Beth El envisions and strives to be a vibrant center for Jewish prayer and spiritual life, accepting a wide range of Jewish practices and traditions within a community that is hospitable, friendly, spirited, generous, and joyful. We envision a synagogue that includes not only prayer life but also gives the community a variety of opportunities to learn and be together through study and discussion groups, classes and workshops, Jewish holiday celebrations, fundraisers, speakers and musical events, as well as continuing to foster good relationships with the interfaith community. We wish to be a community filled with ruach and Jewish spirit, always moving in the direction of being most welcoming with friendship, inclusivity, creativity, and cordiality.
The Jewish community in St. Johnsbury can be traced back to the early 1900's. Beth El was formally dedicated in September of 1946, and met for years above McClellan's store on Railroad St. and then at St. John Catholic Church. The synagogue was built with an enormous collaborative effort and dedicated in August of 1982. Beth El has a tradition of being lay led, with the help of rabbis, cantors, and rabbinic students who have visited over the years. The congregation has remained independent of affiliation with specific movements of American Judaism, in part to serve members who come from many different backgrounds. For more information on the history of Beth El and the Jewish community in the Northeast Kingdom, visit Beth Kanell's blog www.jewsinvermont.blogspot.com.