Temple Beth El, Bradford, PA.
Temple Beth El welcomes you to join us for services. We are a very small congregation with a very long history. We enjoy doing Judaism. We try to live good lives in keeping with our Torah. Services are essentially lay-led and our organization is made up entirely of volunteers. Our main mission is to provide the community of the greater Bradford area with a tangible Jewish presence and Jews who live here with an accessible house of worship whether or not they are members. We also serve the academic community as an archive of local Jewish history and general information. We subscribe to the Forward and other Jewish publications that are shared among members. We maintain a library with lending privileges.
Temple Beth El is the direct descendent of the first Jewish congregation in Bradford in the ninteenth century, Bradford Hebrew Orthodox Congregation, founded in 1879. Since that time, the Jewish community split into Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. These eventually merged in 1958 to form and operate a synagogue called Temple Beth El. Although we continue to emphasize traditional elements in our worship and value our congregational independence, we belong to the Union for Reform Judaism. We uphold their policies and respect Reform responsa. Thus we welcome new members whether they are Republican or Democrat, "straight" or LGBT. We welcome non-Jews as Members-in-Study. We are supportive of mixed marriages, and we recognize patrilinial descent as an alternative definition of Jewish identity according to the CCAR resolution of 1983. Because we are a totally volunteer organization with minimal expenses, our dues are very low.
Temple Beth El provides regular religious services, holiday celebrations, opportunities for adult study, and other activities. We are the social life of many of our members and want to be a safe place and a source of peace. We have had a "Sunday School" children's education program in cooperation with Temple B'Nai Israel in Olean, NY. Over the last 20 years, the Sunday School has opened and closed several times as needed. Parents are invited to participate in shaping this educational effort.
Persons interested in experiencing Temple Beth El should attend a service. Service dates and times are stated on the Temple answering machine as well as on our website. Inquirers may call the Temple and leave a number where they can be reached if they want more information. The Temple phone number is 814.368.8204. We're kind of fun, actually.
Apart from the synagogues of Erie in the northwest corner of the state, Temple Beth El is the only synagogue remaining in the north central portion of western Pennsylvania. But, we are not alone. We have a sister, Temple B'Nai Israel, in Olean, NY. Because Temple Beth El has a "think small" orientation and fiscal vision, the small size of our congregation is not so critical an issue for us as it might seem. Temple Beth El is discussed and pictured in Synagogues of Central and Western New York: A Visual Journey by Julian Preisler (Stroud, Glocestershire: Fonthill Media 2014). Its history and that of its predecessors is discussed at length in Lee S. Weissbach. Jewish Life in Small Town America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005),