Valuing Each Other
Beth Jacob is both a close knit community and a community that is welcoming to others, a community accessible to all. We are an egalitarian community, where women and men, rich and poor, gay and straight are valued equally and sincerely. We are an intergenerational community, where young and old find commonality with each another. We are an eclectic community, where each person’s story is valued and affirmed. We are an affirming community, committed to ensuring that each person understands the right to claim the inheritance of Jewish tradition. We are an honest community, where intellectual inquiry and spiritual search go hand in hand. We are a welcoming community, where visitors can walk in the door and discover a home, a family, and a place at a table for Shabbat. We are a modest community, where festive celebrations are neither ostentatious nor exclusive. This is a shul where people truly care about each other and are present to help each other through the good times and bad. Through the ongoing Adult B’nei Mitzvah classes and personalized conversion study people have been able to find their way both into Judaism and back into Judaism.
Beth Jacob is a place for people who want to be actively involved in their shul. In truth, our shul works best for people who show up. Although there is never any pressure to do so, on any given Shabbat any number of people can be found leading services, reading Torah and Haftarah. During any given week, people are serving on committees, volunteering at the office or working in the kitchen. The opportunity to learn more and take on new roles is always available. Beth Jacob understands that religious expectations emerge from a sense of communal belonging.
Beth Jacob has served as an affirming and inclusive community since before the concept was fully developed. In the 32 years of the shul’s development since its founding, Beth Jacob has been clear about its commitment to the norms of Jewish life established by our reading of Jewish tradition, and to serving as a catalyst for seeing those norms stretched to their limits. We were the first Conservative congregation to fully embrace GLBTQ congregants in the Twin Cities. Rabbi Allen was the first Conservative Rabbi in town to perform a commitment ceremony in the 1990s and weddings in the 2000s. We celebrated as a community when one member began their transition to the gender they understood their self to be. We established households rather than individuals as the determinant for membership and define each household equally. We have been supportive of those family members who are not Jewish and our clergy serve to provide spiritual support and guidance in times of mourning and of need. Our Children Of Abraham cemetery, adjacent to our Sons of Jacob cemetery, will serve as an eternal resting place for many of these interfaith families. Beth Jacob counts among its members people of color, gay and straight, in-married and intermarried families, and is a community of joy and celebration, nurturance and support, affirmation and acceptance.
Valuing Social Justice
Beth Jacob Congregation is passionate about social justice, active in causes ranging from helping the homeless at Dorothy Day Center to the hechsher Magen Tzedek, ensuring that Jewish ethics are a part of kashrut observance.
Beth Jacob is a community committed to its youth. Young people take their places leading services and reading Torah and Haftorah as well as participating in tikkun olam programs. There are many children’s activities throughout the year in shul programs, local outings, Kadima and USY Kinnus, Jewish camps, and trips to Israel. During the year there are services led by kids from preschool through high school. One of the best sights each Shabbat is seeing all the little children on the Bimah at the end of services greeting their rabbi and singing Adom Olam.
Valuing World Jewry
Beth Jacob understands that all Jews are responsible one for the other. We pride ourselves on connecting with the stories of Jews around the world and seeing ourselves sharing in the responsibility for its continued health. We encourage our community to seriously engage with Israel through travel, study, and open discussion. We support efforts in the community to sustain other communal institutions, be it the St Paul Talmud Torah, the Jewish community Center, Jewish family Service or the United Jewish Fund and Council. St Paul might be our home community, but it serves only as a base for furthering the connection to world Jewry.