Congregation Beth Israel, the historic center of Jewish life in San Diego, is an inclusive Reform congregation that offers a warm welcome and a nurturing home to all who seek a meaningful and enduring connection to Judaism
To fulfill our mission, we aspire to the following:
Connection: To build a strong sense of Jewish community and to open doorways to a deeper understanding of Judaism through our observances, programs, services, and relationships
Spiritual Enrichment and Worship: To provide diverse opportunities to find inspiration, meaning, comfort, and spiritual enrichment, both personally and communally
Lifelong Learning: To pursue excellence in Jewish education for members and non-members of all ages, and to cultivate a congregational culture of lifelong learning
Inclusivity and Outreach: To build upon our historic legacy of outreach to interfaith couples and families, and to welcome members of every age, race, sexual orientation, background, lifestyle, situation, and level of observance
Caring Community: To acknowledge and engage our members at every stage of their lives, and to offer compassion and acts of loving kindness to individuals and families during times of need
Social Action: To help our congregants and the greater San Diego Jewish community to become informed and effective in the pursuit of social justice and tikkun olam
Israel: To enhance our congregants’ understanding of the unique connection between all Jews and the State of Israel, to express our commitment to our Jewish homeland, to advocate for Israel, and to support the Reform Movement in Israel
Sacred Partnership: To evolve this shared vision for our congregational future through a partnership of clergy, lay leadership and senior staff that is grounded in mutual respect and collaborative spirit
Our congregation’s core values are rooted in Jewish text and tradition:
Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’acov …
“How goodly are your tents, 0 Jacob…” (Numbers 24: 5a)
Congregation Beth Israel welcomes all who seek to enter our gates. We are an embracing Jewish community … a refuge, a wellspring, a dwelling place on life’s sacred journey.
V’asu Ii mikdash, v’shachanti b’tocham.
“Let them build Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8)
Congregation Beth Israel has created a sanctuary to welcome God’s presence through prayer, memory, music, meditation and celebration.
Eitz chayim hi lamachazikim bah…
“It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it…” (Proverbs 3:18)
Congregation Beth Israel is committed to offering abundant opportunities for learning, recognizing that lifelong Jewish study connects us to our history and traditions and ensures our future.
Al tifrosh min hatzibur…
“Separate yourself not from the community” (Mishnah Avot 2:4)
Congregation Beth Israel is a community within greater communities. As part of (K’lal Yisrael), we value our connection to Israel and world Jewry and to all humankind. We are dedicated to pursuing (tzedek), justice, and to performing (mitzvot).
Al sh’loshah d’varim ha’olam omeid: al ha Torah, v’al ha’avodah, v’al g’milut chasadim.
“The world stands on three things: Torah, worship, and deeds of loving-kindness” (Mishnah Avot 1:2).
Our synagogue is supported by the pillars of God, Torah and Israel. We rely upon the foundation of our teachings, values and beliefs to guide our actions and decisions on the path of (derech eretz) … kindness, justice and integrity.
Five Areas of Focus
Vision: Our goal is to make Beth Israel a second home to our future – the congregation’s youth – by providing social, educational and spiritual connections that make Beth Israel central to the lives of young Jews while deepening Beth Israel’s connections to the entire family. We seek to give youth a meaningful role in creating and leading the programs that develop these connections.
Accomplished to date: We formed a Think Tank for Youth and Family Engagement to explore how best to build meaningful relationships, as well as a vibrant, dynamic and engaged Jewish community at Beth Israel. Programs developed include B’nai Mitzvah peer mentoring, B’nai Mitzvah Boot Camp and clubs, the addition of separate girls and boys’ clubs for teens, new family education formats and topics, theme-based family education for adults and students, camp weekends, the return of family camp, and the addition of monthly Erev Shabbat services for young families.
Vision: Beth Israel’s goal is to engage and acknowledge our members at every stage of their lives and offer compassion, support, and acts of loving-kindness during key lifecycle events and times of need. By unleashing the energy of hundreds of caring volunteers, we strive to ensure that members’ needs are better understood and met by a combination of staff, volunteers and members with whom they are already connected.
Accomplished to date: We have rebuilt our Caring Community Program by galvanizing the enthusiasm of our members who are eager to be a friend, a neighbor, a fellow Jew to those in need. We are strengthening the culture of caring throughout Beth Israel. Clergy are systematically reaching out to our members. We also seek to build community by enhancing our pastoral services.
Vision: We seek to create multiple points of connection so all feel welcome and cared for, including interfaith families, seniors, young singles and couples, and members of every age, race, sexual orientation, background, lifestyle, situation, and level of observance. Our vision is, metaphorically, to replace the walls of our synagogue with many open doors so that all can find a way in.
Accomplished to date: Beth Israel recently joined the Union for Reform Judaism’s initiative on engaging young adults, a cohort of eight congregations working together to implement programs of outreach to young Jews. This will lead to efforts to meet people where they are, by developing programming that may take place beyond Beth Israel’s walls. We are embracing members by expanding our Chavurah programs and adding affinity groups, meaningful volunteer and service opportunities, and creative programming. We plan to better identify and track members’ interests and professions, strengthen connections with Israel, add warmer spaces on campus, and expand neighborhood programming.
Vision: Our vision is to engage members in learning through exciting and compelling Jewish educational programs relating to Torah, Israel, ritual, and Jewish history and culture. We aim to inspire younger members to participate in learning programs. We endeavor to create and maintain connective threads in a lifelong learning journey so at any stage of life, members are exploring what it means to be Jewish.
Accomplished to date: Our ALEINU adult education committee and Board began a re-visioning process, and ALEINU and our religious school have partnered on several educational programs this year, piloting the connected learning process to which we are committed in this area of focus.
JEWISH CULTURE, MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Vision: Our vision is to create opportunities for our members to connect spiritually through music and the arts. We seek to build on Beth Israel’s history as San Diego’s central Jewish address by creating programs at Beth Israel that honor Jewish history and culture in music, literature, theater and film, and strengthen Beth Israel’s musical services and programs.
Accomplished to date: The World of Jewish Music Concert in 2012 featured an intergenerational community of 70 Beth Israel’s instrumentalists, singers, and dancers and a packed sanctuary audience. An Erev Shabbat service dedicated to the dreams and messages of Dr. Martin Luther King featured the Zimriyah Chorale, Teen and Youth Choirs, and Chai and Tizmoret adult and youth bands. The Teen and Youth Choirs and Tizmoret youth band have grown in popularity and are engaging the largest numbers of participants ever.