History

Congregation Beth El has been on the cutting edge of American Jewish life since its founding in 1962. Innovation and creativity arise from the joint efforts of clergy and committed congregants. Our history demonstrates that every Beth El member has the ability to change the face of our community and our belief that every human being has the potential to change the world.

1962

  • Congregation Beth El is founded

1970

  • Dedication of synagogue at 105 Hudson Rd. in Sudbury

1971

  • The congregation votes to affiliate with the Reform movement and hires Rabbi Lawrence Kushner as its first full-time rabbi. He served in this position for 29 years.

1972

  • First bar/bat mitzvah Torah class retreat.

1975

  • Two members of Congregation Beth El found Action for Soviet Jewry.
  • Congregation publishes the first gender-neutral prayer book, Vetaher Libenu.
  • First congregational trip to Israel.

1977

  • Rabbi Kushner begins the tradition of unrolling the entire Torah on Simchat Torah.

1978

  • A group of congregants form the Beth El Tzedakah Collective.

1979

  • Congregation resettles Vietnamese boat people.
  • Beth El graduates its first Siyyum class.

1984

  • The congregation commissions the writing of our Sefer Torah (Torah scroll).

1987

  • Beth El declares itself a sanctuary for Central American refugees.

1990

  • Lorel Zar-Kessler becomes our first full-time cantor.

1992

  • Rabbi Kushner officiates at Beth El’s first same-sex Jewish Ceremony of Commitment, 12 years before gay marriage was legally recognized in Massachusetts.

2001

  • Congregation Beth El establishes a sister community relationship with the Jewish community of Cienfuegos, Cuba.
  • Rabbi David Thomas becomes Beth El’s second full-time rabbi.

2004

  • Congregation Beth El launches the MetroWest Free Medical Program.
  • Massachusetts becomes the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Rabbi Thomas and Cantor Zar-Kessler perform the first same-sex marriage at Beth El.

2006

  • Students from Chugim High School in Haifa come to Beth El, marking the beginning of the HiBuR Program. In March 2007, Beth El sent a group of six student ambassadors to Israel. Our first group of 10th- and 11th-graders went to Israel in 2009.

2012

  • Congregation Beth El celebrates its Jubilee (50th) year.

2017

  • The congregation votes again to be a sanctuary congregation.

2018

  • Rabbi Josh Breindel becomes Beth El’s third full-time rabbi.

2019

  • Beth El publishes the transliterated, updated edition of its prayer book Vitahr Libenu.

2020

  • Beth El sources all of its electricity from 100% renewable resources.