Welcome to our warm and open community
Welcome to Beit Emanuel, the largest progressive Jewish congregation in South Africa, based in Johannesburg and celebrating its sixtieth anniversary this year.
Beit Emanuel is a fast-growing, warm and welcoming community. Our services are informal, invigorating and uplifting. We encourage congregants to sing along and participate. If you are married or single, young or old, you are welcome. If you are just visiting Johannesburg, you are welcome. Your children are welcome, your elderly parents are welcome, your friends are welcome. If you are Orthodox or if you are secular, if you are just thinking about Progressive Judaism, you are welcome. We ask for no payments from visitors and you will be invited to share our services and the delicious meals we serve afterwards.
For our latest news and forthcoming activities, see our News page.
Our congregation is led by Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked. See our profile of Rabbi Shaked.
We hold Friday evening services in our main synagogue every week from 6.00pm until about 7.15pm. The services are accompanied by a full four-part choir led by choirmaster Avi Kanar on keyboard. Rabbi Shaked himself often accompanies the choir, sometimes on guitar, sometimes on instruments as exotic as a digiredoo. Community participation, passion and enthusiasm are encouraged.
Saturday morning services are more informal, and are often held out in our garden, weather permitting. These services begin at 9.30am and end at about 11.00am. After a break for a community Kiddush, there is a presentation and discussion session led by either a community member or an outsider with specialist knowledge. This hour-long session, usually on a Jewish topic, but sometimes on an issue of general interest, is called Jtalk, and attracts people from outside the congregation. Topics have included ethical kashrut and vegetarianism; do Jews suffer more neuroses than Gentiles; Jewish folk music; Jewish architecture, Jewish activism under apartheid; the work of various prominent Israeli and Jewish authors; the role of women in Judaism, and many more.
Following JTalk each Saturday, is the Talmud study group. Unique among Progressive synagogues in South Africa, the group draws knowledgeable enthusiasts and beginners, members and outsiders.