Both modern and traditional
Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue, founded in 1954, is the largest Progressive Synagogue in Johannesburg, with a membership of more than 400 Jewish households.
Beit Emanuel seeks to be a welcoming community. We offer a variety of activities aimed at meeting the diverse religious, cultural, social and educational needs of our members.
We aim to foster a caring community that both supports its own members and also works for the good of the wider community in South Africa, in Israel and throughout the world.
We aspire to develop into a community committed to Jewish learning, both for its own sake and to enable the members of our community to make informed Jewish choices.
We are a community which actively engages in interfaith dialogue and shows respect for other religious traditions.
Our religious services reflect a balance of tradition and modernity. While a large part of our services is conducted in Hebrew, we also recite some prayers and other passages in contemporary English, enabling all to follow and understand the meaning of the prayer rituals. Music is an important part of our services and Beit Emanuel has a long-established choir of men and women.
Beit Emanuel employs a full-time Rabbi, Dr Robert Ash, who joined us from England in 2007. Our Rabbi was ordained after five years of postgraduate study and training at Leo Baeck College, London. He brings a range of skills to support the religious and spiritual life of our community, leading services, teaching both formally and informally and offering pastoral support to members.
Through our website, weekly bulletin, email contact and SMS alerts and reminders, we keep in touch with our members to inform them of the range of activities run by professional staff and volunteers.
Progressive Judaism is the dynamic growing edge of Judaism. It respects Jewish tradition and seeks to preserve the best of our Jewish heritage. It is also a living tradition, an integral part of the modern world. It confronts the challenges of our time, welcoming advances in all areas of human knowledge, and responding constructively and creatively to changing circumstances.
Progressive Judaism encourages men and women to play prominent and equal roles in leading services and in the running our synagogues. We believe in the full and equal inclusion of all Jews regardless of gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
Morality is at the centre of Judaism. Without ethics the rituals of Judaism have no meaning. The Torah teaches that we exist in order to do what is right. We see ourselves as a holy community which upholds the teachings of Torah and works for truth, justice and peace for all humanity.
Progressive Jews believe that Judaism should be an active force for good in the lives of Jewish individuals, families and communities and that it should contribute to the betterment of human society. Progressive Jews value truth above tradition, sincerity above conformity, and human needs above legal technicalities.
Progressive Jewish Organisations
Progressive Jews are represented in South Africa by the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ). You can find out more about them from the SAUPJ website.
Since the 1920s there has also been an international representative body for Progressive Judaism. It is the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). Find out more about the WUPJ.
There are important Progressive (also called Reform, Liberal, Reconstructionist) Jewish communities and organizations all around the world. Here are some website links you might find of interest:
|UK||Movement for Reform Judaism||www.reformjudaism.org.uk|
|UK||Leo Baeck College||www.lbc.ac.uk|
|USA||Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)||www.urj.org|
|USA||Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR)||www.huc.edu|
|USA||Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)||www.ccarnet.org|
|Israel||Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)||www.reform.org.il|
|Israel||Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC)||www.irac.org|