new synagogue in the growing community of West Hartford. They envisioned an egalitarian synagogue filled with ruach (spirit), a place where people could make meaningful connections through celebration, friendship, ritual, learning and action. Children would find a home here and grow into knowledgeable and caring Jewish adults. Beth El would be a sanctuary in all sense of the word, a place of community and also a place where each of us could find shelter from the day-to-day to think about “the real stuff of living.”

Rabbi Stanley Kessler was invited to lead the congregation and he has been a vital part of Beth El ever since. Rabbi Jim Rosen took over rabbinic duties in 1992, joined in 2000 by Rabbi Jennifer Tobenstein as our first Associate Rabbi. In 2005, Rabbi Ilana Garber succeeded Rabbi Jen, remaining as Associate Rabbi until June 2020. Rabbi Rachel Zerin joined Beth El in July of 2021 as our Assistant Rabbi.

Beth El Temple's inspiring clergy includes a rich history of Cantors. A strong foundation was set by our first hazzan, Cantor Joseph Cohn, and continued by Cantor Moshe Lanxner, Cantor Emil Hager & Cantor Joseph Ness who took the helm at Beth El in July of 1991. All these cantors have been equal partners to the rabbis with their work leading services with their davening, tending to the needs of our membership, creating programs educational (and otherwise) and working with b'nei mitzvah students as well as those adults who have had the urge to lead services and read Torah and haftarah. 

Today, Beth El remains true to its roots: a diverse, family-friendly community embracing people of all ages and backgrounds, Jews and their non-Jewish partners, and people of all of sexual orientations, genders and sexual identities.

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784