Congregation Beth El (Bethesda, Maryland)

Congregation Beth El is a synagogue located in Bethesda, Maryland. Beth El is an egalitarian synagogue providing diverse worship in the Conservative tradition.[1]

Congregation Beth El
Stained glass window by artist David Ascalon at Congregation Beth El
Stained glass window
by artist David Ascalon
at Congregation Beth El
AffiliationConservative Judaism
LeadershipRabbi Greg Harris,
Rabbi Deborah Megdal,
Hazzan Asa Fradkin
LocationBethesda, Maryland
Congregation Beth El (Bethesda, Maryland) is located in Maryland
Congregation Beth El (Bethesda, Maryland)
Location within Maryland
Geographic coordinates38°59′34″N 77°06′25″W / 38.992778°N 77.106944°W / 38.992778; -77.106944Coordinates: 38°59′34″N 77°06′25″W / 38.992778°N 77.106944°W / 38.992778; -77.106944

Congregation Beth El started in 1951 as a synagogue of 16 families and has grown to approximately 1,000 families.[2]

Greg Harris is Rabbi, Deborah Megdal is Associate Rabbi, and Bill Rudolph is Rabbi Emeritus.[3] Asa Fradkin is Hazzan and Abe Lubin is Hazzan Emeritus.[3] Rudolph, Harris, and Lubin have each been featured on the PBS television program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.[4]

Congregation Beth El is housed in a modern structure of approximately 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) on Old Georgetown Road.[5] On the bimah of the main sanctuary are two large tapestries, installed in September 1997. Created by local artist Tamar Fishman and executed by British weaver Pat Johns, the tapestries are inspired by two narratives from the Book of Genesis that envision episodes in the life of the patriarch Jacob. One tapestry, named Beth El, reflects Genesis 28:10–19, and the other, named Israel, reflects Genesis 32:25–32.[6] The tapestry Beth El was dedicated by former congregation President Walter Arnheim.[6]

Congregation Beth El has received recognition for its award-winning adult education program, the Saul Bendit Institute.[7] Beth El's adult b'nai mitzvah ceremony received special notice in 2010 when 94-year-old Esther Isralow became the oldest of 19 congregants to complete the 18 months of study led by Rabbi Harris that culminated in the service.[8] And Congregation Beth El has held interfaith seminars, such as a 2010 seminar on leadership with perspectives from the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Koran.[9]

In 2008, Congregation Beth El received a grant from the Pathways Awareness Foundation recognizing its actions to include worshippers of all abilities.[10] In 2009, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism gave Beth El an award for the quality of its bulletins.[11]


  1. ^ "Welcome to Congregation Beth El". Retrieved 2010-08-08.
  2. ^ "History".
  3. ^ a b "Clergy". Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County. Accessed on July 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Bob Abernethy and Betty Rollin. "Jewish Reaction to Madoff Scandal". Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. (March 20, 2009). (Rabbi Rudolph). "Tallit Making". Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. (February 8, 2008). (Rabbi Harris). "Belief & Practice: High Holidays: Prayer with Cantor Abraham Lubin". Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. (September 21, 2001).
  5. ^ "Facilities". Retrieved 2010-08-08.
  6. ^ a b "The Beth El Tapestries". Retrieved 2010-08-08.
  7. ^ "Bendit Institute Classes to Start". Washington Jewish Week. 46 (6) (February 11, 2010): 37.
  8. ^ Tara Bahrampour (February 28, 2010). "At 94, Exercising Her Mind and Heart with a Bat Mitzvah". The Washington Post. p. C1.
  9. ^ "Religion Notes". The Washington Post. (February 11, 2010): GZ28.
  10. ^ "Beth El Gets Grants, Thanks to Bar Mitzvah Project". Washington Jewish Week. 44 (48) (November 20, 2008): 11.
  11. ^ "USCJ To Honor Three Local Shuls". Washington Jewish Week. 45 (35) (August 27, 2009): 29.

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